MEP tours the farcical viewing conditions for the TTIP text

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On Monday, Greenpeace leaked the highly confidential negotiating drafts of the TTIP, a top-secret, big-business-friendly trade agreement between the USA and the EU. Read the rest

Greenpeace dumps TTIP documents that show USA arm-twisting the EU

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Greenpeace has handed newspapers 240 pages of current negotiating documents from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a secretly conducted trade deal between the USA and the EU, which has run in parallel with the notorious Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Read the rest

America's surveillance court rubber-stamped every single surveillance warrant in 2015

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The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) is a secret court that hears warrant requests from America's spy agencies when they want to wiretap people in the USA. Read the rest

Chinese opsec funnies: your foreign boyfriend is a western spy!

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In this Chinese government comic book, women are warned that mysterious foreign strangers who pitch woo at them are secretly Western spies trying to get at their government secrets. Read the rest

UK Chancellor exempts families of "Politically Exposed Persons" from money laundering scrutiny

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George Osborne, the Tory chancellor of David Cameron's UK government, has amended the Bank of England and Financial Services Bill to exempt the families of "Politically Exposed Persons" -- Members of Parliament and other elites -- from money laundering investigations. Read the rest

Podcast explains the corrosive effects of tax havens

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Nicholas Shaxon, author of Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens (previously) appeared on The Foreign Desk podcast (MP3) this week to discuss the nature of tax havens, how they hollow out both their host countries and the countries whence their hidden riches comes. Read the rest

Chicago Police Accountability Task Force Report: racism, corruption, and a "broken system"

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Chicago's Police Department are notorious: the force maintains a "black site" where prisoners are secretly held under fake names and tortured, uses political shenanigans to suppress information about corruption, sabotages their own dashcams, secretly operates illegal mass-surveillance equipment (bought with asset forfeiture money, natch), forces out internal investigators who do their jobs conscientiously, and don't get me started on the evils of the Illinois prison system! Read the rest

Microsoft sues US government for the right to tell you when the feds are reading your email

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“We appreciate that there are times when secrecy around a government warrant is needed,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post Thursday. “But based on the many secrecy orders we have received, we question whether these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly demand secrecy. To the contrary, it appears that the issuance of secrecy orders has become too routine.”

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Obama: 'Top Secret' could mean info that would endanger America, or random stuff you can Google

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“There’s classified, and then there’s classified,” President Barack Obama recently told Fox News anchor Chris Wallace in response to a question about the now-classified material on Hillary Clinton’s private email server from when she was Secretary of State.

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Panama Papers: Mossack Fonseca law offices raided by Panama authorities

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Officers acting on behalf of the attorney general of Panama raided Mossack Fonseca's office on Tuesday. Ramon Fonseca, the company's co-founder, insists that the firm had "broken no laws, destroyed no documents, and all its operations were legal." Read the rest

Panama Papers reveal offshore companies were bagmen for the world's spies

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What do you do if you're a spy and you want to make untraceable transfers of dirty money without having your funding of your country's nominal enemies exposed to the voters whose money you're spending? You hire Mossack Fonseca to open a numbered account in an offshore tax-haven, naturally. Read the rest

Jeremy Corbyn overpays his taxes

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The Sun, a Murdoch-owned UK tabloid, accused the socialist Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (previously) of dodging his fair share of taxes, claiming he understated his income from speeches by £450. After closer examination, it transpired that Corbyn overstated his earnings by £270 and paid tax on the full amount. Read the rest

Switzerland of Bits: crowdfunding a haven for freedom of information & free expression

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Since the International Modern Media Institute was founded in 2011 it has been an independent watchdog and advocacy group working to promote and protect freedom of expression and freedom of information.

The Icelandic Parliament resolved unanimously to make Iceland a Safe Haven for freedom of expression and freedom of information. These intended legal protections promote whistleblowing, journalism and online rights. It is local in scope but global in impact.

Over the last week the world has witnessed the revelations of the Panama Papers making public the offshore dealings of politicians and business leaders. Offshore tax havens serve two functions; to avoid tax and to hide ownership. Already, in Iceland, the Prime Minister has been forced to resign as a consequence of these reports which unveiled his offshore dealings.

The Panama Papers were the result of a whistleblower coming forth with information and a huge team of investigative journalists working to verify data and coordinating its reporting. The safe haven initiative aims to encourage and promote governmental transparency, holding power to account, empowering citizens and thereby democracy.

IMMI conducts legal research, advocates for legislative reform and is an active participant in working groups established to implement a legislative framework in Iceland where journalism and online rights are protected and supported. This includes drafting and implementing an act on whistleblower protection, fighting to remove data retention from Icelandic law, drafting and promoting legislation on the limited liability of intermediaries and a host of other measures.

In order to protect democracy, real and meaningful democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of information must to be protected, ensuring access to information and freedom of the media. Read the rest

Tax investigators and bill collectors use Rich Kids of Instagram to uncover oligarchs' hidden millions

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One of the perks of being insanely wealthy is you can hide your money, so when you rip people off or hide your taxes or divorce your spouse, your victims can't figure out how to get their due. Read the rest

The international art market is a money laundry whose details are in the Panama Papers

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If you've got $50M you need to hide, and want to be able to move around invisibly, what better way than to buy a painting through a secret, numbered offshore account, stick it in a vault in Basel, whence you can liquidate it, retrieve it, and move it on a moment's notice. Read the rest

Iceland's Prime Minister says he won't resign, mass demonstrations gain momentum

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After storming out of an interview where he was questioned about his ownership of an offshore company implicated in the Icelandic banking scandal, Iceland's Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, has said he will not resign (he did apologize for doing a bad job on the interview). Read the rest

Panama Papers reveal the tax-avoidance strategies of David Cameron's father

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The fact that Ian Cameron -- father of UK Prime Minister David Cameron -- ran a firm called "Blairmore Holdings" that rich Britons used to move their assets offshore and out of reach of UK taxation is no secret. Read the rest

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