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As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2013 and discussing where we are in the fight for free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. Click here to read other blog posts in this series.
Prior to January 2011, national or regional Internet “blackouts” were mostly unheard of. Although the Maldives,Nepal, Burma, and China all preceded Egypt with this innovation, it was the shutdown initiated by former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak that set a new precedent and garnered global media coverage. Since then, Syria, Libya, and even San Francisco’s BART police have “pulled a Mubarak.”
But in 2013, Internet blackouts became de rigeur for embattled governments: In August,Burma experienced a week of disruptions, the cause of which remains unclear. In Egypt’s North Sinai region, telephone and Internet networks were—according to a report from Mada Masr—intermittently shut down in September in the midst of military operations targeting militants there. In Sudan, where a brutal government crackdown in September on protests over fuel subsidy cuts resulted in the deaths of more than 30 people, authorities cut off Internet accessin an apparent bid to stop the demonstrations. In October, Renesys reported that the Iraqi government had tried but failed to shut down the Internet. And more recently, Renesys spotted a 45-minute national outage from North Korea, for which the source was unclear.
The Syrian Internet has seen numerous outages throughout the year, some of which appear to be politically motivated and others of which may be structural. In October, Aleppo was without Internet for 17.5 hours, while in early December, the entire country’s Internet went down for a few hours.
Politically-motivated Internet outages are certainly trending. For governments, they pose an all-too-tempting way of stifling speech and keeping order during periods of protest or unrest, but as the BART telecommunications shutdown in San Francisco demonstrated, they can also prevent urgent communications from getting through and therefore may not be worth the risks they pose, even to the most despotic of regimes.
This article is part of our 2013 Year in Review series; read other articles about the fight for digital rights in 2013.
DailyCensored.com – Breaking Censored News, World, Independent, Liberal NewsTPP: NAFTA on Steroids – DailyCensored.com – Breaking Censored News, World, Independent, Liberal News
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade deal from hell. It’s a stealth corporate coup d’etat.
It’s a giveaway to banksters. It’s a global neoliberal ripoff. It’s a business empowering Trojan horse. It’s a freedom and ecosystem destroying nightmare.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) calls it “a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement.”
More on TPP below. New York Times editors support it. Two decades ago, they endorsed NAFTA.
On January 1, 1994, its destructive life began. It’s anti-labor, anti-environment, anti-consumer and anti-democratic.
Corporate giants love it. Why not? They wrote it. Hundreds of pages of one-size-fits-all rules benefit them.
They override domestic laws. A race to the bottom followed. NAFTA was a disastrous experiment. In November 1993, New York editors headlined “The ‘Great Debate’ Over NAFTA,” saying:
“The laboriously constructed agreement to phase out trade barriers among the US, Mexico and Canada, which this page has strongly supported, is likely to have a positive, though small, impact on US living standards and provide a modest boost to the Mexican economy.”
“Some American jobs would be lost to cheaper Mexican labor, other jobs would be gained because American exports would increase as Mexico’s high tariffs gradually disappeared.”
“Economics aside, Nafta’s defeat would suggest that the US had abandoned its historical commitment to free trade and would thus discourage other Latin and South American countries thathave moved toward more market-oriented economies in the expectation of freer world trade.
So-called “free trade” is one-sided. It isn’t fair. NAFTA proponents promised tens of thousands of newly created US jobs.
Ordinary famers would export their way to wealth. Mexican living standards would rise. Economic opportunities would reduce regional immigration to America.
NAFTA’s promises never materialized. Reality proved polar opposite hype. A decade later, about a million US jobs were lost.
America’s Mexican trade deficit alone cost around 700,000 jobs by 2010.
Official government data show nearly five million US manufacturing disappeared since 1994.
NAFTA alone wasn’t responsible. It reflected broken promises, lost futures, and other trade deals from hell to follow. TPP stands out. It’s NAFTA on steroids.
Since 2008, multiple negotiating rounds were held. They continue secretly. Twelve nations are involved.
They include America, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Others are invited to join.
At issue is agreeing on unrestricted trade in goods, services, rules of origin, trade remedies, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers, government procurement and competition policies, and intellectual property (IP).
It’s about eliminating fundamental freedoms. It’s circumventing sovereign independent rights. Corporate power brokers want unchallenged control.
They want global rules and standards rewritten. They want supranational powers. They want them overriding national sovereignty. They want investor rights prioritized over public ones.
They already rule the world. Imagine giving them more power. Imagine no way to stop them.
Imagine a duplicitous president. Obama’s in lockstep with their wish list. He intends giving them everything they want.
Public Citizen is independent. It’s our voice. Its work entails “ensur(ing) that all citizens are represented in the halls of power.”
Its Global Trade Watch (GTW) monitors TPP developments. It calls it “a stealthy policy being pressed by corporate America. (It’s) a dream of the 1%.” It’ll:
• “offshore millions of American jobs,
• free the banksters from oversight,
• ban Buy America policies needed to create green (and many other) jobs (as well as) rebuild out economy,
• decrease access to medicine,
• flood the US with unsafe food and products,
• and empower corporations to attack our environment and health safeguards.”
Hyped benefits are fake. Reality is polar opposite what corporate shysters claim. Everything accruing from TPP benefits them. It does so by undermining what matters most to ordinary people.
Lori Wallach heads GTW. Ben Beachy is research director. Last June, they headlined their New York Times op-ed “Obama’s Covert Trade Deal.”
He’s committed to open government, he claims. His policies reflect otherwise. He’s negotiating TPP secretly.
It’s “the most significant international commercial agreement since the” World Trade Organization’s 1995 creation, said Wallach and Beachy.
Congress has exclusive “terms of trade” authority. Obama systematically refuses repeated congressional requests to release the entire draft agreement being negotiated.
He “denied requests from members to attend (sessions) as observers.” He “revers(ed) past practice” snubbing them.
He “rejected demands by outside groups” to release the draft text. George Bush never went that far.
Obama’s “wall of secrecy” had one exception. About “600 trade ‘advisors,’ dominated by representatives of big business,” got access to what Congress was denied.
TPP overrides American laws. It requires changing them. Otherwise trade sanctions on US exports can be imposed.
Wall Street loves TPP. It prohibits banning risky financial products. It lets banksters operate any way they want without oversight.
Congress has final say. Both houses will vote on TPP. Ahead of doing so, they’ll have access to its full text.
Why later? Why not now? Why not earlier? Why not without enough time for discussion and public debate?
Members won’t get enough time to examine TPP carefully. Maintaining secrecy as long as possible prevents public debate.
Obama wants TPP fast-tracked. He wants it approved by yearend. Until March, Ron Kirk was Obama’s trade representative.
He was remarkably candid. He said revealing TPP’s text would raise enormous opposition. Doing so might make adopting it impossible.
According to Wallach and Beachy:
“Whatever one thinks about ‘free trade,’ (TPP secrecy) represents a huge assault on the principles and practice of democratic governance.”
“That is untenable in the age of transparency, especially coming from an administration that is otherwise so quick to trumpet its commitment to open government.”
On October 30, a newly formed Friends of TPP caucus was formed. Four House co-chairman head it. They include Reps. David Reichert (R. WA), Charles Boustany (R. LA), Ron Kind (D. WI) and Gregory Meeks (D. NY).
They sound like earlier NAFTA supporters. They claim TPP is important for US jobs, exports and economic growth. They lied saying so.
Wallach commented separately. TPP is hugely hugely destructive, she said. It’s more than about trade. It’s a “corporate Trojan horse.” It has 29 chapters. Only five relate to trade.
The others “either handcuff our domestic governments, limit food safety, environmental standards, financial regulation, energy and climate policy, or establish new powers for corporations.”
They promote offshoring jobs to low-wage countries. They ban Buy America. Corporations can do whatever they please. Instead of investing domestically, they can use “our tax dollars” to operate abroad.
They can exploit national resources freely. They’ll have “rights for min(ed) (commodities), oil, gas” and others “without approval.”
TPP includes all sorts of “worrisome issues relating to Internet freedom.”
It provides a back door to earlier failed legislation. It resurrects SOPA, PIPA, ACTA and CISPA provisions. It tramples on fundamental freedoms and national sovereignty.
“Think about all the things that would be really hard to get into effect as a corporation in public, a lot of them rejected here and in the other 11 countries, and that is what’s bundled in to the TPP,” said Wallach.
“And every country would be required to change its laws domestically to meet these rules.”
“The binding provision is each country shall ensure the conformity of domestic laws, regulations and procedures.”
Negotiations are secret. Nothing is discussed publicly. Details leaked out. TPP includes hugely unpopular policies. It forces them on member countries.
It overrides domestic laws protecting people and ecosystems. It’s predatory capitalism at its worst writ large. Obama fully supports it. Lawmakers hadn’t seen it until last year.
They got access to a single chapter. Examining it is severely restricted. Their office is denied a copy. They alone can read it. Their staff is denied permission.
They can’t take detailed notes. They can’t publicly discuss what’s in it. Technical language makes it hard to understand what they read.
Congressional approval is likely. Lobby pressure is intense. “Everything is bought and sold,” said Wallach. “Honor is no exception.”
The reason there’s no deal so far “is because a lot of other countries are standing up to the worst of US corporate demands,” Wallach explained.
For how long remains to be seen. If TPP is adopted, public interest no longer will matter. The worst of all possible worlds will replace it. Corporate rights will supersede human ones. A global race to the bottom will intensify.
Signatory countries will be legally bound to support loss of personal freedoms. Sovereign laws won’t protect against poisoned food, water and air.
Ecosystems will be destroyed. Millions more jobs will shift from developed to under or less developed nations.
Corporate power will grow more exponentially. Fundamental human and civil rights may erode altogether. Not according to Times editors.
On November 5, they headlined “A Pacific Trade Deal.”
A dozen nations want a deal by yearend, they said. They want it to “help all of our economies and strengthen relations between the United States and several important Asian allies.”
It bears repeating. TPP is a trade deal from hell. It’s a stealth corporate coup d’etat. It’s a freedom and ecosystem destroying nightmare. Times editors didn’t explain.
They lied to readers. They betrayed them. They repeated their 1993 duplicity. Millions affected understand best.
An October 8 White House press release lied. It called TPP “a comprehensive, next-generation model for addressing both new and traditional trade and investment issues, supporting the creation and retention of jobs and promoting economic development in our countries.”
“The deepest and broadest possible liberalization of trade and investment will ensure the greatest benefits for countries’ large and small manufacturers, service providers, farmers, and ranchers, as well as workers, innovators, investors, and consumers.”
Times editors endorsed what they haven’t read. TPP provisions remain secret. Leaked information alone is known.
Times editors willingly accept Obama misinformation as fact. Twenty years ago, they got NAFTA wrong. Here they go again.
They’re mindless about secret negotiations. Public concerns don’t matter. Corporate interests alone count.
Subverting national sovereignty is OK. So is empowering transnational giants without oversight. They’ll be able sue countries for potentially undermining future profits.
Times editors support the worst of corporate excess. Doing so shows which side they’re on.
Fundamental freedoms aren’t important. Corporate rights drive The Times’ agenda. Its editors explained nothing about fast-track authority.
Max Baucus (D. MT) chairs the Senate Finance Committee. He supports fast-tracking. Doing so hands congressional authority to Obama.
Proper hearings are restricted. Debate is limited. Amendments can’t be introduced. The Senate can’t filibuster. Congress can only vote up or down.
It can happen virtually out of sight and mind. It can happen with scant media coverage. It can happen with none at all. It can become law with practically no public awareness.
Imagine corporate America getting coup d’etat authority with hardly anyone knowing what happened. Imagine the consequences if it does. Imagine today’s America becoming worse than ever.
Times editors stressed how Obama wants TPP to be “an example for the rest of the world to follow.”
Imagine one more than ever unfit to live in. Imagine a president promising change to believe in promoting it.
Imagine Times editors endorsing what demands condemnation. Imagine not explaining what readers most need to know.
Imagine substituting misinformation for truth and full disclosure. Imagine all the news they call fit to print not fit to read.
A Final Comment
On November 13, Public Citizen headlined “Leaked Documents Reveal Obama Administration Push for Internet Freedom Limits, Terms That Raise Drug Prices in Closed-Door Trade Talks.”
“US Demands in Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Text, Published Today by WikiLeaks, Contradict Obama Policy and Public Opinion at Home and Abroad.”
TPP’s leaked text reveals Obama demands limiting Internet freedom. He wants restricted access to lifesaving medicines.
He wants all TPP signatory countries bound the the same deplorable rules.
He lied claiming TPP reduces health care costs. It has nothing to do with advancing online freedom as he promised. It’s polar opposite on both counts.
According to Public Citizen:
“It is clear from the text obtained by WikiLeaks that the US government is isolated and has lost this debate.”
“Our partners don’t want to trade away their people’s health. Americans don’t want these measures either.”
Obama’s in the pocket of Big Pharma. He’s a Wall Street tool. He represents other corporate interests. He spurns popular ones. He lies claiming otherwise. He repeatedly avoids truth and full disclosure.
He lied about Obamacare. It’s an abomination. It’s a scam. It’s a scheme to enrich insurers and other healthcare giants.
TPP is a global scam. It’s an assault on fundamental freedoms.
Reports indicate around half the House members strongly oppose it. Others lean that way. According to Lori Wallach:
“This could be the end of TPP.”
“All these other countries are like, ‘Wait, you have no trade authority and nothing you’ve promised us means anything. Why would we give you our best deal?’ Why would you be making concessions to the emperor who has no clothes?”
It bears repeating. TPP is a trade bill from hell. It’s a stealth corporate coup d’ etat. Killing it is essential.
The alternative is losing fundamental freedoms. It’s destroying national sovereignty. It’s making healthcare less affordable. It’s undermining what ordinary people value most.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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Treaty Threatens Global Government … Run by Giant Corporations
We noted last year:
An international treaty being negotiated in secret which would not only crack down on Internet privacy much more than SOPA or ACTA, but would actually destroy the sovereignty of the U.S. and all other signatories.
It is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
We also noted that even Congressmen are furious that the bill was being kept secret from the American public.
And that the TPP is an anti-American power grab by big corporations.
Wikileaks has now leaked the intellectual property chapter of the secret treaty … and it’s as bad as we feared.
Public Citizen explains how the TPP would limit people’s access to affordable medicine.
And International Business Times explains:
The TPP’s chapter on IP deals with a host of issues, but its potential impacts on basic Internet freedom and usage are perhaps the ones that would directly impact the most people in the short term. One of the biggest concerns about the agreement raised by the Internet freedom advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation centers around the concept of “temporary copies.” Here’s the text of the relevant section of the TPP’s intellectual property chapter leaked Wednesday:
“Each Party shall provide that authors, performers, and producers of phonograms have the right to authorize or prohibit all reproductions of their works, performances, and phonograms, in any manner or form, permanent or temporary (including temporary storage in electronic form).”
The EFF wrote in a July analysis of the language – which has not been amended in the intervening months — that the provision “reveals a profound disconnect with the reality of the modern computer,” which relies on temporary copies to perform routine operations, during which it must create temporary copies of programs and files in order to carry out basic functions. This is particularly so while a computer is connected to the Internet, when it will use temporary copies to buffer videos, store cache files to ensure websites load quickly and more.
“Since it’s technically necessary to download a temporary version of everything we see on our devices, does that mean—under the US proposed language—that anyone who ever views content on their device could potentially be found liable of infringement?” the EFF wrote. “For other countries signing on to the TPP, the answer would be most likely yes.”
And see this.
PRISM is driving the uptake of privacy services, but there’s no simple solution to beating the NSA|Washington’s Blog
Washington’s Blog. (source)
While Edward Snowden’s PRISM revelations failed to spark much widespread outrage among the general public, an apparent spike in the uptake of Virtual Private Networks suggests the online privacy market could be entering a golden period. But when commerce is driven by fear there is plenty of opportunity for exploitation and many privacy-concerned citizens may be lulled into a false sense of security over services that won’t protect their data.
In the two months after the NSA’s spying programme was uncovered by the Guardian, IVPN – the Virtual Private Network platform I work for – saw a 56% increase in sign-ups to our platform. Following this spike we decided to run a survey, asking our subscribers what motivated them to sign-up to a VPN. Out of the eight anti-online privacy programmes we listed (ranging from SOPA to the Patriot Act) PRISM came top by a clear margin, with a 28% share of the vote. These findings werebacked-up from a number of other VPNs, who said they’ve also seen an increase in interest since the revelations. Not to mention the much publicized numbers released by privacy-orientated search engine DuckDuckGo, which reported a 50% traffic increase in the wake of PRISM.
The fact internet users are becoming more privacy-conscious is certainly encouraging, but readers who are technically minded may have already spotted a slight problem with the above findings: VPNs won’t protect you from the type of surveillance detailed in Snowden’s leaked documents.
PRISM involved creating backdoors into major online services, allowing the NSA to monitor the content of emails and other communications. VPNs will prevent evesdroppers from knowing where you’re located and the contents of your traffic. But they won’t prevent someone accessing Google’s or Facebook’s servers, where your personal information is stored.
But the problem goes deeper than this. Some VPNs have been disingenuously cashing in on privacy fears before the emergence of PRISM – and are continuing to do so. To understand how, you need to understand how VPNs protect your privacy beyond that of an ISP. The vast majority of ISPs operate a data retention policy of some kind. This means they store information on users, such as your IP address (which uniquely identifies you) and web logs (which record every website you’ve visited). In Europedata retention is mandated and there are some in Washington who want to take the same route. But even though it’s not written into law, we know US ISPs retain data anyway, in order to cooperate with law enforcement investigations.
VPN privacy-services supposedly offer protection from this data retention, by keeping logs for no more than a few days (or in some cases a few minutes). If there’s no data stored then it’s impossible for a VPN to cooperate with law enforcement requests to access it. Many VPN customers sign-up because they assume this is the case. But it’s frequently not. In fact, some VPNs have even worse data retention policies than ISPs. For instance HideMyAss, which is perhaps the most popular VPN on the market,retains data for two years, and this was only acknowledged after the company handed a hacker over to the FBI.
Despite PRISM being met with some cynicism by the population, the rising interest in privacy tools suggests the wider community is not quite as apathetic toward privacy as we may think. But at the same time we should not fall into the trap of believing there is a magic bullet to solve the problem of overzealous government surveillance. Even widely used, open source, tools such as TOR have their vulnerabilities. The best tools in the fight to reclaim our online freedoms are education and the support of activist organisations – such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation – in order to continue to pressure our political system and keep the issue on its agenda.
- PRISM is the biggest influence on VPN sign-ups (ivpn.net)
- Protesters march in Washington against NSA spying (reuters.com)
- It’s time for Silicon Valley to ask: Is it worth it? (pandodaily.com)
- Four Ways To Escape The NSA Dragnet (ramyabdeljabbar.wordpress.com)
If You Protest, Testify Against, or Report On Chevron, the Oil Giant Will Get Your Metadata | Motherboard
- It’s Not Just the NSA! Judge Rules That Chevron Can Collect Private Info of People Suing Them (rinf.com)
- Court: Chevron Can Seize Americans’ Email Data (motherjones.com)
- It’s Not Just the NSA! Judge Rules That Chevron Can Collect Private Info of People Suing Them (alternet.org)
- Chevron Granted Access to Environmental Activists’ Email Accounts (dailyqueernews.wordpress.com)
- Corporations seeking metadata? Yup. (digbysblog.blogspot.com)
- Effort afoot to sue Canadians for illegal downloads (cp24.com)
- Effort afoot in court to sue Canadians for illegal downloads (macleans.ca)
- Effort afoot to sue illegal Canadian downloaders (metronews.ca)
- Biggest File-Sharing “Pirates” Spend More On Content Than “Normal” People (eteknix.com)
- Steven Seagal movie lawsuit booted by Oregon federal judge (oregonlive.com)
- BitTorrent Bundle Launched,Helps Content Creators to Make Money from File-Sharing (retrify.com)
- Namecheap Takes Preemptive Stance Against CISPA (prweb.com)
- Opposing CISPA This Week (lawprofessors.typepad.com)
- CISPA: Cyber Security or Big Brother? (digitalsurgeons.com)
- CISPA Is Back – Internet Firms & The Public Fight Back (Again) (endtimereport.net)
- Namecheap Warns About CISPA, Makes Another EFF Pledge (elliotsblog.com)
- CISPA Sponsor Mike Rogers Deletes Tweet with Link to Politician Funding from Pro-CISPA Lobby Groups (leaksource.wordpress.com)
- Boneheaded congressman brags about getting money for supporting CISPA (venturebeat.com)
- CISPA Returns Completely Unchanged – Despite Promises It Was Being Updated to Address Concerns (dslreports.com)