Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Media3: Watching the Fourth Estate

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  • Paul Campbell,

    One of the things about the NSA revelations is the agonizing the 'merkins are going through about whether they're being spied on ... while being told "we only spy on foreigners" ... in other words us ...

    This article hits some of the hot buttons that I feel at the moment

    Lots of our web traffic still goes through the US whether we like it or not, and we have no real control on who reads what we write and say - Orwell would be proud - big brother is watching.

    I think it's time to take our on line security into our own hands - seems we can't trust Google, nor the phone company, not Microsoft, not Facebook, nor the government - https everywhere is a start - we need more like cry[to everywhere - probably we need an open source genuinely peer-to-peer skype replacement, one without Microsoft's backdoors - while you're at it Microsoft's (and probably Apple's and Google's) software updates need some independent peer review - given that they're cooperating with the watchers who knows what they're pushing at you in the name of security fixes - who needs found software bugs to exploit when you can just install your own.

    I hate this whole paranoia thing - the saying is that it's not really paranoia when they really are watching you ... but it doesn't really feel any different

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Thompson,

    "It’s yet another element in an endlessly metastasising story that began with a change in the global surveillance climate..."

    Aha! The perfect adjective for this story :) Although if it is cancerous, it is only so to the intelligence apparatus and might be considered benign to civil society more generally.

    Looking forward to the show.

    If anyone has missed it they should catch up with Glenn Greenwald's address and introduction by Jeremy Scahill at the Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago last week.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 220 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I doubt there is any legal basis for action (probably fine-print aplenty in the issuing agreement for parliamentary swipe cards), but I agree with David Farrar that the constitutional implications are dodgy.

    I think this was the wrong decision by The Parliamentary Service.

    Actual employees of a parliamentary agency have no expectation of privacy in their swipe card use. But MPs and journalists are not employees. They are part of the democratic process, and their swipe card data should not be released externally, unless it is under warrant or judicial demand.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    Orwell would be proud – big brother is watching

    Happy Birthday George!
    well last Tuesday...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Jonty,

    Let's hope the Russkies, who apparently don't have an extradition treaty with the Yanks, will offer poor old Snowden sanctuary. Though I suspect Putin is wary of upsetting Uncle Sam ... refusing to co-operate over Syria is one thing but harbouring a US fugitive is something else. I see on RT that the US media refer to Snowden as a 'leaker' (traitor) and refuse to use the term 'whistleblower' (good guy) ... though had it been an Iranian blowing the whistle on Iran's spying activities they would have trumpeted it to the heavens.

    Katikati • Since Mar 2007 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jonty,

    Let's hope the Russkies, who apparently don't have an extradition treaty with the Yanks, will offer poor old Snowden sanctuary. Though I suspect Putin is wary of upsetting Uncle Sam ... refusing to co-operate over Syria is one thing but harbouring a US fugitive is something else.

    I'd be hoping Putin doesn't decide to just help himself to whatever Snowden has. Russia's record on press freedom under Putin has been vastly worse than that of any western country and continues to deteriorate. In the 2013 World Press Freedom Index, Russia has fallen to 148th place. The US is 32nd.

    It's worth remembering these things for context.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Also the guardian published an article on potential European involvement in the whole thing, and then withdrew it. Someone kept it and has posted it here.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It's worth remembering these things for context.

    Indeed. I remember thinking as the news broke that he'd flown to Russia that I wouldn't necessarily feel comfortable going through Russia carrying secrets about the NSA, and then when Snowden disappeared, I wondered if he was being "hosted" by the Russian Intelligence service, whatever that's called these days.

    Another interesting quote I saw today was from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/30/berlin-washington-cold-war

    The documents reviewed by Der Spiegel showed that Germany was treated in the same US spying category as China, Iraq or Saudi Arabia, while the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand were deemed to be allies not subject to remotely the same level of surveillance.

    (emphasis mine)

    I wonder what we did that makes us more "ally" than the Germans?

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I wonder what we did that makes us more “ally” than the Germans?

    Not invade Poland :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Jonty,

    All this hyper surveillance must surely be for 'commercial' information and advantage? So-called 'terrorist' traffic apparently employs highly sophisticated 'both ends' encryption buried 'deep' below this regular surveillance radar.

    Katikati • Since Mar 2007 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Stephen R,

    I wonder what we did that makes us more "ally" than the Germans?

    Echelon

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    Also the guardian published an article on potential European involvement in the whole thing, and then withdrew it. Someone kept it and has posted it here.

    Total screw-up. They published and then unpublished the story online – but it stayed as the front-page lead of The Observer’s printed edition.

    The problem with the story is that the source, Wayne Madsen, is a conspiracist nutbar. Birther and the rest.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Greens complain to Ombudsman about conduct of Henry leak inquiry.

    Dr Norman said the issue was "very serious".

    “The parliamentary server belongs to Parliament not the Executive. MPs control whether their email logs are released from the parliamentary server, not the Prime Minister’s office."

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Sacha,

    Echelon

    Or in other words, we're already giving them all our traffic, so they don't need to put in effort to spy on us?

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Stephen R,

    One can't possibly comment, etc. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Because, in New Zealand, our traffic is read by the U.S. (and probably, I would speculate, Australia), I hope that the U.S. outrage with their own government spurs privacy measures that benefit the world. At the moment, encrypted email is still a messy, complex option for most people.
    I think, if parliamentary email records are being provided at the request of the PM's Chief of Staff, MPs have to assume they have no private communication (to be honest, they should be assuming this anyway, it is just the other people in the know are much more local than previously assumed).
    I tend to feel that (as a general principle) information collected by the government needs to be publically available, if it is being collected. This avoids assymetric power through access to information and false assumptions about what is private. The question then becomes, what is the advantage of keeping logs over time of things like swipe card access, and do those advantages outweigh the public nature of such things being on the record. There are also, however, more anonymous/ unstored ways of designing such systems.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I agree with Paul that the “we only hack all the non-US scumbags” is not all that comforting. Unlike Haroon Meer who wrote that post, NZers have already had our “Oh, we aren’t special …” moment with the ANZUS nuclear-free NZ kerfuffle, and the Rainbow Warrior bombing.

    When I came to Australia I realised they still thought the US gave a shit about them. I still don’t think the penny has really dropped yet.

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Dubya confirms his status as an easily-led dunce.

    "I put that program in place to protect the country. One of the certainties was that civil liberties were guaranteed"

    It's only metadata, after all..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to David Hood,

    I think, if parliamentary email records are being provided at the request of the PM's Chief of Staff, MPs have to assume they have no private communication (to be honest, they should be assuming this anyway, it is just the other people in the know are much more local than previously assumed).

    As I've just pointed out in a Twitter discussion, the role of the Fourth Estate has long rested on such assumptions. On one level, yeah, don't do your leaking on the Parliamentary email service.

    On the other, the executive and Parliamentary Services are supposed to be separate. I find it disturbing that the PM's senior staff member can simply reach into the emails of MPs -- including MPs of other parties, as Dunne was -- for the very political purpose of tracking down leaks to the press.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And meanwhile, the Snowden debacle rolls on. He has now been obliged to seek asylum in Russia:

    Russia maintains one of the world's most developed intelligence mechanisms and is widely believed to engage in snooping on its own citizens. In stark contrast to Russia's approach to Snowden, whom Putin likened to the Soviet-era dissident Andrei Sakharov, Russian whistleblowers are often attacked – one, the anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, is currently on trial and another, the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, died in prison.

    And yet Assange remains a champion of the Kremlin. Earlier this month, the WikiLeaks founder, who had a television show on the Kremlin's English-language propaganda channel Russia Today, said he had advised Snowden to seek asylum there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Jonty,

    Putin's condition on offering Snowden asylum is that he mustn't release any more information and thereby embarass Mr P in his relationship with his good friend Mr O :--)

    Katikati • Since Mar 2007 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Wikileaks has just fired off a volley of tweets indicating that Snowden is seeking asylum from pretty much any country that might have him and a few that definitely won't: Austria, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Cuba, Nicaragua ...

    What a mess.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Russell Brown,

    the very political purpose of tracking down leaks to the press.

    Indeed. It'd be one thing if it was the cops conducting a criminal investigation for the leaking of a classified report, and the PM's CoS ordered cooperation rather than demanding a warrant (though I suspect that, as a matter of t-crossing-and-i-dotting, the police would show up with a warrant in the first place), but that's not what happened. It's purely political.

    Franks has been interesting to listen to. Says he always assumed that his email was public property. Katherine Ryan made the interesting observation that a lot of email responses from ministers are now coming from @parliament.govt.nz addresses rather than the Ministerial Services mail system, presumably in a misguided attempt by the ministers to avoid those messages being exposed under the OIA because of the Ombudsmen's acceptance that communication between MPs and constituents (as opposed to ministers) is confidential by default.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Russell Brown,

    What a mess.

    Snowden’s only real hope at this point if he’s to continue blowing the whistle (ETA: given Russia's ultimatum) is military transport by a sympathetic country, which would be immune under diplomatic convention (ie: not starting a war) from interference by any country that was over-flown or landed in en route to his final destination. If the Russians won’t grant him a temporary visa he’s not going to be allowed to enter Russia or board a scheduled flight that requires travel documents to pass through other countries, which leaves his options as boarding an unscheduled flight.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

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