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Chinese censor prosecuted for taking bribes to censor remarks companies and government officials disliked

Censorship invites abuse. In China, the widespread practice of Internet censorship means that lots of people are authorized to hand down censorship orders and lots more people naturally turn to censorship when something on the Internet bugs them. This week, Chinese authorities prosecuted an "Internet policeman" who took payments from companies in return for censoring unfavorable remarks about them on social media. He's accused of censoring more than 2,500 posts in return for over $300K in payments. He also collaborated with another official to censor critical remarks about government officials. It seems unlikely that Gu, the Internet policeman who was arrested, and Liu, his collaborator, were the only two censors-for-hire in the Chinese system.

Lest you think that this problem is uniquely Chinese, consider that when Wikileaks leaked the Great Firewall of Australia's blacklist, we learned that more the half the sites on the list didn't meet the censorship criteria. And when the Danish and Swedish blacklists were analyzed, it emerged that more than 98 percent of the sites blocked did not meet the official criteria for censorship. And in the UK, the national firewall once blocked all of Wikipedia.

China Prosecuted Internet Policeman In Paid Deletion Cases

Jake Appelbaum reads his Homeland afterword, with bonus Atari Teenage Riot vocoder mix

Two of my friends contributed afterwords to my novel Homeland: Aaron Swartz and Jacob Appelbaum. In this outtake from the independently produced Homeland audiobook (which you can get for the next week exclusively through the Humble Ebook Bundle), Jake reads his afterword at The Hellish Vortex Studio in Berlin, where he is in exile after several harrowing adventures at the US border. Hellish Vortex is run by Alec Empire, founding member of Atari Teenage Riot. Alec recorded this clip (MP3), and also mixed an alternate version.

Originally Jake had intended for his afterword to be anonymous (I didn't understand this at the time, and there was no harm done!). In keeping with this, Alec mixed this vocoder edition (MP3), that is pretty awesome.

Humble Ebook Bundle

A profile of Julian Assange, by his ghostwriter


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, 2011. Toby Melville/Reuters

"Ghosting," by Andrew O’Hagan, is a most interesting personal profile of the Wikileaks founder by a writer in the most interesting position of having ghostwritten Assange's autobiography. Assange later disavowed the project, telling publisher Canongate "All memoir is prostitution," and sought to have his contract canceled and the book killed. It was published.

From O'Hagan's account of their first meeting, in which they discussed the sort of book Assange originally wished to write--part memoir, part manifesto:

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NSA and GHCQ targeted WikiLeaks and supporters with surveillance, international pressure, LOLcats


A slide from the NSA document on psychology tactics to be used against Wikileaks and supporters suggests the extent to which LOLcats have entered the zeitgeist: they're even used by America's top spies. Also note that on this slide, the word "psychology" is misspelled.

The Intercept today published documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden which show that the NSA and Britain's GCHQ targeted WikiLeaks with an array of surveillance tactics and spied on supporters.

From the report by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher:

The efforts – detailed in documents provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – included a broad campaign of international pressure aimed not only at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but at what the U.S. government calls “the human network that supports WikiLeaks.” The documents also contain internal discussions about targeting the file-sharing site Pirate Bay and hacktivist collectives such as Anonymous.

ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer, responding to the report:

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Leaked: environmental chapter of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty

Most of our coverage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has focused on its Internet-regulating provisions. But the treaty -- which has been negotiated in unprecedented secrecy, with heavy-handed shoves from the US Trade Representative -- also has disturbing implications for the environment. Today, Wikileaks published a leaked consolidated draft of TPP's environment chapter, which sets out the ways in which corporations will be able to prevent countries from passing environmental laws that interfere with profit making.

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Ben Franklin, whistleblowing leaker of government secrets

Benjamin Franklin was a leaker of government secrets, who circulated intercepted letters from the colonial lieutenant governor of Massachusetts Bay to the British government. The letters detailed a scheme to take away colonists' legally guaranteed freedoms "by degrees" and called for more troops to keep order during the process. After the letters were published, Franklin admitted to leaking them, but refused to give up his source. The crown called it "thievery and dishonor" and he was fired from his postmaster general gig (thankfully, there was no Espionage Act on the books at the time). (via Techdirt) Cory 22

Amnesty petition to release Chelsea Manning

Alan sez, "Amnesty International have a petition up that asks for the release of Manning. The petition argues that both on humanitarian grounds and on account of the pre-trial treatment, Manning is deserving of a clemency release."

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EFF's best books of 2013

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has produced a reading list for the best books on technology, law and freedom in 2013. It includes several books I reviewed here, such as Black Code, The Internet Police, Coding Freedom and Rewire, as well as a few that I'm desperate to get to, such as Schneier's Carry On, Lapsley's Exploding the Phone and Greenberg's This Machine Kills Secrets. Cory 2

Data visualization shows US isolation in pushing for brutal Trans-Pacific Partnership


Gabriel Michael, a PhD candidate at George Washington University, subjected the IP Chapter of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership, leaked by Wikileaks last week to statistical analysis. The leaked draft has extensive footnotes indicating each country's negotiating positions. By analyzing the frequency with which the US appears as the sole objector to other nations' positions, and when the US is the sole proponent of clauses to which other nations object, Michael was able to show that TPP really is an American-run show pushing an American agenda, not a multilateral trade deal being negotiated to everyone's mutual benefit. Though Canada is also one of the main belligerents, with even more unilateral positions than the USA.

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Update on WikiLeaks grand jury: no indictment yet, but grand jury continues


Julian Assange. Image: Reuters.

A story in the Washington Post today quotes unnamed "senior law enforcement sources" as saying that US prosecutors haven't yet filed a sealed indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but the nearly three-year grand jury investigation continues.

The report follows weeks of rumors that an indictment was imminent, after the unsealing of an indictment for Edward Snowden. One source quoted in the story says, “Nothing has occurred so far. If Assange came to the U.S. today, he would not be arrested. But I can’t predict what’s going to happen. He might be in six months.”

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Wikileaks publishes the "Internet Chapter" of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (SOPA's back)

Wikileaks has published the Internet Chapter of the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade-deal negotiated between corporate leaders and government reps without any democratic oversight (the US Trade Rep wouldn't share TPP drafts with Congress, and now it is headed for fast-tracking into law). TorrentFreak has parsed out the text, and compares it to SOPA, the brutal US copyright law that collapsed in the face of massive public protest. The treaty is reportedly at a "negotiated stalemate" thanks to the US Trade Rep, who has refused to bend on treaty provisions that other nations objected to.

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Germany wants Snowden to testify on US spying--but in Moscow, not Berlin


A general view of the large former monitoring base of the U.S. intelligence organization National Security Agency (NSA) in Bad Aibling south of Munich, June 18, 2013. Reuters/Michaela Rehle

Lawmakers in Germany want former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to give evidence on previously-secret U.S. surveillance of Angela Merkel's mobile phone. Snowden has communicated a desire to travel to Germany or France, but Wednesday they said they would instead try to take his testimony from Moscow without compromising his asylum there. More at Reuters.

Snowden's status in Russia is not without conditions, however: Putin said early on that the most important of those is that Snowden not take further actions to "harm" the United States. Speaking to Germany about covert ops conducted by the US could be interpreted as doing just that.

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Jacob Appelbaum explains surveillance to the EuroParl

Jacob Appelbaum of the Tor Project and Wikileaks addressed the European Parliament on the issue of surveillance and freedom. It was a remarkable speech, even by Appelbaum's high standards. An amateur transcript gives you a sense of what's going on, but the video is even better: "Is it used for coercion? Is data passed to autocratic regimes? Is it used to study groups? Is it used to disrupt? Yes, yes, and yes. Might they force or forge data? Absolutely."

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US border laptop searches: the other warrantless surveillance


Documents released today as a result of the House v. Napolitano settlement document the systematic use of laptop searches at the US border to evade the need to get a warrant to read Americans' email. They way it worked: Homeland Security Investigations has someone they want the goods on, but don't think a judge would grant them a warrant. They put their victim on a travel advisory list, and the next time she crosses the border, the CBP seizes her laptop and phone and whatever other devices she's carrying and they get a copy of all of her data: no warrant required. They used this trick to seize the documents of David House, who worked to raise money and public support for Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning), and eventually had to settle a lawsuit brought by House and the ACLU, a condition of which was the release of these documents.

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Amid NSA spying scandal, Yahoo releases transparency report on gov data requests

The Internet company Yahoo! has released a Transparency Report today, detailing the requests it receives for user information from government agencies. Yahoo said today it received 12,444 requests for data from the U.S. government so far this year, covering the accounts of a total 40,322 users. Some good analysis at WaPo. Xeni 2