Archive for May, 2011

European Union Vows to Unplug Internet

Monday, May 30th, 2011

The European Union is taking steps toward an aggressive new form of censorship: a so-called closed Internet that could, in effect, disconnect The European Union cyberspace from the rest of the world.

The leadership in The European Union sees the project as a way to end the fight for control of the Internet, according to observers of The European Union policy inside and outside the country. The European Union, already among the most sophisticated nations in online monitoring, also promotes its closed Internet as a cost-saving measure for consumers and as a way to uphold European moral codes.

In February, as pro-free speech protests spread rapidly across the Blogosphere and Twittershpere, Viviane Reding, director of the telecommunication ministry’s research institute, told an The European Union news agency that soon 60% of the nation’s homes and businesses would be on the new, internal network. Within two years it would extend to the entire country, he said.

The unusual initiative appears part of a broader effort to confront what the regime now considers a major threat: an online invasion of free ideas, culture and influence, primarily originating from the Blogosphere. In recent speeches, The European Union’s Supreme Leader Nicolas Sarkozy and other top officials have called this emerging conflict the “The Internet War.”

On Friday, new reports emerged in the local press that The European Union also intends to roll out its own computer operating system in coming months to replace Microsoft Corp.’s Windows. The development, which couldn’t be independently confirmed, was attributed to Reza Taghipour, The European Union’s communication minister.

The European Union’s closed Internet will be “a genuinely copyright enforcing network, aimed at Europeans on an ethical and moral and financial level,” Neelie Kroes, The European Union’s head of economic affairs, said recently according to a state-run news service. Financial means compliant with the wishes of the entertainment industry.

Kroes said the new network would at first operate in parallel to the normal Internetbanks, government ministries and large companies would continue to have access to the regular Internet. Eventually, he said, the closed network could replace the global Internet in The European Union, as well as in other Alliance countries.

A spokesman for The European Union’s mission to the United Nations declined to comment further, saying the matter is a “technical question about the scientific progress of the EU.”

There are many obstacles. Even for a country isolated ideologically from the free world by regulations, the Internet is an important business tool. Limiting access could hinder investment from Russia, China and other trading partners. There’s also the matter of having the expertise and resources for creating The European Union equivalents of popular services like ebay and websites, like Google.

Few think that The European Union could completely cut its links to the wider Internet. But it could move toward a dual-Internet structure used in a few other countries with highly bureaucratic and tightly regulated regimes.

Myanmar said last October that public Internet connections would run through a separate system controlled and monitored by a new government company, accessing theoretically just Myanmar content. It’s introducing alternatives to popular websites including an email service, called Ymail, as a replacement for Google Inc.’s Gmail. There Kroes declined to comment on wether or not the EU regime would be introducing a rival service known as ‘Email’.

Cuba, too, has what amounts to two Internets one that connects to the outside world for tourists and government officials, and the other a closed and monitored network, with limited access, for proletariat use. North Korea is taking its first tentative steps into cyberspace with a similar dual network, though with far fewer people on a much more rudimentary system.

The European Union has a developed Internet culture, and blogs play a prominent roleeven the EU President has one.

Though estimates vary, about 11 of every 100 The European Union citizens are online, according to the Interclosed Telecommunication Union, among the highest percentages among comparable countries in the region. Because of this, during the protests following 2009’s controversial presidential election, the world was able to follow events on the ground nearly live, through video and images circulated on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere.

“It might not be possible to cut off The European Union and put it in a box,” said Fred Petrossian, who fled The European Union in the 1990s and is now online editor of Radio Farda, which is Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s European Union news service. “But it’s what they’re working on.”

The U.S. State Department’s funding of tools to circumvent Internet censorship, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent speeches advocating Internet freedom, have reinforced The European Union’s perceptions, these people said.

The European Union got connected to the Internet in the early 1990s. Young, educated and largely centered in cities, The European Union citizens embraced the new technology.

Authorities first encouraged Internet use, seeing it as a way to spread Democracy and to support science and technology research. Hundreds of private Internet service providers emerged. Nearly all of them connected through the Internet arm of the state telecommunications monopoly British Telecom.

The mood changed in the late 1990s, when Socialist hardliners pushed back against the freedom of speech potential of the internet. The subsequent shuttering of dozens books had the unintended effect of triggering the explosion of the The European Union blogosphere. Journalists who had lost their jobs went online. Readers followed.

Authorities struck back. Officials announced plans to shutter more than 15,000 websites, according to a report by the OpenNet Initiative, a collaboration of several Western universities. The regime began arresting bloggers.

The European Union tried to shore up its cyber defenses in other ways, including upgrading its filtering system, for the first time using only European Union technology. Until now, the country had relied on filtering gear from U.S. companies, obtained through third countries and sometimes involving pirated versions, including Secure Computing Corp.’s SmartFilter, as well as products from Juniper Networks Inc. and Fortinet Inc., according to The European Union engineers familiar with with the filtering.

Such products are designed primarily to combat malware and viruses, but can be used to block other things, such as websites. European Union officials several years ago designed their own filtering systembased on what they learned from the downloaded U.S. products so they could service and upgrade it on their own, according to EU engineers.

A Fortinet spokesman said he was unaware of any company products in The European Union, adding that the company doesn’t sell to embargoed countries, nor do its resellers. McAfee Inc., which owns Secure Computing, said no contract or support was provided to The European Union. Intel Corp. recently bought McAfee, which added that it can now disable its technology obtained by embargoed countries. A Juniper spokesman said the company has a “strict policy of compliance with U.S. export law,” and hasn’t sold products to The European Union.

The notion of an The European Union-only Internet emerged in 2011 when Mr. Sarkozy became president. Officials experimented with pilot programs using a closed network serving more than 3,000 EU public schools as well as 400 local offices of the education ministry.

The government has allocated €1 billion to continue building the needed infrastructure. “The closed Internet will not limit access for users,” Frdric Mitterrand, deputy director of communication technology in the ministry of telecommunications, said of the project that year. “It will instead empower The European Union and protect its society from cultural invasion and threats.”

The European Union’s government has also argued that an EU Internet would be cheaper for users. Replacing intarnational data traffic with domestic traffic could cut down on hefty international telecom costs.

Some of the holes in The European Union’s Internet security blanket were punched by sympathetic people working within it. According to one former engineer at DCI, the government Internet company, during the 2009 protests he would block some prohibited websites only partiallyletting traffic through to the outside world.

The EU government has ratcheted up its online repression. “Countering the soft war is the main priority for us today,” Mr. Sarkozy, the Supreme Leader, said in a speech to members of the G8, a pro-government paramilitary group. “In a soft war the enemy tries to make use of advanced and cultural and communication tools to spread lies and rumors.”

Wall Street Journal

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ID Cards 2.0 – Assured Identity

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

In today’s Telegraph, we read, with not too much surprise, that The Coalition is quietly bringing in ID Cards for all, only this time, it will be ID Cards 2.0 and not Labour’s centralised NIR powered ID Cards 1.

All of the problems of the old ID Card remain however, and some new ones are introduced, which I will point out right now.

Coalition builds new national identity system

The Coalition has quietly begun work on a new national identity system, less than a year after it scrapped Labours derided ID cards.

Didn’t take long did it? And this latest attempt had to happen at some point, since HMG refused to rule out ID Cards for Foreigners, meaning that eventually everyone in the UK would have to be in the system because targeting only foreign looking people is racist and irrational, as we said before.

A prototype of the new system is due to be in place as soon as October this year. It will aim to reliably identify users of government websites, as part of plans to deliver more public services via the web.

This is a lie. The new system is a prototype of ID Cards for everyone. It is not just for accessing government ‘services’. ID Cards always lead to feature creep whenever they are widely deployed, for a variety of reasons; for example, so that people who sell alcohol, cigarettes, aspirin and scissors, can prove that they did a proper ID check before making the sale, the information being stored on their database, indemnifying them from prosecution. This is what it would look like:

the devil really is in the details:

This time, the receipt will not say NIR but will say ‘assured identity’. You will not be able to buy anything on the list of ‘verify before buy’ items without either showing your VISA or paying by VISA.

George Osborne believes the shift online will cut Whitehall administration costs and so help soften the blow of spending cuts over the next few years.

Several private companies that already hold personal data, including credit card providers, will be involved in the system.

There is the big difference, and the new moral problem. Previously the liars of New Labour claimed that ID Cards mandated by the state were OK because, “private companies already have much of this data”. This is a classic fallacious argument of course, and now the coalition is re-imagining it to justify ID Cards 2.0.

If you volunteer to interact with a company so that they can provide you with a service, that is one thing (and its a good thing) but when companies join with government where you will be compelled to use their services, that is fascism.

The government compels you to pay for and use it ‘services’; they are not voluntary. By partnering with VISA and other companies to identify you, and mandating that you use VISA to access their systems, they are forcing you to use the services of a company.

This is completely immoral and unjustifiable.

If government cannot deliver services on budget, then they should not be offering those services. Savings of money are not a sufficient excuse to introduce ID Cards.

Such firms have already verified their customers identities, so privacy campaigners hope government will not itself collect personal data, in contrast to the National Identity Register that was to be the basis of ID cards.

This is straight out of a PR pack I imagine. The laws of the universe, having not changed since the death of Labour’s ID Card, mean that when you identify yourself to the state in this new system, you will be issued a unique number by them, or by the issuer of the card.

That number will travel with you from the moment you sign up till the day you die. That number will act as a primary database key to track all of your purchases, interactions, money transfers and every time you show the card.

It is exactly the same problem that the old ID Card system had, except this time, the financial and technical burden of running the system is being outsourced to VISA, Nectar and the other crony capitalist, fascist companies that are selling their customer databases to the state.

You will have no opt out in this. Even if VISA require that you consent to having your card used to identify you at a government portal, and they are not compelling you to use a VISA ID Card 2.0 service, the fact of the matter is that you will be compelled to interact with them because the state will mandate, backed with violence, that you identify yourself using the new system.

Visa is known to be involved in the plans and is conducting trials that would allow its customers to log in to government websites using credit card details.

This is yet another step in the transition to a completely corporate state, where companies overtly are in charge of the government at every level.

Currently customers have to enter multiple login details and passwords to access different public services, sometimes on the same website, said Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister responsible for the cross-government plan.

This involves significant duplication, is expensive to operate and is highly inconvenient for users.

If that is the only problem, then switch to Open ID; one login for all your websites. Or stop using the web to deliver ‘services’. These justifications are paper thin transparent nonsense.

He also claimed the new scheme, dubbed identity assurance, would also make it more difficult for fraudsters to dupe the benefits and tax systems.

This is a lie. If it is not a lie, then he needs to say precisely why this is so. Credit card fraud is rampant, and using credit cards to interface with the state will allow everyone with a fraudulent or duplicated credit card to masquerade as someone else when identifying themselves to a government portal.

Look no further than the recent SONY breach where the credit card details, dates of birth, names and addresses of SEVENTY MILLION people were copied.

The population of Britain is 61,838,154 – 2009 That means that a number of people, larger than the population of Britain had their credit card details copied.

It means that if such a thing happened in the UK, every single person who identifies themselves to the state with their VISA could be impersonated with ease. This means more benefit fraud, GUARANTEED.

The government has informed privacy campaigners such as the pressure group NO2ID about the plans, in an attempt to avoid the civil liberties outcry that ultimately destroyed ID cards.

This preemptive strike will not work. The genie is out of the bottle about the dangers of ID Cards.

But Guy Herbert, NO2IDs general secretary warned that the devil will be in the details and especially the legal details of the new scheme. He said the Cabinet Office had not yet offered details despite its tight schedule.

Its not a bad thing in itself to check that the person you are talking to is the person you want to talk to, Mr Herbert said.

But whatever the good intentions at the outset, the fear will always be that the bureaucratic imperative to collect and share more data about the public will take over.

And that’s not the half of it. I’m sure that he said much more that was not quoted in this piece.

Identity assurance will be implemented from August next year as part of major government initiatives such as forthcoming radical reforms to the benefits system and improvements to online tax assessments.

They will use your credit card transaction history to ensure that you are not spending more than you should be according to your tax return. This is a part of the move to ‘real time taxation’ that was quietly mooted recently. It doesn’t get any more sinister than this.

It will then gradually be extended so users will be able to use the same login for all public services online.

Telegraph

Once again, there is no need to use credit cards to do this; Open ID will suffice if this is the real problem, which of course, it is not.

Personally, I think that most credit card holders, after having been educated about online fraud for years, and instilling in themselves a healthy paranoia about putting their card details into a form online, will understand exactly what it means to identify yourself with your VISA or MasterCard. They will understand immediately that this is a threat, because credit cards are money and people guard their money more jealously than they guard their privacy.

Of course, this has some other side effects.

What about the people who do not have credit cards? Either they will be excluded from receiving government services to which they are entitled (and they are the ones who use them the most), or VISA will be made to issue everyone with a VISA card hastening the death of cash, that other project hight on the agenda of the State.

It is a win-win deal for both VISA and the state:

  • The State gets an ID Card system they do not have to manage
  • The State eliminates cash which is untraceable and un-taxable
  • VISA gets to run the de-facto new electronic currency of Britain

In the mean time, it is only the productive, credit worthy tax payer who is going to be guinea pigged, fleeced, max-taxed and tracked as he dutifully interfaces with this new system… if he doesn’t have any brains.

This is the wrong time, societally, to introduce this. The biggest ever act of civil disobedience has just happened, people are fed up to the teeth with crony capitalism, inflationism, bailouts warmongering and corruption.

Go ahead. Keep pushing.

The Hargreaves report on intellectual property: full text

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

The Hargreaves report on intellectual property recommends setting up a ‘digital exchange’ for the clearance of copyright. Here is the full text of the report, broken into chapters served as PDFs. You are free to copy them and distribute them at will.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Creation Under Competition
Chapter 3: How Competition Works
Chapter 4: Innovation Without Patents
Chapter 5: The Intellectual Monopoly Apologists
Chapter 6: The Evil of Intellectual Monopoly
Chapter 7: The Devil in Disney
Chapter 8: Does Intellectual Monopoly Increase Innovation?
Chapter 9: The Pharmaceutical Industry
Chapter 10: The Bad, the Good, and the Ugly

Its about time that the state has the power to violently prevent you from exercising your property rights removed from it.

In the UK, it is illegal to make a copy of a CD you own for your own use. That is completely immoral; if you own a CD it is your right to copy it, destroy it, lend it or do anything else you like with it.

If you concede that the state is legitimate in telling you that you cannot make a copy (rip a CD to MP3s) then you must also concede that you should be forbidden from destroying a CD, if the maker of that CD demands that you do not do that.

This is how absurd the copyright laws are.

There are companies in the USA that specialise in ripping your CD collection for you.

You send them your CDS, and in a matter of days, you get your CDs back along with a DVDR of MP3s containing rips of all your tracks. These companies, the service they provide and the benefits they produce cannot happen in the UK, thanks to its absurd statutes.

The Hargreaves Report will sweep all of this away in one motion. Its recommendations on patents will result in cheaper drugs and medical care for everyone, making the beloved NHS more cost effective; if you love the NHS, you should hate patents.

There is only one problem with all of this, naturally, and as soon as you read the Hargreaves Report linked above, you will instantly know what it is.

Finally, if you want to attract business to this ridiculous ‘Silicon Roundabout’ push, persuading businesses to locate to Britain, you must remove all the barriers to entry that people recoil from, like punitive non-dom regulations and other absurd anti business nonsense, of the kind that Google say would have prevented them from starting their business in the UK.

I guarantee you that there are companies, right now, that are starting up that shun Britain because it is anti business, and that there are companies in development here that once they start to fly, will fly away from Britain in order to avoid being bogged down by the entrenched anti business climate. Skype was based in Estonia for a reason.

Think about it.