Glenn Greenwald’s new media outlet promises to deliver real journalism rather than the government and corporate propaganda prevalent in the mainstream news media.
So far “The Intercept” looks to be living up to expectations.
To the extent possible under law, Laurel L. Russwurm has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to the Interweb Freedom Blog. This work is published from Canada.
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 11, 2014
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 25, 2013
We can be thankful we have people like Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald looking out for our privacy.
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 2, 2013
“It is a great honor to be recognized for the public good created by this act of whistleblowing.
“However the greater reward and recognition belongs to the individuals and organizations in countless countries around the world who shattered boundaries of language and geography to stand together in defense of the public right to know, and the value of our privacy.
“It is not I, but the public, who has effected this powerful change, to abrogation of basic constitutional rights by secret agencies.
“It is not I, but newspapers around the world, who have reason to hold our governments to the issues when powerful officials sought to distract from these very issues with rumor and insult.
“And it is not I, but certain brave representatives in governments around the world who are proposing new protections, limits and safeguards to prevent future assault on our public rights and private lives.
“My gratitude belongs to all of those who have reached out to their friends and family to explain why suspicionless surveillance matters. It belongs to the man in a mask on the street on a hot day, and the woman with a sign and an umbrella in the rain, it belongs to the young people in college with a civil liberties sticker on their laptop, and the kid in the back of a class in high school making memes.
“All of these people accept that change begins with a single voice, and spoke one message to the world: governments must be accountable to us for the decisions that they make, decisions regarding the kind of world we will live in, what kind of rights and freedoms individuals will enjoy are the domain of the public, not the government in the dark.
“Yet the happiness of this occasion is for me tempered by an awareness of the road traveled to bring us here today. In contemporary America, the combination of weak legal protections for whistleblowers, bad laws that provide no public interest defense, and a doctrine of immunity for officials who have strayed beyond the boundaries of law, has perverted the system of incentives that regulate secrecy in government. This results in a situation that associates an unreasonably high price with maintaining the necessary foundation of liberal democracy: our informed citizenry.
“Speaking truth to power has cost whistleblowers their freedom, family or country. This situation befits neither America nor the world. It does not require sophistication to understand that policies equating necessary acts of warning with threats to national security inevitably lead to ignorance and insecurity. The society that falls into the deterrent trap known in cultural wisdom as ‘shooting the messenger’ will quickly find that not only is it without messengers, but it no longer enjoys messages at all.
“It is right to question the wisdom of such policies and the unintended incentives that result from them. If the penalty for providing secret information to a foreign government in bad faith is less than the penalty for providing that information to the public in good faith, are we not incentivising spies rather than whistleblowers?
“What does it mean for the public when we apply laws targeting terrorism against those engaged in acts of journalism?
“Can we enjoy openness in our society if we prioritize intimidation and revenge over fact finding and investigation?
“Where do we draw the line between national security and public interest, and how can we have confidence in the balance when the only advocates allowed at the table of review come from the halls of government itself?
“Questions such as these can only be answered through the kind of vigorous public discussion we are enjoying today. We must never forget the lessons of history regarding the dangers of surveillance gone too far, nor our human power to amend such systems to the public benefit.
“The road we travel has been difficult, but it leads us to better times. Together we can guarantee both the safety and the rights of the generations that follow. To all of those who have participated in this debate, from the highest official to the smallest citizen, I say thank you.”
Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: Chaos Computer Club, constitutional rights, democracy, Edward Snowden, Jacob Applebaum, Laura Poitras, Praxis Films, privacy, surveillance, Suspicionless Surveillance, Whistleblower Award, wikipedia | 1 Comment »
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on June 27, 2013
Nothing better illustrates the truth of Jay Rosen‘s pronouncement that “the watchdog press is dead” than the events on the evening of Tuesday, June 25th, in the Texas State Senate. The Republican majority planned to push though the anti-abortion Senate Bill No. 5. While CNN considered baked goods, the reportage from Texas was accomplished by citizen journalists, and global distribution was achieved various social media feeds.
This is a perfect example of why we need a free and open Internet.
Last night something very important happened down in Texas, something that if you weren’t following as it happened, you’re probably not going to hear the whole truth about. I was one of the people who was in the right place to watch, and so I’m now going to try to pass on the word as best I can.
The Texas senate voted yesterday on a bill that essentially would have closed nearly every abortion clinic in the state. To try to counter the bill (which was heavily supported by the Republican majority, senator Wendy Davis attempted a one-woman day-long filibuster, during which time she spoke on the subject while going without food, water, bathroom breaks or being allowed to sit down or even lean on her table for support. She lasted nearly eleven hours before being ruled off topic on a technicality. A second female senator then stepped up and tried to continue the filibuster by asking for salient points to be repeated to her, as she missed part of the session that day to attend her father’s funeral.
But here’s where things get interesting. With fifteen minutes before the midnight deadline, the lieutenant governor ordered the senate to proceed, and actually had the democrats’ microphones cut off. The spectators in the assembly responded by cheering, chanting and generally causing a ruckus, in order to drown out attempts at a vote. The midnight deadline passed without a vote being taken, but the chair held a vote after midnight, as the spectators were forced out of the assembly. During all of this, there was no coverage on MSNBC, CNN or any other major news network, with the only coverage coming from a livestream set up by the Teas Tribune.
At 12:15, the Associated Press ran a story saying the bill had passed, which CBS picked up. This was based on a sole source, which the AP later admitted was a republican senator. Meanwhile in the chambers, the senators stood around, both sides confused if the vote had even happened, if they had even voted on the correct issue. The chair had left with the lieutenant governor without ending the session. The Tribune’s feed was cut at 12:20 with 70,000 people watching. CNN at this point was talking about the deliciousness of muffins.
Outside in the halls of the senate building, thousands of people were packed wall to wall, chanting “shame, shame”, while thousands more were outside.
State police had formed a barricade around the entrance hall, and were making sporadic arrests (50 or so by night’s end) and confiscating cameras.
In the thick of it was a guy named Christopher Dido, who used his cell phone and a live stream to report on what was happening. He was the only journalist in America who was filming at the senate, with as many as 30,000 people watching the stream at one time, and over 200,000 viewers by night’s end.
He did this while the state police surrounded the protesters in the building, some of them with nightsticks drawn. The police at this time refused to let through food or water that people tried to send in, instead eating and drinking it themselves. They also barricaded access to vending machines and water fountains within the building, and were said to have blocked off access to the washrooms for at least a period of time.
Meanwhile, journalists still inside the chambers tweeted out news updates, which were disseminated and retweeted by people like Matt Fraction, Felicia Day and Will Wheaton, reaching an audience that would otherwise have probably not seen or heard what happened next.
The senate was recalled 90 minutes after its midnight end point, to determine whether or not the vote was valid- behind closed doors with no microphones, and only the Senate’s own muted camera. Then something disturbing happened. The senate website carries the official record of the caucus. It listed the vote as happening past midnight, on June 26th. Until suddenly it didn’t. The date was quietly manually changed to 6/25, the minutes altered to say the vote happened at 11:59, despite almost 200,000 people watching live who saw differently. Suddenly twitter and other social media sites blew up with before-and-after screen shots.
Inside the closed sessions, the democrats were made aware of the alterations and brought them up- without social media, almost no one would have known, and never in time. Ultimately, based on the fraudulent alterations, the GOP conceded defeat, admitting the vote had taken place at 12:03, and declaring the bill to be dead. When this happened, the AP and CBS said the vote was overturned, never admitting to shoddy journalism. CNN ignored the story until this morning, because muffins take priority.
Yesterday, I witnessed women’s rights under fire, a crippled legal system that didn’t represent its people, a corrupt government body attempting to commit a crime in front of hundreds of thousands of witnesses, and the complete failure of the main stream media. I also witnessed a woman performing a nearly superhuman act to do what was right, the power of the people making themselves heard both in person and online, and the extraordinary value of one young man with a cellphone making sure people saw and heard the truth about what was going on.
Anyone reading the papers or watching network news today won’t get the full story. Hopefully enough people saw it unfold live, that the lessons from last night won’t be forgotten.
“To make this clear, I was not in Texas yesterday, I’m on the far side of the continent. Wendy and her fellow senators made history yesterday. Christopher DiDo made history. The other protesters and supporters made history. I followed along from the comfort of my home.
“I wrote this because I wanted to get their message out to people who wouldn’t otherwise hear it. I didn’t want the truth of what happened to be list in a sea of more palatable lies and omissions. But I wasn’t a part of any of this. I did nothing but watch other people taking risks, speak to people who were making change, and type up a neat summary of history.”
This article was originally published on Facebook.
Karsten School Twitter Screen Capture used under Fair Dealing
Senator Wendy Davis by Equity Texas released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) License
Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: abortion, Associated Press, barricaded access, breaking the law, Christopher DiDo, Citizen Journalism, CNN, facebook, Felicia Day, filibuster, GOP, human rights, Jay Rosen, journalism, Karsten School, Leticia Van de Putte, Matt Fraction, midnight deadline, muffins, protesters, SB5, Senate Bill 5, Senator Wendy Davis, social media, state police, Teas Tribune, Texas, the watch dog press is dead, twitter, Will Wheaton | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on April 27, 2013
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 29, 2013
This is a very funny video… or it would be if it wasn’t true. So true. And if it wasn’t equally (or more true) for cell phone companies and the big Internet Service Providers.
This issue, like many others, is only an issue because the CRTC (our telecom regulator here in Canada) does the bidding of the industry it is exists to regulate. They mostly don’t even pretend consumer protection is an issue they consider. Under Canada’s inadequate inequitable and antiquated electoral system, this isn’t likely to change soon.
If you want things to change, you have to step up and start doing something about it. Canada needs to adopt Proportional Representation if we’re ever to have a meaningful democracy, where people (not corporations) have a say in our government. How can you do this?
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 27, 2013
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 14, 2012
An open letter to my American friends:
In Canada we don’t have the right to bear arms. Which doesn’t mean there are no guns here. There are, but they aren’t easily accessible. Still, we’ve had some tragedies here, too. But not as often, and rarely as bad. Our École Polytechnique massacre was pretty devastating. When I looked it up just now I was surprised to see it happened way back in 1989. I can’t think of anything that bad since.
Ironically, there was a similar school attack in China just today. A knife wielding man injured 22 children and one adult. Yet there were no fatalities. Bad stuff still happens, but guns change the equation. Its a question of severity.
An American friend of mine pointed out that the gun used today in Connecticut was legal. It was apparently available in the disturbed young man’s home. The gun’s availability made it easy for him to kill his mother, and then go to the school where she taught and efficiently kill her class full of students, and then himself.
Had the disturbed young man’s family lived here in Canada, there is very little chance there would have been a gun in his home. Absent a gun, today’s outcome would have been very different.
People worry that not having the right to carry a gun will somehow infringe on their freedom. But there are plenty of examples of government restrictions on freedom.
American Law restricts the use of motor vehicles. People need to prove themselves able to handle them safely in order to get a license. Because misuse of motor vehicles, whether an automobile or an airplane, can have pretty devastating ramifications. Its a question of the public good.
The right to bear arms was intended as a defence from government oppression. In this day and age, no matter what weapons you have, the government will have more. If you and your friends amass an aresenal to take on the government, you will lose. A handgun won’t help you. Nor will a bazooka.
Rather than fighting to keep a handgun in your kitchen drawer, perhaps citizens might fight for accountable government.
Fight to keep government spyware out of your computers, fight to stop the erosion of your hard won civil rights, fight for free speech, freedom of the press and the rule of law…
Of course, what you all decide to do is up to you. If it was up to me, I would sign this petition. Because bearing arms doesn’t seem to be a good idea to me. I simply don’t see any good outcome.
Clearly, this isn’t the only issue that needs to be looked at, but it would be a good start.
Wishing you all the best,
Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: civil rights, free speech, Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress, Petition, the right to bear arms | 1 Comment »
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 2, 2012
Governments around the world are seeking to assume control of Internet Governance through the International Telegraph Union. Oh, wait, the organization changed its name to International Telecommunication Union (I.T.U.) in attempt to deal with modern telecommunications issues.
An essential problem, however, is that the organization itself continues to function as it did in the 19th century. This is an antiquated hierarchical international association of countries. The ITU does not welcome, nor even listen to the concerns of citizens. It exists to paternalistically impose the policies it makes in secret, behind closed doors, on the world. This would have the effect of turning the Internet as we know it inside out. The Internet is Mine, and yours, and theirs. It doesn’t belong to governments, but to all users collectively.
An ITU Coup would strip us of our freedom to use the Internet as we wish, whether for recreation, community or business. We would be forced to follow Orwellian authoritarian edicts that would grant local governments unassailable unilateral power to control what is on the Internet. I might be prevented from selling my books, you from selling your songs, she from sharing recipes, while he might locked out of the Internet entirely. Citizens would have no recourse, our governments would just be following orders.
An organization like this is far less accountable than even our supposedly democratic First Past The Post electoral systems we presently struggle with in Canada, the US and the UK. If this organization assumes authority over the Internet, it would absolve our local governments from any requirement to follow local laws regarding citizens rights. It would make it so easy to grant Security Forces and Secret Police agencies the wherewithal to pracfrom the ITUtice warrantless surveillance and website takedowns, without any pesky requirement to convince Parliament or Congress that these draconian surveillance are needed.
Governments keep trying to make treaties like ACTA and TPP and laws like SOPA/PIPA.
In Canada, we’ve been protesting and pushing back against a majority FPTP government that wants to dispense with due process and allow unprecedented warrantless access into our digital lives without requiring the barest shred of evidence of wrongdoing. Yet Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews keeps trying. I have no doubt Vic Toews would support an ITU Internet takeover because it would support his agenda.
If ITU takes over, everything from privacy to free speech could be purged from the Internet. If this comes to pass, we won’t be able to stop bad laws like SOPA or treaties like TPP or ACTA. Not a very happy thought.
Fight for the Future and Access collaborated on this short, informative video about a serious threat to the free and open internet that could have devastating effects for human rights and free expression around the globe.
How the ITU could put the internet behind closed doors.
“The Internet gives us the freedom, to talk with friends, make art, start a business or speak out against our governments, all on an unprecedented scale.
This isn’t a coincidence.
The Internet’s design came out of open inclusive discussions by a global community of scientists and engineers, So there was no pressure from above to lock it down.
But now a government controlled international body is making a play to become the new place where the Internet’s future gets decided. It’s called the International Telecommunication Union (or ITU). And in December the worlds governments will meet, to decide whether to expand its mandate to making important decisions about the net.
The ITU could pose a risk to freedom of expression on-line everywhere.
Here’s why. First the basics.
Nobody owns the Internet.
It’s a collection of independent networks around the world. Anybody can build one.
The common standards on which the Internet was build grew out of open on-line discussions,
not on the priorities of a particular government or company.
But now let’s meet the ITU!
First the ITU is old. Really old. Not CDs old, not rotary phone old, telegraph old, as in Morse code. When founded in 1865 it was called the International Telegraph Union. Unlike the Internet the ITU was not build on open discussion among scientists and engineers. Instead only governments have a vote at the ITU. And these votes take place behind closed doors.
If governments succeed in giving the ITU more power to make decisions about the Internet, we get
an old-school, top-down, government centric organisation replacing the open bottom-up governance
that made the Internet so world-changing. And that’s just the beginning of our problems.
The ITU is not transparent.
The ITU’s draft proposals aren’t public, and its “one country – one vote” model gives governments all the power.
They get to make decisions about our Internet, without us even knowing what they’re discussing, and then tell us, once the decision is made. What kinds of decisions will be considered at the ITU meeting this December?
Well, here’s some actual proposals that have leaked:
- cutting of Internet access for a number of broadly defined reasons;
- violating international human rights norms;
- giving governments more power to monitor Internet traffic and impose regulations on how traffic is sent;
- defining Spam so broadly that they could justify blocking anything from photos of cute cats to human rights campaigns.
- And new rules to charge online content providers to reach users, which could mean less content going to the developing world, and blocking sites that don’t pay up.
- But the really scary part: the countries pushing hardest for ITU control are the same countries that aggressively censor the Internet.
In Russia, making a YouTube video against the government can get you two years in jail.
In China you can’t even get to most social media websites.
And Iran is trying to build its own national Internet and email network, to keep the entire population under its control.
Now the ITU also does good work:
They help the developing world establish telecommunication networks and expand high speed broadband connections. And existing Internet governance isn’t perfect. The US has out-sized influence and authority when it comes to this.
But we need to fix these problems in a way that preserves the openness, pragmatism and bottom-up governance, that made the Internet so great.
This December our governments meet to make their final decisions about the Internet’s future.
It’s up to us Internet users, in every country of the world, to tell them: to stand for the open Internet.
If everyone who sees this video speaks out and contacts their government, we’ve got a chance of winning.
Help us share this video and visit this site to speak out and contact your government right now!
Let’s use the Internet’s global reach to save it!
Tell your leaders to oppose handing over key decisions about the Internet to the ITU.”
Take action at http://www.whatistheITU.org
…giving governments more power to monitor Internet traffic and impose regulations on how traffic is sent…