Article 43


Broadband Privacy

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bitcoin Privacy


Bitcoin Privacy Extension to Have Backdoor for Government Snooping?

By Eric Blair
Activist Post
March 24, 2013

Bankers are desperate to force governments into regulating decentralized virtual currencies like Bitcoin. With good reason.

As currency wars rage with a rush to devaluation while banker bureaucrats openly ROB DEPOSITORS IN CYPRUS and as FINANCIAL PRIVACY DISAPPEARS, Bitcoin has become a SAFE HAVEN CURRENCY to a growing number of people. Bankers and governments can’t control it or tax it, but now they’re attempting to do fix that.

Andrew Leonard of Salon WRITES:

The more popular Bitcoin gets, whether as a symbol of resistance or a perceived safe haven in financially troubled times, the more government attention it will inevitably draw, and the more inexorably it will be sucked into existing regulatory structures. Incomes denominated in Bitcoins will be taxed. Efforts at money laundering will be cracked down upon. Its the price of success. Resistance is futile.

Last week, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) revealed their INITIAL GUIDELINES TO REGULATE VIRTUAL CURRENCIES. Although it said that users of virtual currencies are not subject to FinCEN regulations, exchanges for that currency are:

A user of virtual currency is not an MSB under FinCEN’s regulations and therefore is not subject to MSB registration, reporting, and recordkeeping regulations. However, an administrator or exchanger is an MSB under FinCEN’s regulations, specifically, a money transmitter, unless a limitation to or exemption from the definition applies to the person. An administrator or exchanger is not a provider or seller of prepaid access, or a dealer in foreign exchange, under FinCEN’s regulations.

Additionally, the CIA’s venture capital firm IN-Q-TEL has taken a great interest in Bitcoin and has called some of its DEVELOPERS TO GIVE A PRESENTATION about Bitcoin this June, which is troublesome for the prospect of freedom and privacy.

But resistance is not futile as Andrew Leonard would like his readers to believe. Other developers are working on Bitcoin extensions to add further privacy for users. Bitcoin transactions are already fairly anonymous even though they can be viewed on a public open-source record.

Privacy lacks for Bitcoin users, not in the transaction, but in where the coins are stored. Specific encrypted coins can be traced through a transaction to a certain wallet whose owner is may or may not be anonymous. Even if the wallet is anonymous, everyone knows where their specific coins have been which could potentially expose the wallet owner’s activity and identity.

A new Bitcoin privacy extension, Zerocoin, is seeking to solve this privacy concern. Zerocoin, being developed by Johns Hopkins University, will basically pool Bitcoins in escrow and scramble them between buyers and sellers to hide the origin and destination of specific coins.

New Scientist REPORTS:

Called Zerocoin, it’s a cryptographic add-on to Bitcoin that allows for transactions which cannot be linked together. The key is that it does this without introducing any new centralised elements into the network or using laundering, whereby coins are spent through intermediaries to hide the root purchaser’s wallet address.

Zerocoin works by allowing Bitcoin users to leave their coins floating on the network for someone else to redeem, on the condition that they can redeem the same amount of Bitcoin, similarly left floating on the network, at an arbitrary time in the future.

Jon Matonis of the American Banker INTERVIEWED Johns Hopkins research professor Matthew Green, who said:

“Zerocoin creates an ‘escrow pool’ of bitcoins, which users can contribute to and then later redeem from,” Green explained. Users receive different coins than they put in (though the same amount) and there is no entity that can trace your transactions or steal your money. “Unlike previous e-cash schemes, this whole process requires no trusted party. As long as all the nodes in the network support the Zerocoin protocol, the system works in a fully distributed fashion,” added Green.

Green is due to present his paper Zerocoin: Anonymous Distributed E-Cash from Bitcoin at the IEEE SYMPOSIUM ON SECURITY AND PRIVACY this May.

It sounds like an amazing innovation for a CURRENCY THAT IS FAR SUPERIOR IN MANY WAYS to establishment currencies and banking. However, Green adds one disturbing statement with huge implications for the legitimacy of Zerocoin.

Green told the New Scientist, “Zerocoin would give you this incredible privacy guarantee, then we could add on some features which let the police, for instance, to be able to track money laundering. A back door.”

Apparently Green has received a lot of grief for attempting to provide an anonymous privacy protocol that would allow back-door snooping, and he has since backed off his previous statement even if it still appears in his paper.

“The back door isn’t part of Zerocoin. There’s absolutely no need for it, and building one in would take significant additional effort. In fact, we only mentioned it as a brief note in the conclusion of our paper, mostly to motivate future research work,” Green told the American Banker.

So Green included the idea of a backdoor to “motivate future research work”?  In other words, he seems to be seeking public funding to continue creating this backdoor. Obviously, the “authorities” would be the only ones interested in this pursuit which answers the question about who he is trying to motivate. The bigger question is who funded this work?

In an attempt to put the issue to rest, Green claimed that a backdoor was impossible, anyway; “If someone did try to build a back door for any reason, the open source Zerocoin would quickly become Zero-adoption.”

In any respect, creating a random escrow pool for Bitcoin transactions is a brilliant concept and an innovation that can be used alongside other open-source programs like COIN CONTROL which allows users to choose what wallet they want individual transactions to go to.

Yet as Bitcoin developers are hard at work finding ways to make it even more anonymous, will they be successful in preventing backdoors for government access, thwarting FinCEN regulations, and involvement by the CIA?


Posted by Elvis on 03/24/13 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Broadband Privacy
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Amazon And The CIA


Our Privacy.... It’s Disappeared into the “Clouds”

By Perrie Halpern
The News Talkers
March 20, 2013

Quiz: What does the CIA and Amazon have in common?

A. Too much power

B. Invasion into our privacy

C. A big investment in the computer business

D. All of the above

The old saying goes that every cloud has a silver lining. Of course in real life, we know that some clouds are dark an ominous. In our tech world, some clouds can’t even be seen. Usually, it’s the things that we can’t see that should be feared the most.

Today in New York City, the CIA’s technology officer, Ira “Gus” Hunt outlined the agency’s new concept for the CIA’s view of information gathering.

“The value of any piece of information is only known when you can CONNECT IT WITH SOMETHING ELSE that arrives at a future point in time,” Hunt said. “Since you can’t connect dots you don’t have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang onto it forever.”

Everything is a lot and everything is a very long time. There must be a plan! And so there is! But unlike any spy novel, there is no secret agency involved. No spooks, spooks, no MI6. Instead, the CIA has enlisted the help of an unlikely ally, AMAZON. In it’s quest for “big data”.. which is so big that the CIA has a dedicated job recruitment site page on its website pitching big data jobs to prospective employees.

These comments come two days after Federal Computer Week reported, that the CIA is joining with Amazon in a 10 year, $600 million cloud service with storage and analysis capabilities on a massive scale. In a slide during Hunt’s presentation, his pronouncement was made, “It is nearly within our grasp to compute on all human generated information.” He continued:

“You’re already a walking sensor platform,” he said, nothing that mobiles, smartphones and iPads come with cameras, accelerometers, light detectors and geolocation capabilities.

“You are aware of the fact that somebody can know where you are at all times, because you carry a mobile device, even if that mobile device is turned off,” he said. “You know this, I hope? Yes? Well, you should.”

As for privacy and law, all Hunt had to say was, “Technology in this world is moving faster than government or law can keep up,” he said. “It’s moving faster I would argue than you can keep up: You should be asking the question of what are your rights and who owns your data.

Yes, ominous clouds are forming. Clouds that store your personal information....that you will be actually helping grow with each and every purchase of a KINDLE Fire, and maybe IPHONE or a Nexus 7.

BTW, the answer to the question is D. 


Posted by Elvis on 03/24/13 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Broadband Privacy
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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sad State Of Firewalls


Security appliances are riddled with serious vulnerabilities, researcher says
Companies should not assume that security products are implicitly secure, the researcher said

By Lucian Constantin
IDG News Service
March 14, 2013

The majority of email and Web gateways, firewalls, remote access servers, UTM (united threat management) systems and other security appliances have serious vulnerabilities, according to a security researcher who analyzed products from multiple vendors.

Most security appliances are POORLY MAINTAINED Linux systems with insecure Web applications installed on them, according to Ben Williams, a penetration tester at NCC Group, who presented his findings Thursday at the Black Hat Europe 2013 security conference in Amsterdam. His talk was entitled, “Ironic Exploitation of Security Products.”

Williams investigated products from some of the leading security vendors, including Symantec, Sophos, Trend Micro, Cisco, Barracuda, McAfee and Citrix. Some were analyzed as part of penetration tests, some as part of product evaluations for customers, and others in his spare time.

More than 80 percent of the tested products had serious vulnerabilities that were relatively easy to find, at least for an experienced researcher, Williams said. Many of these vulnerabilities were in the Web-based user interfaces of the products, he said.

The interfaces of almost all tested security appliances had no protection against BRUTE-FORCE password cracking and had cross-site SCRIPTING FLAWS that allowed session hijacking. Most of them also exposed information about the product model and version to unauthenticated users, which would have made it easier for attackers to discover appliances that are known to be vulnerable.

Another common type of vulnerability found in such interfaces was cross-site request forgery. Such flaws allow attackers to access administration functions by tricking authenticated administrators into visiting malicious websites. Many interfaces also had vulnerabilities that allowed command injection and privilege escalation.

Flaws that Williams found less frequently included direct-authentication bypasses, out-of-band cross-site scripting, on-site request forgery, denial of service and SSH misconfiguration. There were a lot of other, more obscure issues as well, he said.

During his presentation, Williams presented several examples of flaws he found last year in appliances from Sophos, Symantec and Trend Micro that could be used to gain full control over the products. A WHITE PAPER with more details about his findings and recommendations for vendors and users was published on the NCC Group WEBSITE.

Often at trade shows, vendors claim that their products run on “hardened” Linux, according to Williams. “I disagree,” he said.

Most tested appliances were actually poorly maintained Linux systems with outdated kernel versions, old and unnecessary packages installed, and other poor configurations, Williams said. Their file systems were not “hardened” either, as there was no integrity checking, no SELinux or AppArmour kernel security features, and it was rare to find non-writeable or non-executable file systems.

A BIG PROBLEM is that companies often believe that because these appliances are security products created by security vendors, they are inherently secure, which is definitely a mistake, Williams said.

For example, an attacker who gains root access on an email security appliance can do more than the actual administrator can, he said. The administrator works through the interface and can only read emails flagged as spam, but with a root shell an attacker can capture all the email traffic passing through the appliance, he said. Once compromised, security appliances can also serve as a base for network scans and attacks against other vulnerable systems on the network.

The way in which appliances can be attacked depends on how they are deployed inside the network. In more than 50 percent of the tested products, the Web interface ran on the external network interface, Williams said.

However, even if the interface is not directly accessible from the Internet, many of the identified flaws allow for REFLECTIVE ATTACKS, where the attacker tricks the administrator or a user on the local network to visit a malicious page or to click on a specifically crafted link that launches an attack against the appliance through their browser.

In the case of some email gateways, the attacker can craft and send an email with exploit code for a cross-site scripting vulnerability in the subject line. If the email is blocked as spam and the administrator inspects it in the appliance interface, the code will execute automatically.

The fact that such vulnerabilities exist in security products is ironic, Williams said. However, the situation with non-security products is probably worse, he said.

It’s unlikely that such vulnerabilities will be exploited in mass attacks, but they could be used in targeted attacks against specific companies that use the vulnerable products, for example by state-sponsored attackers with industrial espionage goals, the researcher said.

“There have been some voices that said Chinese networking vendor HUAWEI might be installing HIDDEN BACKDOORS in its PRODUCTS at the request of the Chinese government,” Williams said. “However, with vulnerabilities like these already existing in most products, a government probably WOULDN’T EVEN NEED TO add more,” he said.

In order to protect themselves, companies should not expose the Web interfaces or the SSH service running on these products to the Internet, the researcher said. Access to the interface should also be restricted to the internal network because of the reflective nature of some of the attacks.

Administrators should use one browser for general browsing and a different one for managing the appliances via the Web interface, he said. They should use a browser such as Firefox with the NoScriptsecurity extension installed, he said.

Williams said he reported the vulnerabilities he discovered to the affected vendors. Their responses varied, but in general the big vendors did the best job of handling the reports, fixing the flaws and sharing the information with their customers, he said.


Posted by Elvis on 03/17/13 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Broadband Privacy
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Sunday, March 03, 2013

ISP Police


“Six strikes” program could affect businesses too, even if infringer is unknown
Verizon’s plan may punish companies with Internet slowdown for alleged piracy.

By Cyrus Farivar
ARS Technica
January 14, 2013

For ONE AND A HALF YEARS now, weve been following the play-by-play of the ”SIX STRIKES” plan set to hit the majority of American Internet users sometime this year.

The COPYRIGHT ALERT SYSTEM (CAS), as it’s formally known, is now set to come online this year. It’s been orchestrated by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and major American ISPs, which are collected under an umbrella organization called the CENTER FOR COPYRIGHT INFOPMATION (CCI).

Once in place, the CAS monitors Internet usage looking for traffic of unauthorized downloads. Then, users will be “educated” about legal alternatives. These individuals will have to acknowledge those warnings, and over time, they may have their Internet access throttled or may have legal charges brought.

But a new report and leaked document PUBLISHED last week by TorrentFreak suggests >b>Verizon’s six strikes plan will also affect its business customers</b>, beyond its regular residential customers. According to the Verizon document, once an accused infringer reaches the fifth and sixth warning stage, the Internet connection would be REDUCED to 256kbps for two to three days.

If true, that could potentially put a huge burden on small businesses - particularly cafes with open Wi-Fi hotspots. Any business with more than a few employees, therefore, could be unduly, collectively punished via their ISP simply because of the accused actions of one person. That’s far different from a small, contained home network, where there is only a small number of users at any given time - and likely, the one paying the bill knows all of them.

Ed McFadden, a Verizon spokesperson, said the documentwas authentic, but he cautioned it was a “working draft document\” that was subject to change.

“Things are still being discussed and worked out,” he told Ars. “Beyond that we’re going to be informing our customers about the program within the next month.”

The CCI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Notification and acknowledgement

Based on Verizon’s document, customers would receive first and second notification warnings “delivered by e-mail and automatic voicemail.” These would inform the customer “how to check to see if file sharing software is operating on your computer (and how to remove it) and tell you where to find information on obtaining content legally.”

The third and fourth warnings would “redirect your browser to a special webpage where you can review and acknowledge receiving the alerts,” then “provide a short video about copyright law and the consequences of copyright infringement.” Furthermore, the user would be required to click an “acknowledgement” button. But the fifth and sixth warnings would lead to a speed slowdown.

However, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario - a Wi-Fi cafe, for instance - where someone using an open network has been downloading unauthorized copies of Game of Thrones, and the cafe’s owner (or another customer, for that matter) is faced with these warnings and the acknowledgement splash page. Why should the cafe (and its customers) be penalized with a bandwidth slowdown, rather than the alleged infringer herself?

When this scenario was outlined to Verizons spokesperson, Ed McFadden, he said he wasn’t sure how the company would respond.

“Who would get that captive portal?”

Internet advocates said such a plan to enforce this against businesses seemed unreasonable, particularly given that under current AMERICAN LAW, network owners and operators are not liable for INFRINGING MATERIAL that PASSES THROUGH THEIR PIPES.

“If it applies to something like a cafe with Wi-Fi, there’s really no way for the cafe to monitor and police what the users are doing,” MITCH STOLTZ, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Ars. “It strikes me as not that credible.”

Beyond that, he said, the practicalities of acknowledging a warning seem difficult to understand when applied to a business that may have a constantly rotating group of users.

“Who would get that captive portal?” he asked. “Would it be fulfilled once one person acknowledged it?”

Worse still, other activists pointed out this entire scheme seems to be really about expanding income for ISPs.

“This does create a scenario that discourages open Wi-Fi, which I think is a problem--I’m sure everyone has a story about how they had their day saved by some stranger being neighborly enough to allow public access to their wireless signal,” SHERWIN SIY, the vice president of legal affairs at Public Knowledge, told Ars.

“Of course, this is one area where the rightsholders and the ISPs’ interests intersect very nicely. Verizon and its competitors want to encourage the number of paid subscribers, and the RIAA and MPAA want to have Internet connections be as identifiable as possible.”

Given CAS’ CONSTANT DELAYS, were still waiting to see how this plays out once it finally hits the public Internet - theoretically sometime soon.



The Copyright Propaganda Machine Gets a New Agent: Your ISP

By Corynne McSherry
Electronic Frontier Foundation
February 25, 2013

I’ts been a long time coming, but the copyright surveillance machine known as the Copyright AlertSystem (CAS) is finally launching.  CAS is an agreement between Big Content and large Internet Service Providers to monitor peer to peer networks for copyright infringement and target subscribers who are alleged to infringe - via everything from from educational alerts to throttling Internet speeds.

As part of the launch, the Center for Copyright Information, which administers the program, has revamped its WEBSITE.  The website is supposed to help educate subscribers about the system and copyright.  Unfortunately, its chock full of warning signs that this whole campaign is not going to go well.

For example, on the process for targeting subscribers, the site explains that:

“Before each Alertis sent, a rigorous process ensures the content identified is definitely protected by copyright and that the notice is forwarded to the right Subscriber.”

Just because content is copyrighted doesn’t mean sharing it is illegal. It would be better to have a rigorous process that ensures the use identified is actually infringing. It would be even better to have a process that was VETTED BY A TRULY INDEPENDENT ENTITY, and public review of the full results.

And then there are these nuggets:

“While CCI encourages all consumers to secure their home networks, it is especially important for consumers who have received a Copyright Alert.”

In other words, if you’ve received a notice, you’ve better lock down your network, and fast. As we’ve EXPLAINED, this seems designed to undermine the open Wi-Fi movement, even though open wireless is widely recognized to be tremendously BENEFICIAL to the public.

“Subscribers are responsible for making sure their Internet account is not used for copyright infringement.”

Not so - at least not under copyright law, unless additional conditions are met. We don’t all have to sign up to be copyright police, though if your ISP is part of the deal - AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon - you’ve signed up to be policed.

Then there’s the generally maximalist approach to copyright. For example, while we were able to find at least a nod to fair use in CCI’s materials, they are also replete with statements like this (from the section on what students and teens need to know)

“Whenever you create something like a poem, a story or a song, you own it - and no one else can use it without your permission.”

Not so: thanks to the fair use doctrine, others can in fact use the works you create in a variety of ways.  That’s how we help ensure copyright fosters, rather than hinders, new creativity and innovation.

Equally worrisome: the CCI site directs users to the Copyright Alliance to learn more about the history of copyright. The Copyright Alliance is hardly a neutral resource - it was a LEADER IN THE BATTLE TO PASS SOPA and remains a staunch advocate of copyright maximalism.

Finally, CCI is promising to partner with iKeepSafe to develop a copyright curriculum for California public schools. It will be called: “Be a Creator: the Value of Copyright.” Based on what we’ve SEEN SO FAR, that curriculum will do little to help kids understand the copyright balance.  Instead, it is going to teach kids that creative works are “stuff that can be owned and that that you must always check before using that stuff.”

Not to toot our own horn, but EFF has developed a COPYRIGHT CURRICULUM that explains what copyright law permits as well as what it forbids and, we hope, encourages students to think critically about creativity, innovation and culture. And its CC-licensed, so the CCI should feel free to save itself some time and money by using it.

In the meantime, we are disappointed if not surprised by the tenor of the CCI’s approach to surveillance and education. Watch this space for more on the CAS and what you can do to challenge it.



Will the “Six Strikes” Copyright AlertSystem Hurt Consumers And Small Businesses?

By Zach Walton
March 1, 2013

Piracy is a problem that needs to be dealt with. I dont think anybody is going to refute that. Where people are divided is how we actually deal with this problem. After years of reputation destroying legal battles against DEAD PEOPLE and LITTLE GIRLS, copyright owners think they have an answer.

On Monday, the COPYRIGHT ALERT SYSTEM, or “Six Strikes,” went into affect across the five biggest ISPs in the U.S. The system hopes to catch those pirating content over P2P networks, and send them a notice detailing their infringement. The hope is that those who are caught will start using legal alternatives.

To better understand the CAS, we have to look at what the Center for Copyright Information is doing with it. First, there are THREE TIERS TO THE CAS that consumers should be aware of with each tier having two levels within it. The three tiers are as follows - educational alerts, acknowledgement alerts and mitigation measures.

The first two warnings - “educational alert’s - tell consumers they’ve been caught. The email will then direct them to legitimate sources of content with the hopes that the early warnings are enough to scare people into buying content.

The next two warnings step it up a notch with what’s called “acknowledgement alerts.” The first two alerts were simply emails, but these next two will actually hijack your browser. You will be hit with a message telling you that you’ve been caught yet again, and must acknowledge that you’ve been caught before you can start browsing.

The next two tiers, and presumably every alertafterwards, will be “mitigation measures.” In essence, the ISPs will begin throttling your bandwidth or blocking Web sites you frequently visit. The ISPs will not be able to cut off your Internet connection under the plan.

For a visual explanation, HERE’s the CCI’s soothing jazz version.

The actual specifics of these tiers will be different across the five ISPs participating in the CAS. We don’t know what every alertwill look like, but Ars Technica did manage to GET A HOLD of what COMCAST’S ALERTS would look like.

As you would expect, the CAS hasn’t exactly garnered many fans. New Jersey Gubernatorial candidate Carl Bergmanson recently SPOKE OUT against it by saying ISPs have no right to monitor what you download:

The internet has become an essential part of living in the 21st century, it uses public infrastructure and it is time we treat it as a public utility. The electric company has no say over what you power with their service, the ISPs have no right to decide what you can and can not download.”

The EFF has also come out swinging against CAS. The group says the system presents a number of troubling statements that dont just hurt Internet users but the Internet for itself. For instance, the group points out that the CCI Web site tells people to lock down their Wi-Fi connections so others don’t pirate on your connection. The EFF sees this as an attack on the open Wi-Fi movement and it would be especially troublesome for those who do share their Internet connections with others, like small businesses.

Small businesses are where we run into the biggest problems. The CCI says that rights holders won’t target open Wi-Fi networks run by businesses. Your local Starbucks or Panera Bread are safe as they run off of a business network. The problem comes in the form of small businesses like a local coffee shop or bakery that runs free Wi-Fi off of a residential network. These businesses will be held liable for the actions of its consumers.

The CCI argues that it won’t hurt small businesses running residential networks because the CAS will never terminate an Internet connection. That’s entirely true, and it’s good that copyright owners didnt go as far to request that ISPs terminate connections. The problem, however, lies in the fact that the fifth warning and afterwards will either block popular Web sites or throttle connections. For a small business that has multiple customers all on the same network, that’s just as good as shutting off the connection. People who want to use the Internet at these places will find it too much of a pain and take their business elsewhere.

This all brings us to the question of whether or not the CAS will even stop piracy. That’s obviously the goal, but it doesn’t look like an attainable one at the moment. In fact, the CAS is its own biggest enemy in the war on piracy.

The alerts obtained from Comcast all have one troubling thing in common. They don’t list any of the alternative, legal sources for content. The main point of the program is to educate consumers on legal alternatives, and it can’t even do that. Consumers receiving the alertwith no prior knowledge of the system will most likely see it as a scam email and wont act upon it. Later tiers require consumers to watch an educational video on copyright, but it doesn’t say whether these videos will present legal alternatives.

Fortunately, legal alternatives are doing a good enough job stopping piracy themselves. A recent report from the NPD found that LEGAL ALTERNATIVES LIKE SPOTIFY WERE DRIVING MISIC PIRACY DOWN. It proves once again that easy access at a fair price can beat out piracy any day. Heck, the proliferation of streaming services even gave the music industry its first raise in revenue since 1999.

So why do copyright owners think the CAS will work? Do they really expect piracy rates to magically drop once the alerts start flying out? Past examples would suggest that no such thing would happen. In fact, previous efforts on the part of copyright owners to curtail piracy have had the opposite effect. Just look at the SHUTDOWN OF MEGAUPLOAD or the <a hrf="" rel="nofollow">BLOCKING OF THE PIRATE BAY IN THE UK</a>. Both cases actually saw an increase in piracy.

At this point, its still too early to tell how much the CAS will actually accomplish. At best, copyright owners will be able to proclaim that piracy rates are down as more people either use VPNs or move off of P2P and onto Usenet or Mega. At worst, consumers revolt and ISPs drop it after seeing that it’s costing them customers. Either way, piracy isn’t going anywhere.



Posted by Elvis on 03/03/13 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Broadband Privacy
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Democracy Hollowed Out Part 30


Obama gives himself control of all communication systems in America

RT News
July 2, 2012

US President Barack Obama quietly signed his name to an EXECUTIVE ORDER on Friday, allowing the White House to control all private communications in the country in the name of national security.

President Obama released his latest Executive Order on Friday, July 6, a 2,205-word statement offered as the ”Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions.” And although the president chose not to commemorate the signing with much fanfare, the powers he provides to himself and the federal government under the latest order are among the most far-reaching yet of any of his executive decisions.

“The Federal Government must have the ability to communicate at all times and under all circumstances to carry out its most critical and time sensitive missions,” the president begins the order. “Survivable, resilient, enduring and effective communications, both domestic and international, are essential to enable the executive branch to communicate within itself and with: the legislative and judicial branches; State, local, territorial and tribal governments; private sector entities; and the public, allies and other nations.”

President Obama adds that it is necessary for the government to be able to reach anyone in the country during situations it considers critical, writing, “Such communications must be possible under all circumstances to ensure national security, effectively manage emergencies and improve national resilience.” Later the president explains that such could be done by “establishing a joint industry-Government center that is capable of assisting in the initiation, coordination, restoration and reconstitution of NS/EP [national security and emergency preparedness] communications services or facilities under all conditions of emerging threats, crisis or emergency.”

“The views of all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and the public must inform the development of NS/EP communications policies, programs and capabilities,” he adds.

On the governments official website for the National Communications Systems, the government explains that that “infrastructure includes wireline, wireless, satellite, cable, and broadcasting, and PROVIDES THE TRANSPORT NETWORKS that support the Internet and other key information systems,” suggesting that the president has indeed effectively just allowed himself to control the country’s Internet access.

In order to allow the White House to reach anyone within the US, the president has put forth a plan to establish a high-level committee calling from agents with the Department of Homeland Security, Pentagon, Federal Communications Commission and other government divisions to ensure that his new executive order can be implemented.

In explaining the order, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) writes that the president has authorized the DHS “the authority to seize private facilities when necessary, effectively shutting down or limiting civilian communications.”

In Section 5 of his order, President Obama outlines the specific department and agency responsibilities that will see through his demands. In a few paragraphs, President Obama explains that Executive Committee that will oversee his order must be supplied with the “technical support necessary to develop and maintain plans adequate to provide for the security and protection of NS/EP communications,” and that that same body will be in tasked with “dispatching that communiqu to the Federal Government and State, local, territorial and trial governments, by means of commercial, Government and privately owned communications resources.”

Later, the president announces that the Department of Homeland Security will be tasked with drafting a plan during the next 60 days to explain how the DHS will command the governments Emergency Telecommunications Service, as well as other telecom conduits. In order to be able to spread the White House’s message across the country, President Obama also asks for the purchasing of equipment and services that will enable such.



The GETS Concept

The Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS) is a White House-directed emergency phone service provided by the National Communications System (NCS) in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications Division, National Protection and Programs Directorate, Department of Homeland Security. GETS supports Federal, State, local, and tribal government, industry, and non-governmental organization (NGO) personnel in performing their National Security and Emergency Preparedness (NS/EP) missions. GETS provides emergency access and priority processing in the local and long distance segments of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). It is intended to be used in an emergency or crisis situation when the PSTN is congested and the probability of completing a call over normal or other alternate telecommunication means has significantly decreased.

GETS is necessary because of the increasing reliance on TELECOMMUNICATIONS. The economic viability and technical feasibility of such advances as nationwide fiber optic networks, high-speed digital switching, and intelligent features have revolutionized the way we communicate. This growth has been accompanied by an increased vulnerability to network congestion and system failures. Although backup systems are in place, disruptions in service can still occur. Recent events have shown that natural disasters, power outages, fiber cable cuts, and software problems can cripple the telephone services of entire regions. Additionally, congestion in the PSTN, such as the well-documented “Mother’s Day phenomenon,” can prevent access to circuits. However, during times of emergency, crisis, or war, personnel with NS/EP missions need to know that their calls will go through. GETS addresses this need. Using enhancements based on existing commercial technology, GETS allows the NS/EP community to communicate over existing PSTN paths with a high likelihood of call completion during the most severe conditions of high-traffic congestion and disruption. The result is a cost-effective, easy-to-use emergency telephone service that is accessed through a simple dialing plan and Personal Identification Number (PIN) card verification methodology. It is maintained in a constant state of readiness as a means to overcome network outages through such methods as enhanced routing and priority treatment.

GETS uses these major types of networks:

The local networks provided by Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) and wireless providers, such as cellular carriers and personal communications services (PCS)
The major long-distance networks provided by Interexchange Carriers (IXCs) -

AT&T, Verizon Business, and Sprint - including their international services

Government-leased networks, such as the Federal Technology Service (FTS) , the Diplomatic Telecommunication Service (DTS), and the Defense Switched Network (DSN)

GETS is accessed through a universal access number using common telephone equipment such as a standard desk set, STU-III, facsimile, modem, or wireless phone. A prompt will direct the entry of your PIN and the destination telephone number. Once you are authenticated as a valid user, your call is identified as an NS/EP call and receives special treatment.


Posted by Elvis on 02/19/13 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Broadband Privacy
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