Tag Archives: Big Brother

If This Does Not Chill You To The Bone, You Are Already Dead

14 Jun

Heard anything about the PRISM scandal?

No?

Well then, as we have grown accustomed to saying (but why?), “Google it … Google is your friend”.

Er … perhaps not.

In our world of digital everything, no one is your friend.

From Zero Hedge, a must read (reproduced in full, all emphasis in original … and watch carefully for the “Telstra” reference):

The rabbit hole just got deeper. A whole lot deeper.

On Sunday we predicated that “there’s one reason why the administration, James Clapper and the NSA should just keep their mouths shut as the PRISM-gate fallout escalates: with every incremental attempt to refute some previously unknown facet of the US Big Brother state, a new piece of previously unleaked information from the same intelligence organization now scrambling for damage control, emerges and exposes the brand new narrative as yet another lie, forcing even more lies, more retribution against sources, more journalist persecution and so on.”

And like a hole that just gets deeper the more you dug and exposes ever more dirt, tonight’s installment revealing one more facet of the conversion of a once great republic into a great fascist, “big brother” state, comes from Bloomberg which reports that “thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said.”

The companies extend far wider than the legacy telcos, such as Verizon, that launched the entire NSA-spying scandal a week ago: “Makers of hardware and software, banks, Internet security providers, satellite telecommunications companies and many other companies also participate in the government programs. In some cases, the information gathered may be used not just to defend the nation but to help infiltrate computers of its adversaries.”

Many of these same Internet and telecommunications companies voluntarily provide U.S. intelligence organizations with additional data, such as equipment specifications, that don’t involve private communications of their customers, the four people said.

And since what goes on behind the scenes is confidential, literally anything goes: “Along with the NSA, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and branches of the U.S. military have agreements with such companies to gather data that might seem innocuous but could be highly useful in the hands of U.S. intelligence or cyber warfare units, according to the people, who have either worked for the government or are in companies that have these accords.”

Some of the back and forth is innocuous, such as Microsoft revealing ahead of time the nature of its exposed bugs (ostensibly providing the government with a back door into any system using a Microsoft OS, but since it’s don’t ask, dont’ tell, nobody really knows). However the bulk of the interaction is steeped in secrecy: “Most of the arrangements are so sensitive that only a handful of people in a company know of them, and they are sometimes brokered directly between chief executive officers and the heads of the U.S.’s major spy agencies, the people familiar with those programs said.”

More on this “company within a company”:

Typically, a key executive at a company and a small number of technical people cooperate with different agencies and sometimes multiple units within an agency, according to the four people who described the arrangements.

If necessary, a company executive, known as a “committing officer,” is given documents that guarantee immunity from civil actions resulting from the transfer of data. The companies are provided with regular updates, which may include the broad parameters of how that information is used.

Remember how they say conspiracies are impossible because too many people know about them, and the information always eventually leaks? Well not if you contain it to a handful of people in any organization, and force them to sign a bloody NDA, pledging one’s first born in the case of secrecy breach.

An example of a company that is happy to “communicate” with tht the government is Intel’s McAfee internet security unit, which in addition to everything is one giant backdoor entrance for the government. If need be of course:

Intel Corp. (INTC)’s McAfee unit, which makes Internet security software, regularly cooperates with the NSA, FBI and the CIA, for example, and is a valuable partner because of its broad view of malicious Internet traffic, including espionage operations by foreign powers, according to one of the four people, who is familiar with the arrangement.

Such a relationship would start with an approach to McAfee’s chief executive, who would then clear specific individuals to work with investigators or provide the requested data, the person said. The public would be surprised at how much help the government seeks, the person said.

McAfee firewalls collect information on hackers who use legitimate servers to do their work, and the company data can be used to pinpoint where attacks begin. The company also has knowledge of the architecture of information networks worldwide, which may be useful to spy agencies who tap into them, the person said.

Google, another participant in PRISM, already lied about its participation in the covert-op:

Following an attack on his company by Chinese hackers in 2010, Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, was provided with highly sensitive government intelligence linking the attack to a specific unit of the People’s Liberation Army, China’s military, according to one of the people, who is familiar with the government’s investigation. Brin was given a temporary classified clearance to sit in on the briefing, the person said.

According to information provided by Snowden, Google, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, had at that point been a Prism participant for more than a year.

Google CEO Larry Page said in a blog posting June 7 that he hadn’t heard of a program called Prism until after Snowden’s disclosures and that the Mountain View, California-based company didn’t allow the U.S. government direct access to its servers or some back-door to its data centers. He said Google provides user data to governments “only in accordance with the law.”

Ah yes, the law that no mere mortal can observe in action, and which has zero popular checks and balances. So what specifically does Google provide to the government? “Highly offensive information” it appears.

That metadata includes which version of the operating system, browser and Java software are being used on millions of devices around the world, information that U.S. spy agencies could use to infiltrate those computers or phones and spy on their users.

“It’s highly offensive information,” said Glenn Chisholm, the former chief information officer for Telstra Corp (TLS)., one of Australia’s largest telecommunications companies, contrasting it to defensive information used to protect computers rather than infiltrate them.

Going back to Obama’s promise on live TV that nobody was listening in to any conversations, one wonders: why did the major telecom companies “ask for guarantees that they wouldn’t be held liable under U.S. wiretap laws.” Because if the companies demanded a waiver, they obviously were wiretapping, i.e., eavesdropping, and doing so on US citizens, or those protected by US laws. And that’s why Obama should have just kept his mouth shut, instead of having to explain what he meant and that he never said what he said.

Before they agreed to install the system on their networks, some of the five major Internet companies — AT&T Inc. (T), Verizon Communications Inc (VZ)., Sprint Nextel Corp. (S), Level 3 Communications Inc (LVLT). and CenturyLink Inc (CTL). — asked for guarantees that they wouldn’t be held liable under U.S. wiretap laws. Those companies that asked received a letter signed by the U.S. attorney general indicating such exposure didn’t meet the legal definition of a wiretap and granting them immunity from civil lawsuits, the person said.

Ah, the US Attorney General – because what is another Obama scandal that doesn’t involve his primary henchman Eric Holder…

Mark Siegel, a spokesman for Dallas-based AT&T, the nation’s biggest phone carrier, declined to comment. Edward McFadden, a spokesman for New York-based Verizon, the second-largest phone company, declined to comment. Scott Sloat, a spokesman for Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint, and Monica Martinez, a spokeswoman for Broomfield, Colorado-based Level 3, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

No need to comment – it’s quite clear.

The last question remains: what do companies get out of this proactive betrayal of their clients? Well, in some cases, such as those of IBM and Amazon as we described yesterday, they get lucrative government (CIA) contracts for billions of dollars. But that’s just taxpayer cash. Where it gets worse is when the kickbacks are yet more secrets.

In exchange, leaders of companies are showered with attention and information by the agencies to help maintain the relationship, the person said. In other cases, companies are given quick warnings about threats that could affect their bottom line, including serious Internet attacks and who is behind them.

In other words, what is going on behind the scenes is nothing more than one vast, very selective, extremely secretive, symbiotic and perfectly “legal” giant information exchange network, which allows corporations to profit off classified government information either in kind or in cash, and which allows the government to have all the information at its disposal, collected using public and private venues, in order to protect itself, to take out those it designates as targets, or simply said – to get ever bigger.

The loser in all of this?

You.

UPDATE:

From the UK Express –

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden not welcome in the UK

THE whistleblower behind the largest leak of classified information in the history of the US National Security Agency (NSA) is not welcome in Britain, the Home Office has said because he is “detrimental to the public good.”

Edward Snowden has not been welcomed to come to the UK

Edward Snowden has not been welcomed to come to the UK

The Government has issued an alert to airlines around the world, urging them not to allow Edward Snowden to fly to the United Kingdom.

The alert, on a Home Office letterhead, said carriers should deny boarding to Snowden because “the individual is highly likely to be refused entry to the UK.”

Snowden, 29, revealed himself last week as the source of top-secret documents about controversial American surveillance programs.

He said he revealed America’s snooping of citizens’ internet use for a “better world”.

“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under,” he said.

Don’t Get Scroogled

18 May

Supposedly a leaked, internal-only Microsoft parody:

 

This, from Microsoft?

Er …

KettleCallingPotBlack%5B1%5D

 

Drip Drip Drip: Eroding Your Right To Choose

23 Feb

Senator Joyce’s latest Op-ed for the Canberra Times is worthy of contemplation.

Although he does not directly point the finger – of course – nevertheless his article inadvertently highlights a variety of consequences of the creeping international(ist) socialism that is steadily eroding our right to self-determination, both as individuals and as a sovereign nation.

That is … our right to choose:

Private schools are about choice

Billy is much smarter than Ben, in dramatic arts. Paul is much happier than Pam, on Tuesday nights. Private schools get more funding than public schools, from the federal government.

Why does Mr Angelo Gavrielatos, president of the Australian Education Union, only ever tell half the story? This selective assessment of the facts seems to be something that certain sections of the teaching union have specialised in of late. This insinuation of bias towards private schools is deceitful.

Let us presume for one minute that, as many in the eastern states wish, but for which West Australians would fight virulently against, all public funding came from one pot and there were no states in Australia. The all-up government funding for public schools per student is vastly more than the all-up government funding for private schools per student.

On average, each public school gets $14,000 per student per year of public funding and each private school gets $7000 per student per year of public funding.

If you closed down all of the private schools, which no doubt the more radical parts of the teachers’ union would like, the amount of public funding for state school students would actually decrease substantially.

State schools, aka, public schools, are financed by the state. That is, the Queensland government, the NSW government, the South Australian government, etc, etc. The states generally do not finance independent and private schools, they are generally funded by parents scrimping and saving for their kids.

The federal government therefore steps in to fulfil that which is obviously a government responsibility, to assist in the funding of education services. But why does the government need to be the provider of the service if others are capable and willing of doing so? Does every lifesaver have to be a government lifesaver? Does every doctor have to be a government doctor? How would you feel if I demanded that you were only allowed to go to doctors who are employees of the government?

Let’s dispense with this myth that somehow independent schools are mechanisms to rip off public schools. They’re not, they are mechanisms for giving parents choice. In any case, it should be about the needs of the student, not the social engineering philosophies of different unions.

I went to Woolbrook Public School. We had indigenous students, we had some students who were really doing it tough. We are talking about small-village country poor. Some houses had wool packs for windows and were regularly visited by welfare agencies. I understand that those who are genuinely doing it tough need assistance. But people should also be allowed choice.

Later on my parents made the choice to send me away to boarding school. Surely it is every parents’ right to decide where their kids are educated? The government should respect that choice by not overwhelmingly financially discriminating against that choice.

We need competitive pressures in Australian education if we are to have any hope against our true competition in Taipei, Beijing, Osaka, Jakarta and other areas in our region. As people who are working in the back rooms of banks are finding out, the internet is making the world smaller and creating real competitive pressures on jobs not just between Australians but between Australians and those overseas.

Your competition does not have to live here to get your job. Excuses won’t cut it if someone who is actually on a cheaper wage can speak three languages to our one and has a more competent understanding of higher-end mathematics. We have to meet their benchmark.

In all government decisions, when we send out your money we must ask what difference it made in the outcome. Since we have borrowed the money to build school halls, to make up $16 billion of our $227 billion gross debt, are our children actually better-educated?

Maybe Canberrans understand choice better than any others because more than half of all students in Canberra go to private schools. I have always thought of Canberra as firmly pro-choice.

So Angelo Gavrielatos should just ‘fess up and be straight with us. Is $5 billion really going to make you happy or is your ultimate goal to take choice away from the Australian parents’ desire for the future of their children?

Barnaby is right.

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