FryUp: ACTA warmup

Stephen Fry on that new mobile operating system (whatever it's called) and bracing for ACTA in NZ

Fry in the eye

We are amazed, nay stunned as flabbergasted mullets even, that Geekboy Stephen didn’t laud Microsoft for following Apple’s lead and omitting copy and paste functionality in the first version Windows Mobile, sorry Phone 7. — Stephen Fry at MWC 2010 BarcelonaNo copy-and-paste in Windows Phone 7 OS

ACTA warm-up

We’re all guilty of quoting impressive figures every now and then without thinking about the context they’re in. That’s perfectly normal and understandable, because nobody expects to be manipulated through statistical means all the time, but it’s nevertheless dangerous. Ahead of the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement meeting in Wellington, we’re starting to see commissioned studies that predict digital devastation of jobs and industries unless… unless what exactly? We go back in time and snip everyone’s internet access? Would that keep record company and movie studio profits high and trade unions happy as their members’ jobs in film and music industries are safe? As it turns out, the figures from those who “promote corporate lobbying” with “specific and targeted reports” are very likely skewed to favour the cause. This is usually the best way to ensure that said figures will end up being quoted as the truth by lazy media. Lace such figures with a dollop of fear — job losses for instance — and there’s a moral panic of sorts being created that politicians feel they have to act on. Sorry, that should read ACTA on. Don’t agree with that process? Best then to attend InternetNZ’s PublicACTA and make sure you’re heard. — $19.2 billion - counting the cost of dodgy downloadsIllegal file-sharing could ‘cost billions’ by 2015As Expected, Ridiculous, Wrong, Exaggerating and Misleading Report Claims That 'Piracy' Is Killing JobsBogus piracy report misleads EU legislatorsInternational Chamber of Commerce Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy study- Building a Digital Economy: The Importance of Saving Jobs in the EU’s Creative IndustriesTERA Consultants: LobbyingInternetNZ: PublicACTA

Global Foundation Services come calling

Datacentres are the megawatt wing-clipped avengers of the new digital millennium. They consume fibre and power and live in containers or any secure space available. Do not resist. Get Microsoft Silverlight

Bot Magic, Vodafone

That trust thing is probably misplaced. It seems Vodafone’s European subsidiaries are selling HTC Magic’s with some features most people would rather do without, namely the Mariposa, Conficker and Lineage malware. Probably won’t happen here, but nevertheless, Panda Pedro Bustamente’s advice to double check your PC and the micro-SD card in your recently purchased smartphone is very sound. This isn’t the first time a large corporation has distributed malware. — Vodafone distributes Mariposa

XKCD

GeoIP

Cartoon: www.xkcd.com

Robert X Cringely Did Uncle Sam try to kill Wikileaks?

A leaked document reveals a strategy by the U.S. Army to hack the whistle-blowing Web site and take it down. Read on for the chilling details I received an email from Wikileaks editor Julian Assange that's pretty wild. It accuses the US government of deliberately trying to take down the whistle-blower site [PDF] two years ago. As proof, Wikileaks has posted a 32-page classified document [PDF] from the Department of Defense Intelligence Analysis programme, dated March 2008, which details "the counterintelligence threat posed to the US Army by the Wikileaks.org website." It reads: "The possibility that a current employee or mole within DoD or elsewhere in the US government is providing sensitive information or classified information to Wikileaks.org cannot be ruled out. Wikileaks.org claims that the "leakers" or "whistleblowers" of sensitive or classified DoD documents are former US government employees. These claims are highly suspect, however, since Wikileaks.org states that the anonymity and protection of the leakers or whistleblowers is one of its primary goals." If I'm parsing the bureaucratese in this document correctly, the DoD believed the "former" employees who provide documents to Wikileaks are actually current employees whom, one assumes, could be hunted down and squelched. Or that they are agents working for foreign adversaries. Or both. The DoD also seems to be worried that the information posted on Wikileaks isn't true. To wit: "... the Wikileaks.org website could be used to post fabricated information; to post misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda; or to conduct perception management and influence operations designed to convey a negative message to those who view or retrieve information from the website...." Of course, the U.S. military is among the many organisations whose secrets Wikileaks has exposed; this list also includes money-laundering Swiss banks, the Church of Scientology, and repressive governments around the globe.

The document goes on to detail some of the documents that Wikileaks leaked:

  • Secret US document exploitation centres
  • Detainee operations and alleged human rights violations
  • Information on the US State Department, US Air Force, US Navy and US Marines units, Iraqi police, and coalition forces from Poland, Denmark, Ukraine, Latvia, Slovakia, Romania, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and El Salvador serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Nearly the entire order of battle for US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan as of April 2007.
  • Alleged revelations that the US government violated the Chemical Weapons Convention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In other words, Wikileaks produced a 238-page torture manual used by the US Army at Guantanamo Bay, a map of the Abu Ghraib secret prison in Iraq, and evidence that the United States was violating international treaties by using toxic weapons, all of which proved to be highly embarrassing (not to mention accurate) to the US government, but unlikely to compromise US soldiers in the field. The DoD's proposed solution? Hack Wikileaks to find out who's spilling the beans: "The obscurification technology used by Wikileaks.org has exploitable vulnerabilities. Organisations with properly trained cyber technicians, the proper equipment, and the proper technical software could most likely conduct computer network exploitation (CNE) operations or use cyber tradecraft to obtain access to Wikileaks.org's website, information systems, or networks that may assist in identifying those persons supplying the data and the means by which they transmitted the data to Wikileaks.org. ... "Successful identification, prosecution, termination of employment, and exposure of persons leaking the information by the governments and businesses affected by information posted to Wikileaks.org would damage and potentially destroy [its] centre of gravity and deter others from taking similar actions." This intelligence programme has been brought to you by Big Brother. Please do not attempt to adjust your computer screen. We are watching. The big caveat: We don't know what, if anything, came as a result of this memo. Wikileaks is still around, but just barely. No major exposures of its sources have come to light. Maybe somebody in the DoD saw this report and put it in the circular file (or, probably, shared it with Wikileaks).

Still, this is the kind of document that makes you believe all your paranoid conspiracy theories are true. Wikileaks has many flaws, as I've noted several times in this space over the years. The staff doesn't always exercise sound editorial judgment, in my opinion. And it could very well be gamed by people with an agenda posting false information — though it seems most of the complaints about the site are about the opposite. The sad truth is that sites like Wikileaks and Cryptome exist because the mainstream media can no longer be trusted to assume its role as the "fourth estate." Just one example: The New York Times sat on the NSA warrantless wiretapping story for a full year before running it, and nobody in the mainstream media wanted to touch AT&T whistle-blower Mark Klein before he handed his documents over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Imperfect as it is, we need sites like Wikileaks. If they present information that's misleading, there will always be plenty of folks out there willing to correct the record. The fact that our government wanted to turn off its lights — as China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe have attempted to do — is chilling to me. I hope it's chilling to you too. So what do you think, Cringesters? Is it chilly enough out there for you? Post your thoughts below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com

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