ACLU Demands Eavesdropping, Torture Memos From White House: “The American Civil Liberties Union asked the Obama administration to disclose internal memos providing the legal framework for President George W. Bush’s position on warrantless surveillance and torture. The move comes a week after President Barack Obama pledged to spread sunshine on government.“
(Via Wired News.)
Internet users who illegally share copyrighted material such as music and films face prosecution under government proposals which will require service providers to spy on surfers.
The communications minister Lord Stephen Carter also called yesterday for every home to have access to a broadband service by 2012, either through a mobile phone connection or phone line that is fast enough to watch the BBC iPlayer.
‘There is no sector with the possible exception of energy that the rest of the economy relies upon more than this one,’ Carter said as he published his interim Digital Britain report. ‘The digital economy is the driving force of much of what we do and probably even more of what we will go on to do.’
In its 22 proposals, Carter’s report spans the communications landscape from the future of digital radio and local newspapers to the possible merger of Channel 4 with the commercial arm of the BBC or a private company such as Channel Five.
It also recommends the creation of a rights agency, funded by the ISPs and the media industry, that would set out a strategy for defeating illegal internet file-sharers, including the use of technologies such as digital watermarking of copyrighted content.
Since last summer the ISPs have been sending out warning letters to persistent illegal file sharers under a pilot scheme brokered by the government, but ministers believe more needs to be done to stem the tide of internet piracy and protect creative industries. A recent study by the University of Hertfordshire showed that only 10% of young people are deterred from file-sharing by a fear of being caught.
Legislation will be introduced, after the summer, that will standardise the current notification process and force the ISPs to collect information about ’serious repeat offenders’. The companies will then be able to prosecute offenders in court.
The rights agency will decide what level of illegal activity is required before an internet user can be spied upon. Carter, who will thrash out the full details of the agency with the industry before producing his final report in June, has ruled out making sharing of copyrighted material a criminal offence.
‘I don’t think this is as undoable as people have suggested,’ he said of a crackdown on file-sharers. ‘I don’t think anyone thinks that you are ever going to get this to zero but the question is can you get it from an epidemic to manageable proportions.’
Last year a leaked letter from Lady Vadera, the business minister, made it clear that the notification process should help to ’significantly reduce’ illegal filesharing in two to three years. ‘I would regard a reduction as ’significant’ if it had reduced the number by well over 50%, and we hope in the region of 70%-80%,’ she wrote.
Carter’s report also makes it plain that a long-term solution also involves the creation of ‘innovative legitimate services to meet consumer demand’.
Feargal Sharkey, the former Undertones frontman who now leads industry body UK Music, welcomed the fact that Carter’s report ‘recognises the scale of the challenges faced by the music and other creative industries in regards to unlawful file sharing. However, we do not believe that the form of intervention proposed – suing consumers – is the best way forward’.
Carter’s plans for universal broadband at about 2Mb per second also came under attack as being too timid. ‘Given that the national average access speed is 3.6Mbps, isn’t the scale of the government’s ambitions pitifully low,’ said Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary.
Independent analysts were also surprised by Carter’s plans. ‘We were very surprised that the government is only advocating a broadband network speed of 2Mb per second by 2012,’ said Richard Heap, head of telecoms, at BDO Stoy Hayward. ‘Given that a number of other ISPs offer speeds of up to 50Mb per second, this is akin to a snail’s pace and lacks ambition.’
Carter, however, said that many of the 1.75m rural homes that do not have broadband may get it through new wireless networks rather than a traditional phone line and it is harder to set a minimum speed requirement because of the way mobile phone networks operate at peak times.
‘At the moment there is no universal service obligation for minimum broadband,’ he pointed out. ‘We are saying there should be.’
Broadband for all Carter wants high-speed internet access for every home, over a fixed-line network or wireless connection, by 2012. The minimum speed would be 2MB, enough to download a film overnight or watch the London Olympics on BBC i-player. Telecoms firms will be legally required to build and fund a broadband network, though they could receive some public money.
Piracy crackdown Illegal downloads cost the entertainment industry millions of pounds. New laws will force broadband suppliers to hand over their customers’ details to music and film companies, making it easier for them to sue persistent offenders.
Channel 4’s future A second public service broadcaster will be created with Channel 4 at its heart, possibly by merging it with parts of the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. It will be required to show local and international news, documentaries and films – but it is still not clear if it will receive public money.
Content Carter accepted the findings of the Bryon review, which said a ratings system based on age guidelines should be introduced to make it easier to police the internet. It could mean that internet giants such as YouTube would be required to carry warnings so parents can block access to unsuitable material.
Radio revolution Digital radio as a technology is struggling to grow, but Carter rejected calls to switch off the analogue signal to encourage take-up. The FM services which have national reach will run alongside new digital stations until digital covers 90% of the UK or accounts for 50% of all radio listening.
Local news Carter asked the Office of Fair Trading to look at whether ownership rules should change to allow regional press and commercial radio to merge. Economies of scale would help meet the cost of covering local news, which is highly valued by the public
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the decisions to be taken as a result of Lord Carter’s report on Digital Britain, an interim version of which was published yesterday. Britain is in an unprecedented recession and there is an urgent need to generate new jobs to fill the gap caused by the collapse of financial services. Our best chance is to exploit the digital revolution, not only because it is a vital ingredient of economic growth but because Britain has a competitive advantage – generating content for it.
Lord Carter’s report covers many activities, from illegal web downloads to providing a rival for the BBC – rightly seen as a cornerstone of Britain’s digital strength – in the provision of public service broadcasting. But his most important proposal is for broadband to be available for every home by 2012. This would happen at speeds of ‘up to’ two million bits of information per second (2 Mbps). That is roughly what is needed to do video conferencing or use the BBC’s iPlayer. Further into the future, the report urges the government to consider whether public incentives are needed to finance ‘next-generation broadband’ with speeds up to 10 or even 50 times faster – 100 Mbps – for more sophisticated uses.
The big question is whether the 2012 target of ‘up to’ 2 Mbps, which many users would regard as too modest for their current needs, is enough when parts of the world already have 100 Mbps and when the demand for services is exploding. The argument about bringing the huge capacity of fibre optics to the home, and who should finance it, has been going on for well over 20 years and it still has not happened, though it is now planned for new homes. The usual argument against fast broadband – that there would be no demand – has been blown apart by the video revolution. Bandwidth demands from the iPlayer alone have proved too much for the system at times. We know from innovations in the pipeline – including high-definition TV, remote medicine, remote education, life-sized video conferencing and the rapid growth of ever more sophisticated virtual worlds and multiplayer gaming – that the demand for bandwidth will be huge. If Britain is to succeed in encouraging industry to supply equipment and content then we cannot err on the side of caution.
The Broadband Stakeholders’ Association says the cost of upgrading to 20Mbps by running fibre to a box near the home would be £5bn, only a fifth of the £25bn cost of fibre right into the home. That will not deliver the national need for a very high speeds that other countries will be enjoying. The government is currently shelling out tens of billions of pounds to bail out the banks. In such circumstances it seems almost modest to invest £25bn to ensure that Britain has a digital infrastructure to give us an advantage in exploiting all the new services that will spring up during the rest of the century.
Building a network does not guarantee that it will be used. The government’s 2Mbps commitment to universal broadband by 2012 is not like BT’s obligation to deliver phone lines to every home. It is more like a statement of intent. At present some 60% of households in the UK have broadband. This is not bad by international standards, but it means that 40% do not have it, either because they cannot afford it or they do not want it. Lord Carter is suggesting steps to combat this, but it is not going to be solved by market forces alone. If it is not solved, an even bigger digital divide will open up between the broadband elite and the rest. The elite will have access not just to the instant knowledge and the best seats at major sporting and cultural events, but to the unfolding opportunities in education, health and the job market. This is unacceptable. Like water and electricity, broadband is fast becoming something that everyone is entitled to have
Post from: TorrentFreak
Ipoque describes itself as ‘the leading European provider of deep packet inspection solutions’. Based on this statement, it would be expected that the company would take every opportunity to push their own products as possible solutions. However, in what could be the start of a new trend (but one we won’t hold our breath waiting for from others) a company interested in selling P2P throttling equipment has started to tell the truth about file sharing.
The paper, which claims to ‘provide an as objective as possible assessment of the countermeasures for P2P’ initially left us skeptical. But, with one or two exceptions, it does what it claims to do. Other companies and politicians should take note of this. Below we look at the conclusions of the report – some we were actually moved to applaud, while others were slightly cringe worthy.
‘Blocking of IP addresses could be an additional measure in a combination of different measures, but is not the salvation of the problem itself.‘
‘URL filters are widely available. Centrally hosted services such as Piratebay and even BitTorrent trackers could be blocked. An up-to-date list of URLs is a necessary prerequisite to make this measure effective. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to keep the URL database current. Affected sites could rapidly change URLs and propagate these changes. Ultimately, this would result in a never-ending cat and mouse game.‘
Again the report is spot on. The Internet Watch Foundation in the UK showed that blocklists don’t work well when applied to known sites and content. On a sidenote, file-sharers who use blocklists like PeerGuardian to filter peers of uncertain identity, face the same problem.
‘[The injection of counterfeits] have driven file sharers to the BitTorrent network, that is nearly immune against injection of fake files, mainly because content distribution is organized through web based torrent directories such as thepiratebay.org. Conclusion: The injection of counterfeits is no effective countermeasure anymore.’
They are right, it doesn’t. Not on well moderated torrent sites at least.
‘Due to its computational complexity, fingerprinting does not work in real-time for high-speed networks. Also, even though ever more file and compression formats are supported, fingerprinting is blind to encrypted archive files (e.g. password-protected ZIP files), and these are becoming more and more popular. Largescale deployment of fingerprinting technology would push the popularity of all kinds of encryption and render the whole technology useless as a countermeasure.’
This ties in with what we said last year about such systems and BitTorrent. These methods are highly ineffective.
‘In the past, any DRM mechanism was hacked or otherwise circumvented. This is highly likely to happen to new systems as well.’
DRM doesn’t work, and has not worked. One person breaching it is all it takes, thanks to the Internet. Spore is a great example of how DRM only affects legitimate purchasers, and not the people it attempts to target.
‘First, and most importantly, content providers need to provide other high-quality, well priced and easily accessible online content. New business models are inevitable. In the long run, this will make illegitimate sharing of copyright-protected material through the Internet a lot less interesting.’
This is the crux. It’s why rights owners are burying their heads in the sand, in the hope it will go away. It’s not surprising, however, that rights owners do not wish to move to a model that gives a smaller return-per-unit.
‘An example is Ipoque’s BitTorrent tracker whitelisting, that allows access to guaranteed legal BitTorrent content, while blocking access to all other P2P content. This approach works because nearly all legal P2P content is distributed over BitTorrent using dedicated and controlled BitTorrent trackers.’
Simply banning a huge number of BitTorrent trackers because they are open to all users doesn’t seem to be a good idea. One of the most eye-opening things about P2P is the sheer wealth of data it gives access to. Some may be in violation of civil or criminal law, but a lot isn’t. The same applications that can be used to share a game, can be used to promote a band, or distribute political protest by groups large and small.
Automatic detection tools
‘Such systems can detect infringements nationally and internationally. The location is not important. Especially automatic detection systems work highly efficiently and produce court-proof evidence data. This measure is very difficult to circumvent’
Yes, the only problem is that these tools are not very accurate. They target dead people, printers, those that have never shared, and everyone else falsely accused. Strangely, they point this out themselves 2 paragraphs earlier:
‘Active monitoring has garnered a bad reputation because content providers have in the past often tried to criminalize copyright infringers and imposed ridiculous penalties as a deterrent. In addition, there have been flawed lawsuits with verdicts about persons with no Internet access. Careful investigation along with adequate penalties are necessary to improve the reputation of this measure’
‘As for any computer system, attacks are possible, and there are commercial providers offering this as a service. An attack on eDonkey, for instance, may have the effect that the downloaded file is larger than the original, and the download never finishes. There are similar attacks for BitTorrent.’
Using exploits in file-sharing networks and clients is of course insane. Moreover, depending on the vulnerabilities exploited, this could be a violation of criminal law. At best, as with the Sony Rootkits, exploiting software systems like this is at least reputation-damaging. Of course, there’s also…
‘Encrypted communication and private file sharing networks can only be controlled by criminalistic methods involving a high effort.’
Again we applaud Ipoque for reaching the right conclusion. Not much we can say about this, except it’s the truth, and can’t be repeated often enough.
Is it a paper that is objective? Well, its the most objective one yet, but then that’s not saying much.
Digital Britain ISPs greeted Carter with a sigh of relief, LINX head of public affairs told us today. In response to copyright infringement, ISPs will not now need to deploy expensive packet inspection – and won’t disconnect users.…
(Via The Register – Comms.)
“Open Letter by Members of Global Openness Community welcoming President Obama’s Initiative on Transparency”
The undersigned organizations, which work around the world to promote the right of access to information, welcome the steps taken by President Barack Obama on his first day in office to reverse recent trends and to promote high standards of openness in government. We particularly welcome the call for a clear presumption in favor of disclosure of information, so that “in the face of doubt, openness prevails”. We also welcome the inclusion, within this presumption, of an affirmative obligation on public bodies to disclose information rapidly and in forms that the public can readily find and use. Proactive disclosure is recognized internationally as an essential element of the right of access to information, along with the right to request and receive information.
President Obama has demonstrated global leadership on this issue, signaling the fundamental importance of open government in a democracy. We call on governments around the world to take similar action to promote transparency and respect for the right of access to information.
We also urge President Obama to ensure that his executive orders are given full effect, in accordance with their language and purpose. Ensuring strong implementation of these standards will set a high benchmark to inspire governments around the world.
Access Info Europe, Helen Darbishire, Executive Director (Spain)
Access to Information Programme, Gergana Jouleva, Executive Director (Bulgaria)
Ad IDEM/Canadian Media Lawyers Association, Paul Schabas, President (Canada)
American Civil Liberties Union, Caroline Fredrickson, Washington Legislative Office, Director (USA)
Arab Freedom of Information Network, Said Essoulami, Executive Director
ARTICLE 19, Toby Mendel, Senior Legal Counsel
Asociación por los Derechos Civiles, Roberto Saba, Executive Director (Argentina)
Association for Freedom of Thoughts and Expression, Mohamed Omran (Egypt)
Bank Information Center, Chad Dobson, Executive Director (USA)
BilgiEdinmeHakki.Org, Dr. Yaman Akdeniz, Director (Turkey)
Campaign for Freedom of Information, Maurice Frankel, Director (UK)
Carter Center, Laura Neuman, Associate Director and Access to Information Project Manager (USA)
Center for Development and Democratization of Institutions, Ilir Aliaj, Executive Director (Albania)
Center for Independent Journalism, Ioana Avadani, Executive Director (Romania)
Center for Promotion of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Vasile Spinei, President (Moldova)
Center of Access to Public Information, Edison Lanza, Director (Uruguay)
Centre for Media Freedom Middle East and North Africa, Said Essoulami, Executive Director
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Reshmi Mitra, Project Officer, Access to Information Programme, (India)
DELNA – Transparency International Latvia, Inese Voika, President (Latvia)
Due Process of Law Foundation, Eduardo Bertoni, Executive Director
Electronic Privacy Information Center, Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director (USA)
Foundation Open Society Institute, Dance Danilovska, Project Coordinator (Macedonia)
Freedom Forum, Santosh Sigdel, Executive Director (Nepal)
Freedom of Information Center of Armenia, Shushan Doydoyan, President (Armenia)
Freedom of Information Coalition, Edetaen Ojo, Coordinator (Nigeria)
Freedom of Information Coalition, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, Executive Director (Sierra Leone)
Fund for an Open Society, Miodrag Milosavljevic, Project Coordinator (Serbia)
Fundacion Pro Acceso, Moisés Sánchez, Executive Director (Chile)
Fundar, Miguel Pulido Jiménez, Coordinator (México)
GYLA, Tamar Gurchiani, Project Coordinator (Georgia)
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Balázs Dénes, Executive Director (Hungary)
Information Commissioner of Republic of Slovenia, Natasa Pirc, Information Commissioner (Slovenia)
Institute for Information Freedom Development in Russia, Ivan Pavlov, Lawyer and Chairman (Russia)
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad, Andrés Mejía (Colombia)
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad, Javier Casas (Peru)
Jamaicans for Justice, Carolyn Gomes, Executive Director (Jamaica)
Media Institute of Southern Africa, Sampa Kangwa-Wilkie, Program Specialist (Southern African Region)
Media Rights Agenda, Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director (Nigeria)
Movement for Freedom of Information in Israel, Roy Peled, Executive Director (Israel)
National Freedom of Information Coalition, Charles Davis, Executive Director (USA)
National Security Archive, Tom Blanton, Director (USA)
New York State Committee on Open Government, Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director (USA)
Open Society Institute, Aryeh Neier, President (USA)
Poder Ciudadano – Transparency International, Laura Alonso, Executive Director (Argentina)
Pro Media, Klime Babunski (Macedonia)
PROETICA – Transparency International, Cecilia Blondet, Executive Director (Peru)
PROVIDUS, Linda Austere, Policy Researcher (Latvia)
Public Citizen, Adina Rosenbaum, Attorney (USA)
Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia, Darce Fardy, President (Canada)
Society for Democratic Initiatives, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, Executive Director (Sierra Leone)
Statewatch, Tony Bunyan, Director
Sunshine Week, Debra Gersh Hernandez, Coordinator (USA)
Sustentia, Carlos Cordero, Executive Director (Spain)
The Canadian Association of Professional Access and Privacy Administrators, Sharon Polsky, National Chair (Canada)
Transparency International – Secretariat, Andrea Figari, Global Programmes Manager (Germany)
Transparency International Anti-corruption Center, Amalia Kostanyan, Chairwoman (Armenia)
Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina, Aleksandra Martinovic, Member of the Board of Directors (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Transparency International Croatia, Zorislav Antun Petrović, President (Croatia)
Transparency International Israel, Galia Sagi, CEO (Israel)
Transparency International Russia, Marina Savintseva, Programme Co-ordinator (Russia)
Transparency International Slovakia, Emilia Beblava, President (Slovakia)
Transparency Serbia, Program Director, Nemanja Nenadic, (Serbia)
Wobbing Europe, Brigitte Alfter, Editor (Europe)
Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Sarah Maliqi, Executive Director (Kosovo)
Francesca Fanucci, International Human Rights Lawyer
John Edwards, FOI Advocate (New Zealand)
Natalia Torres, MSc Public Policy (Argentina)
Ricardo Corcuera, Legal Advisor in Human Rights (Perú)
Richard Calland, Programme Director: Economic Governance, Idasa (South Africa)
Roger Vleugels, Lecturer and Legal Advisor FOIA (The Netherlands)
Susanne Tam, Ethics Consultant, (Israel)
Walter Keim (Norway)
Google Earth: Don’t blame us for terrorist attacks: “Google
Earth — a view to a kill?”