OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Pay Attention

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  • FletcherB, in reply to Ross Mason,

    He has waited quite a while to finally drop himself off at the cop shop in London Town

    That is exactly counter to my understanding of the situation….

    From my (admittedly not very in-depth) understanding of the situation… he dropped himself in at the earliest opportunity once a valid warrant had been served.

    Of course, you may have been confused by the swedish authorities announcing they had issued a warrant to Interpol a day or two before they really did… the first attempt being incomplete and not legally valid.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 887 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Confused may not be the word but certainly he has been trailing the wanted tag for a while.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1585 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Being told via the media that you are wanted, and having actual valid legal documents informing you of same are not the same thing...

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 887 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Confused may not be the word but certainly he has been trailing the wanted tag for a while.

    Well...he did stuck around in Sweden during the initial investigation and left on being told there would be no charges. Not so keen to return now, for sure, but hardly avoiding the law.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It's not so much a "wall" as potholes strewn wildly about the place.

    I think their actual wall wasn't really meant to stop invaders either. It was meant to slow them down during their getaway. More of a disincentive than an actual barrier - it was far too long to actually man in a way that could prevent anyone breaking through. Very much analogous to the internet. So long as people are made aware of the wall's presence, that will deter a significant proportion from even attempting ... er... whatever it is that the Chinese don't want people doing with the internet. As long as it is frequently brought to people's minds "will the Chinese block this?" about some service or other, then just in the interests of not fucking around, many will implement policies that prevent such blockages (like blocking the word t-i-b-e-t, I guess).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10596 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz,

    In reply to FletcherB

    Re the suspension by Paypal et al of payments to Wikileaks, I don’t believe that being a bank or not makes a difference in terms of whether they have the right to disallow a payment to some third party. Not the same issue but certainly as far as anti-money laundering goes, both Visa and Paypal would get caught by our s6 of our AML/CFT Act.

    Certainly it would be hard to argue that they are discriminating against you, the customer initiating the payment.

    The US most likely has quite different legal obligations of (quasi-)financial institutions compared to NZ. I know US organisations will “red flag” individuals who may only be subject to news reports of possible criminal, civil, or regulatory violations – pretty wide. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if there was a legal obligation to at least report transactions if not prevent them where there was grounds to suspect criminal activity. Thus it could be that by not allowing the transactions they are staying within the law.

    It would seem a fairly roundabout way of trying to prevent information on the financial industry being leaked and given the ease with which data can be leaked likely to fail. To me this is just butt-covering to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    The issue that most people miss is that none of these documents are likely to be "news" to many foreign governments.

    It seemed to be news to the German government that an aide was spying for the Americans. I wouldn't be surprised if it's news to quite a few in the Australian Labor party that one of their Senators appears to see his first loyalty to the United States rather than, well, Australia.

    I would hope it's news to us that our US allies in Afghanistan knew that one of their mercenary companys, DynCorp, was using government money to run a child prostitution ring. Because I'd rather not think that Auntie Helen was OK with it then, or John Key is "comfortable" with that now.

    1) Are they doing this just to suck up to the US government, or is this a more specific and self-interested response to the promise of up-coming leaks on the US financial industry?

    One of the cables reveals the US State Department lobbying against Russian financial laws on behalf of Visa and Mastercard. A little from column a, a little from column b.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to rodgerd,

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s news to quite a few in the Australian Labor party that one of their Senators appears to see his first loyalty to the United States rather than, well, Australia.

    A surprise to some in the so-called grassroots membership perhaps, but unlikely to be a revelation to Senator Arbib's political colleagues, thanks to the disfunctional level of career-driven cynicism in the NSW ALP, both left and right.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4590 posts Report Reply

  • Crunchy Weta,

    Boycott Amazon and Paypal
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_177169758968493&ap=1
    prevent corporatisation of the internet..

    Mamaku • Since Nov 2006 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • paulalambert,

    For any tech specialists, how accurate could this be?

    **I wonder if the yanks realise that releasing a million or so transcripts with time stamps will give other countries who have been capturing and databasing encrypted streams of these communications, all the data they need to crack the encryption algorithms these western systems are using, matching streaming encryption with the real texts, shouldnt take too long I would think...**

    DynCorp, was using (US) government money to run a child prostitution ring"
    They were renting boys like these

    I signed this http://www.avaaz.org/en/wikileaks_petition/?cl=857969448&v=7750 yesterday morning at just under 2000 signatures, they have over half a million now. Assange being in custody has certainly got people thinking.

    chch • Since Dec 2006 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to paulalambert,

    Thanks Paula, great links.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4590 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    **I wonder if the yanks realise that releasing a million or so transcripts with time stamps will give other countries who have been capturing and databasing encrypted streams of these communications, all the data they need to crack the encryption algorithms these western systems are using, matching streaming encryption with the real texts, shouldnt take too long I would think…**

    I'm not sure how much of this would be encrypted, but the datastream wouldn't help you. The encryption wouldn't be sent serially, it would be packaged up. So capturing an entire stream would only help you decipher if exactly the same cable, including the meta data such as the time stamp was sent again, which is impossible.

    If the algorithm wasn't very good you could pick up patterns, but the encryption probably picks up every nth character and puts them in a new order as part of the process, or similar so changing a couple of words in a cable would make it look pretty different, and you couldn't reverse engineer it even if you had an encrypted an unencrypted version - the encryption will be one way.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    For any tech specialists, how accurate could this be?

    It's possible. Working out a key when you have ciphertext and the corresponding plaintext is easier for some algorithms than it is without the plaintext. But that does presume that they used the same key for many transmissions. With public key encryption this became totally unnecessary.

    Also, I'm presuming it's the cracking of the keys you're talking about. Reverse engineering the encryption algorithm seems unlikely to me. There's not really that much need for secret algorithms anymore. The secrecy is in the key.

    But I'm sure there are secret algorithms out there, so maybe. My understanding of cryptography these days is that secret algorithms are less secure, because they are not subjected to as much scrutiny as the huge raft of public ones. I would trust one less, personally, because there's always the chance that the algorithm designers deliberately left a "back door", which gives those in the know access to everything encrypted that way. This would be highly undesirable in the spook business.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10596 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Also, what Kyle said. Cracking good encryption is not easy. It is extremely computationally expensive - the NSA in the US have many acres of computers dedicated just to this. Even then, it's quite feasible to encrypt just one message with a sufficiently long key to take the entire lot hundreds of years to crack. Or whatever time frame seems safe to you, perhaps millions, or billions of years. Unless someone has actually 'cracked the algorithm'. Doing this can be shown to be equivalent to having found the holy grail of computer science, and there are tens of thousands of people seeking this in the public domain - it has a lot of application outside of cryptography for solving intractable problems. Basically, cryptographic algorithm designers make sure that to crack their encryption, the cracker must have found the holy grail.

    For anything actually top secret, there's always the simple uncrackable algorithm, too, which has key length the same as the message. Even aliens with unimaginable computing power can't crack that. Apocryphally, the hotline from POTUS to the Kremlin used this all through the Cold War.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10596 posts Report Reply

  • paulalambert,

    Apocryphally, the hotline from POTUS to the Kremlin used this all through the Cold War.

    Big cheers for the comprehensible replies, and especially that last bit pretty much clears it up for me!!

    The loss of so much data makes the USA look fairly complacent in terms of security, I was amazed to hear there were three million people on their 'share' list.

    chch • Since Dec 2006 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Federalmonetaristislamocommunazis
    Well they won't find me. Quite by chance I am sitting in a container in the bush in the Far North, communicating over a prepay GPRS modem, tee hee.
    As for Russia being a Mafia state, what did we all expect? The much applauded collapse of socialism by the West turned into a grab bag for the greedy. All the assets of the USSR were the property of the people and they were all royally ripped off by the miracle of capitalism, which is what the Mafia is all about, free enterprise at its best.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    sitting in a container in the bush in the Far North

    Must be stifling. How's the place coming along?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19596 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The loss of so much data makes the USA look fairly complacent in terms of security, I was amazed to hear there were three million people on their ‘share’ list.

    That's really the weakness in the system, not the transmission period. If thousands of people have access to the texts, and dozens of those people are disgruntled, it only takes one to copy them off.

    I'm more surprised that computers that have access to secret materials aren't more physically locked down. A PC desktop in an academic department at my work caused me a wee battle trying to open up the USB drives and CD drive to allow physical copying. The Department of State and Department of Defense would have big enough computing requirements that they could force companies to make special, more secure designs for them.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Sacha,

    Stifling?
    El est Scorchio, had to have siesta this arvo, just finished working, it got dark. Gets better by the day :-)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Porta,

    If anyone bothered to read what Assange had written about his philosophy, they might refrain from talking such tosh.. Probably too tiresome for the short attention span of bloggers, but zunguzzu at
    http://zunguzungu.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/julian-assange-and-the-computer-conspiracy-%E2%80%9Cto-destroy-this-invisible-government%E2%80%9D/
    has done the heavy lifting for you.

    Assange sums it up pretty neatly. He says first why he believes that authoritarian governments are by definition a conspiracy

    Authoritarian regimes give rise to forces which oppose them by pushing against the individual and collective will to freedom, truth and self realization. Plans which assist authoritarian rule, once discovered, induce resistance. Hence these plans are concealed by successful authoritarian powers. This is enough to define their behavior as conspiratorial.

    He goes on to state:

    Since a conspiracy is a type of cognitive device that acts on information acquired from its environment, distorting or restricting these inputs means acts based on them are likely to be misplaced. Programmers call this effect garbage in, garbage out. Usually the effect runs the other way; it is conspiracy that is the agent of deception and information restriction. In the US, the programmer’s aphorism is sometimes called “the Fox News effect”.

    I have left a couple of steps in the logic out in the interests of brevity read the entire page if you need to get a better handle, but after Assange has explained how conspiracies such as authoritarian governments like the amerikan empire are dependent upon information flows and how corrupting that flow can stymie them, he says:

    The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax”) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption. Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.

    The point of the leaks is not so much the actual stories themselves, as informative as they have been. The point is to make it more difficult for the criminal conspiracy that is the US government in the 21st century, to effectively communicate. Already we see that the 3 million plus employees of the amerikan empire that were once able to access all of these documents, and presumably make better decisions as a result, have now lost that access. Assange's strategy is working, whether or not you read the cables, believe the cables or continue to apologise for the empire's excesses.

    What you do won't effect the Assange plan. If you absorb the cables and become convinced of the evils of empire, so much the better, but if you don't no matter, the empire's communications tactics as well as their overall strategy has been dealt a major blow by these releases regardless of anyone's pious pontificating about lesser evils.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2010 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Joe Porta,

    Probably too tiresome for the short attention span of bloggers, but zunguzzu

    It's "Zunguzungu" and I linked to it days ago, but I understand that reading the whole discussion may be too tiresome for your attention span.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Burn!

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Joe, it's quite possible the opposite result will occur too. Those affected by the leaks might beef up their security, so that future leaks are more difficult, and will make examples of the leakers, for intimidation. Neither of these are moves towards open governance.

    But these leaks are still a good thing, despite all that. They've given the world evidence to back up many insights into the secrets of their states.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10596 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to BenWilson,

    Joe, it's quite possible the opposite result will occur too. Those affected by the leaks might beef up their security, so that future leaks are more difficult, and will make examples of the leakers, for intimidation. Neither of these are moves towards open governance.

    Making the channels more secure intrinsically hinders communication, which is the whole point.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm responding to this chestnut.

    Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.

    It strikes me as wishful thinking. I think there's a lot more to busting open government secrecy than leaks, which could even be counterproductive on that score. But they're still worthwhile.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10596 posts Report Reply

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