The news from the world of spies, hackers, escalators, and trackers just keeps coming, and at an ever-increasing pace.
We begin with the latest whistleblower crackdown, via the Japan Daily Press:
Japan’s Marine SDF to punish whistleblower in seaman’s suicide case
A Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) officer who made a big effort to make sure that all the information related to a seaman’s suicide while serving in the MSDF is now facing the possibility of military punishment for his troubles.
The 46-year-old lieutenant commander in Japan’s MSDF had campaigned at length to show that there were instances of bullying against the MSDF seaman who committed suicide in 2004.
The Guardian names:
Writers dub UK leaders ‘America’s digital pit bull’ over surveillance
Prime minister David Cameron and the British government were labelled “America’s digital pit bull” on Tuesday at the launch of a campaign by writers against mass surveillance.
British author Priya Basil told a press conference in Berlin that the political reaction to the revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden had been “worse in the UK than in Germany”.
And yet another Snowden leak detonates, via CBC News:
Exclusive: Snowden document shows Canada set up spy posts for NSA
CSEC conducted espionage activities for U.S. in 20 countries, according to top-secret briefing note
Sections of the document with the highest classification make it clear in some instances why American spymasters are particularly keen about enlisting their Canadian counterparts, the Communications Security Establishment Canada.
“CSEC shares with the NSA their unique geographic access to areas unavailable to the U.S,” the document says.
Sky News has corporate blowback:
US To Lose ‘$35bn A Year’ Over NSA Spying
A new study suggests that cloud computer users shifting data offshore from prying US spies will cost Silicon Valley $35bn a year.
In a report for the Washington DC-based Information Technology & Innovation Foundation think tank, senior analyst Daniel Castro said America’s “entire tech industry has been implicated and is now facing a global backlash”.
More from Ars Technica:
NSA leaks blamed for Cisco’s falling sales overseas
Chinese may see NSA revelations as a chance for payback for battle with Huawei.
In an earnings call Monday evening, Cisco Systems executives announced that the company had seen a 25 percent drop in sales growth for the most recent quarter, going from 13 percent growth in the quarter ending in April to a negative 12 percent rate. And company executives have placed at least part of the blame on the National Security Agency.
California’s militarily industrial-strength solon does the expected, via The Hill:
Patriot Act author: Feinstein’s bill ‘a joke’
Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. doesn’t mince his words.
The Wisconsin Republican says the House and Senate Intelligence committees have become “cheerleaders” for the National Security Agency.
“Instead of putting the brakes on overreaches, they’ve been stepping on the gas,” he said of the committees, which are led by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
From The Verge, an excuse or a half-truth?:
NSA used location-tracking to tell agents if they were being tailed
On the heels of last week’s phone-tracking revelations, The Washington Post has released a 24-page NSA white paper offering further detail into how the program is managed and used. The program ingests 5 billion records each day into its Hadoop-managed database, but from there, the data can be used for nearly any purpose, from building out networks, ascertaining whether a target is foreign or domestic, or tracking the whereabouts of a known suspect.
One program described in the white paper worked to alert foreign agents if they were being tailed, sifting through the data for location records similar to the records of known agents. If a foreign national was seen in all the same locations as an American agent on a given day, the agency found it safe to assume someone was being tailed. Other uses involved identifying new suspects on the basis of shared movements with a person of interest, or locating phones as they cross international boundaries.
From the Associated Press, pressing the press:
NYT reporters sue Homeland Security in FOIA fight
Two reporters for The New York Times have sued the Department of Homeland Security after they were questioned at an airport as they headed to overseas assignments.
The Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Writers Mac William Bishop and Christopher Chivers said in the lawsuit that employees of the department responsible for securing U.S. borders subjected them to questioning last May as they prepared to board an international flight.
The Copenhagen Post has an ouster after an expose in the media:
Morten Bødskov out as justice minister
Enhedslisten says it can no longer support Bødskov in light of PET mess
Morten Bødskov (S) has been forced to withdraw as justice minister after he lost the backing of far-left government support party Enhedslisten.
“The issue was fundamentally about being able to trust a minister who had lied to parliament,” Enhedslisten’s legal spokesperson Pernille Skipper told TV2 Nyheder. “Due to the seriousness of the case, Enhedslisten no longer trusts Bødskov as a minister.”
From The Progressive, a reminder:
Spymaster Wants to Outlaw Reporting on the NSA
Gen. Keith Alexander, chief spook at NSA and head of US Cyber Command, did reveal a chilling disrespect for our Constitutional right to both free speech and a free press.
In an October interview, he called for outlawing any reporting on his agency’s secret program of spying on every American: “I think it’s wrong that newspaper reporters have all these documents… giving them out as if these – you know it just doesn’t make any sense.” Then came his spooky punch line: “We ought to come up with a way of stopping it… It’s wrong to allow this to go on.”
From The Register, make that a collect call:
US cops blew more than $26m buying 1.1m cell phone files from telcos
And you thought your data plan was pricy
An investigation by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) into the monitoring of cellphones has found that US police paid telecommunications companies more than $26m to hand over location information, metadata, and sometimes the content of their customers’ messages to cops in the US last year.
The Guardian covers an assault on press freedoms Down Under:
Coalition accused of organising ‘assault on ABC’ over spying revelations
Labor frontbencher Brendan O’Connor says government is working with News Corp to bully the public broadcaster
Tony Abbott and his communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, have told the national broadcaster it made an error of judgment by agreeing to partner with Guardian Australia to reveal Australia’s past attempts to spy on the Indonesian president. The story led to a serious rift in Australia’s relationship with Indonesia.
The Guardian again, this time with another dose of Down Under spookage:
Australian police to adopt technology capable of collecting emails
Controversial new technology capable of collecting and storing emails and other information sent via computer in real time will be rolled out by the Australian Federal Police next year.
The agency plans to trial “deep packet inspection” (DPI) technology in February before a full rollout in April.
And they’re planning to do the same in France too, reports TheLocal.fr:
‘The world needs to know what France is up to’
After blasting the US in the wake of the NSA spying revelations, the last thing you would expect France to do is rush through a reform that opens the way for widespread surveillance of its citizens. A French digital rights group tells The Local why we should all be alarmed.
A new bill will be discussed in France’s Senate on Tuesday, containing an article that defenders of internet freedoms say should have everyone alarmed.
The Military Programming Law, already voted through by France’s National Assembly, would extend the government’s power to acquire internet users’ private data, as well as monitor email and telephone communications, without the need to be ratified in advance by a judge.
Or maybe they’re already doing it. From Ars Technica:
French agency caught minting SSL certificates impersonating Google
Unauthorized credentials for Google sites were accepted by many browsers.
The certificates were issued by an intermediate certificate authority linked to the Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d’information, the French cyberdefense agency better known as ANSSI. After Google brought the certificates to the attention of agency officials, the officials said the intermediate certificate was used in a commercial device on a private network to inspect encrypted traffic with the knowledge of end users, Google security engineer Adam Langley wrote in a blog post published over the weekend. Google updated its Chrome browser to reject all certificates signed by the intermediate authority and asked other browser makers to do the same. Firefox developer Mozilla and Microsoft, developer of Internet Explorer have followed suit. ANSSI later blamed the mistake on human error.
And more allegations of Chinese snoopage from The Guardian:
Chinese hackers ‘spied on five EU countries before G20 summit’
Computer security firm said attacks were aimed at uncovering US intentions towards Syria
Chinese hackers eavesdropped on the computers of five European foreign ministries before last September’s G20 summit, which was dominated by the Syrian crisis, according to research by computer security firm FireEye.
The Wire has a delightful detail:
Chinese Hackers Successfully Baited Foreign Diplomats with Nude Carla Bruni
Chinese hackers have accessed the servers of several foreign ministries Europe, using one of the oldest tricks in the book. Software company FireEye reported on Tuesday, that the breaches began in 2010 and may still be ongoing. Though FireEye did not call out specific nations, The New York Times identified Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, and Portugal as victims of the breach.
None of the countries listed responded to the Times’s request for comment, which makes sense, because whoever clicked on the malware links fell for a pretty embarrassing phish. In 2011, “The attackers sent their targets emails with a link that claimed to contain naked photos of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, wife of former President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.”
The Chinese response from SINA English:
China rejects latest U.S. hacking accusations
“U.S. computer security firms have been keen on playing up the so-called cyber threat from China. But their so-called evidence is never solid but widely doubted by professionals,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing.
“They are trying to gain attention with fake facts, which will neither be conducive to international cyber security cooperation nor the professional qualifications and reputation of the firms involved,” Hong said.
From the Los Angeles Times, a very serious allegation:
CIA’s anti-terrorism effort called ‘colossal flop’
CIA officers given ‘non-official cover,’ often posing as business executives, tried to collect intelligence on terrorists. The NOC program reportedly has had few successes.
And the latest claim game battle from The Guardian:
Canada to claim north pole as its own
UN submission will seek to redefine Canada’s continental shelf to capture more Arctic oil and gas resources
Channel NewsAsia Singapore has the response:
Putin orders military to boost Arctic presence
President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s military on Tuesday to step up its presence in the Arctic after Canada signalled its intention to claim the North Pole and surrounding waters.
RT covers the story from a Moscow perspective:
Polar Force: Putin orders Arctic military build-up in 2014
Russia will create forces in the Arctic in 2014 to ensure military security and protect the country’s national interests in the region, which President Vladimir Putin has named among the government’s top priorities.
From South China Morning Post, curious Korean happenings:
North Korea issues photo of Kim Jong-un’s uncle being detained as execution rumours abound
High-profile former ally Jang Song-thaek is seized by guards at meeting in Pyongyang as young leader looks to squash dissent among ruling elite
And from Pakistan via the Express Tribune, a decision America should emulate:
‘Missing’ persons: Enforced disappearance unjustifiable, illegal, says SC
As he has been for the last six years, on the last day of his tenure Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry will have made the headlines of every major newspaper in Pakistan – this time in regards to a case that deals with perhaps the single most controversial and heart-rending topic in the country.
After nearly eight years of a myriad of missing persons’ cases filed in the apex and high courts, a long-awaited judgment was passed by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, officially declaring prolonged and unannounced detention by security forces and intelligence outfits illegal.
And the latest in the developing clash in the China Sea from Want China Times:
Beijing angered after Japan diplomat calls China ‘militaristic’
China on Monday expressed strong dissatisfaction over remarks made by a Japanese diplomat who said China is “a militaristic country.”
Hidehisa Horinouchi, a minister at the Japanese embassy in Beijing, said if China criticized Japan for passing a secrecy law because this would cause militarism, then China had already become a militaristic country itself, according to media reports.
From China Daily, harshly asserting:
Japan ‘betrays’ embargo on arms exports
Tokyo will introduce a policy later this month to loosen its embargo on weapons exports, a move analysts said is “a major betrayal” of Japan’s postwar pacifist Constitution.
The decision to replace the decades-long “three principles” on weapons exports is a component of hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s yearlong effort to help Japan reclaim the status of a major military power, observers said.
Jiji Press covers one Japanese response:
Japan, ASEAN to Call for Int’l Law Compliance in Oceans, Airspace
Japan and member countries of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations are expected to call for all countries to comply with international law in maritime zones and airspace at their three-day special summit meeting to be held in Tokyo from Friday.
With China in mind, Japan and 10 ASEAN member countries plan to highlight the importance of the rule of law in a medium- to long-term vision to be drawn up at the summit, informed sources said.
While Taiwan’s Want China Times offers another perspective:
US more concerned about N Korea than China’s ADIZ: Duowei
When the US vice president, Joe Biden, met with China’s president, Xi Jinping, on Dec. 4, neither leader made mention of Beijing’s new air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea, reports Duowei News, an outlet run by overseas Chinese, even though the issue had dominated the buildup to Biden’s visit to Beijing.
A White House source told Duowei that the meeting ran over its scheduled time by an extra hour as Biden and Xi instead discussed the development of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
South China Morning Post spots a tempest a-brewin’:
Japanese media in frenzy over possible conflict with China
With military tensions between Tokyo and Beijing at a new high over islands in the East China Sea and China’s unilateral declaration of an air defence zone, Japan’s tabloids are engaged in frenzied speculation over a looming conflict.
A diplomatic source quoted in the Sunday Mainichi news magazine expressed concern that Beijing might “accidentally on purpose” trigger an incident.
And from NHK WORLD, the latest on the fundamental plank of Japan’s rapidly developing national security machine:
Secrecy law to be promulgated Dec. 13th
The Japanese government will begin preparations this week to implement a controversial state secrets’ protection law that will take effect in about a year.
Cabinet ministers agreed on Tuesday to publish the official text of the law on Friday — exactly one week after the legislation cleared the Diet.
Jiji Press has the latest development:
LDP to Begin Talks on Body to Oversee State Secret Designation
Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party plans to start talks next week on setting up a parliament body to check the validity of state secret designation under the newly enacted confidentiality law.
Establishing the secrets designation oversight body is expected to ease public concerns that the law would limit people’s right to know by allowing bureaucrats to arbitrary designate secret information, sources familiar with the matter said.
From the Asahi Shimbun, a revelation of what’s business as usual on this side of the Pacific:
Defense industry firm conducted worker background checks for years
A decade before the new state secrets protection law was enacted, a major defense industry firm was already conducting invasive and detailed background checks of workers involved in the manufacturing of U.S. fighter jets and helicopters.
The screening was done in response to instructions from the Defense Ministry.
Off to another Asia country and a betrayal via Deutsche Welle:
US turns its back on Afghan interpreters
The Taliban views interpreters who served the US military as traitors. Thousands of translators now fear for their lives at home in Afghanistan, while they wait in vain for residence visas promised to them by the US.
[M]any locals contracted to work with the foreign troops have already been killed as a result. Their living colleagues have occasionally received chopped off body parts coupled with threatening letters.
Another Afghan story from Bloomberg story almost as reassuring:
Planes Parked in Weeds in Kabul After $486 Million Spent
Sixteen broken-down transport planes that cost U.S. taxpayers at least $486 million are languishing among the weeds, wooden cargo boxes and old tires at Kabul International Airport, waiting to be destroyed without ever being delivered to the Afghan Air Force.
The special inspector general for Afghanistan is investigating why the refurbished G222 turboprop aircraft from Finmeccanica SpA’s Alenia Aermacchi North America unit no longer can be flown after logging only 200 of 4,500 hours of U.S.-led training flights and missions required from January to September 2012 under a U.S Air Force contract because of persistent maintenance issues.
From South China Morning Post, repression:
Zhang Xuezhong, pro-democracy activist, sacked by university
Law lecturer Zhang Xuezhong fired after he wrote articles calling for elections and an end to Communist Party’s dominance in politics
Zhang Xuezhong, a lecturer at the law school of the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, said he received a verbal notice from the law school head that his contract would be terminated at the end of December.
TheLocal.se has blowback from earlier suppression:
Naked protesters mar Nobel awards ceremony
As VIP guests and Nobel laureates gathered in Stockholm for Tuesday’s Nobel Prize award ceremony, four naked protesters caused a scene in an effort to raise awareness about dissidents in China who are suffering under the Chinese regime.
The protesters bared all outside Stockholm’s Concert Hall in the early afternoon when the temperature was close to zero.
While International Business Times covers a badly kept secret:
9/11 Link To Saudi Arabia Is Topic Of 28 Redacted Pages In Government Report; Congressmen Push For Release
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied any connection, and neither President George W. Bush nor President Obama has been forthcoming on this issue.
But earlier this year, Reps. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., and Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., were given access to the 28 redacted pages of the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry (JICI) of 9/11 issued in late 2002, which have been thought to hold some answers about the Saudi connection to the attack.
“I was absolutely shocked by what I read,” Jones told International Business Times. “What was so surprising was that those whom we thought we could trust really disappointed me. I cannot go into it any more than that. I had to sign an oath that what I read had to remain confidential. But the information I read disappointed me greatly.”
From The Guardian, repression in Egypt:
Egyptian boy arrested after teacher finds stationery with pro-Morsi symbol
Schoolboy detained after teacher discovers ruler and notebooks with Rabaa sign, a symbol of opposition to Morsi’s overthrow
Khaled Bakara, 15, was arrested last month after his teacher spotted a ruler on his desk bearing a symbol indicating his opposition to the overthrow of Egypt’s former president Mohamed Morsi, alleged Khaled’s lawyer, Amr Abdel Maqsoud.
And South China Morning Post has explicit instructions:
Beijing bans ‘sensitive topics’ during Mandela funeral coverage
Government orders Chinese media not to highlight the late leader’s democracy comments, the Dalai Lama or ties between Taiwan and South Africa
On to the world of drones, first with Want China Times:
Shanghai’s SF Express starts drone delivery trials
Drone delivery services are now up and running after SF Express, a Shanghai-based logistics company, recently commenced trial operations.
SF Express said drone delivery can save labor costs and improve delivery efficiency, as reported by the Beijing News. The company plans to use the unmanned aircraft delivery services across their networks across China, in remote areas in particular.
A proposal shot down — at least for now — from CNN:
Colorado town’s vote on drone ordinance postponed
Deer Trail — population 598 — was scheduled to vote Tuesday on a measure that would allow its residents to hunt for federal drones and shoot them down, but Mayor Frank Fields said Tuesday that the vote has been postponed while a district court decides whether the ordinance is legal.
From Wired, a hint of things to come:
Guilty Verdict in First Ever Cybercrime RICO Trial
A young Arizona identity thief is the first person in the U.S. to be found guilty of federal racketeering charges for facilitating his crimes over a website.
David Ray Camez, 22, was convicted by a Las Vegas jury Friday under the federal Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act. The verdict followed a three-week trial pushed by local prosecutors and a Justice Department attorney who flew in from Washington for the case.
From the Financial Express, workplace cybernoia:
65 pct of global companies see personal mobile devices used at work as a threat
The survey finds nearly 18% (2% more than in 2012) of respondents said their companies had suffered confidential data leaks through mobile email clients, text messaging, and other channels available to smartphone and tablet owners.
From Firstpost, a giant spurned:
France snubs Google cultural institute launch amid privacy row
France’s culture minister has snubbed the launch of Google’s latest project, the Paris-based Cultural Institute Lab over a row about privacy. Aurelie Fillipetti, who was confirmed to come to the internet giant’s latest cultural venture opening Tuesday, canceled at the last minute.
“I don’t want to legitimize an operation that fails to address a number of outstanding questions we have with Google,” Fillipetti told Le Monde newspaper, referring to a spat between Google and European governments earlier this year over transparency in collecting personal data.
Cybercensor cops cosseting corporations in Old Blighty from TechWeekEurope:
The UK Government Is Already Censoring The Global Internet
The new intellectual property crime unit PIPCU uses threats, not due process, to get copyright-infringing domains off the Internet
Today, a special police unit can decide that a certain website needs to disappear from the Internet, and threaten its domain name registrar into revoking the address “until further notice”, without any legal basis whatsoever.
The name of the unit is PIPCU (Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit) and it has just reported on the success of Operation Creative – a three month long campaign that resulted in 40 websites accused of copyright infringement shutting down, or at least moving to a new Web address.
From The Nabe, censorship aborted:
Police Restore Access to Crime Reports
Last week, The Nabe reported that the city’s police precincts would no longer directly provide journalists with the forms detailing crime reports. On Monday, shortly after CUNY Graduate Graduate School of Journalism Dean Stephen B. Shepard sent a letter to NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly protesting the change in procedure, the Police Department announced access would be restored.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information John McCarthy, responding to Shepard’s letter within a half-hour of receiving it by email Monday night, said that journalists across the city will still be allowed to view the weekly crime reports in a timely manner – provided they make requests through his office.
A blast from the past from the Tico Times:
27 years later, CIA pilot tells of using secret Costa Rican airstrip to traffic guns, cocaine
They seemed like isolated events unfolding in the chaos of Central America in the 1980s. But now, the pieces of the puzzle are fitting together.
Former CIA contract pilot Robert “Tosh” Plumlee says he trafficked cocaine and weapons in and out of a secret airstrip in northern Costa Rica in the 1980s to arm the Nicaraguan Contras. The cocaine came from Colombia and was shipped to consumers in the U.S.
From The Independent, $3,050 a second:
$183,000 fine for man who joined Anonymous attack for ‘one minute’
The attack succeeded in taking a website operated by the controversial Koch Industries company offline for just 15 minutes
Authorities in the US have shown their intolerance for so-called ‘hacktivism’ by sentencing a 38-year-old Wisconsin man to two years’ probation and an $183,000 fine for joined an online attack for just a single minute. Eric J. Rosol participated in a Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS) against the website for American multinational Koch Industries.
For our final item, the perfect cover from South China Morning Post:
Chinese scientists upbeat on development of invisibility cloak
One team has already made a cat ‘disappear’ with a device that has huge military potential