Vivendi lobbyist appointed to run copyright for UN agency

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Francis Gurry, the fair-use hating, web-hating, North Korea embargo-breaking, witch-hunting, blackmailing head of the UN's World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has a new pick to run copyright at the UN agency: Sylvie Forbin, a lobbyist for for French entertainment giant Vivendi. Read the rest

The Vulnerable 20 Group: coalition of 20 countries threatened by climate change

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Reps from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam just gathered in Peru to announce the formation of the "Vulnerable 20" group, a coalition of 20 nations threatened by climate change. Read the rest

Lithium batteries should be banned as cargo on passenger planes, says UN aviation watchdog

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Planes that carry passengers should be prohibited from carrying large quantities of lithium batteries in cargo, a United Nations aviation watchdog says.

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Julian Assange had promised to turn himself if the UN ruled his detention lawful

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When a UN panel from the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention upheld Julian Assange's claim that he was being unlawfully detained in London's Ecuadorean embassy, they also stopped Assange from turning himself in to the London police. Read the rest

Profile of James Love, "Big Pharma's worst nightmare"

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Jamie Love is one of the founders of Knowledge Ecology International (formerly the Consumer Project on Technology), a super-effective activist NGO that helped to establish low-cost, global access to HIV/AIDS drugs. Read the rest

UN rapporteur sticks up for crypto and anonymity

Within days of David Cameron's Queen's Speech promise to ban the use of effective crypto in the UK, David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur for Freedom of Expression effectively called this a plan to make UK into a rogue state. Read the rest

UN wants to give broadcasters rights over public-domain and CC-licensed shows

Under the revived WIPO Broadcast Treaty, broadcasters would have the right to stop you from using public domain and CC-licensed video footage as you choose, effectively giving them a new copyright over material simply by sending it out over the air. Read the rest

World Intellectual Property Organization in shambolic chaos

Yesterday's WIPO General Assembly was the "worst ever," with rich and poor countries deadlocked over balanced copyright, fair use, and half a dozen other issues. Read the rest

Great video explainer: Vint Cerf on ICANN and NTIA

The "father of the Internet" explains why the Congressional posturing and global freakout about the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration stepping back from management of the Internet domain name system is misplaced. Read the rest

WIPO sends criminal prosecution threats over publication of internal docs about its Director General's corruption

You may recall that the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has been haunted by scandal: first there was the matter of illegally funding computer purchases for North Korea and Iran, then a whistleblower came forward to claim that WIPO Director General Francis Gurry illegally harvested DNA samples from staffers to find out who had sent anonymous letters alleging his sexual misconduct.

But it gets worse. Read the rest

NSA spies on human rights groups, including those in the USA

During video testimony to the Council of Europe, whistleblower Edward Snowden reiterated that the NSA targets human rights groups, including those in the USA, for surveillance. It uses its Xkeyscore technology to "fingerprint" communications from these groups and targets them for deep surveillance. Groups that have been targeted in this way include UNICEF and many others. Read the rest

Complaint: WIPO director illegally collected staff DNA in order to out whistleblower

In this International Labour Office complaint, Miranda Brown, a former employee of the World Intellectual Property Agency, alleges that WIPO Director General Francis Gurry illegally collected DNA samples from WIPO staffers in order to out a whistleblower. The complaint stems from Gurry's campaign to secure the Director General's job, during which an anonymous staffer posted letters alleging that Gurry engaged in sexual harassment and financial improprieties. Brown, who was forced to resign, says that Gurry secretly directed UN security officers to covertly collect lipstick, dental floss, and other personal items from WIPO staffers in order to attain DNA samples that could be used to identify the letters' author. Gurry is also implicated in a multi-million dollar construction scandal over the building of the new WIPO HQ, which took place when he was legal counsel to the agency.

The entire affair is incredibly sordid, with multiple cover-ups. The complaint paints a picture of a reign of absolute terror, with staffers fearful of reprisals from Gurry over any questioning or reporting of a pattern of bullying, impropriety, harassment and defamation. Having served as a delegate to WIPO, I find it all rather easy to believe. I have never encountered a body more openly corrupt in my life.

INTERNATIONAL LABOUR OFFICE ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL [PDF] Read the rest

UN adopts resolution in favor of digital privacy

The UN General Assembly has unanimously adopted a resolution called "The right to privacy in the digital age," introduced by Germany and Brazil. The resolution sets the stage for the adoption of broader privacy protection in UN treaties and resolution. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has written a set of (excellent) "People's Principles" (sign on here) for future work on digital privacy in the world. Read the rest

Leaked UN document: countries want to end War on Drugs and prohibition

A rare, leaked UN document reveals deep divisions among member-states about the war on drugs, with many nations demanding treatment and decriminalization instead of prohibition. The draft document, dating from September, is from the UN's attempt to set a global policy on drugs and drug trafficking. The document shows Ecuador demanding an official statement "that the world needs to look beyond prohibition" and Venezuela seeking recognition of "the economic implications of the current dominating health and law enforcement approach in tackling the world drug problem." Other dissenters include Norway, Switzerland and the EU. Read the rest

UN makes the connection between surveillance and free speech

Frank La Rue, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, has tabled a report (PDF) to the UN Human Rights Council that makes a connection between surveillance and free expression. This is a first in the UN, and the meat of it is that it establishes the principle that countries that engage in bulk, warrantless Internet surveillance are violating their human rights obligations to ensure freedom of expression:

La Rue reminds States that in order to meet their human rights obligations, they must ensure that the rights to free expression and privacy—and metadata protection in particular—are at the heart of their communications surveillance frameworks. To this end, the Special Rapporteur urges states to review national laws regulating surveillance and update and strengthen laws and legal standards:

Communications surveillance should be regarded as a highly intrusive act that potentially interferes with the rights to freedom of expression and privacy and threatens the foundations of a democratic society.

Legislation must stipulate that State surveillance of communications must only occur under the most exceptional circumstances and exclusively under the supervision of an independent judicial authority.

At present, access to communications data has been conducted by a variety of public bodies for a broad range of purposes, often without judicial authorization and independent oversight. Such overbroad access threatens basic democratic values.

Internet Surveillance and Free Speech: the United Nations Makes the Connection (via /.) Read the rest

Leaked: ITU's secret Internet surveillance standard discussion draft

Yesterday morning, I wrote about the closed-door International Telecommunications Union meeting where they were working on standardizing "deep packet inspection" -- a technology crucial to mass Internet surveillance. Other standards bodies have refused to touch DPI because of the risk to Internet users that arises from making it easier to spy on them. But not the ITU.

The ITU standardization effort has been conducted in secret, without public scrutiny. Now, Asher Wolf writes,

I publicly asked (via Twitter) if anyone could give me access to documents relating to the ITU's DPI recommendations, now endorsed by the U.N. The ITU's senior communications officer, Toby Johnson, emailed me a copy of their unpublished policy recommendations.

OOOPS!

5 hours later, they emailed, asking me not to publish it, in part or in whole, and that it was for my eyes only.

Please publish it (credit me for sending it to you.)

Also note:

1. The recommendations *NEVER* discuss the impact of DPI.

2. A FEW EXAMPLES OF POTENTIAL DPI USE CITED BY THE ITU:

"I.9.2 DPI engine use case: Simple fixed string matching for BitTorrent" "II.3.4 Example “Forwarding copy right protected audio content”" "II.3.6 Example “Detection of a specific transferred file from a particular user”" "II.4.2 Example “Security check – Block SIP messages (across entire SIP traffic) with specific content types”" "II.4.5 Example “Identify particular host by evaluating all RTCP SDES packets”" "II.4.6 Example “Measure Spanish Jabber traffic”" "II.4.7 Example “Blocking of dedicated games”" "II.4.11 Example “Identify uploading BitTorrent users”" "II.4.13 Example “Blocking Peer-to-Peer VoIP telephony with proprietary end-to-end application control protocols”" "II.5.1 Example “Detecting a specific Peer-to-Peer VoIP telephony with proprietary end-to-end application control protocols”"

Read the rest

UN's International Telecommunications Union sets out to standardize bulk surveillance of Internet users by oppressive governments

The International Telecommunications Union, a UN agency dominated by veterans of incumbent telcoms who mistrust the Internet, and representatives of repressive governments who want to control it, have quietly begun the standardization process for a kind of invasive network spying called "deep packet inspection" (DPI). Other standards bodies have shied away from standardizing surveillance technology, but the ITU just dived in with both feet, and proposed a standard that includes not only garden-variety spying, but also spying "in case of a local availability of the used encryption key(s)" -- a situation that includes the kind of spying Iran's government is suspected of engaging in, when an Iranian hacker stole signing keys from the Dutch certificate authority DigiNotar, allowing for silent interception of Facebook and Gmail traffic by Iranian dissidents.

The ITU-T DPI standard holds very little in reserve when it comes to privacy invasion. For example, the document optionally requires DPI systems to support inspection of encrypted traffic “in case of a local availability of the used encryption key(s).” It’s not entirely clear under what circumstances ISPs might have access to such keys, but in any event the very notion of decrypting the users’ traffic (quite possibly against their will) is antithetical to most norms, policies, and laws concerning privacy of communications. In discussing IPSec, an end-to-end encryption technology that obscures all traffic content, the document notes that “aspects related to application identification are for further study” – as if some future work may be dedicated to somehow breaking or circumventing IPSec.
Read the rest

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