Today’s tales from the dark side begins with the latest developments from Japan, where a national security state in the making has aroused powerful but futile opposition.
The Asahi Shimbun covers the latest move, implementation of a draconian law that would prosecute both leakers and those who publish their leaks:
Diet enacts state secrets law despite widespread protests
The Upper House passed the highly contentious state secrets protection bill into law on Dec. 6, despite the paucity of debate and lack of safeguards on the designation process.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, railroaded the legislation through the Upper House plenary meeting on Dec. 6 amid increasingly vehement protests from opposition parties and the public.
Details on the vote from Jiji Press:
Japan Enacts Controversial State Secrecy Law
The 242-member Upper House controlled by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its New Komeito ally adopted the bill by a vote of 130 to 82.
The Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and the People’s Life Party voted against the bill.
Your Party and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), both of which joined the ruling bloc in amending the initial bill during House of Representatives debates, boycotted the voting. Some Your Party members bucked the party line, staying on and casting votes against the bill.
More on the opposition from the Japan Times:
Protests over secrets bill fiery at 11th hour
Nuclear foes key component of public anger
Kenji Yamagishi, president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, expressed displeasure Thursday with the way the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe-led government has brushed aside deep public concerns to ram the bill through the Diet.
The lawyer group, Yamagishi said, will do its utmost to prevent the “dangerous bill from infringing on people’s human rights,” according to media reports.
Shimbun Roren, a combination of more than 80 newspaper labor unions, meanwhile issued a statement Thursday slamming the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc’s “despicable act.”
The Mainichi covers another piece of legislation passed:
Japan parliament adopts resolution urging China to scrap ADIZ
Japan’s lower house of parliament on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution urging China to immediately rescind its recent establishment of an air defense identification zone over the East China Sea.
The resolution endorsed by the House of Representatives said the ADIZ, set by China on Nov. 23, significantly violates Japan’s territory and sovereignty. The ADIZ, demarcated over a wide swath of airspace over the sea, encompasses the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands.
JapanToday has the response:
China slams Japan for resolution on air defense zone
China’s Foreign Ministry criticised Japan’s lower house of parliament on Friday for passing a resolution demanding that Beijing scrap its air defense zone over the East China Sea, saying Japan had no right to “talk nonsense”.
Closer to home, The Hill justifies:
NSA tracks phone locations under executive order
The National Security Agency uses its authority under a 1981 executive order to collect cellphone location data around the world, the agency said Friday.
Congress never authorized the program, but an NSA spokeswoman argued that the collection does not violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which outlines certain NSA powers.
From The Consumerist, an ancillary story:
AT&T Tells Shareholders: We Don’t Have To Disclose What We Do With Customers’ Data
Is AT&T cooperating with government intelligence offices like the National Security Agency and sharing its customers’ information with those groups? Sure, it’s fully willing to admit that. But that doesn’t mean it should have to disclose to shareholders exactly what it’s doing with that data, or so it said in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday.
RT covers the latest Snowden revelation:
NSA spied on Italian leaders ‘from US diplomatic missions in Rome, Milan’
Italian communications have been targeted through the US’s Special Collection Service sites in Rome and Milan, according to Italy’s l’Espresso. The same service allegedly tapped into German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.
The new leak, revealed by Glenn Greenwald with l’Espresso, alleges that the National Security Agency subjected Italy’s leadership to surveillance, although not specifying which people within the country’s “leadership” were monitored, via US diplomatic missions in Rome and Milan. The spying went on from 1988 to at least 2010.
From EurActiv, an appearance to come:
Leading MEP claims Snowden willing to testify before Parliament by video link
Green German MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht claimed yesterday (5 December) that Edward Snowden, the whistleblower and key actor in the NSA scandal, is willing to testify before the European Parliament.
The hearing will be before the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) via video recording during one of the upcoming meetings on the surveillance scandal, said Albrecht, the committee’s rapporteur on the current proposal to update data protection rules.
And the National Post covers a chilly reception in the north:
NSA considered spying on Canadians without this country’s consent, top-secret directive says
The U.S. National Security Agency considered spying on Canadians without the knowledge or consent of its intelligence partners in this country, according to a top-secret draft NSA directive.
Meanwhile, Europe fails to present a united front:EUobserver:
EU data protection bill ‘moves backwards’
The EU data protection regulation hit a setback on Friday (6 December) after justice ministers backed off on a key component.
“The ministers did not want to make hasty decisions,” Lithuanian Justice Minister Juozas Bernatonis told reporters. But the EU commissioner for justice, Viviane Reding, described it as a disappointing day for data privacy.
More from New Europe:
Reding: bad Council for data protection
Commission Vice-President responsible for Justice Vivian Reding said that the European Council of Justice Minister has moved backwards on data protection.
“This Council has been a missed opportunity,” Reding said, adding that ministers got so bogged down in detail that there is still no workable solution on the table despite progress made after the Snowen revelations in previous months.
The Verge covers domestic opposition:
Anti-surveillance activists want to shut off the water to the NSA’s Utah data center
As a federal agency, the NSA can often seem above local concerns like water management — but a new campaign in Utah wants to change that, according to a report in Talking Points Memo. The campaign comes from an advocacy group called the Tenth Amendment Center, which is currently organizing a number of coordinated actions aimed at making the NSA’s life as difficult as possible. This one springs from a realization that the NSA’s massive and much-delayed Utah data center relies on the local government for basic utilities like electricity and, more importantly, water. If the local municipality votes not to provide the data center with the 1.7 million gallons of water it needs to cool its massive server farm, the NSA coud be left in a very uncomfortable spot.
And The Hill covers a righteous notion:
Patriot Act author: Obama’s intel czar should be prosecuted
Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the original author of the Patriot Act, says Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should be prosecuted for lying to Congress.
“Lying to Congress is a federal offense, and Clapper ought to be fired and prosecuted for it,” the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview with The Hill.
And a utility gives customers the cold shoulder, via the Associated Press:
AT&T Says It Doesn’t Have to Disclose NSA Dealings
AT&T, under fire for ongoing revelations that it shares and sells customers’ communications records to the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence offices, says it isn’t required to disclose to shareholders what it does with customers’ data.
In a letter sent Thursday to the Securities and Exchange Commission, AT&T said it protects customer information and complies with government requests for records “only to the extent required by law.”
From Ars Technica, testing the limits:
FBI surveillance malware in bomb threat case tests constitutional limits
“Internet link” targeting suspect’s Yahoo account used to track his Web movements.
The FBI has an elite hacker team that creates customized malware to identify or monitor high-value suspects who are adept at covering their tracks online, according to a published report.
The growing sophistication of the spyware—which has the capability to remotely activate video cameras and report users’ geographic locations—is pushing the boundaries of constitutional limits on searches and seizures, The Washington Post reported in an article published Friday. Critics compare it to a physical search that indiscriminately seizes the entire contents of a home, rather than just those items linked to a suspected crime. Former US officials said the FBI uses the technique sparingly, in part to prevent it from being widely known.
From The Independent, another cold sholder:
‘No longer in our interest’ to disclose how many Guantanamo inmates are on hunger strike, US military says
The US military will no longer make the number of inmates on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay public knowledge, a spokesman has revealed, eliminating what had become an unofficial guage of conditions at the secretive military prison.
The London Telegraph drones on:
US Air Force ‘secretly builds new stealth drone’
New stealth drone, dubbed RQ-180, reportedly secretly developed by US AIr Force
And MintPress News looks back:
Looking Back At Mandela’s CIA Assisted 1962 Arrest
This dark secret of the Cold War highlights just how warped U.S. foreign policy was, and is.
For the last 23 years, the United States and the United Kingdom have desperately tried to keep the wraps on a deeply embarrassing secret, whose truth has only been alleged. In light of recent history — the end of apartheid, the election of Nelson Mandela as the first Black president of South Africa and, 14 years later, the election of Barack Obama as the first Black president of the United States — the idea that the U.S. and the U.K. were directly involved in the arrest of Mandela in 1962 forces hard questions about the nations’ motives and support for the Apartheid State and about the ramifications of being on the wrong side of history.
From The Guardian, a notable chill:
Indonesia responds cautiously after Tony Abbott says spying will continue
Marty Natalegawa says Australian prime minister’s comments ‘not necessarily’ a contradiction of Julie Bishop’s assurances
Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa has given a cautious response to comments by prime minister Tony Abbott that Australia will continue to spy on its northern neighbour.
Abbott on Friday said Australia had not given any undertakings not to spy on Indonesia, in the wake of the espionage row that has seen the diplomatic relationship between Jakarta and Canberra sink to its lowest point in more than a decade.
Our final item comes from BBC News, other folks invading computers:
JP Morgan warns customers of possible data theft after cyber hack
JPMorgan Chase is warning 465,000 holders of pre-paid cash cards issued by the US bank that their personal data may have been hacked.
The bank’s network was attacked in July, and it was detected in September that servers had been breached.