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A FOCUS ON THE FORCES CHANGING OUR WORLD

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US teen invents advanced cancer test using Google

Fifteen-year-old high school student Jack Andraka likes to kayak and watch the US television show Glee.

And when time permits, he also likes to do advanced research in one of the most respected cancer laboratories in the world.

Jack Andraka has created a pancreatic cancer test that is 168 times faster and considerably cheaper than the gold standard in the field. He has applied for a patent for his test and is now carrying out further research at Johns Hopkins University in the US city of Baltimore.

And he did it by using Google.

The Maryland native, who won $75,000 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May for his creation, cites search engines and free online science papers as the tools that allowed him to create the test.

The BBC’s Matt Danzico sat down with the teenager, who said the idea came to him when he was “chilling out in biology class”. 

Filed under News Cancer Teenagers Internet Google

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Surveillance State democracy

As the FBI seeks full access to all forms of Internet communication, it is not voters who need to be convinced

Glenn Greenwald

CNET‘s excellent technology reporter, Declan McCullagh, reports on ongoing efforts by the Obama administration to force the Internet industry to provide the U.S. Government with “backdoor” access to all forms of Internet communication:

The FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a controversial proposal that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance… . That included a scheduled trip this month to the West Coast — which was subsequently postponed — to meet with Internet companies’ CEOs and top lawyers… .

The FBI general counsel’s office has drafted a proposed law that the bureau claims is the best solution: requiring that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly.

“If you create a service, product, or app that allows a user to communicate, you get the privilege of adding that extra coding,” an industry representative who has reviewed the FBI’s draft legislation told CNET.

As for the substance of this policy, I wrote about this back in September, 2010, when it first revealed that the Obama administration was preparing legislation to mandate that “all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct ‘peer to peer’ messaging like Skype” — be designed to ensure government surveillance access. This isn’t about expanding the scope of the government’s legal surveillance powers — numerous legislative changes since 2001 have already accomplished that quite nicely — but is about ensuring the government’s physical ability to intrude into all forms of Internet communication.

What was most amazing to me back when I first wrote about these Obama administration efforts was that a mere six weeks earlier, a major controversy had erupted when Saudi Arabia and the UAE bothannounced a ban on BlackBerries on the ground that they were physically unable to monitor the communications conducted on those devices. Since Blackberry communication data are sent directly to servers in Canada and the company which operates Blackberry — Research in Motion — refused to turn the data over to those governments, “authorities [in those two tyrannies] decided to ban Blackberry services rather than continue to allow an uncontrolled and unmonitored flow of electronic information within their borders.” As I wrote at the time: “that’s the core mindset of the Omnipotent Surveillance State: above all else, what is strictly prohibited is the ability of citizens to communicate in private; we can’t have any ‘uncontrolled and unmonitored flow of electronic information’.”

In response to that controversy, the Obama administration actuallycondemned the Saudi and UAE ban, calling it “a dangerous precedent” and a threat to “democracy, human rights and freedom of information.” Yet six weeks later, the very same Obama administration embraced exactly the same rationale — that it is intolerable for any human interaction to take place beyond the prying eyes and ears of the government — when it proposed its mandatory “backdoor access” for all forms of Internet communication. Indeed, the UAE pointed out that the U.S. — as usual — was condemning exactly that which it itself was doing:

Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE Ambassador to the United States, said [the Obama administration’s] comments were disappointing and contradict the U.S. government’s own approach to telecommunication regulation.

“In fact, the UAE is exercising its sovereign right and is asking for exactly the same regulatory compliance — and with the same principles of judicial and regulatory oversight — that Blackberry grants the U.S. and other governments and nothing more,” Otaiba said.

“Importantly, the UAE requires the same compliance as the U.S. for the very same reasons: to protect national security and to assist in law enforcement.”

A week after the announced ban by the Saudis and UAE, The New York Times published an Op-Ed by Richard Falkenrath — a top-level Homeland Security official in the Bush administration and current principal in the private firm of former Bush DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff — expressing support for the UAE’s Blackberry ban. Falkenrath explained that “[a]mong law enforcement investigators and intelligence officers [in the U.S.], the Emirates’ decision met with approval, admiration and perhaps even a touch of envy.” The Obama administration — by essentially seeking to ban any Internet technology that allows communication to take place beyond its reach — is working hard to ensure that its own Surveillance State apparatus keeps up with those of the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The FBI claims this requirement is merely an extension of current law that mandates that all telecommunications carriers provide government surveillance access to telephone conversations when a search warrant is obtained, and that failure to extend this requirement to Interent communications will risk “Going Dark” with important investigations. There are many reasons why this claim is false.

For one, as surveillance expert Julian Sanchez explained to me in October, the U.S. Government does not need “backdoor” access to all Interent communications in order to surveil even individuals using encrypted communications; instead they can simply obtain end-user surveillance to do so: “if the FBI has an individual target and fear he’ll use encryption, they can do a covert entry under a traditional search warrant and install a keylogger on his computer.” Moreover, the problem cited by the FBI to justify this new power is a total pretext: “investigators encountered encrypted communications only one time during 2009′s wiretaps” and, even then, “the state investigators told the court that the encryption did not prevent them from getting the plain text of the messages.” As usual, fear-mongering over national security and other threats is the instrument to justify massive new surveillance powers that will extend far beyond their claimed function.

Sanchez explains that the true value of requiring back-door access for all Internet communications is full-scale access to all communications: “If you want to sift through communications in bulk, it’s only going to be feasible with a systemic backdoor.” McCullagh notes that Joe Biden has been unsuccessfully attempting to ban encrypted communications, or at least require full-scale government access, since well before 9/11. As for why this proposed bill is far more intrusive and dangerous than current law requiring all telephone communications to be subject to government surveillance, see Sanchez’s analysis here. The ACLU makes similar points here about why this proposal is so dangerous, and describes the numerous ways it extends far beyond current authorities concerning government access to telephone communications.

Moreover, for anyone who defends the Obama administration here and insists that the U.S. Government simply must have access to all forms of human communication: does that also apply to in-person communication? Should home and apartment builders be required to install monitors in every room they build to ensure that the Government can surveil all human communications in order to prevent threats to national security and public safety? I believe someone oncewrote a book about where this mindset inevitably leads. The very idea that no human communication should ever be allowed to take place beyond the reach of the Government is definitive authoritarianism, which is why Saudi Arabia and the UAE — and their American patron-ally — have so vigorously embraced it.

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Filed under News Commentary Surveillance Surveillance State Internet Spying US Government FBI DHS

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Facebook and Google Turned Into Government Spies? The Dangerous New Law Before Congress (CISPA)

A private company doing the government’s work does not face the same privacy restrictions.

By Steven Rosenfeld

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass a reprehensible cyber-security bill that seeks to protect online companies—giant social media firms to data-sharing networks controlling utilities—from cyber attack. It is reprehensible because, as Democratic San Jose Rep. Zoe Lofgren said this week, it gives the federal government too much access to the private lives of every Internet user. Or as Libertarian Rep. Ron Paul also bluntly put it, it turns Facebook and Google into “government spies.”

But that’s not the biggest problem with the Congress’s urge to address a real problem—protecting the Internet from cyber attacks. While House passage launches a process that continues in the Senate, the bigger problem with the best known of the cyber bills before the House, CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, is not what is in it — which is troubling enough — but what is not on Congress’s desk: a comprehensive approach to stop basic constitutional rights from eroding in the Internet Age.

“I don’t think the current cyber-security debate is adequately protecting civil liberties,” said Anjali Dalal, a resident fellow with the Information Society Project at Yale Law School (and a blogger). “CISPA seems to place constitutionally suspect behavior outside of judicial review. The bill immunizes all participating entities ‘acting in good faith.’ So what happens when an ISP hands over mountains of data under the encouragement and appreciation of the federal government? We can’t sue the government, because they didn’t do anything. And we can’t sue the ISP because the bill forbids it.”

What happens is anybody’s guess. But what does not happen is clear. The government, as with the recently adopted National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, does not have to go through the courts when fighting state “enemies” on U.S. soil. Instead, CISPA, like NDAA, expands extra-judicial procedures as if America’s biggest threats must always be addressed on a kind of wartime footing. Constitutional protections, starting with privacy rights, are mostly an afterthought.

The CISPA bill takes an information-sharing approach to fight cyber attacks. Nobody has said there’s a problem with the government giving classified information to private firms to stop attacks. It is the opposite of that—Internet companies sharing information about users and their online activities—that raises civil liberties red flags. In general, the courts distinguish between public and private aspects of online activity, holding, for example, that e-mail addresses, subject lines and traffic patterns are like snail-mail addresses on the outside of a paper envelope—they are public. But just as a letter’s contents are private, courts have said that is true with online activity—although in a recent Supreme Court case involving wireless surveillance, Justice Sonia Sotomayor raised the question of how much privacy people should expect in their online activities.

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Filed under News Commentary CISPA Internet Big Brother US Government Surveillance

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39 Ways to Limit Free Speech

David Cole

Google “39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad” and you’ll get over 590,000 hits. You’ll find full-text English language translations of this Arabic document on the Internet Archive, an Internet library; on 4Shared Desktop, a file-sharing site; and on numerous Islamic sites. You will find it cited and discussed in a US Senate Committee staff report and Congressional testimony. Feel free to read it. Just don’t try to make your own translation from the original, which was written in Arabic in Saudi Arabia in 2003. Because if you look a little further on Google you will find multiple news accounts reporting that on April 12, a 29-year old citizen from Sudbury, Massachusetts named Tarek Mehanna was sentenced to seventeen and a half years in prison for translating “39 Ways” and helping to distribute it online.

As Anthony Lewis was wont to ask in his New York Times columns, “Is this America?” Seventeen and a half years for translating a document? Granted, it’s an extremist text. Among the “39 ways” it advocates include “Truthfully Ask Allah for Martyrdom,” “Go for Jihad Yourself,” “Giving Shelter to the Mujahedin,” and “Have Enmity Towards the Disbelievers.” (Other “ways to serve,” however, include, “Learn to Swim and Ride Horses,” “Get Physically Fit,” “Stand in Opposition to the Disbelievers,” and “Expose the Hypocrites and Traitors.”) But surely we have not come to the point where we lock people up for nearly two decades for translating a widely available document? After all, news organizations and scholars routinely translate and publicize jihadist texts; think, for example, of the many reports about messages from Osama bin Laden.

In 2009, Tarek Mehanna, who has no prior criminal record, was arrested and placed in maximum security confinement on “terrorism” charges. The case against him rested on allegations that as a 21-year old he had traveled with friends to Yemen in 2004 in an unsuccessful search for a jihadist training camp in order to fight in Iraq, and that he had translated several jihadist tracts and videos into English for distribution on the Internet, allegedly to spur readers on to jihad. After a two-month trial, he was convicted of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. The jury did not specify whether it found him guilty for his aborted trip to Yemen—which resulted in no known contacts with jihadists—or for his translations, so under established law, the conviction cannot stand unless it’s permissible to penalize him for his speech. Mehanna is appealing.

Under traditional (read “pre-9/11”) First Amendment doctrine, Mehanna could not have been convicted even if he had written “39 Ways” himself, unless the government could shoulder the heavy burden of demonstrating that the document was “intended and likely to incite imminent lawless action,” a standard virtually impossible to meet for written texts. In 1969, in Brandenburg v. Ohio, the Supreme Court established that standard in ruling that the First Amendment protected a Ku Klux Klansman who made a speech to a Klan gathering advocating “revengeance” against “niggers” and “Jews.” It did so only after years of experience with federal and state governments using laws prohibiting advocacy of crime as a tool to target political dissidents (anarchists, anti-war protesters, and Communists, to name a few).

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Filed under News Commentary Free Speech Internet Terrorism Iraq Yemen

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Hacks of Valor

Why Anonymous Is Not a Threat to National Security

Yochai Benkler

Over the past year, the U.S. government has begun to think of Anonymous, the online network phenomenon, as a threat to national security. According to The Wall Street Journal, Keith Alexander, the general in charge of the U.S. Cyber Command and the director of the National Security Agency, warned earlier this year that “the hacking group Anonymous could have the ability within the next year or two to bring about a limited power outage through a cyberattack.” His disclosure followed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s release of several bulletins over the course of 2011 warning about Anonymous. Media coverage has often similarly framed Anonymous as a threat, likening it to a terrorist organization. Articles regularly refer to the Anonymous offshoot LulzSec as a “splinter group,” and a recent Fox News report uncritically quoted an FBI source lauding a series of arrests that would “[chop] off the head of LulzSec.”

This is the wrong approach. Seeing Anonymous primarily as a cybersecurity threat is like analyzing the breadth of the antiwar movement and 1960s counterculture by focusing only on the Weathermen. Anonymous is not an organization. It is an idea, a zeitgeist, coupled with a set of social and technical practices. Diffuse and leaderless, its driving force is “lulz” — irreverence, playfulness, and spectacle. It is also a protest movement, inspiring action both on and off the Internet, that seeks to contest the abuse of power by governments and corporations and promote transparency in politics and business. Just as the antiwar movement had its bomb-throwing radicals, online hacktivists organizing under the banner of Anonymous sometimes cross the boundaries of legitimate protest. But a fearful overreaction to Anonymous poses a greater threat to freedom of expression, creativity, and innovation than any threat posed by the disruptions themselves.

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Filed under Commentary Hacking Anonymous Internet Cybersecurity Cyberwar Wikileaks Egypt Revolution

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Big Brother Is Not Your ‘Friend’

By Tim Karr

Increasingly, the U.S. government has shown an intense desire to “friend” you, to “follow” you, to get to know your every online move.

Now they’re channeling that desire towards legislation that clears a path for authorities to work with companies like Facebook, Google and AT&T to snoop on Internet-using Americans.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act or CISPA, is wending its way through Congress where it could get a favorable vote unless elected representatives hear their constituents’ concerns in time.

That’s why a coalition of online rights advocates (including the Free Press Action Fund) have joined forces to kill CISPA before more of our online rights are lost to those seeking to turn the Internet into a massive surveillance complex.

Promoted to protect our national interests against a loosely defined horde of cyber-terrorists, CISPA goes far beyond its stated purposes, sacrificing almost all of our online privacy rights without any safeguards against abuse. It’s the type of misguided Internet legislation that we have seen in the past, where government and corporations craft restrictive new laws without giving Internet users a seat at the table. Will they never learn?

Groups including EFF, Avaaz.org, Free Press Action Fund, ACLU, Access, CDT and the American Library Association have just launched “Stop Cyber Spying Week” so that Washington understands that the online rights of millions of Americans are not negotiable. In addition tohelping Americans contact Congress, these groups have unleashed the power of Twitter against any legislator weighing a vote for this bad bill.

The folks behind CISPA claim that national security interests make this surveillance necessary, but the bill’s language is so vague and overreaching that it opens the door for rampant abuse. Here’s what’s wrong:

  • CISPA would allow companies and the government to bypass privacy protections and spy on your email traffic, comb through your text messages, filter your online content and even block access to popular websites.
  • CISPA would permit companies to give the government your Facebook data, Twitter history and cellphone contacts. It would also allow the government to search your email using the vaguest of justifications — and without any real legal oversight.
  • CISPA contains sweeping language that could be used as a blunt weapon to silence whistleblower websites like WikiLeaks and the news organizations that publish their revelations.
  • CISPA would have a chilling effect on our ability to speak freely online by stoking fears that the National Security Agency — the same agency that has conducted “warrantless wiretapping” online for years — could come knocking.

CISPA could lead all too easily to governmental and corporate attacks on our digital freedoms. And while there is a real need to protect vital national interests from cyber attacks, we can’t do it at the expense of our rights.

Facebook, which supports CISPA, now counts more than 800 million users worldwide. It’s frightening to imagine a world where Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues could act with impunity to help the U.S. government keep tabs on all of us.

The goal of Stop Cyber Spying Week is simple: Get Congress to back away from this dangerous legislation. The only way to do that is by speaking out.

Filed under News Commentary Internet CISPA Big Brother Surveillance Surveillance State ACLU Facebook DHS

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Cyber War and Peace

By Joseph S. Nye

Two years ago, a piece of faulty computer code infected Iran’s nuclear program and destroyed many of the centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Some observers declared this apparent sabotage to be the harbinger of a new form of warfare, and United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has warned Americans of the danger of a “cyber Pearl Harbor” attack on the US. But what do we really know about cyber conflict?

The cyber domain of computers and related electronic activities is a complex man-made environment, and human adversaries are purposeful and intelligent. Mountains and oceans are hard to move, but portions of cyberspace can be turned on and off by throwing a switch. It is far cheaper and quicker to move electrons across the globe than to move large ships long distances.

The costs of developing those vessels – multiple carrier task forces and submarine fleets – create enormous barriers to entry, enabling US naval dominance. But the barriers to entry in the cyber domain are so low that non-state actors and small states can play a significant role at low cost.

In my book The Future of Power, I argue that the diffusion of power away from governments is one of this century’s great political shifts.  Cyberspace is a perfect example. Large countries like the US, Russia, Britain, France, and China have greater capacity than other states and non-state actors to control the sea, air, or space, but it makes little sense to speak of dominance in cyberspace. If anything, dependence on complex cyber systems for support of military and economic activities creates new vulnerabilities in large states that can be exploited by non-state actors.

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Filed under Commentary Cyberwar Cybersecurity US Russia Britain France China Internet US Military US Government Cyber Pearl Harbor

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"Cyber Czar" wants Homeland Security to patrol America’s Internet borders

SOURCE

Lawmakers in Washington are divided as to how to implement cybersecurity legislation to protect against infiltration from hackers, but one insider says the answer is simple: just establish border patrol for the Internet in America.

Former George W Bush special adviser for cybersecurity, Richard A. Clarke, tackles the topic of America’s susceptibility to Internet crimes in an editorial published in The New York Times this week, and the ex-White House “cyber czar” says the issue could easily be resolved. Clarke argues that America loses billions of dollars every year from foreign hackers that steal information from US computers, and while Congress is at odds over which of the handful of cybersecurity bills best fits the country’s needs, Clarke — who held related positions in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations — offers a solution of his own. In an op-ed published on April 2, Clarke suggests that the US Department of Homeland Security stands to largely stop critical data from being accessed by foreign hackers if they can successfully implement a way to monitor what goes in and out of America’s online infrastructure.

Clarke argues in his op-ed that the current administration is all too hesitant to grab the issue by the horns. Not only has Congress complicated matters by considering several similar laws to establish cybersecurity guidelines with little success, he says, but President Barack Obama himself has failed to exercise his own authority to take on the issue. The commander-in-chief, argues Clarke, could easily let the Department of Homeland Security take a stab at the problem. In turn, all they would have to do is scan trillions upon trillions of bits and bytes being beamed out of the personal computers in each American household.

“Under Customs authority, the Department of Homeland Security could inspect what enters and exits the United States in cyberspace,” writes Clarke. “Customs already looks online for child pornography crossing our virtual borders. And under the Intelligence Act, the president could issue a finding that would authorize agencies to scan Internet traffic outside the United States and seize sensitive files stolen from within our borders.”

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Filed under News CISPA Internet Privacy department of homeland security DHS US Government Surveillance Surveillance State Internet

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Arizona Passes Sweeping Law Criminalizing Internet Speech

Jonathan Turley

In one of the most sweeping attacks on free speech in America, the Arizona legislature has passed a draconian bill that would criminalize speech on the Internet (“any electronic or digital device”) that prosecutors consider “obscene, lewd or profane language or … suggest[ing] a lewd or lascivious act if done with intent to ‘annoy,’ ‘offend,’ ‘harass’ or ‘terrify.’” The law is largely undefined and is in my view facially unconstitutional. The law would drive a stake in the heart of free speech. Yet, people like Bill Clinton have been calling for such a crackdown on Internet speech for years.


The inclusion of terms like “profane” (defined as including “Abusive, vulgar, or irreverent language” in standard dictionaries) is perfectly bizarre. I cannot imagine that the law was put through any serious legal review. The state will end up paying for litigation of this unconstitutional law. Indeed, I am reluctant to quote from the law on this blog in fear of being prosecuted or being charged with the inclusion of something so obscene and profane.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer will now have to decide whether to sign this law.

Former president Bill Clinton proposed a law to create what has been denounced as a type of Ministry of Truth for the Internet where officials would monitor the Internet for rumors or untruths. Clinton heralded such a move as “a legitimate thing to do.” He added “it would be like, I don’t know, National Public Radio or BBC or something like that, except it would have to be really independent and they would not express opinions, and their mandate would be narrowly confined to identifying relevant factual errors … And also, they would also have to have citations so that they could be checked in case they made a mistake. Somebody needs to be doing it, and maybe it’s a worthy expenditure of taxpayer money.”

The sponsors of this repellant law are RepresentativesTed VogtVic Williams, and Chad Campbell. Vogt (shown here) just graduated from the University of Arizona law school in 2010 and has already applied his hand to denying free speech and limiting tort recovery for accident victims. Quite the start for a legislative legacy.

We have long recognized that free speech comes with bad speech and good speech. Yet we have refused to allow the government to sort out those two categories. As Justice Brennan stated in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), we must remain faithful to “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” The addition of an intent factor is meaningless under this law when the mere intent to “annoy” or “harass” is enough to satisfy scienter. The law would sweep away protected speech and allow arbitrary enforcement of terms that are not only undefined but undefinable in the context of Internet speech.

The solution for bad speech is more speech not more regulation of speech.

Filed under News Commentary Free Speech Internet Cyberwar Cybersecurity Arizona Police State

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The surveillance state: growing under a coalition that pledged to reverse it

Proposals for real-time monitoring of email and social media show the government has caved in to the security services

By James Ball

If the government were to suggest monitoring every building that each person in the UK visits, and making a note of every conversation they had, the policy would be seen as electoral suicide. Assurances that the actual content of conversations wouldn’t be recorded would be unlikely to help.

It’s a telling sign of how many real-world freedoms have been sacrificed online, then, that a government that just two years ago pledged to"reverse the rise of the surveillance state" feels able to propose real-time monitoring of all email and social media communications.

The information stored would include the sender and recipient of an email, the time it was sent, and details of the computer it was sent from. This would build a profile of who contacts whom, with what frequency, and from where.

The government says such measures are essential to counter organised crime and terrorism, citing that 95% of organised crime investigations and “every” major counter-terrorism investigation use communications data. However, this statistic does not show if such information was essential or even useful to these investigations – merely that investigators chose to get hold of communications records on almost every occasion, usually via warrant or use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa).

This kind of surveillance is nothing new: it’s been gradually expanding in the UK over the past decade, from measures that make it easier to obtain permission to monitor communications, to requiring internet service providers to store information on email communications to all their users. Under Ripa, state employees as junior as Royal Mail officersare allowed to “ping” mobile phones for location information on the basis of a simple, unrecorded, verbal request.

Information about each email sent – the data that would be covered by the new proposals – already has to be stored by providers for at least a year under UK law. The change would make it accessible to intelligence services in real time, presumably to allow for patterns or unusual activity to be spotted.

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Filed under Commentary Surveillance Surveillance State UK Britain Terrorism Big Brother Google Yahoo! MSN internet

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Developing countries face digital divide: study

SOURCE

The World Economic Forum said Wednesday that the BRICS countries, despite their booming economies, are lagging behind their rivals when it comes to capitalizing on Internet technologies.

The Switzerland-based non-profit group released a report highlighting that the world’s most developed countries dominate the top of a “networked readiness” list while the highest ranking BRICS nation was China in 51st place.

The acronym “BRICS” is used to refer to surging economies in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Although BRICS are fiercely competitive in the global arena, they are hampered by challenges when it comes to adopting information and communications technology (ICT), according to the “Living in a Hyperconnected World” report.

A lack of skilled workers and shortcomings in institutional environments for businesses were cited as factors stifling entrepreneurship and innovation.

The forum’s chief business officer Robert Greenhill said the Internet was causing a shake-up for traditional organizations and “we are beginning to see fundamental transformations in all areas of the economy and society.”

Sweden was ranked highest in networked readiness, followed by Singapore, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Norway.

The United States was in eighth place, with Canada and Britain rounding out the top 10 list.

The Networked Readiness Index combined data from publicly available sources with feedback from a survey of more than 15,000 executives.

Filed under News BRICS United States Tech Technology Singapore Finland Denmark Switzerland Netherlands Norway Canada Britain China Internet Brazil Russia India South Africa

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Britain set for sweeping Internet, phone monitoring

By Stephen Mangan

(Reuters) - Britain is to allow one of its intelligence agencies to monitor all phone calls, texts, emails and online activities in the country to help tackle crime and militant attacks, the Interior Ministry said on Sunday.

"It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public," a Home Office spokesman said.

The proposed law already has drawn strong criticism, from within the ruling Conservative Party’s own ranks, as an invasion of privacy and personal rights.

"What the government hasn’t explained is precisely why they intend to eavesdrop on all of us without even going to a judge for a warrant, which is what always used to happen," Member of Parliament David Davis told BBC News.

"It is an unnecessary extension of the ability of the state to snoop on ordinary people," he said.

New legislation is expected to be announced in the legislative agenda-setting speech given by the queen in May.

Currently, British agencies can monitor calls and e-mails of specific individuals who may be under investigation after obtaining ministerial approval, but expanding that to all citizens is certain to enrage civil liberties campaigners.

Internet companies would be required to install hardware which would allow the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), referred to as Britain’s electronic ‘listening’ agency, to gain real-time access to communications data.

The new law would not allow GCHQ to access the content of emails, calls or messages without a warrant, but it would allow it to trace who an individual or group was in contact with, how frequently they communicated and for how long.

The Sunday Times newspaper, which first reported the story, said some details of the proposals were given to members of the Britain’s Internet Service Providers’ Association last month.

"As set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review we will legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows to ensure that the use of communications data is compatible with the government’s approach to civil liberties," the Home Office spokesman said.

Any proposed legislation changes are likely to face stiff opposition in both houses of the British Parliament.

A similar proposal was considered by the then-ruling Labour party in 2006 but was abandoned in the face of fierce opposition by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, who are junior partners in the ruling coalition.

The proposed legislation could reflect the U.S. Patriot Act, controversially introduced six weeks after September 11 in 2001, to expand the government’s authority to monitor the communications activity of its citizens.

Filed under News Surveillance Big Brother Britain Surveillance State Police State monitor phone calls email texts internet British Parliament

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China cracks down on Internet after coup rumours

SOURCE

China has shut down websites, made a string of arrests and punished two popular microblogs after rumours of a coup linked to a major scandal that brought down a top politician.

Authorities closed 16 websites for spreading rumours of “military vehicles entering Beijing and something wrong going on in Beijing”, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the state Internet information office.

Police arrested six people, while the country’s two most popular microblogs, run by Sina.com and Tencent, said they would stop users from posting comments to other people’s posts until Tuesday.

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Filed under China Internet Censorship Free Speech Police State

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