The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit against Cisco, which seeks to call the company to account for actively participating in human rights abuses in China through its participation in China's network surveillance. In 2008, a leaked PowerPoint presentation showed that Cisco was participating in initiatives like "Combat Falun Gong Evil Religion and Other Hostilities." The case's plaintiff has been detained and harassed in China since filing his suit. EFF's amicus brief carefully lays out the case against Cisco and explains how they actively collaborated in programs of surveillance and repression.
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This year's annual Wikipedia conference, Wikimania, was held in Hong Kong, and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales devoted some time in his speech and subsequent interviews to a discussion of the site's relationship to the Chinese authorities. Wikipedia is heavily censored by the Great Firewall, which blocks many queries and pages, and an encrypted, unfilterable version of Wikipedia is blocked altogether. Wales ruled out shutting down the unencrypted version for now, on technical grounds, but said that the site would never censor itself in response to government threats.
More significantly, Wales ruled out completely any participation in China's "real name" policy, which requires online services to track user activity and associate it with their real names, saying he would not comply with this, "not for five seconds."
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New York Times China correspondent Edward Wong describes his life in heavily polluted Beijing
, where he no longer feels safe running outside and, in order to bike around town, dons a black air filter face mask that makes him "look like an Asian Darth Vader". — Maggie
From the Abandoned Geography Tumblr: an overgrown and abandoned rollercoaster in Hubei Province, China.
Abandoned roller coaster in Hubei Province, China
UK Prime Minister David Cameron (and his thin-skinned, slandering advisor Claire Perry) have been cynically appealing to the Tory's reactionary base by promising to purge the British Internet of porn with a Chinese style, opt-out Great Firewall. Cameron has held out the UK ISP TalkTalk as a paragon in this regard, praising its "Homesafe" blocking product.
Now the BBC reports that Homesafe was built by Huawei, the Chinese IT giant Huawei, founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former officer in China's People's Liberation Army. Huawei has been characterized by senior Western spooks as an arm of the Chinese intelligence service, conducting industrial espionage on its behalf.
A poorly understood feature of censorship software is that it is also surveillance software. In order to stop you from clicking on "bad" things, it must intercept all of your clicks and examine them to make sure they're not on the blacklist.
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The International Campaign for Tibet
reports that "Two Tibetan monks were shot in the head and several others seriously injured after Chinese police opened fire at a crowd gathered to peacefully celebrate the 78th birthday of the Dalai Lama in Nyitso, Tawu, eastern Tibet, on Saturday (July 6)." — Xeni
Members of the decadent nouveau riche of Shenzhen in South China have provoked online outrage by taking up breast-milk consumption as a high-status health treatment. According to sources quoted in the Times of India, agencies recruit wet nurses from among recent mothers and pay them $2,000-$4,000 to allow rich people to nurse from their breasts, or to pump milk for later consumption.
"This adds to China's problem of treating women as consumer goods and the moral degradation of China's rich," wrote Cao Baoyin, a writer and regular commentator in Chinese media, on his blog.
Breast milk drinking by rich adults provokes outrage in China [Saibal Dasgupta/Times of India]
As the world marks the Dalai Lama’s 78th birthday, the Tibetan community marks a grim milestone: 120 Tibetans, mostly youth, have burned themselves alive to protest China’s repressive rule. Xeni Jardin traveled to Washington, DC to document a group of Tibetan-American activists asking lawmakers to open up immigration doors for political refugees, and hold China accountable.
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"China’s surveillance system is extremely wild, there are no rules governing it that are worth speaking of,” says
a Beijing lawyer named Xie Yanyi, who filed a public information request with the police to reveal how China’s own surveillance operations work. The New York Times reports that
"he filed the request as a private citizen, said there were three programs in particular he wanted to know more about: Golden Shield, Great Wall and Green Dam." — Xeni
When Hong Kong let Edward Snowden leave the country instead of arresting him in accord with the official US request on the grounds that the request was incomplete and invalid, many of us (myself included) assumed that there was a certain amount of nose-thumbing going on. But as it turns out, the US government's extradition request to Hong Kong was remarkably sloppy.
The request didn't include Snowden's full name or passport number. It didn't include a rationale explaining "how two of the three charges the US mentioned in its arrest request fell within the scope of a US-Hong Kong rendition of fugitive offenders agreement signed in 1996." It didn't include any evidence for the charges. And the US didn't respond to prompt requests for clarification from Hong Kong.
HK authorities requested clarification by email on Jun 17 and 21, and by "speed post" on Jun 21. They have yet to receive a response.
I confess I don't understand this. Was it that the bureaucrats pursuing Snowden were incompetent? Arrogant? Paralyzed by infighting? It's a truly astonishing degree of sloppiness.
Hong Kong minister rejects US accusations of deliberately delaying Snowden's arrest
GE isn't the only one getting into the 3D-printed airplane part game. But, instead of little fuel injectors for turbines
, the Chinese company AVIC Heavy Machinery and China's Northwestern Polytechnical University are printing off 5-meter-long titanium wing spars
and equally long wing beams
. (Thanks, Tim Heffernan!) — Maggie
Ai Wei Wei, the renowned Chinese dissident who has been relentlessly persecuted by his own government, has written an op-ed for the Guardian comparing Chinese totalitarian surveillance with Prism and related NSA spying:
I lived in the United States for 12 years. This abuse of state power goes totally against my understanding of what it means to be a civilised society, and it will be shocking for me if American citizens allow this to continue. The US has a great tradition of individualism and privacy and has long been a centre for free thinking and creativity as a result.
In our experience in China, basically there is no privacy at all – that is why China is far behind the world in important respects: even though it has become so rich, it trails behind in terms of passion, imagination and creativity.
During my detention in China I was watched 24 hours a day. The light was always on. There were two guards on two-hour shifts standing next to me – even watching when I swallowed a pill; I had to open mouth so they could see my throat. You have to take a shower in front of them; they watch you while you brush your teeth, in the name of making sure you're not hurting yourself. They had three surveillance cameras to make sure the guards would not communicate with me.
But the guards whispered to me. They told stories about themselves. There is always humanity and privacy, even under the most restrictive conditions.
NSA surveillance: The US is behaving like China
Maker culture is being remade in China. Along with pioneers like Bunnie Huang and David Li, of Shanghai hackerspace Xinchejian, Eric Pan and his open hardware facilitator, Seeed Studio
are accelerating the global maker movement by helping people source, design, produce, and commercialize their maker projects. And just as importantly, they are fueling a Chinese maker movement that is starting to take full advantage of both Shenzhen’s awesome manufacturing capacities and China’s shanzhai superpowers.
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Edward Snowden has reportedly checked out of the hotel in Hong Kong where he had holed up to leak a series of NSA documents to the Guardian and the Washington Post. The US will not say if it is seeking his extradition. His whereabouts are not presently known by various news-agencies, though it seems likely that he, himself, knows where he is.
Hong Kong's broadcaster RTHK said Mr Snowden checked out of the Mira hotel on Monday.
Reuters news agency quoted hotel staff as saying that he had left at noon.
Ewen MacAskill, a Guardian journalist, told the BBC he believed Mr Snowden was still in Hong Kong.
The Chinese territory has an extradition treaty with the US, although analysts say any attempts to bring Mr Snowden to America may take months and could be blocked by Beijing.
US spy leaker Edward Snowden 'missing' in Hong Kong [BBC]
Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian have published details of another Top Secret US surveillance/security document. This one is a presidential order from Obama to his top spies directing them to draw up a hit-list of "cyber war" targets to be attacked by American military hacking operations.
The 18-page Presidential Policy Directive 20, issued in October last year but never published, states that what it calls Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) "can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging".
It says the government will "identify potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power".
The directive also contemplates the possible use of cyber actions inside the US, though it specifies that no such domestic operations can be conducted without the prior order of the president, except in cases of emergency.
The document further contemplates preemptive first strikes on foreign targets.
As Greenwald points out, this document has been published on the eve of a meeting between Obama and the Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. China has been publicly accused by the USA of carrying out electronic attacks on American infrastructure, and Xi has rebutted by saying that the US has engaged in aggressive "cyber-war" attacks on Chinese infrastructure. This document lends credence to Xi's claim.
Obama orders US to draw up overseas target list for cyber-attacks