A U.S. federal court has ruled that the domain seizure of sports streaming site Rojadirecta does not violate the First Amendment, and has refused to hand the domain back to its Spanish owner. The order stands in conflict with previous Supreme Court rulings and doesn’t deliver much hope to other website owners who operate under U.S. controlled domain names.
At the end of January 2011 the U.S. authorities began yet another round of domain seizures, this time against sites connected with sports streaming. This third round of action in ‘Operation in Our Sites’ took control of domains owned by sports streaming site Rojadirecta.
While most owners of affected domains have decided not to appeal the seizures, the Spanish owner of the Rojadirecta, one of Spain’s most popular sites, did.
Two months ago the company behind the site, Puerto 80, filed a petition in the Southern District of New York for the return of its domains. This call was later supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) who together with Center for Democracy and Technology and Public Knowledge submitted an amicus brief in support of the Spanish company.
Yesterday, United States District Court Judge Paul Crotty decided to deny Puerto 80′s request, which means the domain will remain in the hands of the U.S. Government. The Judge argues that seizing Rojadirecta’s .com and .org domains does not violate the First Amendment of the Constitution.
‘Puerto 80’s First Amendment argument fails,’ the Judge writes.
‘Puerto 80 alleges that, in seizing the domain names, the Government has suppressed the content in the ‘forums’ on its websites, which may be accessed by clicking a link in the upper left of the home page. The main purpose of the Rojadirecta websites, however, is to catalog links to the copyrighted athletic events — any argument to the contrary is clearly disingenuous.’
The Judge further ruled that the claimed 32% decline in traffic and the subsequent harm to Puerto 80′s business is not an issue as visitors can still access the site through foreign domains. Puerto 80′s argument, that users may not be aware of these alternatives, was simply waived.
‘Rojadirecta argues that, because ‘there is no way to communicate the availability of these alternative sites on the .org or .com domains . . . the vast majority of users will simply stop visiting the sites altogether.’ This argument is unfounded — Rojadirecta has a large internet presence and can simply distribute information about the seizure and its new domain names to its customers,’ the Judge writes.
‘In addition, Puerto 80 does not explain how it generates profit or argue that it is losing a significant amount of revenue as a result of the seizure. Specifically, Puerto 80 states that it does not generate revenue from the content to which it links, and it does not claim to generate revenue from advertising displayed while such content is playing,’ Judge Crotty adds.
From the above the Judge concludes that the drop in visitor traffic due to their seizure does not establish a substantial hardship, and therefore no reason exists to return the domain.
This line of reasoning goes directly against previous rulings in First Amendment cases. As the EFF points out, in two earlier Supreme Court decisions it was concluded that having alternatives available does not mean that freedom of speech isn’t violated.
According to the EFF, the peculiarities of the ruling don’t end there.
‘As if misapplying the relevant substantive First Amendment analysis wasn’t bad enough, the court failed to even address the fatal procedural First Amendment flaws inherent in the seizure process: namely, that a mere finding of ‘probable cause’ does not and cannot justify a prior restraint. How the court believes that the seizure satisfies the First Amendment in this regard is a mystery,’ they write.
The decision of District Court Judge Paul Crotty to stand firmly behind the Government is worrying for all other websites who operate under U.S. controlled domains. It’s yet another step in granting the Government and copyright holders more control over the Internet, at the expense of smaller businesses and the rights of citizens.
US copyright holders and internet providers agree voluntary website blocking agreement: “Internet service providers (ISPs) in the US will introduce measures to combat online copyright infringement under a new voluntary system agreed with copyright owners.“
(Via OUT-LAW News.)
Late last week the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the controversial ‘Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act,’ or ‘PROTECT IP Act as it’s known, giving the Department of Justice and copyright holders greatly expanded powers in the battle against online infringement.‘Today the Judiciary Committee took an important step in protecting online intellectual property rights,’ said Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) afterwards. ‘The Internet is not a lawless free-for-all where anything goes. The Constitution protects both property and speech, both online and off.’First proposed earlier this month, the PROTECT IP Act would give the Attorney General the power to force US based third-parties, including ISPs, payment processors, online advertising network providers, and search engines to either block access to an infringing site or cease doing business with it.Copyright holders would be able to target payment processors and online advertising network providers.‘Increased online theft of intellectual property has become a rampant problem,’ added Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). ‘The impact of copyright piracy and sale of counterfeit goods imposes a huge cost on the American economy – lost jobs, lost sales, and lost income. This bill will help to protect against harmful counterfeit and pirated products that cause damage to both the economy and the health and safety of the consumer.’Copyright holder groups like the MPAA and RIAA are obviously pleased with the news.‘It’s essential that we reign in online thieves and business models predicated on ripping off America’s songwriters, musicians and performers,’ said Mitch Bainwol, RIAA Chairman. ‘A review of the most frequently visited web sites – including those specializing in pre-release songs that are not yet even available in the legitimate marketplace — feature banner ads for some of America’s best known companies.The MPAA also welcomed passage of thge PROTECT IP Act.’The Judiciary Committee took an important step today to stop theft and save jobs,’ said Michael O’Leary, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs of the MPAA. ‘By helping shut down rogue websites that profit from stolen films, television shows, and other counterfeit goods, this legislation will protect wages and benefits for the millions of middle class workers who bring America’s creativity to life.’Critics, however abound.The Electronic Frontier Foundation has reminded people of the fact that it could have serious domain name system (DNS) implications.It writes:
When COICA was introduced in the Senate last fall, EFF wrote about its dangerous implications for the Internet’s domain name system (DNS). These remain true for PIPA, despite the removal of a provision that would have required registrars and registries to block domain names pointing to sites ‘dedicated to infringing activities.’ Because blocking via registries and registrars underlies Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ongoing practice of seizing domain names, taking this device out of PIPA is small gain. The bill will still require targeted DNS server operators like ISPs to prevent an identified domain name from resolving to the domain’s IP address, thereby preventing their users from accessing those sites. As a result, the warnings that we and others gave last year about serious security vulnerabilities and a fractured Internet are unchanged.
Public Knowledge said it was ‘disappointed’ with the news.‘We are disappointed that the Senate Judiciary Committee today approved legislation (S. 968) that will threaten the security and global functioning of the Internet, and opens the door to nuisance lawsuits while doing little if anything to curb the issues of international source of illegal downloads the bill seeks to address,’ said Sherwin Siy, the group’s deputy legal director. oThat’s the real problem. Internet users will still be able to bypass any proposed search engine filter or ISP-level site blocking, and foreign infringing sites will still be accessible.The PROTECT IP Act talks about ‘safeguards’ like allowing domain name operators or site owners to petition the court to have the orders vacated, but it still occurs after the fact and the damage done.”
After years of failed efforts to eliminate online piracy copyright holders are trying a different plan of attack these days by eliminating freedom of movement on the Internet instead.After having already seized more than 100 domain names so far as part of the ongoing ‘Operation in Our Sites,’ legislators are pushing a proposal that would dramatically escalate that effort.The ‘Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011,’ or the ‘PROTECT IP Act,’ would give the DOJ and copyright holders additional tools against copyright infringing websites.In the case of a DOJ-initiated suit, the Attorney General can force US based third-parties, including ISPs, payment processors, online advertising network providers, and search engines to either block access the site or cease doing business with it.A copyright holder-initiated suit is limited to payment processors and online advertising network providers, and exempts ISPs and search engines.The PROECT IP Act talks about ’safeguards’ like allowing domain name operators or site owners to petition the court to have the orders vacated, but it still occurs after the fact and the damage done. It’s akin to being sentenced before trial.Search engine filtering is what should make everyone sit up and take notice. It ostensibly means that search engines could find themselves forced down a slippery slope of filtering all kinds of illegal material and sites. Online gambling is illegal in the US, for example; would these sites be next? What about sites that promote drug usage or other illegal behavior?Keep in mind also that this is all without the benefit of due process. Site owners from around the world would find themselves in an untenable situation of having to make the costly and arduous trek to a US courtroom to defend themselves, and against all manner of copyright holder accusations big and small.Worse still is that the Act encourages voluntary filtering and sanctions by immunizing from damages ‘actions taken against an Internet site where they have a good faith on credible evidence it is dedicated to infringing activities.’Stay tuned. email@example.com
The US State Dept’s annual human rights report exemplifies exactly what’s wrong the controversial Combating Online Infringement & Counterfeits Act (COICA). The report, entitled the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, is meant to highlight rights violations abroad, but instead highlights violations here at home.In it the State Dept warns of foreign govt’s increasingly curtailing access to a range of sites on the Internet, using regulations and technology ‘designed to repress speech and infringe on the personal privacy of those who use these rapidly evolving technologies.’Saudi Arabia, in particular, has taken site filtering to the next level, allowing average citizens to submit the names of objectionable sites for consideration.’The official Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) monitored e-mail and Internet chat rooms and blocked sites deemed incompatible with Sharia and national regulations,’ reads the report. ‘In addition to designating unacceptable sites, the CITC accepted requests from citizens to block or unblock sites. According to CITC’s general manager, authorities received an average of 1,800 requests daily to block and unblock sites.’Saudi authorities claimed to have blocked more than 400,000 sites.Notice the govt is blocking sites considered ‘incompatible with Sharia and national regulations.’ The COICA currently being considered in Congress also sets up a filtering regime to deal with so-called ‘rogue sites‘ deemed incompatible with US copyright law.The double-standard wasn’t lost on the Center for Democracy and Technology which warned after the legislation was first introduced last September that it would set a precedent that any country can seize or order the blocking of a domain name if some of the content on the domain (even if located elsewhere) violates the country’s local laws.‘The effort to protect the rights of Internet users, human rights defenders, and citizen journalists to speak and access lawful content online will be critically harmed,’ it said.Saudi Arabia is doing just that.According to the report the government has blocked access to and criminalized the publication or downloading of sites that it ‘deemed offensive (such as sites involving sex or pornography); contrary to the principles of Islam and social norms, including radical religious sites or sites with controversial religious content (including pages about Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and radical Islam); politically sensitive (including human rights); or offensive to the government or members of the royal family.’The COICA also likely violates free speech protections since it removes entire sites, and therefore possibly noninfringing content. It also extends the reach of US’ courts far outside its borders, and dims the hopes that accused parties will be guaranteed a full and fair trial.Turkey also has egregious web filtering mechanisms in place. It’s illegal to insult the Turkish nation or its founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and any site that contains such content faces blocking. For nearly two years Turkish citizens couldn’t access YouTube because of a video that purportedly did the latter.Though that block was at least based on the rule of law, last August Turkey banned Playboy magazine’s website without a court order. It was based solely on ‘a legal evaluation’ that it violated the country’s obscenity laws.Sound familiar? The US’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) has seized nearly 100 sites as part of its ongoing ‘Operation in Our Sites‘ campaign targeting online infringement. The problem is, however that in every case no court order was obtained and the seizures were made after ICE investigators making their own legal evaluations.A group of lawmakers from both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees recently vowed a renewed effort to pass the COICA to ‘protect US jobs,’ but hopefully the irony of their well-intentioned, though ill-conceived efforts is highlighted with the release of this report.Stay firstname.lastname@example.org “
As part of ‘Operation Save Our Children’ ICE’s Cyber Crimes Center has again seized several domain names, but not without making a huge error. Last Friday, thousands of site owners were surprised by a rather worrying banner that was placed on their domain.
‘Advertisement, distribution, transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography constitute federal crimes that carry penalties for first time offenders of up to 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution,’ was the worrying message they read on their websites.
As with previous seizures, ICE convinced a District Court judge to sign a seizure warrant, and then contacted the domain registries to point the domains in question to a server that hosts the warning message. However, somewhere in this process a mistake was made and as a result the domain of a large DNS service provider was seized.
The domain in question is mooo.com, which belongs to the DNS provider FreeDNS. It is the most popular shared domain at afraid.org and as a result of the authorities’ actions a massive 84,000 subdomains were wrongfully seized as well. All sites were redirected to the banner below.
The FreeDNS owner was taken by surprise and quickly released the following statement on their website. ‘Freedns.afraid.org has never allowed this type of abuse of its DNS service. We are working to get the issue sorted as quickly as possible.’
Eventually, on Sunday the domain seizure was reverted and the subdomains slowly started to point to the old sites again instead of the accusatory banner. However, since the DNS entries have to propagate, it took another 3 days before the images disappeared completely.
Most of the subdomains in question are personal sites and sites of small businesses. A search on Bing still shows how many innocent sites were claimed to promote child pornography. A rather damaging accusation, which scared and upset many of the site’s owners.
One of the customers quickly went out to assure visitors that his site was not involved in any of the alleged crimes.
‘You can rest assured that I have not and would never be found to be trafficking in such distasteful and horrific content. A little sleuthing shows that the whole of the mooo.com TLD is impacted. At first, the legitimacy of the alerts seems to be questionable–after all, what reputable agency would display their warning in a fancily formatted image referenced by the underlying HTML? I wouldn’t expect to see that.’
Even at the time of writing people can still replicate the effect by adding ‘220.127.116.11 mooo.com’ to their hosts file as the authorities have not dropped the domain pointer yet.
Although it is not clear where this massive error was made, and who’s responsible for it, the Department of Homeland security is conveniently sweeping it under the rug. In a press release that went out a few hours ago the authorities were clearly proud of themselves for taking down 10 domain names.
However, DHS conveniently failed to mention that 84,000 websites were wrongfully taken down in the process, shaming thousands of people in the process.
‘Each year, far too many children fall prey to sexual predators and all too often, these heinous acts are recorded in photos and on video and released on the Internet,’ Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano commented.
‘DHS is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to shut down websites that promote child pornography to protect these children from further victimization,’ she added.
A noble initiative, but one that went wrong, badly. The above failure again shows that the seizure process is a flawed one, as has been shown several times before in earlier copyright infringement sweeps. If the Government would only allow for due process to take place, this and other mistakes wouldn’t have been made.
Internet Rights and Wrongs: Choices & Challenges in a Networked World: ”
Internet Rights and Wrongs: Choices & Challenges in a Networked World
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
George Washington University
February 15, 2011
Thank you all very much and good afternoon. It is a pleasure, once again, to be back on the campus of the George Washington University, a place that I have spent quite a bit of time in all different settings over the last now nearly 20 years. I’d like especially to thank President Knapp and Provost Lerman, because this is a great opportunity for me to address such a significant issue, and one which deserves the attention of citizens, governments, and I know is drawing that attention. And perhaps today in my remarks, we can begin a much more vigorous debate that will respond to the needs that we have been watching in real time on our television sets.
A few minutes after midnight on January 28th, the internet went dark across Egypt. During the previous four days, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians had marched to demand a new government. And the world, on TVs, laptops, cell phones, and smart phones, had followed every single step. Pictures and videos from Egypt flooded the web. On Facebook and Twitter, journalists posted on-the-spot reports. Protestors coordinated their next moves. And citizens of all stripes shared their hopes and fears about this pivotal moment in the history of their country. (more…)
Office of the Spokesman
February 15, 2011
Following her landmark address on January 21, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a second major foreign policy speech on Internet freedom on February 15, 2011 at George Washington University.
Last year, Secretary Clinton called on the global community to protect freedom of expression, association, and assembly in the online world. Taken together, these rights comprise what Secretary Clinton has called the ‘freedom to connect.’ By protecting these rights in the digital era, we preserve the promise and the possibility of the Internet as a platform for ideas, innovation, connection, and economic growth.
The United States is making good on its promise to defend the openness of the Internet and other connection technologies:
* The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor issued over $5 million in grants in 2010 to support access to information and secure communications on the Internet and mobile devices.
* In March 2010, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero and Under Secretary for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats convened the first meeting of information technology companies to discuss ways in which the private sector and government can work together to advance Internet freedom.
* Our diplomats raise the cases of imprisoned bloggers, journalists, and online activists at the highest levels of government, and we take a public stand on their behalf. In the last year, we publicly raised the cases of online activists and journalists in countries ranging from Egypt and Tunisia to Azerbaijan, Syria, and China.
* The United States is playing a leading role in a global coalition of governments committed to advancing Internet freedom. This commitment was highlighted at the Internet Governance Forum in Vilnius, Lithuania in September 2010 and in a cross-regional statement on Internet freedom sponsored by Sweden in the Human Rights Council in June 2010.
Through the State Department and USAID, the United States is committed to continuing to advance Internet freedom over the course of the next year:
* As announced in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, the Secretary is establishing the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues and has named Mr. Christopher Painter as its head. On cyber-security and other issues, the new office will coordinate work across the Department and with other agencies.
* The Department will issue up to $30 million in grants funding to increase open access to the Internet, support digital activists, and push back against Internet repression wherever it occurs.
* The United States is proud to serve as host of UNESCO World Press Freedom Day on May 1 – 3, ‘21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers,’ which will include Internet freedom themes.
* USAID will execute a program to bring much needed digital safety capacity-building to local media and civil society organizations around the world.
* The State Department will continue to advance Internet freedom as an economic issue in multilateral forums and will continue to advocate for openness on the Internet in our bilateral relationships.
The Secretary’s 21st Century Statecraft initiatives complement the Department’s work to advance Internet freedom. 21st Century Statecraft connects the private and civic sectors with foreign policy by bringing new resources and partners together, and using connection technologies to make diplomacy more innovative. Internet freedom is a prerequisite for the application of technology in these ways—an open platform creates the space for innovation in diplomacy, development, and beyond.
* Through new connection technologies, we are connecting directly with people we could not reach before. For example, USAbilAraby, which we tweet in Arabic, had a retweet reach of 570,000 people just days after its launch and USAdarFarsi language tweets had a reach of 288,000 within hours. And it’s not simply broadcasting our messages in the stodgy old way of governments, we get to see responses from people everywhere – positive and negative – and then we are able to engage each other as equals. After all, no tweet can be more than 140 characters, whether you are the U.S. Secretary of State, a protester in Tahrir Square, or someone who wants to be heard in the streets on Tehran.
* In September 2010, the Secretary launched the mWomen initiative – a public-private partnership led by the Global Women’s Initiative designed to close the global gender gap in mobile phone adoption.
* Last year, the State Department launched Civil Society 2.0 to build the technical capacity of civil society organizations to accomplish their missions through the use of connection technologies. Civil Society 2.0 seeks to match these organizations with technology tools and tech-savvy volunteers to help raise digital literacy, strengthen the information and communications networks of NGOs, and amplify the impact of civil society movements.
* As part of the Civil Society 2.0 program, the United States, through the State Department, has held several Tech@State meetings and a TechCamp in Santiago, Chile, on topics ranging from the use of technology in the aftermath of natural disasters to mobile money to blogger training. The Department also partnered to launch the first Apps4Africa competition with local partners in the region challenging applicants to use digital technology to connect to their communities and develop innovative solutions to shared problems.
For more information and updates, please visit www.state.gov/netfreedom.
From Larry Lazo, CNN
February 16, 2011 — Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
* ACLU, Electric Frontier Foundation have filed motions in federal court
* One motion seeks to unseal court records on attempts to collect info on Twitter users
* A second motion seeks to overturn order requiring Twitter to provide user info to feds
* Civil rights groups represent three people who are focus of government investigation
Washington (CNN) — Two civil liberties groups have squared off against the government as investigators probing the WikiLeaks scandal seek to gain access to Twitter records.
Lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) appeared in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, Tuesday representing three people government investigators are targeting.
Two motions have been filed in the case. The first aims to unseal court records on attempts by the government to collect private records from people holding accounts with Twitter, and the second seeks to overturn a previous court order that requires Twitter to provide information about its users to the government. Defense lawyers say the government’s demand for the records violates First Amendment speech rights and Fourth Amendment privacy rights.
Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Iceland’s parliament, is the most high-profile of the three defendants. The other two people represented in court were WikiLeaks associates Jacob Applebaum and Rop Gonggijp. The three defendants are believed to have helped prepare a classified U.S. Army video that was published on the WikiLeaks website last year.
Defense attorneys argued that the government has not sufficiently demonstrated the need for secrecy when it comes to keeping court documents sealed. They also question the justification for the government wanting IP addresses pertaining to their clients’ use on Twitter.
The government said looking at IP addresses is no different than subpoenas of phone records. The ‘defendants are tying together privacy in the home with public movements,’ said Assistant U.S. Attorney John Davis. ‘IP addresses do not show location with precision,’ he added.
The government says its investigation is not about politics or defendants’ associations with certain invidividuals. The government did not disclose why it is seeking information on the people in question in addition to the others in the still-sealed court documents. But they did say a person’s use of Twitter is fair game and their wanting to know about it is justified.
‘Tweets are public statements,’ Davis said.
U.S. Magistrate Theresa C. Buchanan appeared to be persuaded by the government’s argument on privacy concerns, telling defense attorneys, ‘There is no expectation of privacy when using Twitter.’ Having said that, Buchanan said she would take both arguments under consideration.
The WikiLeaks website is behind the largest-ever intelligence leak in American history. Hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents have been posted on the site. Everything from details about classified military operations to commentary about various foreign heads of state has been posted on WikiLeaks.org.
Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army private suspected of being involved in the scandal, is being held in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia. He is facing eight counts of violating U.S. Criminal Code for allegedly leaking a secret military video from the Iraq war that was posted on the WikiLeaks website.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is in London and is fighting extradition to Sweden to face sex charges brought against him by two women.
AFP: US Internet censorship fight falling short: report: “US Internet censorship fight falling short: report
By Chris Lefkow (AFP) – 13.02.2011
WASHINGTON — State Department efforts to combat Internet censorship in China and other countries have fallen short and funding for the drive should be shifted to another US agency, a Senate committee report says.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee report sharply criticizes the State Department for being slow in spending money allocated by Congress for Internet Censorship Circumvention Technology (ICCT).
The report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, recommends that the funding be given instead to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and other US radio and TV networks.
The report is to be released on Tuesday, the same day Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to deliver remarks on Internet freedom at George Washington University here.
Clinton also delivered a major Internet freedom speech in January 2010, but the Senate committee report said there had been ’scant follow-up’ in the next 12 months.
Congress has given the State Department $50 million for Internet freedom programs since fiscal 2008, the report said, but $30 million remains unspent and little has gone to Internet Censorship Circumvention Technology.
‘Such technology should be given a much higher priority by the US government,’ it said. ‘US government support for ICCT development is vital, given the weak private sector market interest in funding such technologies.’
The report suggested the delays in allocating funding were partly because some of the most sophisticated ICCT software — DIT and UltraReach — was developed by two US companies founded by members of the Falungong, which is banned in China, to allow followers to break through the ‘Great Firewall.’
The report said DIT and UltraReach have been used to circumvent Internet censorship in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Myanmar and Vietnam — ‘countries which have looked to China for lessons in Internet control or to whom China has directly provided technologies to counter such products.’
It said the delays in allocating funding have ’strengthened the hands of those governments, including China’s, who seek to restrict their citizens’ access to information.’
‘The State Department is poorly placed to handle this issue due to its reliance on daily bilateral interaction with these very same governments, particularly China,’ the report said.
It said BBG stations, which also include Radio Marti, which targets Cuba, and the Middle East Broadcasting Network ‘must all work on a daily basis to ensure their radio, Internet and television programs are being received by audiences in certain countries that try to block, jam or outlaw these efforts.’
‘As such, the BBG, and not the State Department, would appear to be the logical lead agency in the federal government to focus current and future ICCT funding,’ the report said.
The report also criticized what it called the ‘inept handling of an untested technology’ — ICCT software called Haystack created by the San Francisco-based Censorship Research Center to assist Iranian democracy activists.
‘The Haystack team had not sufficiently tested its software nor allowed it to be submitted for independent cryptological analysis before it released a beta version to unsuspecting Iranians,’ the report said.
‘In September 2010, just after the beta version was released, an independent team was able to crack the code in six hours and also determined that the Iranian government would be able to manipulate the software to identify any users,’ it said. ‘Once these weaknesses were made public, the Haystack project quickly collapsed.’
The report, which also called for the US government to increase its public diplomacy efforts to counter China’s ‘vigorous’ moves on the outreach front, was prepared at the request of Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”