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Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Hollywood Withdraws Funding for UK Anti-Piracy Group FACT - TorrentFreak - 0 views

    • Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.
       
      # ! Quit Witch Hunts funding and invest in new Media poolicies...
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    " Andy on May 24, 2016 C: 33 Breaking The UK's Federation Against Copyright Theft has received a major blow after the Motion Picture Association advised the anti-piracy group it will not renew its membership. The termination of the 30-year long relationship means that FACT will lose 50% of its budget and the backing of the six major Hollywood movie studios."
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    " Andy on May 24, 2016 C: 33 Breaking The UK's Federation Against Copyright Theft has received a major blow after the Motion Picture Association advised the anti-piracy group it will not renew its membership. The termination of the 30-year long relationship means that FACT will lose 50% of its budget and the backing of the six major Hollywood movie studios."
Gary Edwards

» 21 Facts About NSA Snooping That Every American Should Know Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind! - 0 views

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    NSA-PRISM-Echelon in a nutshell.  The list below is a short sample.  Each fact is documented, and well worth the time reading. "The following are 21 facts about NSA snooping that every American should know…" #1 According to CNET, the NSA told Congress during a recent classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls… #2 According to U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez, members of Congress learned "significantly more than what is out in the media today" about NSA snooping during that classified briefing. #3 The content of all of our phone calls is being recorded and stored.  The following is a from a transcript of an exchange between Erin Burnett of CNN and former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente which took place just last month… #4 The chief technology officer at the CIA, Gus Hunt, made the following statement back in March… "We fundamentally try to collect everything and hang onto it forever." #5 During a Senate Judiciary Oversight Committee hearing in March 2011, FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted that the intelligence community has the ability to access emails "as they come in"… #6 Back in 2007, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell told Congress that the president has the "constitutional authority" to authorize domestic spying without warrants no matter when the law says. #7 The Director Of National Intelligence James Clapper recently told Congress that the NSA was not collecting any information about American citizens.  When the media confronted him about his lie, he explained that he "responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner". #8 The Washington Post is reporting that the NSA has four primary data collection systems… MAINWAY, MARINA, METADATA, PRISM #9 The NSA knows pretty much everything that you are doing on the Internet.  The following is a short excerpt from a recent Yahoo article… #10 The NSA is suppose
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Anti-Piracy Group FACT Expands Reach Beyond Hollywood - TorrentFreak [# ! Note] - 0 views

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    Andy on November 10, 2016 C: 9 News The Federation Against Copyright Theft says that it will branch out into new areas of IP enforcement. For decades the anti-piracy group has relied on Hollywood for much of its business but with that work now being carried out by the MPA and others, FACT will offer services to companies outside the audio-visual sector.
Gary Edwards

The Belgian Desktop Office Productivity Study: Huysmans - 0 views

  • Conversion and compatibility
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    the Belgian Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy which considered the use of OpenOffice.org, but eventually decided not to adopt OpenOffice.org as their primary office suite. This decision was to a large degree influenced by the fact that a large number of users within the FPS Economy perform data-intensive tasks such as statistical data analysis and reporting on a daily basis. Notwithstanding the fact that several reasons were actually in favor of the migration, we have identified several barriers that may discourage the use of OpenOffice.org in similar environments.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Website Links - 0 views

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    [A link is a URL, a fact not unlike a street address, and is therefore not copyrightable. However, a list may be copyrightable under a compilation copyright if it contains some originality. An example of a list of facts that lacks the requisite originality is a telephone book. ...]
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Director Wants His Film on The Pirate Bay, Pirates Deliver... | TorrentFreak - 0 views

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    " Ernesto on July 24, 2014 C: 38 News A few days ago a Dutch movie director asked people to upload a copy of one of his older films onto The Pirate Bay. The filmmaker had become fed up with the fact that copyright issues made his work completely unavailable through legal channels. To his surprise, pirates were quick to deliver. suzyDutch movie director Martin Koolhoven sent out an unusual request on Twitter a few days ago. "
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    " Ernesto on July 24, 2014 C: 38 News A few days ago a Dutch movie director asked people to upload a copy of one of his older films onto The Pirate Bay. The filmmaker had become fed up with the fact that copyright issues made his work completely unavailable through legal channels. To his surprise, pirates were quick to deliver. suzyDutch movie director Martin Koolhoven sent out an unusual request on Twitter a few days ago. "
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    " Ernesto on July 24, 2014 C: 38 News A few days ago a Dutch movie director asked people to upload a copy of one of his older films onto The Pirate Bay. The filmmaker had become fed up with the fact that copyright issues made his work completely unavailable through legal channels. To his surprise, pirates were quick to deliver. suzyDutch movie director Martin Koolhoven sent out an unusual request on Twitter a few days ago. "
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Techdirt Podcast Episode 92: Passwords Suck; What's Next? | Techdirt - 0 views

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    "from the correct-horse-battery-staple dept Data breaches that expose passwords are pretty much a fact of life at this point -- and the effects are multiplied by the fact that many, many people reuse passwords no matter how much they know they shouldn't. "
Gary Edwards

Wolfram Alpha is Coming -- and It Could be as Important as Google | Twine - 0 views

  • The first question was could (or even should) Wolfram Alpha be built using the Semantic Web in some manner, rather than (or as well as) the Mathematica engine it is currently built on. Is anything missed by not building it with Semantic Web's languages (RDF, OWL, Sparql, etc.)? The answer is that there is no reason that one MUST use the Semantic Web stack to build something like Wolfram Alpha. In fact, in my opinion it would be far too difficult to try to explicitly represent everything Wolfram Alpha knows and can compute using OWL ontologies. It is too wide a range of human knowledge and giant OWL ontologies are just too difficult to build and curate.
  • However for the internal knowledge representation and reasoning that takes places in the system, it appears Wolfram has found a pragmatic and efficient representation of his own, and I don't think he needs the Semantic Web at that level. It seems to be doing just fine without it. Wolfram Alpha is built on hand-curated knowledge and expertise. Wolfram and his team have somehow figured out a way to make that practical where all others who have tried this have failed to achieve their goals. The task is gargantuan -- there is just so much diverse knowledge in the world. Representing even a small segment of it formally turns out to be extremely difficult and time-consuming.
  • It has generally not been considered feasible for any one group to hand-curate all knowledge about every subject. This is why the Semantic Web was invented -- by enabling everyone to curate their own knowledge about their own documents and topics in parallel, in principle at least, more knowledge could be represented and shared in less time by more people -- in an interoperable manner. At least that is the vision of the Semantic Web.
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  • Where Google is a system for FINDING things that we as a civilization collectively publish, Wolfram Alpha is for ANSWERING questions about what we as a civilization collectively know. It's the next step in the distribution of knowledge and intelligence around the world -- a new leap in the intelligence of our collective "Global Brain." And like any big next-step, Wolfram Alpha works in a new way -- it computes answers instead of just looking them up.
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    A Computational Knowledge Engine for the Web In a nutshell, Wolfram and his team have built what he calls a "computational knowledge engine" for the Web. OK, so what does that really mean? Basically it means that you can ask it factual questions and it computes answers for you. It doesn't simply return documents that (might) contain the answers, like Google does, and it isn't just a giant database of knowledge, like the Wikipedia. It doesn't simply parse natural language and then use that to retrieve documents, like Powerset, for example. Instead, Wolfram Alpha actually computes the answers to a wide range of questions -- like questions that have factual answers such as "What country is Timbuktu in?" or "How many protons are in a hydrogen atom?" or "What is the average rainfall in Seattle this month?," "What is the 300th digit of Pi?," "where is the ISS?" or "When was GOOG worth more than $300?" Think about that for a minute. It computes the answers. Wolfram Alpha doesn't simply contain huge amounts of manually entered pairs of questions and answers, nor does it search for answers in a database of facts. Instead, it understands and then computes answers to certain kinds of questions.
Gary Edwards

Can Cloud Computing Achieve Interoperable Platforms? - 0 views

  • the fact is that today if a customer has heavily invested in either platform then there isn't a straightforward way for customers to extricate themselves from the platform and switch to another vendor. In addition there is not a competitive marketplace of vendors providing standard/interoperable platforms as there are with email hosting or Web hosting providers.
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    Response from Microsoft's Dare Obasanjo to the Tim Bray blog: Get in the Cloud. .. "When it comes to cloud computing platforms, you have all of the same problems described above and a few extra ones. The key wrinkle with cloud computing platforms is that there is no standardization of the APIs and platform technologies that underlie these services. The APIs provided by Amazon's cloud computing platform (EC2/S3/EBS/etc) are radically different from those provided by Google App Engine (Datastore API/Python runtime/Images API/etc). For zero lock-in to occur in this space, there need to be multiple providers of the same underlying APIs. Otherwise, migrating between cloud computing platforms will be more like switching your application from Ruby on Rails and MySQL to Django and PostgreSQL (i.e. a complete rewrite)...." Although cloud computing vendors are not explicitly trying to lock-in customers to their platform, the fact is that today if a customer has heavily invested in either platform then there isn't a straightforward way for customers to extricate themselves from the platform and switch to another vendor. In addition there is not a competitive marketplace of vendors providing standard/interoperable platforms as there are with email hosting or Web hosting providers.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Blender: An Introduction for Final Cut Pro Users | FOSS Force - 0 views

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    "Phil Shapiro Have you often considered quitting your day job to begin an exciting career as a filmmaker? You don't need the resources of a Hollywood studio anymore. In fact, you can do it all with free and open source software."
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    "Phil Shapiro Have you often considered quitting your day job to begin an exciting career as a filmmaker? You don't need the resources of a Hollywood studio anymore. In fact, you can do it all with free and open source software."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Millennials Listen to 75% More Music Than Baby Boomers, Study Finds - 0 views

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    "Data keeps debunking myths about Millennials and their music. Baby Boomers are famously self-important when it comes to the importance of their generation and the music it created. But a new study shows that the 55+ demographic actually listens to substantially less music than their 16-34 cohorts. In fact, Millennials - loosely defined as those born in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s - listen to 75.1% more music on a daily basis, according to data shared this morning with Digital Music News."
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    "Data keeps debunking myths about Millennials and their music. Baby Boomers are famously self-important when it comes to the importance of their generation and the music it created. But a new study shows that the 55+ demographic actually listens to substantially less music than their 16-34 cohorts. In fact, Millennials - loosely defined as those born in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s - listen to 75.1% more music on a daily basis, according to data shared this morning with Digital Music News."
Alexandra IcecreamApps

How to Make a GIF - Icecream Tech Digest - 0 views

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    GIF files are a widespread and popular way of sharing small animation. Such images are widely used on entertainment resources thanks to the fact that they can show some motion but take considerably smaller space than videos. You can make … Continue reading →
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    GIF files are a widespread and popular way of sharing small animation. Such images are widely used on entertainment resources thanks to the fact that they can show some motion but take considerably smaller space than videos. You can make … Continue reading →
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

A Memory Comparison of Light Linux Desktops | l3net - a layer 3 networking blog - 0 views

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    "After I install a new version of Linux, I usually take a good look at the screen. Does it have a task bar? Can I find my window after it was minimized? The direction some desktops are going is not clear. Making it easier for current users or for the people coming from Windows or Mac is not a goal anymore. User complains are dismissed, chalking it up to the fact that people don't like change."
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    "After I install a new version of Linux, I usually take a good look at the screen. Does it have a task bar? Can I find my window after it was minimized? The direction some desktops are going is not clear. Making it easier for current users or for the people coming from Windows or Mac is not a goal anymore. User complains are dismissed, chalking it up to the fact that people don't like change."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Be Happy: Software Patents Are Rapidly Disappearing Thanks To The Supreme Court | Techdirt - 1 views

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    "from the another-one-gone-and-another-one-gone dept We've written a few times lately about the fact that the Supreme Court's decision in Alice v. CLS Bank seems to have finally broken the dam in getting courts to recognize that most software isn't patentable."
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    "from the another-one-gone-and-another-one-gone dept We've written a few times lately about the fact that the Supreme Court's decision in Alice v. CLS Bank seems to have finally broken the dam in getting courts to recognize that most software isn't patentable."
Gary Edwards

The True Story of How the Patent Bar Captured a Court and Shrank the Intellectual Commons | Cato Unbound - 1 views

  • The change in the law wrought by the Federal Circuit can also be viewed substantively through the controversy over software patents. Throughout the 1960s, the USPTO refused to award patents for software innovations. However, several of the USPTO’s decisions were overruled by the patent-friendly U.S. Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, which ordered that software patents be granted. In Gottschalk v. Benson (1972) and Parker v. Flook (1978), the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, holding that mathematical algorithms (and therefore software) were not patentable subject matter. In 1981, in Diamond v. Diehr, the Supreme Court upheld a software patent on the grounds that the patent in question involved a physical process—the patent was issued for software used in the molding of rubber. While affirming their prior ruling that mathematical formulas are not patentable in the abstract, the Court held that an otherwise patentable invention did not become unpatentable simply because it utilized a computer.
  • In the hands of the newly established Federal Circuit, however, this small scope for software patents in precedent was sufficient to open the floodgates. In a series of decisions culminating in State Street Bank v. Signature Financial Group (1998), the Federal Circuit broadened the criteria for patentability of software and business methods substantially, allowing protection as long as the innovation “produces a useful, concrete and tangible result.” That broadened criteria led to an explosion of low-quality software patents, from Amazon’s 1-Click checkout system to Twitter’s pull-to-refresh feature on smartphones. The GAO estimates that more than half of all patents granted in recent years are software-related. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court continues to hold, as in Parker v. Flook, that computer software algorithms are not patentable, and has begun to push back against the Federal Circuit. In Bilski v. Kappos (2010), the Supreme Court once again held that abstract ideas are not patentable, and in Alice v. CLS (2014), it ruled that simply applying an abstract idea on a computer does not suffice to make the idea patent-eligible. It still is not clear what portion of existing software patents Alice invalidates, but it could be a significant one.
  • Supreme Court justices also recognize the Federal Circuit’s insubordination. In oral arguments in Carlsbad Technology v. HIF Bio (2009), Chief Justice John Roberts joked openly about it:
  • ...17 more annotations...
  • The Opportunity of the Commons
  • As a result of the Federal Circuit’s pro-patent jurisprudence, our economy has been flooded with patents that would otherwise not have been granted. If more patents meant more innovation, then we would now be witnessing a spectacular economic boom. Instead, we have been living through what Tyler Cowen has called a Great Stagnation. The fact that patents have increased while growth has not is known in the literature as the “patent puzzle.” As Michele Boldrin and David Levine put it, “there is no empirical evidence that [patents] serve to increase innovation and productivity, unless productivity is identified with the number of patents awarded—which, as evidence shows, has no correlation with measured productivity.”
  • While more patents have not resulted in faster economic growth, they have resulted in more patent lawsuits.
  • Software patents have characteristics that make them particularly susceptible to litigation. Unlike, say, chemical patents, software patents are plagued by a problem of description. How does one describe a software innovation in such a way that anyone searching for it will easily find it? As Christina Mulligan and Tim Lee demonstrate, chemical formulas are indexable, meaning that as the number of chemical patents grow, it will still be easy to determine if a molecule has been patented. Since software innovations are not indexable, they estimate that “patent clearance by all firms would require many times more hours of legal research than all patent lawyers in the United States can bill in a year. The result has been an explosion of patent litigation.” Software and business method patents, estimate James Bessen and Michael Meurer, are 2 and 7 times more likely to be litigated than other patents, respectively (4 and 13 times more likely than chemical patents).
  • Software patents make excellent material for predatory litigation brought by what are often called “patent trolls.”
  • Trolls use asymmetries in the rules of litigation to legally extort millions of dollars from innocent parties. For example, one patent troll, Innovatio IP Ventures, LLP, acquired patents that implicated Wi-Fi. In 2011, it started sending demand letters to coffee shops and hotels that offered wireless Internet access, offering to settle for $2,500 per location. This amount was far in excess of the 9.56 cents per device that Innovatio was entitled to under the “Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory” licensing promises attached to their portfolio, but it was also much less than the cost of trial, and therefore it was rational for firms to pay. Cisco stepped in and spent $13 million in legal fees on the case, and settled on behalf of their customers for 3.2 cents per device. Other manufacturers had already licensed Innovatio’s portfolio, but that didn’t stop their customers from being targeted by demand letters.
  • Litigation cost asymmetries are magnified by the fact that most patent trolls are nonpracticing entities. This means that when patent infringement trials get to the discovery phase, they will cost the troll very little—a firm that does not operate a business has very few records to produce.
  • But discovery can cost a medium or large company millions of dollars. Using an event study methodology, James Bessen and coauthors find that infringement lawsuits by nonpracticing entities cost publicly traded companies $83 billion per year in stock market capitalization, while plaintiffs gain less than 10 percent of that amount.
  • Software patents also reduce innovation in virtue of their cumulative nature and the fact that many of them are frequently inputs into a single product. Law professor Michael Heller coined the phrase “tragedy of the anticommons” to refer to a situation that mirrors the well-understood “tragedy of the commons.” Whereas in a commons, multiple parties have the right to use a resource but not to exclude others, in an anticommons, multiple parties have the right to exclude others, and no one is therefore able to make effective use of the resource. The tragedy of the commons results in overuse of the resource; the tragedy of the anticommons results in underuse.
  • In order to cope with the tragedy of the anticommons, we should carefully investigate the opportunity of  the commons. The late Nobelist Elinor Ostrom made a career of studying how communities manage shared resources without property rights. With appropriate self-governance institutions, Ostrom found again and again that a commons does not inevitably lead to tragedy—indeed, open access to shared resources can provide collective benefits that are not available under other forms of property management.
  • This suggests that—litigation costs aside—patent law could be reducing the stock of ideas rather than expanding it at current margins.
  • Advocates of extensive patent protection frequently treat the commons as a kind of wasteland. But considering the problems in our patent system, it is worth looking again at the role of well-tailored limits to property rights in some contexts. Just as we all benefit from real property rights that no longer extend to the highest heavens, we would also benefit if the scope of patent protection were more narrowly drawn.
  • Reforming the Patent System
  • This analysis raises some obvious possibilities for reforming the patent system. Diane Wood, Chief Judge of the 7th Circuit, has proposed ending the Federal Circuit’s exclusive jurisdiction over patent appeals—instead, the Federal Circuit could share jurisdiction with the other circuit courts. While this is a constructive suggestion, it still leaves the door open to the Federal Circuit playing “a leading role in shaping patent law,” which is the reason for its capture by patent interests. It would be better instead simply to abolish the Federal Circuit and return to the pre-1982 system, in which patents received no special treatment in appeals. This leaves open the possibility of circuit splits, which the creation of the Federal Circuit was designed to mitigate, but there are worse problems than circuit splits, and we now have them.
  • Another helpful reform would be for Congress to limit the scope of patentable subject matter via statute. New Zealand has done just that, declaring that software is “not an invention” to get around WTO obligations to respect intellectual property. Congress should do the same with respect to both software and business methods.
  • Finally, even if the above reforms were adopted, there would still be a need to address the asymmetries in patent litigation that result in predatory “troll” lawsuits. While the holding in Alice v. CLS arguably makes a wide swath of patents invalid, those patents could still be used in troll lawsuits because a ruling of invalidity for each individual patent might not occur until late in a trial. Current legislation in Congress addresses this class of problem by mandating disclosures, shifting fees in the case of spurious lawsuits, and enabling a review of the patent’s validity before a trial commences.
  • What matters for prosperity is not just property rights in the abstract, but good property-defining institutions. Without reform, our patent system will continue to favor special interests and forestall economic growth.
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    "Libertarians intuitively understand the case for patents: just as other property rights internalize the social benefits of improvements to land, automobile maintenance, or business investment, patents incentivize the creation of new inventions, which might otherwise be undersupplied. So far, so good. But it is important to recognize that the laws that govern property, intellectual or otherwise, do not arise out of thin air. Rather, our political institutions, with all their virtues and foibles, determine the contours of property-the exact bundle of rights that property holders possess, their extent, and their limitations. Outlining efficient property laws is not a trivial problem. The optimal contours of property are neither immutable nor knowable a priori. For example, in 1946, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the age-old common law doctrine that extended real property rights to the heavens without limit. The advent of air travel made such extensive property rights no longer practicable-airlines would have had to cobble together a patchwork of easements, acre by acre, for every corridor through which they flew, and they would have opened themselves up to lawsuits every time their planes deviated from the expected path. The Court rightly abridged property rights in light of these empirical realities. In defining the limits of patent rights, our political institutions have gotten an analogous question badly wrong. A single, politically captured circuit court with exclusive jurisdiction over patent appeals has consistently expanded the scope of patentable subject matter. This expansion has resulted in an explosion of both patents and patent litigation, with destructive consequences. "
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    I added a comment to the page's article. Patents are antithetical to the precepts of Libertarianism and do not involve Natural Law rights. But I agree with the author that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit should be abolished. It's a failed experiment.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Virtualization vs. Containers: What You Need to Know - Datamation - 1 views

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    "You have to try pretty hard not to hear about containers these days. They are the new "it" technology, garnering incredible buzz on Twitter and on various online publications. Since they are often discussed in conjunction with virtualization, there is the potential for confusion or comparison, when in fact they are complimentary."
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    "You have to try pretty hard not to hear about containers these days. They are the new "it" technology, garnering incredible buzz on Twitter and on various online publications. Since they are often discussed in conjunction with virtualization, there is the potential for confusion or comparison, when in fact they are complimentary."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Patent Trolls Working Overtime | FOSS Force - 0 views

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    "Christine Hall Unified Patents LogoThe trolls are still at it. In spite of the fact that the Supreme Court was busy ruling against them last year - between January and June it ruled against patent holders six times - the number of cases being brought by non-practicing entities (NPE), which is one measure of a troll, continues to rise."
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    "Christine Hall Unified Patents LogoThe trolls are still at it. In spite of the fact that the Supreme Court was busy ruling against them last year - between January and June it ruled against patent holders six times - the number of cases being brought by non-practicing entities (NPE), which is one measure of a troll, continues to rise."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Movie producers call for an end to the 'Six Strikes' rule [# ! Note to previous Article...] - 1 views

    • Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.
       
      # ! Do You remember Yesterday... https://gonzalosangil.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/isps-and-rightsholders-extend-six-strikes-antipiracy-scheme-torrentfreak/ ...? # ! If ISPs and Rightsholders are unable to reach an agreement with Producers... what kind of 'Copyright Enforcement' is this...?
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    "It may sound like the fictional government department that Patricia Arquette works for in CSI: Cyber, but that's not what the Internet Security Task Force is for. In fact, the ITSF is a group of independent film companies that have banded together to call for immediate reform on how internet piracy is handled. "
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    "It may sound like the fictional government department that Patricia Arquette works for in CSI: Cyber, but that's not what the Internet Security Task Force is for. In fact, the ITSF is a group of independent film companies that have banded together to call for immediate reform on how internet piracy is handled. "
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Conservative Party Pirated Labour Leader Supporter's Video - TorrentFreak [# ! Note] - 0 views

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    " Andy on September 15, 2015 C: 22 Breaking A controversial UK Conservative party video portraying the Labour party's new leader in a negative light has been taken down by YouTube. The advert, which attacked incoming Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, contained copyrighted content not authorized for use by the Tories. In fact, the footage is owned by a staunch Corbyn supporter."
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    " Andy on September 15, 2015 C: 22 Breaking A controversial UK Conservative party video portraying the Labour party's new leader in a negative light has been taken down by YouTube. The advert, which attacked incoming Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, contained copyrighted content not authorized for use by the Tories. In fact, the footage is owned by a staunch Corbyn supporter."
Paul Merrell

The Fundamentals of US Surveillance: What Edward Snowden Never Told Us? | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization - 0 views

  • Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations rocked the world.  According to his detailed reports, the US had launched massive spying programs and was scrutinizing the communications of American citizens in a manner which could only be described as extreme and intense. The US’s reaction was swift and to the point. “”Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” President Obama said when asked about the NSA. As quoted in The Guardian,  Obama went on to say that surveillance programs were “fully overseen not just by Congress but by the Fisa court, a court specially put together to evaluate classified programs to make sure that the executive branch, or government generally, is not abusing them”. However, it appears that Snowden may have missed a pivotal part of the US surveillance program. And in stating that the “nobody” is not listening to our calls, President Obama may have been fudging quite a bit.
  • In fact, Great Britain maintains a “listening post” at NSA HQ. The laws restricting live wiretaps do not apply to foreign countries  and thus this listening post  is not subject to  US law.  In other words, the restrictions upon wiretaps, etc. do not apply to the British listening post.  So when Great Britain hands over the recordings to the NSA, technically speaking, a law is not being broken and technically speaking, the US is not eavesdropping on our each and every call. It is Great Britain which is doing the eavesdropping and turning over these records to US intelligence. According to John Loftus, formerly an attorney with  the Department of Justice and author of a number of books concerning US intelligence activities, back in the late seventies  the USDOJ issued a memorandum proposing an amendment to FISA. Loftus, who recalls seeing  the memo, stated in conversation this week that the DOJ proposed inserting the words “by the NSA” into the FISA law  so the scope of the law would only restrict surveillance by the NSA, not by the British.  Any subsequent sharing of the data culled through the listening posts was strictly outside the arena of FISA. Obama was less than forthcoming when he insisted that “What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a US person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your emails … and have not.”
  • According to Loftus, the NSA is indeed listening as Great Britain is turning over the surveillance records en masse to that agency. Loftus states that the arrangement is reciprocal, with the US maintaining a parallel listening post in Great Britain. In an interview this past week, Loftus told this reporter that  he believes that Snowden simply did not know about the arrangement between Britain and the US. As a contractor, said Loftus, Snowden would not have had access to this information and thus his detailed reports on the extent of US spying, including such programs as XKeyscore, which analyzes internet data based on global demographics, and PRISM, under which the telecommunications companies, such as Google, Facebook, et al, are mandated to collect our communications, missed the critical issue of the FISA loophole.
  • ...2 more annotations...
  • U.S. government officials have defended the program by asserting it cannot be used on domestic targets without a warrant. But once again, the FISA courts and their super-secret warrants  do not apply to foreign government surveillance of US citizens. So all this sturm and drang about whether or not the US is eavesdropping on our communications is, in fact, irrelevant and diversionary.
  • In fact, the USA Freedom Act reinstituted a number of the surveillance protocols of Section 215, including  authorization for  roving wiretaps  and tracking “lone wolf terrorists.”  While mainstream media heralded the passage of the bill as restoring privacy rights which were shredded under 215, privacy advocates have maintained that the bill will do little, if anything, to reverse the  surveillance situation in the US. The NSA went on the record as supporting the Freedom Act, stating it would end bulk collection of telephone metadata. However, in light of the reciprocal agreement between the US and Great Britain, the entire hoopla over NSA surveillance, Section 215, FISA courts and the USA Freedom Act could be seen as a giant smokescreen. If Great Britain is collecting our real time phone conversations and turning them over to the NSA, outside the realm or reach of the above stated laws, then all this posturing over the privacy rights of US citizens and surveillance laws expiring and being resurrected doesn’t amount to a hill of CDs.
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