Turkish Spring: Taksim Gezi Park protests in Istanbul


(Estimated 40,000 people cross the Bosphorous Bridge to join the protests/OccupyGeziPics)
Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul is alive with protest at this moment. The action began on May 28, when environmentalists protested plans to remove the park and replace it with a mall, and were met with a brutal police crackdown. Since then thousands have taken to the streets in Istanbul and other Turkish cities (though there's a media blackout on the protests, and poor Internet penetration in Turkey, which means the news is slow to reach other parts of the country).

Read the rest

MEP explains the security problem with militarizing the Internet

The Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake has a fantastic, must-read essay on the problem with "cyber-war." She lays out the case for securing the Internet (and the world of people and systems that rely on it) through fixing vulnerabilities and making computers and networks as secure and robust as possible, rather than relying on weaknesses in security as vectors for attacking adversaries.

Mass surveillance, mass censorship, tracking and tracing systems, as well as hacking tools and vulnerabilities can be used to harm people as well as our own security in Europe. Though overregulation of the internet should never be a goal in and of itself, regulation of this dark sector is much needed to align our values and interests in a digital and hyper-connected world. There are many European examples. FinFisher software, made by UK’s Gamma Group was used in Egypt while the EU condemned human rights violations by the Mubarak regime. Its spread to 25 countries is a reminder that proliferation of digital arms is inevitable.

Vupen is perhaps best labelled as an anti-security company in France that sells software vulnerabilities to governments, police forces and others who want to use them to build (malicious) software that allows infiltrating in people’s or government’s computers.

It is unclear which governments are operating on this unregulated market, but it is clear that the risk of creating a Pandora’s box is huge if nothing is done to regulate this trade by adopting reporting obligations. US government has stated that American made, lawful intercept technologies, have come back as a boomerang when they were used against US interests by actors in third countries. Other companies, such as Area Spa from Italy designed a monitoring centre, and had people on the ground in Syria helping the Assad government succeed in anti-democratic or even criminal behaviour by helping the crackdown against peaceful dissidents and demonstrators.

It's just not good policy to make the people who are supposed to be securing our computers dependent on insecurity in computers to achieve that end.

In defense of digital freedom (via Techdirt)

Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde is a candidate for Pirate Party MEP in Finland


Peter "brokep" Sunde -- who co-founded The Pirate Bay and founded Flattr, a system for allowing fans to directly pay the artists they love -- is standing for the European Parliament in Finland on behalf of the Finnish Pirate Party. Sunde was raised in Sweden, but has Finnish roots, and is able to run there. His platform sounds like an admirable and sensible one, and my personal experience of him is that he's a good, thoughtful and honorable person. If I were in Finland, he'd have my vote:

“Non-commercial file sharing should of course become legal and protected, and must re-think copyright all together. Copyright is not the thing that makes ARTISTS money, it’s only for their brokers and distributors,” Sunde says.

“I’d rather see us sponsor culture by pushing more money to music education, and facilities for your people to create music. It would be much more sane for cultural advancement then extending copyrights.”

If elected Sunde hopes to be aggressive rather than defensive. This means not just responding to treats to Internet freedom, such as ACTA, but ensuring that this type of legislation doesn’t even make it onto the political agenda in the first place.

“I think there’s a huge possibility for us to impact the EU and I would like to be part of it,” Sunde says.

The Pirates are delighted to have the Pirate Bay founder on board. Harri Kivistö, chairman of the the Finnish Pirate Party, says that Sunde’s candidacy will raise the visibility of the party during the upcoming election. Perhaps more importantly, his values fit well within the Pirate Party movement.

Pirate Bay Co-Founder to Run For European Parliament [Ernesto/TorrentFreak]

(Image: Peter Sunde, Amphiteater, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from shareconference's photostream)

Official list of English words misused in EU documents

A brief list of misused English terminology in EU publications [PDF] is a fascinating look at the emerging dialect of English that is emerging out of the EU bureaucracy, in which odd bureaucratic language has to be translated from and to many languages. It's a good window into concepts that are common in one nation's bureaucratic tradition, but not others':

Dispose (of)
Explanation: the most common meaning of ‘dispose of’ is ‘to get rid of’ or ‘to throw away’; it never means ‘to have’, ‘to possess’ or ‘to have in one’s possession’. Thus, the sentence ‘The managing authority disposes of the data regarding participants.’ does not mean that it has them available; on the contrary, it means that it throws them away or deletes them. Similarly, the sentence below does not mean: ‘the Commission might not have independent sources of information’, it means that the Commission is not permitted to discard the sources that it has.

Example: ‘The Commission may not be able to assess the reliability of the data provided by Member States and may not dispose of independent information sources (see paragraph 39)46.’

As Bruce Sterling says, "I would not expect 'Brussels English' to get any closer to grammatically correct British English; on the contrary I would expect it in future to drift into areas of machine translation jargon, since that’s a lot cheaper than hiring human translators who are as skilled as the author of this document."

Web Semantics: Brussels English

Last day of fundraising for Parltrack - turning Parliamentary records into searchable databases

Stefan sez, "Amelia Andersdotter Pirate member of the European Parliament and members of European Digital Rights call for support and donation on the last day of the Parltrack fundraising campaign."

Parltrack needs money to keep on turning PDFs and DOCs into usable data

Stefan writes, "Parltrack is free software that liberates a lot of hard to process data (like PDFs, Word docs, and HTML pages) as reusable open data and presents this as a kind of dashboard for activists, providing fresh and relevant data not only for the concerned but the curious citizen as well. Even pros from the European Parliament have praised it. Parltrack is free software, for further development it needs a few more backers in its crowdsourcing campaign." Cory

Student Riots in Italy: a dispatch from Jasmina Tesanovic

When I myself was a protesting student, I remember vividly remembered the cold warning in the text by Pier Paolo Pasolini. He reminded us youngsters that the police we faced in the streets were also someone's children, that not all young people were fortunate enough to be in colleges rather than wearing uniforms, and that we should join all together against the general oppressor, the system, capitalism, the corporations, name it…

That was then, and this is now, and while the students and policemen still have the same interests, they are still on the opposite sides of the barricade. Austerity has driven Italy to its knees. Day by day the future of Italy's young people is vaporizing, and now the streets are flooded by torrential rains, to boot. Italian cities rocked by earthquakes might as well settle for witchcraft, rather than find responsible and competent government officials who can rescue the nation's casualties.

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EU working group produces the stupidest set of proposed Internet rules in the entire history of the human race


An EU working group that's been charged with coming up with recommendations for a terrorist-free European Internet has been brainstorming the stupidest goddamned ideas you've ever read, which are now widely visible, thanks to a leaked memo. The group, CleanIT, which is composed of cops, governments, and some NGOs from across Europe, has been given €400,000 to make its recommendations, and a document dated August 2012 sets out some of the group's thinking to date. As mentioned, it's pretty amazingly bad. Like, infra-stupid, containing strains of stupidity so low and awful they can't be perceived with unaided human apparatus. Here's Ars Technica's summary of the ideas in the memo:

* "Knowingly providing hyperlinks on websites to terrorist content must be defined by law as illegal just like the terrorist content itself"
* "Governments must disseminate lists of illegal, terrorist websites"
* "The Council Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 of 27 May 2002 (art 1.2) should be explained that providing Internet services is included in providing economics instruments to Al Qaeda (and other terrorist persons and organisations designated by the EU) and therefore an illegal act"
* "On Voice over IP services it must be possible to flag users for terrorist activity."
* "Internet companies must allow only real, common names."
* "Social media companies must allow only real pictures of users."
* "At the European level a browser or operating system based reporting button must be developed."
* "Governments will start drafting legislation that will make offering... a system [to monitor Internet activity] to Internet users obligatory for browser or operating systems...as a condition of selling their products in this country or the European Union."

Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar tracked down a CleanIT spokesman on his home planet. But Klaasen is the Dutch national coordinator for counterterrorism and security programme manager of the office of the Dutch national coordinator for counterterrorism and security*, and he is really upset that we can read this stupid, stupid document full of recommendations that would be illegal in European law. He also can't believe that European Digital Rights, the NGO that published the leaked stupid, stupid document, didn't honor the confidentiality notice on the stupid, stupid cover-page.

* Update Cyrus sez, "Klaasen has corrected his title calling himself now the 'programme manager of the office of the Dutch national coordinator for counterterrorism and security'. Here's his LinkedIn page. He's referred to as the 'project manager,' which as far as I can tell, makes him in charge of the whole thing."

"I do fully understand that the publishing of the document led to misunderstandings," he told Ars. "If we publish like this, it will scare people—that’s the reason that we didn’t publish it. It’s food for thought. We do realize these are very rough ideas."

..."You can compare [this situation] to taking pictures of what someone buys for dinner with how a dinner tastes—you don’t have the complete picture," he added.

..."We really didn’t expect that people would publish a document that clearly says ‘not for publication’—that really surprised us," he said. "I don’t know if it’s naive. Why can’t I trust people?" [Ed: Oh, diddums]

Proposed EU plan to stop terrorist sites even more ridiculous than it sounds

(Image: Clown, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from manc's photostream)

Neo-Nazi MEP from Hungary discovers he is Jewish

A Hungarian neo-Nazi leader has had to retire from professional antisemitism because he discovered he was Jewish. Csanad Szegedi, who had decried "Jewishness" in Hungary's political class, and referred to Jews as "lice-infested, dirty murderers," was outed by a rival within the neo-Nazi movement, who revealed that Szegedi's maternal grandmother was a Jewish Auschwitz survivor, making him Jewish as well. From an AP story in the NYT:

The fallout of Szegedi's ancestry saga has extended to his business interests. Jobbik executive director Gabor Szabo is pulling out of an Internet site selling nationalist Hungarian merchandise that he owns with Szegedi. Szabo said his sister has resigned as Szegedi's personal assistant.

In the 2010 tape, former convict Zoltan Ambrus is heard telling Szegedi that he has documents proving Szegedi is Jewish. The right-wing politician seems genuinely surprised by the news — and offers EU funds and a possible EU job to Ambrus to hush it up.

Ambrus, who served time in prison on a weapons and explosives conviction, apparently rejected the bribes. He said he secretly taped the conversation as part of an internal Jobbik power struggle aimed at ousting Szegedi from a local party leadership post. The party's reaction was swift.

Hungary Far-Right Leader Discovers Jewish Roots

Trying to understand the secretive son-of-ACTA EU/Canada trade agreement

Michael Geist sez,

Last week's revelations that the Canada - EU Trade Agreement's intellectual property chapter draws heavily from the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement sparked widespread media coverage across Europe. After initially refusing to comment, the European Commission, clearly sensing the growing public pressure, provided a response in which it claimed that the leaked February 2012 text was outdated and that the Internet provider provisions in CETA (which had mirrored ACTA) had been changed.

The European Commission statement not only confirms some changes in CETA, but suggests that the final version will look like the EU - South Korea Free Trade Agreement. This disclosure raises its own set of concerns for both Europeans and Canadians. This posts outlines six major areas of concern given the current uncertainty with CETA, its linkages to ACTA, and the influence of the EU - South Korea FTA.

1. Canada Is Reluctant to Agree to the EU - South Korea FTA Model
2. The EU - South Korea FTA Is More Problematic Than ACTA In Some Areas
3. The EU - South Korea FTA Internet Provider Provisions Are Problematic
4. The ACTA Internet Provider Provisions Are Only Part of the Internet Chapter Problem
5. The ACTA Internet Chapter Is Only Part of the ACTA Problem
6. ACTA, CETA and the EU - South Korea FTA All Share a Common Trait: Lack of Transparency

Why the European Commission's Assurances on ACTA & CETA Don't Add Up

Too many lobbyists, not enough strategists

A bit of pithy insight from the latest EDRIgram: "the intellectual property lobby employs too many lobbyists and too few strategists." In other words, Big Content can get lawmakers to do their bidding, even when doing so discredits them and riles up the opposition. (via Beyond the Beyond)

Member of European Parliament sends "Thank you for fighting ACTA" email with 2K emails in the body

Lee sez,

As part of my protest against ACTA I signed up to the fightforthefuture.org web page, and asked them to contact my MEP on my behalf, which they did.

Now that ACTA has been defeated, Paul Nuttall, UKIP MEP for the North West and UKIP Deputy Leader, emailed people who had protested, en masse. (I am in Devon in the South West, so he is not my particular representative).

I include the email below, but the interesting part is the forwarded message underneath, which includes a list of all TWO THOUSAND AND TWENTY ONE people who signed up...

33 minutes after receiving the email I received another from Paul Nuttall requesting the recall of the email, a little late really.

I frequently hear from career Euro activists that the Members of the European Parliament have little or no IT expertise and support. Everyone has mixed up CC and BCC at some time or another, but using CC or BCC to send an email to 2,021 people in the first place is poor solution to a common problem. It's the kind of thing that your IT department should be able to sort out for you, by creating a mailing list with a single address whose membership MEPs can manage through a browser.

Update: Lee, who submitted the item, clarifies: "The email wasn't BCCd or CCd to the 2021 petitioners, the email that Paul Nuttall forwarded contained the list of emails in it's body. Indeed it seems very much like this list of emails was used to create an email group, which Paul Nuttall then used. He just made the very foolish mistake of forwarding an email containing peoples personal information, whilst saying how UKIP will defend UK citizens rights and privacy."

It's possible that some of the people whose identities were revealed in the email could face workplace sanctions for opposing ACTA (I know a lot of people in the entertainment industry who privately oppose many of their employers' initiatives), so revealing their identities is a potential big deal.

It would be great to see a free/open web service that let people securely send messages to their MEPs, and then also made it easy for the MEPs to reply to them, individually or as a group. If the European Parliament and individual MEPs' parties and staffers can't handle interaction with their constituencies, then the constituents may have to handle it for them.

Update: I received this from Paul Nuttall's office:

May we please ask that you publish our response and apology - and we of course also extend that apology personally to you.

Please find the statement below.

Yours sincerely,

Office of Paul Nuttall

As a libertarian party we are in favour of internet freedom.

We oppose ACTA in its entirety and we are currently campaigning against the EU-Canada trade deal (CETA) which contains many ACTA-like provisions.

http://www.theparliament.com/latest-news/article/newsarticle/eu-accused-of-trying-to-introduce-acta-through-the-back-door/

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ACTA IS BACK: Leaked docs show Canada/European Commission trying to sneak ACTA into Canada & back into Europe

Michael Geist sez,

Last week, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject ACTA, striking a major blow to the hopes of supporters who envisioned a landmark agreement that would set a new standard for intellectual property rights enforcement. The European Commission, which negotiates trade deals such as ACTA on behalf of the European Union, has vowed to revive the badly damaged agreement. Its most high-profile move has been to ask the European Court of Justice to rule on ACTA's compatibility with fundamental European freedoms with the hope that a favourable ruling could allow the European Parliament to reconsider the issue.

While the court referral has attracted the lion share of attention, there is an alternate secret strategy in which Canada plays a key role. According to recently leaked documents, the EU plans to use the Canada - EU Trade Agreement (CETA), which is nearing its final stages of negotiation, as a backdoor mechanism to implement the ACTA provisions.

The CETA IP chapter has already attracted attention due to EU pharmaceutical patent demands that could add billions to provincial health care costs, but the bigger story may be that the same chapter features a near word-for-word replica of ACTA. According to the leaked document, dated February 2012, Canada and the EU have already agreed to incorporate many of the ACTA enforcement provisions into CETA, including the rules on general obligations on enforcement, preserving evidence, damages, injunctions, and border measure rules. One of these provisions even specifically references ACTA. My post includes a comparison table of ACTA and the leaked CETA chapter.

Go read the rest. The European Commission -- a gang of unelected technocrats in the pockets of multinational corporations -- are hell-bent on seeing ACTA turn into European law, even if the elected chamber rejects it. They can't imagine why treaties that will impact everything we do on the Internet (which will be everything we do, shortly) shouldn't be negotiated in secret with a bunch of corporate bums who're looking to line their pockets at public expense.

The Canadian government is almost certain to go along with this -- a more textbook example of corporate lickspittles you will never find. It's up to Europeans to save Europe from its bureaucrats and Canada from its politicians.

ACTA Lives: How the EU & Canada Are Using CETA as Backdoor Mechanism To Revive ACTA

Austerity creates an organlegging bubble

As economic collapse and austerity settle over Europe, criminal gangs have found a lucrative trade in brokering the sale of organs from the desperate poor to the dying rich. In his New York Times feature, Dan Bilefsky opens with the story of Pavle Mircov and his partner Daniella, Serbians who are trying to sell their kidneys so that they can feed and educate their teenage children. The sale of "kidneys, lungs, bone marrow or corneas" is rampant in former Soviet states, but it's also booming in Spain, Italy and Greece -- countries where mandated austerity has stripped away the social safety net at the very moment in which the economy has collapsed and unemployment has spiked (in Spain, youth unemployment is over 50 percent).

I really came to understand this subject better through my reading of The Red Market, by Scott Carney, an excellent book on the sale of human tissues around the world. Though it seems like Mr Carney may have to write a new chapter for the econopocalypse.

Trade in organs in Serbia is illegal and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But that is not deterring the people of Doljevac, a poor municipality of 19,000 people in southern Serbia, where the government refused an attempt by residents to register a local agency to sell their organs and blood abroad for profit.

Violeta Cavac, a homemaker advocating for the network, said that the unemployment rate in Doljevac was 50 percent and that more than 3,000 people had wanted to participate. Deprived of a legal channel to sell their organs, she said, residents are now trying to sell body parts in neighboring Bulgaria or in Kosovo.

“I will sell my kidney, my liver, or do anything necessary to survive,” she said.

Hunched over his computer in Kovin, about 25 miles from Belgrade, Mr. Mircov showed a reporter his kidney-for-sale advertisement, which included his blood type and phone number.

“Must sell kidney. Blood group A,” the ad said. “My financial situation is very difficult. I lost my job, and I need money for school for my two children.”

Black Market for Body Parts Spreads Among the Poor in Europe

Public rights, private rights, and downloads

Rob posted earlier about a EU high court ruling that upholds the right of people who buy downloadable games to resell them. Many people will point out that this makes it much harder to pursue certain game-distribution business models. This is true, but so what? There are lots of business models that might thrive if only we abolish the rights of purchasers -- "I'll sell you clothes, but you are legally required to buy my special laundry soap" or "I'll sell you yarn, but you have to pay me again if you make socks out of it." Technology makes lots of things possible, but as between, "My business gets more profits at your expense," and "You get more value at the expense of my profits," there's no reason to default to the former. Cory