How complete, and what cracks, in US Hegemony in the World Cyber-Imperialist System?

[The following is a long and detailed report from the leading French media giant, examining the history and extent of US domination of the internet and cyber-surveillance throughout the world imperialist system — and the attempts of other countries and independent forces to break, or secure some level of autonomy, on that dominance.  It’s a long article, but worth reading.  While much of the current reporting on these issues focuses on personal secrecy issues vs. “national security” claims, additional issues are driven by  economic competition and contention, political manipulation, and military alliances, and related “intellectual property rights” and “scientific research/development” controls.  

Those involved in struggles for self-defense, self-determination, internationalist solidarity, investigative journalism, anti-capitalist research, and for socialist/proletarian revolutions must recognize which instruments are useful in pursuit of their strategic goals, and what other means must be found and utilized to be sure their enemies are not aware of their ways before their own comrades are, and before solid initiatives can take root among the masses..  —  Frontlines ed.]

US wants to control, and own, the world online

We’ve got our eye on you

Edward Snowden not only told the world about US state surveillance of national and personal secrets, he reminded us that almost all the companies surveying us for commercial gain are American.
 by Dan Schiller, Le Monde diplomatique, November 1, 2014
 

Revelations on US National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programmes based on Edward Snowden’s cache of its data files caused “fundamental, irreversible changes in many countries,” wrote journalist Glen Greenwald, who brokered many of the disclosures (1). In 2013 Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil took public stands against US privacy invasions — they had personally been victims — and the UN General Assembly voted unanimously to affirm online privacy as a human right. In June 2014, responding to the EU, the US Justice Department promised to send legislation to Congress that would grant European citizens many of the (inadequate) privacy protections accorded to US citizens.

But to grasp fully the importance of the Snowden affair, we must broaden our focus beyond the transgressions of an overbearing superstate and examine the impact of his revelations on the forces shaping the global political economy, structured around the US.

Continue reading

“Net sharpens divide over cop shootings”

[The San Francisco Chronicle performs its duty as bourgeois media,  blaming the internet for the outrage over police killings.  The epidemic of such killings of, especially,  Black and Brown youth, as detailed in the recent Malcolm X Grassroots Movement report detailing that such killings take place every 26 hours, is not described by the Chronicle as alarming or disturbing.  Instead, they decry the attention given by the internet. — Frontlines ed.]

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Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Jimmy Blueford, whose cousin Alan Blueford was shot by police, marches in Oakland. Photo: Sarah Rice, Special To The Chronicle / SF

[Jimmy Blueford, whose cousin Alan Blueford was shot by police, marches in Oakland. Photo: Sarah Rice, Special To The Chronicle / SF]

From San Jose to Oakland to Vallejo, fatal police shootings often follow a familiar script.

An officer makes a split-second decision to kill, later explaining that he had no choice. His department struggles to communicate with the dead person’s family and the public. Anger spills into the streets, with activists demanding that authorities condemn the shooting – not just as a mistake but as murder. And an investigation clears the officer of any wrongdoing.

This could describe the shooting of 18-year-old Alan Blueford in Oakland in May or many other recent Bay Area cases.

While there is little evidence that police shootings are on the rise, they have become more politically divisive and combustible, people on all sides say, in part because of the spread of video cameras and the immediacy of online communication. Continue reading

Philippines: Iron cyber-fist in faux democratic velvet glove

Media groups, Filipinos protest tough cyber law

By HRVOJE HRANJSKI | Associated PressFilipino journalists and some media group leaders hold their petitions against the Cybercrime Prevention Act as they submitted them to the Supreme Court in Manila, Philippines, Wednesday Oct. 3, 2012. Media groups and Filipinos stepped up calls Wednesday for repealing a tough new law that targets cybercrime but activists fear will be used to suppress online freedoms in the Southeast Asian nation. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Media groups and Filipinos stepped up calls for repealing a tough new law that targets cybercrime but activists fear will be used to suppress online freedoms in the Southeast Asian nation.

The Cybercrime Prevention Act took effect Wednesday despite last-minute petitions to the Supreme Court to stop it. The justices said they will take up the issue next week.

The law is envisioned as a measure against hacking, identity theft, spamming, cybersex and online child pornography. But citizens and groups who protested on social networking sites, blogs and out in the streets fear politicians will use it to silence critics.

The law contains a provision that says libel — which is already punishable by up to six years in prison — is also a cybercrime. It doubles cumulative penalties for online offenses and allows government agencies to search, seize and destroy computer data deemed libelous.

Associated Press/Aaron Favila – Filipino journalists and some media group leaders hold their petitions against the Cybercrime Prevention Act as they submitted them to the Supreme Court in Manila, Philippines Continue reading

The new totalitarianism of surveillance technology

If you think that 24/7 tracking of citizens by biometric recognition systems is paranoid fantasy, just read the industry newsletters

by Naomi Wolf, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 15 August 2012

A software engineer in my Facebook community wrote recently about his outrage that when he visited Disneyland, and went on a ride, the theme park offered him the photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy – with his credit card information already linked to it. He noted that he had never entered his name or information into anything at the theme park, or indicated that he wanted a photo, or alerted the humans at the ride to who he and his girlfriend were – so, he said, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology. He had never signed an agreement allowing them to do so, and he declared that this use was illegal. He also claimed that Disney had recently shared data from facial-recognition technology with the United States military.

Yes, I know: it sounds like a paranoid rant.

Except that it turned out to be true. News21, supported by the Carnegie and Knight foundations, reports that Disney sites are indeed controlled by face-recognition technology, that the military is interested in the technology, and that the face-recognition contractor, Identix, has contracts with the US government – for technology that identifies individuals in a crowd.

Fast forward: after the Occupy crackdowns, I noted that odd-looking CCTVs had started to appear, attached to lampposts, in public venues in Manhattan where the small but unbowed remnants of Occupy congregated: there was one in Union Square, right in front of their encampment. I reported here on my experience of witnessing a white van marked “Indiana Energy” that was lifting workers up to the lampposts all around Union Square, and installing a type of camera. When I asked the workers what was happening – and why an Indiana company was dealing with New York City civic infrastructure, which would certainly raise questions – I was told: “I’m a contractor. Talk to ConEd.”

I then noticed, some months later, that these bizarre camera/lights had been installed not only all around Union Square but also around Washington Square Park. I posted a photo I took of them, and asked: “What is this?” Commentators who had lived in China said that they were the same camera/streetlight combinations that are mounted around public places in China. These are enabled for facial recognition technology, which allows police to watch video that is tagged to individuals, in real time. When too many people congregate, they can be dispersed and intimidated simply by the risk of being identified – before dissent can coalesce. (Another of my Facebook commentators said that such lamppost cameras had been installed in Michigan, and that they barked “Obey”, at pedestrians. This, too, sounded highly implausible – until this week in Richmond, British Columbia, near the Vancouver airport, when I was startled as the lamppost in the intersection started
talking to me – in this case, instructing me on how to cross (as though I were blind or partially sighted).

Finally, last week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to unveil a major new police surveillance infrastructure, developed by Microsoft. The Domain Awareness System links existing police databases with live video feeds, including cameras using vehicle license plate recognition software. No mention was made of whether the system plans to use – or already uses – facial recognition software. But, at present, there is no law to prevent US government and law enforcement agencies from building facial recognition databases. Continue reading

Internet is double-edged sword in Arab revolts: Amnesty

AFP, May 13, 2011

London:  Dictators in the Arab world could crush uprisings against their iron-fisted rule using the same social media that have been credited with boosting the revolts, Amnesty warned in a new report.

In its annual analysis of the world’s human rights, Amnesty International praised the role of websites such as Twitter and Facebook in fomenting the biggest revolt against repressive regimes since the end of the Cold War.

But the London-based rights group cautioned that social networking sites which had helped cyberactivists to outmanoeuvre the authorities in successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt were a double-edged sword.

“There is no question that social media played a very important role in allowing people to get together,” Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty told AFP.
“There is no doubt that there is a massive opening up of space through the Internet — but we have to remember all the time that this also gives an opportunity for governments to crack down on people.” Continue reading

Australia: Sydney Peace Medal awarded to WikiLeaks founder

09.05.201Sydney Peace Medal awarded to WikiLeaks founder

Sydney Peace Medal awarded to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

The Sydney Peace Foundation has awarded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange its gold medal for “exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights.”

According to the foundation, the award was given to recognise the need for greater transparency and accountability for governments.

“By challenging centuries-old practices of government secrecy and by championing people’s right to know, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have created the potential for a new order in journalism and in the free flow of information,” said Prof Stuart Rees, director of the Sydney Peace Foundation and founding director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney. Continue reading

Whose Media? How “Egypt Leaders Found ‘Off’ Switch for Internet”

New York Times

February 15, 2011

by JAMES GLANZ and JOHN MARKOFF

Epitaphs for the Mubarak government all note that the mobilizing power of the Internet was one of the Egyptian opposition’s most potent weapons. But quickly lost in the swirl of revolution was the government’s ferocious counterattack, a dark achievement that many had thought impossible in the age of global connectedness. In a span of minutes just after midnight on Jan. 28, a technologically advanced, densely wired country with more than 20 million people online was essentially severed from the global Internet.

The blackout was lifted after just five days, and it did not save President Hosni Mubarak. But it has mesmerized the worldwide technical community and raised concerns that with unrest coursing through the Middle East, other autocratic governments — many of them already known to interfere with and filter specific Web sites and e-mails — may also possess what is essentially a kill switch for the Internet.

Because the Internet’s legendary robustness and ability to route around blockages are part of its basic design, even the world’s most renowned network and telecommunications engineers have been perplexed that the Mubarak government succeeded in pulling the maneuver off.

But now, as Egyptian engineers begin to assess fragmentary evidence and their own knowledge of the Egyptian Internet’s construction, they are beginning to understand what, in effect, hit them. Interviews with many of those engineers, as well as an examination of data collected around the world during the blackout, indicate that the government exploited a devastating combination of vulnerabilities in the national infrastructure. Continue reading