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Canada is about to lose Free Speech and Civil Rights

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 12, 2015

Canadian civil rights are supposed to be protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Unfortunately, since 9/11 the power of these protections have been eroding.

But it is about to become much much worse.

Right now the Harper Government is fast tracking Bill C-51.  This means it is pushing the draft legislation through the process quickly, at the expense of evidence and debate, in order to make Bill C-51 law without even scrutiny.

The Harper Government can do this because our unfair electoral system gives 100% of the decision making power of our legislature to any political party which achieves a majority government.  A majority government in Canada is effectively a dictatorship, which possesses the legal might to pass any law it chooses, regardless of the opposition and no matter how detrimental it is.

The provisions of Bill C-51 are so dreadful that everyone outside the government who understands the scope of Bill C-51 is terrified by it.

CSIS was created to serve strictly as an intelligence gathering agency.  But Bill C-51 will transform CSIS into a secret police force, and will receive sweeping new powers through the incredibly vaguely worded Bill C-51.   CSIS will be deployed in secret in a variety of ways (ranging from spreading misinformation to destroying the reputations the Canadians it targets in secret proceedings.  Legal experts have spoken out loudly on the ramifications of this proposed law, which has resulted in opposition from former Prime Ministers and Supreme Court Justices through Past and Present Privacy Commissioners to ordinary Canadian citizens across Canada.  Operating in the shadows without meaningful oversight, CSIS will be empowered to do things the RCMP can not.  And no Canadian will be able to defend against this.

It is weirdly appropriate that Bill C-51 has been sold to Canadians as “anti-Terror” legislation, since every Canadian who understands what Bill C-51 will do is certainly terrified at what this law will do to Canada.  With the stroke of a pen, Canadians are about to lose our civil rights.  If Bill C-51 becomes law, anyone who speaks out about anything the Harper Government does, or displeases the Harper Government in any way, may find themselves with their lives disrupted or destroyed up to facing 5 years in jail.  The Canadian Charter in a Post Bill C-51 Canada

The Charter is available (complete with footnotes) on the Canadian Government’s website, but I’ve decided to reproduce the basic document. Read through it to remind yourself just what is at stake.  I am by no means a legal or constitutional scholar, but I have stricken out the parts I believe will be negated by Bill C-51.  Because the language of Bill C-51 is so vague, pretty much anything can mean whatever the Government decides it means.  And when a government can move against its citizens in secret, without evidence, without oversight, and citizens have neither warning or defence, there can be no civil rights.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

PART I

CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms

Rights and freedoms in Canada

1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS

Fundamental freedoms

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.

DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS

Democratic rights of citizens

3. Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.

Maximum duration of legislative bodies

4. (1) No House of Commons and no legislative assembly shall continue for longer than five years from the date fixed for the return of the writs of a general election of its members.

Continuation in special circumstances

(2) In time of real or apprehended war, invasion or insurrection, a House of Commons may be continued by Parliament and a legislative assembly may be continued by the legislature beyond five years if such continuation is not opposed by the votes of more than one-third of the members of the House of Commons or the legislative assembly, as the case may be.

Annual sitting of legislative bodies

5. There shall be a sitting of Parliament and of each legislature at least once every twelve months.

MOBILITY RIGHTS

Mobility of citizens

6. (1) Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.

Rights to move and gain livelihood

(2) Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right

(a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and

(b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.

Limitation

(3) The rights specified in subsection (2) are subject to

(a) any laws or practices of general application in force in a province other than those that discriminate among persons primarily on the basis of province of present or previous residence; and

(b) any laws providing for reasonable residency requirements as a qualification for the receipt of publicly provided social services.

Affirmative action programs

(4) Subsections (2) and (3) do not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration in a province of conditions of individuals in that province who are socially or economically disadvantaged if the rate of employment in that province is below the rate of employment in Canada.

LEGAL RIGHTS

Life, liberty and security of person

7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

Search or seizure

8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Detention or imprisonment

9. Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

Arrest or detention

10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention

(a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;

(b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and

(c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.

Proceedings in criminal and penal matters

11. Any person charged with an offence has the right

(a) to be informed without unreasonable delay of the specific offence;

(b) to be tried within a reasonable time;

(c) not to be compelled to be a witness in proceedings against that person in respect of the offence;

(d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;

(e) not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause;

(f) except in the case of an offence under military law tried before a military tribunal, to the benefit of trial by jury where the maximum punishment for the offence is imprisonment for five years or a more severe punishment;

(g) not to be found guilty on account of any act or omission unless, at the time of the act or omission, it constituted an offence under Canadian or international law or was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations;

(h) if finally acquitted of the offence, not to be tried for it again and, if finally found guilty and punished for the offence, not to be tried or punished for it again; and

(i) if found guilty of the offence and if the punishment for the offence has been varied between the time of commission and the time of sentencing, to the benefit of the lesser punishment.

Treatment or punishment

12. Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Self-crimination

13. A witness who testifies in any proceedings has the right not to have any incriminating evidence so given used to incriminate that witness in any other proceedings, except in a prosecution for perjury or for the giving of contradictory evidence.

Interpreter

14. A party or witness in any proceedings who does not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted or who is deaf has the right to the assistance of an interpreter.

EQUALITY RIGHTS

Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law

15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Affirmative action programs

(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES OF CANADA

Official languages of Canada

16. (1) English and French are the official languages of Canada and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and government of Canada.

Official languages of New Brunswick

(2) English and French are the official languages of New Brunswick and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the legislature and government of New Brunswick.

Advancement of status and use

(3) Nothing in this Charter limits the authority of Parliament or a legislature to advance the equality of status or use of English and French.

English and French linguistic communities in New Brunswick

16.1 (1) The English linguistic community and the French linguistic community in New Brunswick have equality of status and equal rights and privileges, including the right to distinct educational institutions and such distinct cultural institutions as are necessary for the preservation and promotion of those communities.

Role of the legislature and government of New Brunswick

(2) The role of the legislature and government of New Brunswick to preserve and promote the status, rights and privileges referred to in subsection (1) is affirmed.

Proceedings of Parliament

17. (1) Everyone has the right to use English or French in any debates and other proceedings of Parliament.(86)

Proceedings of New Brunswick legislature

(2) Everyone has the right to use English or French in any debates and other proceedings of the legislature of New Brunswick.

Parliamentary statutes and records

18. (1) The statutes, records and journals of Parliament shall be printed and published in English and French and both language versions are equally authoritative.

New Brunswick statutes and records

(2) The statutes, records and journals of the legislature of New Brunswick shall be printed and published in English and French and both language versions are equally authoritative.

Proceedings in courts established by Parliament

19. (1) Either English or French may be used by any person in, or in any pleading in or process issuing from, any court established by Parliament

Proceedings in New Brunswick courts

(2) Either English or French may be used by any person in, or in any pleading in or process issuing from, any court of New Brunswick.(91)

Communications by public with federal institutions

20. (1) Any member of the public in Canada has the right to communicate with, and to receive available services from, any head or central office of an institution of the Parliament or government of Canada in English or French, and has the same right with respect to any other office of any such institution where

(a) there is a significant demand for communications with and services from that office in such language; or

(b) due to the nature of the office, it is reasonable that communications with and services from that office be available in both English and French.

Communications by public with New Brunswick institutions

(2) Any member of the public in New Brunswick has the right to communicate with, and to receive available services from, any office of an institution of the legislature or government of New Brunswick in English or French.

Continuation of existing constitutional provisions

21. Nothing in sections 16 to 20 abrogates or derogates from any right, privilege or obligation with respect to the English and French languages, or either of them, that exists or is continued by virtue of any other provision of the Constitution of Canada.

Rights and privileges preserved

22. Nothing in sections 16 to 20 abrogates or derogates from any legal or customary right or privilege acquired or enjoyed either before or after the coming into force of this Charter with respect to any language that is not English or French.

MINORITY LANGUAGE EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS

Language of instruction

23. (1) Citizens of Canada

(a) whose first language learned and still understood is that of the English or French linguistic minority population of the province in which they reside, or

(b) who have received their primary school instruction in Canada in English or French and reside in a province where the language in which they received that instruction is the language of the English or French linguistic minority population of the province,

have the right to have their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in that language in that province.

Continuity of language instruction

(2) Citizens of Canada of whom any child has received or is receiving primary or secondary school instruction in English or French in Canada, have the right to have all their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in the same language.

Application where numbers warrant

(3) The right of citizens of Canada under subsections (1) and (2) to have their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in the language of the English or French linguistic minority population of a province

(a) applies wherever in the province the number of children of citizens who have such a right is sufficient to warrant the provision to them out of public funds of minority language instruction; and

(b) includes, where the number of those children so warrants, the right to have them receive that instruction in minority language educational facilities provided out of public funds.

ENFORCEMENT

Enforcement of guaranteed rights and freedoms

24. (1) Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Charter, have been infringed or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances.

Exclusion of evidence bringing administration of justice into disrepute

(2) Where, in proceedings under subsection (1), a court concludes that evidence was obtained in a manner that infringed or denied any rights or freedoms guaranteed by this Charter, the evidence shall be excluded if it is established that, having regard to all the circumstances, the admission of it in the proceedings would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

GENERAL

Aboriginal rights and freedoms not affected by Charter

25. The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any aboriginal, treaty or other rights or freedoms that pertain to the aboriginal peoples of Canada including

(a) any rights or freedoms that have been recognized by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763; and

(b) any rights or freedoms that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.(94)

Other rights and freedoms not affected by Charter

26. The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed as denying the existence of any other rights or freedoms that exist in Canada.

Multicultural heritage

27. This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.

Rights guaranteed equally to both sexes

28. Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

Rights respecting certain schools preserved

29. Nothing in this Charter abrogates or derogates from any rights or privileges guaranteed by or under the Constitution of Canada in respect of denominational, separate or dissentient schools.(95)

Application to territories and territorial authorities

30. A reference in this Charter to a province or to the legislative assembly or legislature of a province shall be deemed to include a reference to the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories, or to the appropriate legislative authority thereof, as the case may be.

Legislative powers not extended

31. Nothing in this Charter extends the legislative powers of any body or authority.
Application of Charter

APPLICATION OF CHARTER

32. (1) This Charter applies

(a) to the Parliament and government of Canada in respect of all matters within the authority of Parliament including all matters relating to the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories; and

(b) to the legislature and government of each province in respect of all matters within the authority of the legislature of each province.

Exception

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), section 15 shall not have effect until three years after this section comes into force.

Exception where express declaration

33. (1) Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of this Charter.

Operation of exception

(2) An Act or a provision of an Act in respect of which a declaration made under this section is in effect shall have such operation as it would have but for the provision of this Charter referred to in the declaration.

Five year limitation

(3) A declaration made under subsection (1) shall cease to have effect five years after it comes into force or on such earlier date as may be specified in the declaration.

Re-enactment

(4) Parliament or the legislature of a province may re-enact a declaration made under subsection (1).

Five year limitation

(5) Subsection (3) applies in respect of a re-enactment made under subsection (4).
Citation

CITATION

34. This Part may be cited as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

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Je Suis Charlie – Intolerence

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 9, 2015

I Understand Kaveh Mousavi is being as fair as anyone in his situation can be when he writes:

Muslim reformists should not deceive themselves into thinking that this extremism is only a tiny minority of “fake” Muslims that is being exaggerated by the hostile colonialists media. While extremists such as these shooters indeed are a minority (though not that tiny) within the Muslim community, they are not the disease, they are merely the symptom of a greater disease that is much more prevalent.

— Kaveh Mousavi, #JeSuisCharlie: Why I Won’t Let the Muslims Off the Hook

hashtag JE SUIS CHARLIEHe goes on to explain his premise that “This disease, in particular, is the Muslim attitude towards blasphemy, and the attitude towards apostasy.” He tells us the Muslim countries condemning the Charlie Hebdo murders all have have anti-blasphemy laws, a big part of what he sees as the root of the problem.

But Blasphemy isn’t just a Muslim thing, it’s a Religion thing.

While I very much agree with Kaveh Mousavi’s call for tolerance, his article is assigning blame for the Charlie Hebdo murders to the whole of the global Muslim community. And I can’t agree with that although I think I can understand where he’s coming from. But then he loses the argument when he absolves the global Christian community of responsibility for abortion clinic bombers, school shooters and serial rapists because they are a minority.

If you are going to engage in the logical fallacy of blaming an entire group for the actions of extremistsIf you are going to blame all Muslims for the actions of a minority of extremists, logic demands you have to blame all Christians for the actions of Christian extremists.  And you can’t.  I just don’t think people can be blamed for things they have no power over.  Besides, to me it seems that changing minds is more effective than blame.  Addressing the real causes.

Charlie Hebdo has paid a big price for free speech. The rallying cry ~ #Je Suis Charlie ~ is meant to stand up for free speech. And yet Free speech is under attack more now than it has ever been.

How can this be?

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President Obama Tells FCC Chairman He Expects Real Net Neutrality

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on October 10, 2014

American Flag

WASHINGTON — During a question-and-answer session in Santa Monica, Calif., on Thursday, President Barack Obama voiced his strong support for Net Neutrality and his opposition to the sort of pay-for-priority plan put forward by his appointed chair to the Federal Communications Commission. The remarks were the strongest statement yet from the president against the FCC’s current proposal, which 99 percent of those who submitted public comments to the agency oppose.

“I made a commitment very early on that I am unequivocally committed to Net Neutrality,” Obama said to applause from the audience. “I think it is what has unleashed the power of the Internet, and we don’t want to lose that or clog up the pipes.

“I know that one of the things people are most concerned about is paid prioritization, the notion that somehow some folks can pay a little more money and get better service, more exclusive access to customers through the Internet: That is something I’m opposed to.

“My appointee, Tom Wheeler, knows my position. I can’t — now that he’s there — I can’t just call him up and tell him exactly what to do. But what I’ve been clear about, what the White House has been clear about, is that we expect that whatever final rules emerge, to make sure that we’re not creating two or three or four tiers of Internet. That ends up being a big priority of mine.”

Obama’s position clearly contradicts Wheeler’s proposal, which would allow Internet access providers to favor the content of a few wealthy companies over other websites and services. More than 3.7 million people have commented on the issue at the FCC, with the vast majority rejecting Wheeler’s plan and calling on the agency to implement real Net Neutrality rules that would prevent Internet service providers from interfering with online content.

Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:

“President Obama made a clear and unmistakable call for real Net Neutrality. Now Chairman Wheeler must answer. And the only way to accomplish the president’s goals and meet the public’s demands is by restoring the FCC’s authority under Title II of the Communications Act.

“Title II is what we need, not another convoluted compromise or not-so-clever scheme that will never survive a court challenge. Title II is the only way to prevent the sort of discrimination and tiered Internet the president warned us about. Yet thus far Wheeler seems afraid to take this essential step, favoring an approach that would clearly encourage online discrimination and strand startups, small businesses and everyday Internet users in the slow lane.

“There’s no doubt that Wheeler has lost political support for his proposal. He is opposed by the president, leaders in Congress and millions and millions of Americans. It’s time for Wheeler to abandon his plan and commit to using the agency’s Title II authority to protect real Net Neutrality.”



President Obama Tells FCC Chairman He Expects Real Net Neutrality” is reprinted here under the Free Press Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial ShareAlike license ~ Contact Info: Timothy Karr, 201-533-8838



American, Canadian and British Flags fly over the Walper Hotel, Kitchener, Ontario

Does the American Flag fly over the whole world?

Although I didn’t even know what “Net Neutrality” meant when I began this blog, it is the reason I began this blog. Even though I am not myself a tech person, I am very much aware of the importance of technology in modern life. And the importance of the Internet is incalculable.

The United States has assumed credit for and asserted ownership and legal oversight for the Internet.

The governments of the rest of the world have accepted this by sutting on their hands, effectively disenfrancising most of the world’s citizens from any say in the governance of this thing that affects us all, whether or not we even use the Internet.

Does the United States of America have a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” ?

How is it possible for a regulatory body like the FCC to ignore 99% feedback of the population? If the United States was an actual democracy, this should not be able to happen.

This press release makes much of President Obama’s claims of support for Net Neutrality. Does he really? Oh, he says he does. but does he really? He has been saying this for quite some time. Why is this debate still going on if that is true? Obama appointed the FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler. Why would President Obama appoint anyone who did not supprt Net Neutrality if he himself actually supports Net Neutrality? That makes zero sense to me.

People say that the office of the President of the United States is the most powerful job in the world. But is it? In a democracy, I would expect the holder of the office would derive his power from the backing of the citizens who gave him the job. What I have to wonder why the President’s wishes should be more important than those of the majority of the citizens?

If it is the most powerful job, why isn’t he actually doing what 99% of the citizens want?

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Heartbleed and Passwords

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on April 13, 2014

If you have any passwords on the Internet, whether for email, social media, or buying and selling, you must change them now to protect yourself.

NOTE: Heartbleed is not a virus or a hack, it was a mistake. Of course, the NSA wasn’t above exploiting it, nor did NSA see fit to share the information with its Five Eyes allies, so the Government of Canada was forced to shut down its web presence to make its websites secure. With “allies like this…”

[reblogged from techDITZ]

Heartbleed is a security breach that compromises passwords. Now is the time to change passwords.  --Bob Jonkman

Bleeding HeartsMy favourite spring flowers are called “bleeding hearts,” but this spring the online world is reeling with the discovery of something completely different — an Internet problem that’s been named “Heartbleed.

This is is not a computer virus, it is a mistake someone made in the SSL software code. When such a mistake is made in a novel it would be called a typo, but on the Internet, Heartbleed is a serious security flaw.

For years watchdog organizations like the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) have been advocating the adoption of internet security feature called SSL/TLS encryption.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), more properly called Transport Layer Security (TLS), has become the default approach for protecting sensitive data flowing over the Internet. SSL uses encryption to provide data confidentiality for connections between users and websites and the web-based services they provide. The vast majority of sensitive web traffic, such as user login screens, e-commerce checkout pages, and online banking, is encrypted using SSL.

Thales e-Security: SSL/TLS Encryption

Over time more and more websites have adopted this security measure as a way to make the Internet a safer place for you and me. That’s why something like three quarters of the Internet uses SSL/TLS encryption today. This is a good thing.

What is Heartbleed?

The security vulnerability known as Heartbleed is a programming error in the SSL code, and it’s a bad thing because it has made every site that uses SSL vulnerable. Although we are only hearing about it now, it has existed since 2011 or 2012.

I first heard about it on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014. Today (April 11th) the Toronto Star reports the Government of Canada is disabling federal government public websites — at taxtime — in a move to protect users. I don’t understand why they didn’t do this the moment the Heartbleed story broke.

This vulnerability went undetected for something like five months (and apparently NSA knew, but didn’t bother to mention it to its Five Eyes allies, like, say, The Government of Canada, because NSA was too busy exploiting the vulnerability for its own purposes.)

Heartbleed vs Websites

A real world comparison might be that using SSL is like a having double lock deadbolts on the door, and “Heartbleed” is what happens when you forget to lock the back door. Ordinary people can’t fix the Heartbleed problem. It can only be repaired (or patched) by the people running SSL websites & servers.

The Internet giants (Facebook, Twitter, Google etc.) were warned first, so they fixed the problem before the vulnerability was announced publicly. Most of them are trying to allay the fears the media has been whipping up about this all week.

But the Internet is also crowded with many smaller sites that smaller organizations and even ordinary people host themselves. The EFF has kindly explained how our SysAdmins can effect the Heartbleed fix:

The Bleeding Hearts Club: Heartbleed Recovery for System Administrators

Correcting the code is not an immediate fix, because each SSL secure website also must have its Security Certificate updated, which will take time with so many websites doing this.

Heartbleed vs People

For you and me, the biggest problem is that our passwords may be compromised.

This is such a big glitch, most of us won’t be attacked today. Our passwords probably won’t be used to crack our accounts right now because so much of the web is affected.

But we can no longer trust that our passwords are secure.

The Apartment Analogy

If the superintendent of an apartment building replaces flimsy locks on the doors of all the rental units with good strong deadbolts, it makes it harder for bad guys to break in.

If someone secretly copies the master key, they can break into apartments.

When clever crooks use the duplicate master key to break into apartments, they are very careful in what they steal. So long as the thefts aren’t noticed, the thieves can keep coming back for more.

No one can tell there is a problem until something is discovered to be missing..

The only defense that the tenants have is to change the locks on the door.

Heartbleed

If a website or email platform adopts SSL/TLS security, the website security becomes much more powerful, because it adds encryption which prevents most security breaches.

A bad guy exploits Heartbleed by using it to download passwords etc.

When Internet criminals exploit the Heartbleed error, their intrusion is invisible. There is no way to see how much security information has been downloded, or whose security has been breached.

No one can actually tell who or what is at risk until there is an actual attack.

The only defense that the users have is to change the passwords on their data.

 

 

 



Like the NSA, black hat hackers (or crackers) may have already filled databases of passwords they’ve found the Heartbleed system. . Even if the System Administrator has fixed the Heartbleed problem for their website, it doesn’t change the fact that any bad guy who cracked the website before the fix still has your password. Or passwords.

If three quarters of the people in Toronto left their doors unlocked, only some of those homes would be broken into right away. Because so much of the Internet has been at risk, they might not get you today, but they might tomorrow, or next week.

HTTPS WEBSITES ARE VULNERABLE

You can tell a website uses SSL by looking at the URL (or the website address). SSL website URLs don’t start with http:// (like this one). SSL URLs all begin with https://. You used to be able to tell with a glance at your browser bar, but today’s fashion is to hide this part of the URL in the browser bar. Some browsers show you are at an SSL site with a padlock symbol, others display SSL URLs in different coloured text, but if you aren’t sure, you should be able to see which it is by cutting and pasting the URL it into whatever text editor you use.

Not all HTTPS websites were vulnerable to Heartbleed because there are different versions and configurations, but there is no easy way for you and I to tell which SSL sites were vulnerable.

As well as SSL websites, any secure site where you use passwords — email, instant messengers or IRC services may have been compromised.

Nobody Knows For Sure

Google, Amazon, Facebook and Paypal claim their customers are not at risk because they have fixed any Heartbleed problems they had.

But because the Heartbleed vulnerability is invisible, until someone actually breaks into our accounts, we can’t even tell if they have been compromised. Even if the Internet giants have fixed their problems, the only way we users can be sure we are safe is by changing our passwords.

Someone has put together a Heartbleed Test so we can discover which SSL sites we use are vulnerable or fixed. Once we know the website is no longer vulnerable to Heartbleed, we can only be sure of our security after our password is changed.

Tumblr just told me to change my password, which means Tumbler has fixed their Heartbleed problem, and wants to be sure its users accounts are secure. Bravo.

I am in the process of typing the URLs of sites where I have passwords (Facebook, Twitter etc.) into the Heartbleed Test to find out they are secure before I change my passwords.

Heartbleed isn’t a threat to websites like Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/), techDITZ (http://techditz.russwurm.org/blogs/) or deviantART (http://www.deviantart.com/) that have not yet made the transition to HTTPS

Password No-Nos

  • Never use the same password more than once.
  • Never use passwords like “Password” or “1234”
  • Never use your mother’s maiden name, the name of a loved one, or a birthday… especially these days when all of our personal data is being harvested by corporations and governments alike. If your parent, partner, child, co-worker, next door neighbor or best friend can guess your password, it isn’t secure.

Good Password Practices

I have plenty of passwords, so I keep them filed in a safe place on my desktop computer. But I learned the importance of having a backup copy somewhere else this past summer when I had a major disk failure and I lost something like a terabyte of data — mostly photos —and my password list!

The only time you have to change your password is when:

  1. it has been breached (or when there is a good probability it has been breached
  2. when the website owner tells you you must. or
  3. when you’ve foolishly shared you password with someone you shouldn’t have.

Bob Jonkman, one of the computer security experts I know, recommends using a password manager, such as KeyPassX. But if you don’t he says:

  • Use a different password on every site or application for which you need a password. That way if one site is compromised it doesn’t affect every other site. Of course, Heartbleed affects every [https] site, so that’s not always true.
  • Make it long. Long passwords are good passwords. 20 characters is good. 16 is probably adequate. 10 is marginal.
  • Choose a phrase that is easy to remember, but difficult to guess. As an example, something like “Itookthebustoworkthismorning” — it’s sufficiently long, easy to type, easy to remember.
  • Don’t bother with $p3c14l characters or numbers; the bad guys have software that makes those substitutions too. Special characters make the password difficult to type and difficult to remember. If you need to type slowly because of special characters then it’s easy for a bad guy to shoulder-surf and see what you’re typing. According to KeepassX the passphrase “Itookthebustoworkthismorning” has 28 characters for 224 bits of entropy; on the other hand, passwords with 28 random characters with upper-case, lower-case, numbers and special characters (created by KeepassX’s password generator) have only 182 bits of entropy.
  • If the site does not offer a password reset option then write down your password, and keep it where you keep your money. If the passphrase is protecting $10 worth of data then keep it in your wallet; if the passphrase is protecting $10,000 worth of data then keep it in a safe. Don’t forget to write down the site or application name, the user ID, and any other credentials you need.

— Bob Jonkman, [kwlug-disc] Heartbleed affected sites

Although Heartbleed is a problem, it is being resolved all over the Internet… all over the world… as you read this.

And SSL encryption is still a good idea, just as house keys are, because personal security is important.

And privacy matters.

XKCD: HeartbleedCredits:


XKCD “Heartbleed” by Randall Munroe is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

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The Intercept

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 22, 2014

The Intercept

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.

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Stop Spying CSEC – Just say “No” to Five Eyes

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 11, 2014

csecbeb11

Special Thanks to Edward Snowden

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Ho ho ho…

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

We can be thankful we have people like Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald looking out for our privacy.

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Why Suspicionless Surveillance Matters

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 2, 2013

Edward Snowden was unable to accept the Chaos Computer Club‘s “Whistleblower Award” in person, so Jacob Applebaum accepted for him, and read Edward Snowden‘s written statement at the ceremony.

“It is a great honor to be recognized for the public good created by this act of whistleblowing.

Edward Snowden  (CC by Laura Poitras / Praxis Films) via Wikipedia

“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.”

Edward J. Snowden


Edward Snowden photo by Laura Poitras / Praxis Films is released under a under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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Citizen Journalism: Sharing What Happened In Texas

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.


Senator Wendy Davis vs. #SB5

by Karsten School

Posted on Twitter: @KarstenSchool  If the Texas Senate gets away with breaking the law in front of 170,000 people, the building should be razed to the ground #NoJusticeNoPeaceLast 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.

Texas Senator Wendy Davis

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.”

Karsten School

This article was originally published on Facebook.


Image Credits
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

Senator Wendy Davis vs. #SB5 by Karsten School is published under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License.

Creative Commons  Attribution 3.0 Unported  License button

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CISPA is still BAD

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on April 27, 2013

The American Senate has refused to pass CISPA, so the initial feeling was that CISPA was dead. As a veteran of the copyright wars in Canada, I feared that the celebrations may yet be premature.

Today my favorite Search engine, DuckDuckGo, is sporting sunglasses in the lee of CCTV cameras. If you click on the Duck, it takes you to The DuckDuckGo duck wears sunglasses while being watched by CCTV cameras

DuckDuckGo’s “STOP CISPA” letter

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