Friday, February 22, 2013

The Police State is Coming


       First, I have to apologize for the length of this article, however, the overwhelming evidence, in combination with the sheer importance of this topic, required a comprehensive analysis and supply of sources for the claims listed. Instead of an overarching approximation of the movement, I have listed key events and players, for facility in identifying who it is we are fighting, and what their capabilities are. You will find this very frightening, and if you don't, you should.

      For anyone who has read any Orwell, the phrase "big brother" will be familiar. Although Orwell wasn’t able to predict the internet, his understanding of the risks of an intrusive government were well-founded and prescient, as the Canadian government races toward the destruction of our digital freedom, and the implementation of a police state.

            Michael Geist, a Law professor from Ottawa, comments:

“The Motion Picture Association - Canada reports meeting with Canadian Heritage Minister, Foreign Minister, and Industry Canada Senior Associate Deputy Minister all on the same day. These meetings occurred less than three weeks after the introduction of Bill C-11 and the decision to sign the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Ministers were willing to meet with the top U.S. copyright lobby group, but not with Canadian creator, consumer, or education groups who offered a much different perspective on legislative reform.”

            We are on the brink of a New World Order; one in which the monkeys at the peak of the hierarchy seek to implement the foundations of a global spying network, the likes of which have now penetrated 70 countries, and is currently pounding at Canada’s door.  There are 5 important bills to discuss on the topic and some elements of international trade law as well (ACTA).  I have read them all and will summarize their content and implications later in this article.  The main point I wish to illustrate is that this problem is not going to go away unless we make it do so, and time is a factor. There is a point of no return, and World War II showed that, and more, what evil mankind is capable of.
      
      There are interests who are pushing for the implementation of spying bills, such as the widely publicized SOPA and PIPA bills; which were by and large motivated by lobbying pressures from media moguls including but not limited to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).  There was a blackout protest to these bills in the states spearheaded by large internet companies such as Google and Wikipedia.  

One might imagine that the message got across to the government, but that is simply not the case.  An international consortium of shady interests are making moves to shut down freedom online. Organizations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) are massive lobby groups representing powerful media companies and IP (intellectual property) hubs, and are actively pursuing the enactment of bills which will crush Canadian constitutionality.

Here is an excerpt from the “2013 special 301 report on copyright protection and enforcement,” written by the IIPA:

“The Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11), enacted in June 2012 after several previous unsuccessful attempts at copyright reform, is a significant achievement… But much more remains to be done… To some extent, this turns on how the new copyright law is implemented and enforced, and how and when Canada finally accedes to the WIPO treaties. But there is other important unfinished business, notably the need to transform the copyright enforcement environment through better legal tools (including at the border), revamped law enforcement priorities, greater resources for investigations and prosecutions, and imposition of deterrent sentences on violators… Ultimately, they agreed to recommend that Canada be moved to the Watch List for 2013, [and] to urge that the U.S. Government remain extensively engaged with Canada to make progress on the long list of further changes needed.”

            In summary, the IIPA is pressuring the Canadian government to be sneakier, punish more harshly, and watch more closely. It demands the empowerment of law enforcement to watch internet activity of its citizens without due process, and to approach punishment to the tune of shock and awe. 

      Some historical information:

  Mass-surveillance of the internet isn't a new phenomenon.  During the Bush administration, internet service providers colluded with the US government to spy on Americans illegally; sometimes referred to as the "President's Surveillance Program," or the "NSA electronic surveillance program;" wherein the NSA was tasked, by executive order, to collect massive amounts of information on American phone and internet activity, without warrants.  In 2008, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008 tasked the inspectors general of all intelligence agencies to publish a comprehensive report entitled the "unclassified report on the president's surveillance program," which can be read here. The report states that "The Attorney General... publicly acknowledged the fact that other intelligence activities were also authorized under the same Presidential Authorization, but the details of those activities remain classified." So to be clear, this activity is likely still going on, as the amendments which extended the powers of intelligence agencies during the Bush administration have not been redacted or even discussed in Congress. In fact, they have been amplified under Obama, who signed the reauthorization of “the broad electronic eavesdropping powers that legalized and expanded President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program secretly implemented in the wake of 9/11.(1)

      Enter Wikileaks.
 
In 2010, a massive release of documents now widely described as "Cablegate," initiated a new kind of cyber-warfare.  The US was embarrassed internationally, revealing its underhanded methods of manipulating foreign powers, and its blatant disregard for judicial process for its intelligence members and agencies. Not only this, they were proven to have spied on members of the UN, and to have collected detailed personal information of diplomats and nation leaders.

For example, in 2003, the US threatened and coerced Italian legal authorities, preventing the prosecution of 22 CIA agents who kidnapped an alleged terror suspect, Abu Omar, in 2003. However, last Tuesday, "an Italian court sentenced several former Italian intelligence agents to terms of up to 10 years for supporting the CIA."(2) American intelligence agencies have also illegally interrogated individuals in the pursuit of leverage over Wikileaks.(3) In a classified document obtained by Wikileaks, the State department reveals its intentions to reveal Wikileaks sources, terminate their employment, and prosecute them criminally. Their justification of “blocking wikileaks in the US” is delineated in comparison to “`Several foreign countries including China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe [who] have denounced or blocked access to the WikiLeaks.org website’”(4)

The US agents involved in the kidnapping, rendition, and torture of Abu Omar were not investigated due to stonewalling by the US State Department. Bayer, the lead prosecutor in Germany is quoted in an interview as saying "What happened in Milan and Ramstein is a disgrace and should be prosecuted. If it had been possible, we would have filed indictments." Due to a lack of cooperation by the American government, the CIA members and operation heads were not prosecuted (or even reprimanded as far as can be determined). 
           
This is just one example of hundreds of blunders which the US assumed would never come to light. The release of cables in 2010 was a wake-up-call for the US intelligence agency, and it promulgated several important shifts in world politics:

The Arab Spring, beginning in Tunisia, was due in part to the revelation of extreme corruption and undue opulence of the reigning government, as outlined in the leaked diplomatic cables.  Also contained therein were pleas from the US embassy to address the serious human rights issues.  The US did nothing. They have a bad track record of supporting dictators who will do what America wants (Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua, Guatemala…).

The war on internet freedom has two fronts: commercial and military.

 The two are actually merging; combining the lobbying clout of trillion-dollar industries with the most powerful governments and military research organizations on earth.  Although this may sound extreme, it’s no exaggeration. For the sake of economy of words, I will write the advancement of this group’s agenda in summary:

The Patriot Act

The President’s Surveillance Program

SOPA and PIPA


ACTA

Canadian Bills:

C-11: “Copyright Modernization Act”

C-30:  Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act; Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act (a troubling subterfuge)

C-12: “Safeguarding Canadians’ Personal Information Act;” An Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act

 S-7: “Combating Terrorism Act”

 C-55: may allow warrantless wiretapping in the near future. I can’t get much information, no advance copies or drafts have been released to the public, and the parliament library website is conveniently down during these talks. I will update on this subject. 

POST EDIT:    Bill c-55 is now law.  I posted the amendment to 184.4, which is the disquieting text below.


184.4 A police officer may intercept, by means of any electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical or other device, a private communication if the police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that


(a) the urgency of the situation is such that an authorization could not, with reasonable diligence, be obtained under any other provision of this Part;


(b) the interception is immediately necessary to prevent an offence that would cause serious harm to any person or to property; and


(c) either the originator of the private communication or the person intended by the originator to receive it is the person who would commit the offence that is likely to cause the harm or is the victim, or intended victim, of the harm. (?)

(c) note the obfuscating language still cannot hide much room for future abuse, although there are some restraining measures as well.


            I strongly suggest that you read parts of these bills, or at least, informed commentary on their elements and consequences.  A quick google search will reveal much.  Priority should be placed on bills s-7, c-12, and c-55.  C-11 has already been passed, so it’s a “too late” moment, but I would check it out anyway. C-30 was very recently defeated, but it is a good example of the conservative governments attempts to install the foundations of mass-surveillance.  (Post Edit, c-55 passed, now law.)

        It is also of extreme importance to pay attention to emerging international trade law (a) (b) (c) and the TPP - or trans pacific partnership.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, FISC (US)
(I will write an article on this subject at a later time, but here is a list of the members)

Wired writes that the FISC is “a rubber-stamp for giving the federal government carte blanche powers to spy on Americans at home or abroad…and doles out spy warrants without even knowing a target’s name. No probable cause is necessary, as long as the feds attest that the electronic eavesdropping is material to an investigation.”

The Washington Post also writes that “The White House nominee to run the CIA said setting up a special court to oversee deadly drone strikes against American citizens is worth considering.”

The wording in Canadian bills bears terrifying resemblance to the conditions upon which such rubber courts operate.  If a police officer adequately predicts or assumes a crime may be committed, it is enough to gain the power to monitor individuals.  Not just internet either – all forms of spying technology available. 
(Post Edit: Since C-55, subjects do not need to be informed.)

Many of these bills are not what they seem. As the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) recommended in their 2013 report; the Conservative Government should use narrow, low-profile methods of implementing further controls.

  For example, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said “either stand with us or with the child pornographers,” on the subject of passing c-12 although it desperately erodes Canadian personal information protection, and allows authorities greatly extended powers of surveillance. Historically, when legislative bodies want to erode the powers of their opponents, they choose catchwords and accusations to leverage their agendas.  In Germany Hitler won power legally.  In the US, the word “communist” was used in the seventies. More recently they prefer “patriot” or “weak on terrorism,” such as in the passing of the Patriot Act.  Canada is now calling opponents of government spying “pedophiles,” which is decidedly not sneaky, as the IIPA suggests.

As Yahoo News reports, under c-12; “police could watch anyone’s Internet activity at any time across Canada.”  In a unanimous Supreme Court decision, concerning R vs. TSE, it was determined that aspects of the bill’s contribution to the Criminal Code of Canada were unconstitutional, violating Canadians’ search and seizure rights.

 The Copyright Modernization Act (C-11) was passed last year, and is currently in effect.  By the way, if you downloaded anything with a torrent program in the past 6 months, you were being watched. Here is a company that does that kind of work, based out of Quebec.

            There is an emerging consortium of super-spy agencies as well. I don’t mean the CIA or the FBI, or the KGB or MI6 either. They are corporations who are paid to massively to monitor whole nations.  the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Amendments Act allows the US to spy internationally, and on purely political grounds, as described in a report entitled  Fighting Cyber Crime and Protecting Privacy in the Cloud, a European report which was recently delivered to European Parliament.  
What this means is that if someone, for example me, speaks out against the US government, I might be placed on a watchlist, and data in a cloud such as Google will be collected and automatically compiled into a dossier.  Those who have studied history understand this is a tactic employed by secret police in totalitarian states (Germany, Russia, Italy, North Korea).  The security penetration of the SS was around 10%, meaning 1 in 10 were informants.  The possibility of penetration would be 100% under this new system. 
  In a way I’m taking a risk by even writing this article; and if I were more popular, more outspoken, there would be a risk as a reader too.  Google records and stores all search data, and the government is constantly pressuring them for it.  It won’t be long, unless we fix this problem. 
(Post-edit: Google seems to be de-prioritizing this blog in its results ([used startpage])

            The final point for this article relates to the emergence of new technology firms, which are already engaged in mass-spying, which Julian Assange calls “a secret new industry spanning 25 countries.” Wikileaks released a spat of documents detailing over a hundred security firms’ role in the mass surveillance of cellular and internet traffic.(5) Assange describes how

Intelligence companies such as VASTech secretly sell equipment to permanently record the phone calls of entire nations. Others record the location of every mobile phone in a city, down to 50 meters… When citizens overthrew the dictatorships in Egypt and Libya this year, they uncovered listening rooms where devices from Gamma corporation of the UK, Amesys of France, VASTech of South Africa (Free Trade Partners) and ZTE Corp of China monitored their every move online and on the phone. Hacking Teams in Italy and Vupen in France manufacture viruses (Trojans) that hijack individual computers and phones (including iPhones, Blackberries and Androids), take over the device, record its every use, movement, and even the sights and sounds of the room it is in. Other companies like Phoenexia in the Czech Republic collaborate with the military to create speech analysis tools. They identify individuals by gender, age and stress levels and track them based on ‘voiceprints’. Blue Coat in the U.S. and Ipoque in Germany sell tools to governments in countries like China and Iran to prevent dissidents from organizing online.

          Read the comprehensive spy files released by wikileaks, and commentary by Assange from which the above quote originates.



Above is a graph from a presentation by one such spy-firm.  They have a good marketing department it seems. If I were a maniacal dictator I'd definitely consider them for their colourful presentations.



Here is an overview from another spy network, which brandishes the proud Made in the USA at the bottom, promoting high irony, a sure-fire selling point for particularly patriotic US interests. My first laugh of the day came from this.



The above page is a list of customers who apply the services of Glimmerglass. It is an alarming list, with top defense contractors and research institutions, and even academic institutions (UC San Diego is up there). Scary. Below is a summary of their methodology and content coverage:










        The FBI has been caught red-handed, spying on millions using a vulnerability in Apple software, with unique identifiers called UDIDs, which they can use to track the location of someone, as well as their address, numbers, and other personal information.  The hacktivist group Anonymous breached the FBI database and leaked the information with the personal info wiped from the publication. (6)

        The ACLU also claims that Boston Police have been intimidating and profiling peaceful protesters, and submitting their reports to the FBI. The ACLU "has now published the findings obtained through a lawsuit against the BPD, revealing that unmerited investigations were regularly opened up to probe into protest groups only exercising their rights. Even when no incident warranted an investigation, however, Crockford says that protesters were still filed in these fusion centers with reports plastered with labels such as 'Criminal Act,' 'Extremists,' 'Civil Disturbance' and 'HomeSec-Domestic.'" As reported by RT.com. 


        So what we're seeing is government cataloging of those who express dissent, then utilizing technological measures to monitor their activities, collect their data, and create "profiles."   In the seventies this practice was commonplace, with the important difference being  technology's t.  Undercover agents would infiltrate peaceful groups and profile its members, preparing for hearings in which a subject would be tried based on their ideology and affiliation, then blacklisted for their views. This is happening now. (a) (b) (c)


        Not only are these groups being spied on, the government has actually established a highly sophisticated network of 77 spying hubs called DHS Fusion Centers, under the auspices of national security. According to a report by United States Senate subcommittee on investigations for Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, entitled "Federal Support for and Involvement in State and Local Fusion  Centers," the Fusion Centers were "unable to meaningfully contribute to federal counterterrorism efforts" and the Department of Homeland Security "does not know how much it spent to support fusion centers ... [and]does not exercise effective oversight of grant funds.. [additionally] if published, some drafting reporting could have violated the privacy act."  Among these infractions were lack of oversight, poor training, wasteful, unnecessary spending, violations of civil liberties, and reporting of fusion centers that "do not exist." The report goes so far as to claim that "fusion centers may have hindered, not aided, Federal counterterrorism efforts"(7)


        I don’t need to expand further on the severity of the issue. 

        We are living in legendary times, and being born in this new Renaissance tasks us with a special responsibility to the future of humanity.  If we don’t encourage protective legislation, we “are all screwed” as Assange puts it.  This isn’t conjecture.  This isn’t Hollywood.  There hasn’t been a threat to freedom like this in human history.  This crisis makes the Third Reich look like a fancy picnic for teddy bears.  I urge you to become informed and outspoken.  Normally, it wouldn’t interest me to encourage you to share my writing, as I consider it to be a form of artistic expression rather than a popularity contest; however, in the case of advancing the cause of our mutual freedom, I must encourage you to link this article insofar as you are able and willing. 


       One important element in this uphill battle will be to encourage transparency and accountability in government. This can be accomplished in the legislative branch of society, however, it is just as important to ensure our political overseers are beholden to the laws.  


         The executive branch of the US government hasn't expressed much interest in anything but pounding out executive orders by the basket. This trend hasn't stopped since Bush, and in fact, it has gotten worse. (8) (a) 

           There are enabling technologies and frameworks which will allow the populace to regain control.  It can be accomplished by regaining control over the legislative bodies, both the House of Commons and Congress, as well as both Senates.  I would venture to say that forcing politicians to publish their financials every term pre and post would be a good measure to prevent lobbying corruption.  SuperPACs need to go, they are an affront to democracy and a joke.  Accounting is a simple and effective countermeasure to corruption.  Financial oversight allows us to watch where the power flows.  All the secrecy in these clandestine organizations has done permanent damage to foreign and domestic affairs in the US, and we would do well to learn from these lessons. 

      Quantum cryptography offers a way to deal with the overreaching powers of government. It is a technology which will allow consumers to protect themselves from prying eyes.  It is not possible to intercept a QC connection without alerting the proprietor.  So let's implement citizen-driven referendum, where IP addresses represent voting power; kick out these idiots from the House; encrypt connections with QC; and rebuild the legislature to favor the populace instead of its silver-haired overlords. 


        We can win this, but we will all need to work together, and make sure these sneaky bastards don’t take our privacy and our freedom out of our hands. One thing that's clear, whether Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, black, white, Christian, Muslim... we are all in this together, and all our freedom is at stake. 


(Post Edit: since I wrote this article, Edward Snowden leaked documents on a spy network called PRISM - facebook, google, microsoft implicated)

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