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Game for privacy is gone, mass surveillance is here to stay – Assange on #RT10 panel

December 11, 2015

Humanity has lost its battle for privacy and must now learn to live in a world where mass surveillance is becoming cheaper for governments to implement, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said during a panel dedicated to RT’s 10th anniversary.
Assange addressed the panel on security and surveillance hosted by RT in central Moscow on Thursday via videoconference from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has remained holed up for the last three years in order to avoid extradition to Sweden.
When offered a chance to comment on the session’s topic – “Security or Surveillance: Can the right to privacy and effective anti-terror security coexist in the digital age?” – the whistleblower asked the moderator, and host of The Big Picture Show on RT American, Thom Hartmann: “How long have you got, Tom?” implying he has a lot to say on the issue.
But it was Assange’s only joke during the event, as his reply turned out to be gravely serious and in many respects depressing.
“In thinking about this issue I want to take quite a different position, perhaps, from what you would expect me to have taken… I think that we should understand that the game for privacy is gone. It’s gone. The mass surveillance is here to stay,” he said.
Mass surveillance is already being implemented not only by major world powers, but also by some medium and small-sized countries, he added.
“The Five Eyes intelligence arrangement [of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US]… is so evasive in terms of mass surveillance of domestic and international telecommunications that while some experts can achieve practical privacy for themselves for limited number of operations… it’s gone for the rest of the populations,” the WikiLeaks founder stressed.
International terrorists are among those “experts” capable of making their communications invisible for security agencies, he added.
Privacy “will not be coming back, short of a very regressive economic collapse, which reduces the technological capacity of civilization,” Assange said.
“The reason it will not come back is that the cost of engaging in mass surveillance is decreasing by about 50 per cent every 18 months, because it’s the underlying cost that’s predicated on the cost of telecommunications, moving surveillance intercepts around and computerization and storage – all those costs are decreasing much faster at a geometric rate than the human population is increasing,” he explained.
Mass surveillance and computerization are “winning” the competition with humanity and human values and they’re “going to continue to win at an ever-increasing rate. That’s the reality that we have to deal with,” the WikiLeaks whistleblower added.
The focus should now switch from defending privacy to understanding what kind of society will be built in these new, changed conditions, he said.
The WikiLeaks founder reminded the panel of the historic examples of East Germany and other societies, in which people adapted to living under the scrutiny of the authorities.
“If you look at societal behavior in very conformist, small, isolated societies with reduced social spaces – like Sweden, South Korea, Okinawa in Japan and North Korea – then you’ll see that society adapts. Everyone becomes incredibly timid, they start to use code words; use a lot of subtext to try and sneak out your controversial views,” he said.
According to Assange, the modern world is currently moving “towards that kind of a society.”
Privacy is among values “that simply are unsustainable… in the face of the reality of technological change; the reality of the deep state with a military-industrial complex and the reality of Islamic terrorism, which is legitimizing that sector in a way that it’s behaving,” he stressed.
Assange encouraged those present on the panel as well as the general public to “get on the other side of the debate where it’s going” and stop holding on to privacy.
The panel discussion was part of an RT conference titled ‘Information, messages, politics:The shape-shifting powers of today’s world.’ The meeting brought together politicians, foreign policy experts and media executives from across the globe, among them former director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn, the Green Party’s Jill Stein and former vice president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, Willy Wimmer.

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trump is a fag

Trump Says He Supports Reauthorizing Patriot Act, NSA Metadata Collection

December 10, 2015

2016 Republican presidential candidate and billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump said that he supports reauthorizing the USA PATRIOT Act and bulk cell phone metadata collection by the National Security Agency in an interview on the Hugh Hewitt Show earlier this month.

In the above-embedded clip, Hewitt asks Trump, “On metadata collection, Ted Cruz is glad the NSA got out of it. Marco Rubio wants it back. What’s Donald Trump think?

Well, I tend to err on the side of security, I must tell you,” Trump replied, “and I’ve been there for longer than you would think. But, you know, when you have people that are beheading if you’re a Christian and frankly for lots of other reasons, when you have the world looking at us and would like to destroy us as quickly as possible, I err on the side of security, and so that’s the way it is, that’s the way I’ve been, and some people like that, frankly, and some people don’t like that.

And I’m not just saying that since Paris, I’m saying for quite some time. I assume when I pick up my telephone people are listening to my conversations anyway, if you want to know the truth. It’s pretty sad commentary, but I err on the side of security,” said Trump.

Hewitt then asked, “Alright, so you would be in favor of restoring the Patriot Act?

I think that would be fine. As far as I’m concerned, that would be fine,” Trump responded.

Newsweek points out that Donald Trump has held the same position since before the Paris terror attacks. He said this summer, “I support legislation which allows the NSA to hold the bulk metadata. For oversight, I propose that a court, which is available any time on any day, is created to issue individual rulings on when this metadata can be accessed.

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Grassley steps up Clinton email probe, blocks key nominees

November 24, 2015

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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is putting a hold on top State Department appointments — including the nominee for the department’s fourth-highest post — until he gets the answers he’s seeking from a former top aide of Hillary Clinton tasked with helping determine which of the former secretary of state’s emails should be made public.

The Iowa Republican — who also is investigating the special employment status afforded to Clinton confidant Huma Abedin while at State — has slammed the department for its “continued intransigence and lack of cooperation” throughout the inquiry, which dates back to June 2013. Critics, including Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, have derided the probe as a politically motivated bid to undermine the Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign for the White House.

For its part, the State Department says it has responded to Grassley’s questions “in 16 formal letters and many briefings, calls and emails,” but remains overwhelmed by the volume of requests.

Grassley, who last week released holds on 20 career Foreign Service Officers, is now turning to bigger fish in a bid for leverage to get more cooperation from the department.

He is blocking the nomination of Thomas Shannon to replace Wendy Sherman as under secretary for political affairs, the No. 4 post in the department. In addition, his office told Fox News he has placed holds on the nominations of Brian James Egan for legal adviser and David Malcolm Robinson for assistant secretary for conflict and stabilization operations and coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization.

A hold is procedural tactic senators often employ to extract information or other concessions from the administration. President Obama himself made use of holds as a senator from Illinois, blocking nominations to the EPA during the Bush administration over objections to lead paint regulations.

Grassley’s holds came as he fired off a letter to former Clinton aide Heather Samuelson, posing 19 questions about the process used to screen the emails for the former secretary of state.

He also asked Samuelson what kind of security clearance she had at the time, given that hundreds of Clinton’s emails have been shown to contain classified information.

“Given the importance of securing and protecting classified information … it is imperative to confirm when, how, and why you, and any of your associates, received a security clearance in connection with your work on behalf of Secretary Clinton and whether it was active while you had custody of Secretary Clinton’s emails,” Grassley wrote in the letter, first reported by Politico.

“Further, it is imperative to understand your background in determining what is and what is not a federal record, since you apparently played a major role in assisting Secretary Clinton in making a decision as to which emails to delete.”

Clinton has come under heavy fire for routing official emails through a personal server during her time as secretary of state. The Democratic front-runner’s aides have also faced scrutiny for their roles in determining which messages to turn back over to the agency, which has been slowly making them public under a court order.

Critics have accused Clinton of putting sensitive government information at risk under the arrangement. Separately, the FBI has been investigating whether the setup resulted in the mishandling of classified information.

The State Department insisted it is trying to work with Grassley’s office.

“Over the course of the last several months, the mounting requests from the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee have contained nearly 200 detailed questions and 65 unique document requests,” department spokesman Alec Gerlach said in a statement. “The department is committed to working with the committee and providing responses as quickly as possible, but the growing effort needed to accommodate these requests is overwhelming the resources we have available.”

A Grassley spokeswoman described the level of cooperation as “sparse.”

Senate Democrats have urged Grassley to drop his objections.

“The senior Senator from Iowa comes to the floor and talks about the proper use of taxpayer resources,” Reid, the Democratic leader, said earlier this month. “He should walk into his bathroom and look into the mirror and find out what he’s doing about the proper use of taxpayer resources. He should be willing to tell us about the resources his committee is spending to investigate Secretary Clinton.”

Source: Fox News

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Emails: Russia-linked hackers tried to access Clinton server

October 5, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia-linked hackers tried at least five times to pry into Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email account while she was secretary of state, emails released Wednesday show. It is unclear if she clicked on any attachment and exposed her account.

Clinton, the Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential race, received the infected emails, disguised as speeding tickets from New York, over four hours early the morning of Aug. 3, 2011. The emails instructed recipients to print the attached tickets. Opening the attachment would have allowed hackers to take over control of a victim’s computer.

Security researchers who analyzed the malicious software in September 2011 said that infected computers would transmit information from victims to at least three server computers overseas, including one in Russia. That doesn’t necessarily mean Russian intelligence or citizens were responsible.

Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign, said: “We have no evidence to suggest she replied to this email or that she opened the attachment. As we have said before, there is no evidence that the system was ever breached. All these emails show is that, like millions of other Americans, she received spam.”

Practically every Internet user is inundated with spam or virus-riddled messages daily. But these messages show hackers had Clinton’s email address, which was not public, and sent her a fake traffic ticket from New York state, where she lives. Most commercial antivirus software at the time would have detected the software and blocked it.

The phishing attempts highlight the risk of Clinton’s unsecure email being pried open by foreign intelligence agencies, even if others also received the virus concealed as a speeding ticket from Chatham, New York. The email misspelled the name of the city, came from a supposed New York City government account and contained a “Ticket.zip” file that would have been a red flag.

Clinton has faced increasing questions over whether her unusual email setup amounted to a proper form of secrecy protection and records retention. The emails themselves — many redacted heavily before public release — have provided no shocking disclosures thus far and Clinton has insisted the server was secure.

During Clinton’s tenure, the State Department and other U.S. government agencies faced their own series of hacking attacks. U.S. counterterrorism officials have linked them to China and Russia. But the government has a large staff of information technology experts, whereas Clinton has yet to provide any information on who maintained her server and how well it was secured.

The emails released Wednesday also show a Clinton confidant urging her boss and others in June 2011 not to “telegraph” how often senior officials at the State Department relied on their private email accounts to do government business because it could inspire hackers to steal information. The discussion never mentioned Clinton’s own usage of a private email account and server.

The exchange begins with policy chief Anne-Marie Slaughter lamenting that the State Department’s technology is “so antiquated that NO ONE uses a State-issued laptop and even high officials routinely end up using their home email accounts to be able to get their work done quickly and effectively.” She said more funds were needed and that an opinion piece might make the point to legislators.

Clinton said the idea “makes good sense,” but her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, disagreed: “As someone who attempted to be hacked (yes I was one), I am not sure we want to telegraph how much folks do or don’t do off state mail b/c it may encourage others who are out there.”

The hacking attempts were included in the 6,300 pages the State Department released, covering a period when U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden and the Arab Spring rocked American diplomacy.

The former first lady and New York senator had maintained that nothing was classified in her correspondence, but the intelligence community has identified messages containing “top secret” information. Clinton had insisted that all of her work emails were being reviewed by the State Department, but Pentagon officials recently discovered a new chain of messages between Clinton and then-Gen. David Petraeus dating to her first days in office that she did not send to the State Department.

As part of Wednesday’s release, officials upgraded the classification level of portions of 215 emails, State Department spokesman John Kirby said. Almost all were “confidential,” the lowest level of classification. Three emails were declared “secret,” a mid-tier level for information that could still cause serious damage to national security, if made public.

“The information we upgraded today was not marked classified at the time the emails were sent,” Kirby stressed.

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