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Opening the gates of freedom of information and transparency. Making the internet and open-source software more accessible. We publish articles, documents and files on topics of interest related to, but not limited to:
Politics is everywhere. It influences our lives all over the world, whether intentionally or unintentionally. You can not ignore the influence of politics and the effects that political decision making has on citizens in every country in the world.
At Freedom Publishers Union, our political view is largely libertarian, who believe in fairness and democracy. There's no denying that democracy is by far the best form of governance. But we accept that it is not the only form of governance. Irrespective of the governing model of any country, we advocate fairness, transparency of government and peace.
Politics also play a major part on the stories that we cover and the articles that we publish. We publish information based on real facts, along with the politics that surround the story. This is primarily why we have adopted a basic set of core political values, which we not only declare as being fair, open and democratic, but we will always consider these core values when it is necessary for us to take notice of political influences in a story.
Core political values:
Australia - We pay specific attention to three issues of great importance in Australia.
The outlined political views of Freedom Publishers Union are based on the data and facts available to us at any given time. If the facts change over time, our political views may change to reflect this. However, regardless of future information, our political views will always support ensuring that people everywhere have the best information and the freedom to understand and act upon it, as individuals working toward the common good of man.
Amit Gautam (Spokesperson) - [email protected]
Dinesh Raja (Co-Founder and Public Representative) - [email protected]
Brett Brennan (Sub-Editor) - [email protected]
Chris McGimpsey-Jones (Co-Founder, Head Advisor) - [email protected]
Mel Khamlichi (Assistant Advisor) - [email protected]
Senthil Kumar (Assistant Advisor) - [email protected]
Advisory Board Members
Associated Persons Not Publicly Disclosed
Due to the 'sensitive' nature some of the content published on Freedom Publishers Union and ongoing potential of legal threat against our Organization and operations, we CAN NOT disclose the Names, Contact details or the Email address(es) of specific persons associated with Freedom Publishers Union.
We have many people who work in the shadows to keep our Organization thriving and publishing content which SHOULD be published and NEEDS to published and openly available for public access. To protect specific persons who assist us in a range of different ways, we choose to keep their identities and personal details private and NOT publicly disclose who these people are. We regularly publish works by other Publishers and Journalists such as Julian Assange, Sarah Harrison, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Edward Snowden. We integrate and publish their works into Freedom Publishers Union. However, we must point out that these Journalists are not directly associated with any original publication or website owned by Freedom Publishers Union.
To contact our Spokesperson, please send to [email protected]
To contact our Public Relations Department, please send to [email protected]
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Please note: The social media accounts listed above are the ONLY official accounts authorized to be associated with Freedom Publishers Union and have been authorized by GC Media Publishing Management. Please ignore any other accounts that claim to be associated with us or claim to be "Official", as they are not.
To associate our publications through appropriate jurisdictions and locales which are most relevant to the information and documents being presented, we distribute through our controlled network of internally directed, national and international virtual offices which are used as publishing portals.
With the gradual emergence of frequently used terms of "fake news", "post-truth" and "alternative facts", Freedom Publishers Union wants to make a brief Statement to reiterate our commitment to our readers.
Freedom Publishers Union Editorial Team is absolutely committed to ensuring our writing and publishing strictly adheres to our internal publication principles. We will always ensure we remain non-bias and remain as neutral as possible. We will only present fact based content which we believe to be authentic, genuine, accurate, well-researched and fact checked by our in-house Editorial Team, against sources we believe to be the best and most reliable and reputable in the media and publishing industry.
The President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, has shaken the traditional media landscape. Some media organizations have succumbed to falling to the same low-level remarks, commentary and views that Trump assumes. Whilst the more respected media organizations have remained true to their publishing principles and continue the practice of true journalism and publishing.
Freedom Publishers Union will not be moved by Donald Trump's erratic and intolerable commentary and behavior. We, along with our US-based media partners, will not be moved by any such media reforms, bans, blockages and/or censorship that he attempts to implement which may potentially impede on freedom of the press in the United States and any after-effects it has in the global circuit. We remain committed to publishing exactly what our moto states - "Publishing what is right and what is important". We will always operate within the boundaries of the law. Yet, as a representative of the free press, we also have an ethical responsibility to publish content that is in the public interest, regardless of whether its legally questionable according to Donald Trump's media reform(s) or own political agenda.
If we see journalism and publishing is under threat, then we will respond accordingly through our publications, regardless.
Freedom Publishers Union - Editorial Team
Our Editorial team is absolutely adamant that we maintain strict editorial and publishing standards and will always ensure our process remains open to public scrutiny, as much as possible.
The following list of websites are our trusted sources of news, information, facts and research material. We consistently rely upon and use these sources for research, data gathering, comparison, fact checking and to ensure source diversity.
We use all of the information gathered from these sources on a specific story or topic and create a basis for our own publications to ensure fact, accuracy and reliability remains at the forefront of publishing importance.
(In alphabetical order)
We specifically rely on careful selection of media sources as our prime basis, as many of them are among the few outlets that still employ their own reporters, so their stories aren't going to be 'rip-and-read' from a wire service or web aggregate service that simply drops the breaking headlines onto the wire.
These sources are almost always guaranteed to report with an 'eye-witness' point of view, not some third-party being re-quoted repeatedly. Because of their private news teams, they tend to each pick up something different about a story - slightly different details and perspective.
Further, because they aren't in the 'first to print' mode full-time, they tend to publish detailed follow-up stories withing 48 hours that more thoroughly sort the facts and clarify verified information from rumors.
Then we proceed to review all of our other sources on the same story for several days after the initial story goes to press. If all are reporting the same core facts, then those are most probable to be true, or at least perceived to be true from several perspectives.
We use internal editorial categorization techniques of liberal and conservative sources and determine if their publications echo the same core facts as what we consider our master sources. Then we can make an assessment to conclude that everyone saw the same thing. We then look for the starkest differences between the baseline, left and right sources. These are what we call the bias indicators.
On rare occasions, we use source information from media entities and individuals not listed above. We call these 'outside sources'. When we use outside sources, we take the information and will always attempt to back up the information we receive with our trusted sources, in accordance to the standard process.
During the entire process, we also rely on independent media outlets for either document source or source information to accompany our publications.
The entire process is not streamlined in a strict sense, as we allow for much flexibility during the writing and editorial process. But we are always extremely careful to ensure that at the time of publication, all information and material that we publish and release remains as accurate as possible, based on all available information that we have access to, through our media sources.
We are always open to challenge and scrutiny from our readers. If you believe we have made an error or published wrong, incorrect or defamatory information then we recommend that you contact our office so that we can rectify any actual errors or misinformation that is determined to be a legitimate mistake.
At Freedom Publishers Union, our Staff Writers try to test all software we write about and recommend. In some cases, it may not be possible to test the application in-full. In such a case, we can't be held liable/responsible for any loss/damage/discomfort occurred to you personally or your own software/hardware as a result of using an application or product we've published information about, reviewed and/or recommended.
CAMPAIGNS AND INITIATIVES
We regularly and continuously use our media status and reach to press and advocate on various important international issues, working with Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Software Foundation and other key advocacy groups.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND SUCCESS
Pentagon Papers (offsite)
The 9/11 Report
The 9/11 Report (28 Pages)
CIA Torture Report
CIA Review CT Detention and Interrogation
CIA Interrogation Guidelines
NSA Report into Russia Spearphishing
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)-Full text
Royal Commission Report into Protection and Detention of Children in NT
Estimating Displacement Rates of Copyrighted Content in the EU
Bitcoin technical paper
Meltdown security paper
Spectre security paper
MeltdownPrime and SpectrePrime security paper
JFK Assassination Records (offsite)
Appointment of Special Counsel to Investigate Russian Interference
Investigation into Russian Interference (All legal documents up to Feb 24, 2018)
GOP Memo (Memo #1)
Democratic Memo (Memo #2)
February 23, 2018 | ABC Management and Editors Must Stand Up Against Government
To ABC Management;
Freedom Publishers Union is an independent publishing organization that operates primarily out of Australia, with co-operation from a limited number of international media groups which assist to extend our media reach and publication locale.
On February 20, 2018, our Asia/Pacific Press Office published quite a strong worded Editorial which made accusations against the ABC network, of giving in to government pressure on stories that it deemed critical against government economic policy.
Our Editorial was mainly directed at the ABC's handling of two recent stories publishing by Emma Alberici - One of which was removed in its entirety and another which was highly edited, critical analysis removed before the highly edited version was re-published.
We now understand that the story that was removed has also since been re-published to the ABC website but has been drastically re-written by Alberici.
We believe this comes as a result of pressure Emma Alberici was put under by the ABC Management, which was unacceptable for a senior journalist of her experience and journalistic integrity. If media reports are to be believed, then we understand Alberici has sought advice from lawyers following bad treatment in this instance, from ABC Management. However, we can not confirm this information which is being reported in the media.
Freedom Publishers Union are staunch advocates against government interference and editorial tampering, with Australia's free and open press. Our same advocacy and free press principles that we protect extend to all countries in the world.
The ABC was once known for its tough nature in dealing with government criticism against its publications. We feel the recent handling of Alberici's stories by the ABC, which saw multiple government complaints and resulting in the ABC making drastic editing of the stories in question, has tarnished the reputation for the ABC and has given the network a new alternate reputation that it will act upon government requests through official complaints made to the network.
The ABC has publicly claimed that the specific reasons for the changes that were made on Alberici's stories was for editorial reasons, and not the direct result of political interference through the complaints that were lodged. Freedom Publishers Union disputes this official explanation. Our dispute is echoed throughout the media industry.
This is a concern for us, as Freedom Publishers Union has always been committed to supporting public broadcasting in Australia, including directly campaigning for protection of the ABC and SBS networks.
We remain committed to supporting Australia's public broadcasting sector. But we would like to urge the ABC to stand up against governmental attempts at editorial interference and tampering.
Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations Department
August 15, 2016 | Changes to ABC Transcription Service
To Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC);
As the Director of a small independent publishing business, I write to you today expressing my genuine concern over media reports, published today at The Guardian, which outlines future changes to ABC and its transcription service.
I can not possibly explain how disappointed I am that the ABC has made the decision to either reduce the service of providing timely transcripts of important news and current affairs programming, whilst abruptly proceeding with the discontinuation of others.
Transcripts provided by the ABC are a crucial source of reference and citation for publishers and journalists. Through my work with GC Media Publishing Management and other associated roles within the publishing business, I personally will be affected by this latest decision, by the ABC.
I use the transcripts on a weekly basis from a range of different ABC programs. They are used for a variety of roles within our business and their discontinuation will place a major hurdle in our publishing operations as our staff would be forced to source other references of source media, which we believe to be more biased, less accurate, less reliable and less reputable than what is currently provided by the ABC.
It would be a massive loss for so many Editors and Journalists and the industry as a whole, which already fights many challenges in the digital era of media - a sector GC Media Publishing Management understands very well. The decision by the ABC is unjustified and will be devastating for the public broadcasting sector.
I would like to see the ABC review its decision, without further delay. I believe the consequences will be devastating for the accuracy of information in the publishing and media landscape of Australia, if this decision is to be implemented as described to the best of our understanding.
Chris McGimpsey-Jones - Director
May 24, 2018 | Tough New EU Privacy Regulations Could Lead to Better Protections in Australia
Major personal data breaches, such as those that occurred recently at the Commonwealth Bank, Cambridge Analytica and Yahoo, have taught us how vulnerable our privacy is.
Like the cigarette and alcohol markets, it took a long time to prove that poorly regulated data collection can do us harm. And as with passive smoking, we now know that data trading can harm those around us as well as ourselves.
Regulators in the European Union are cracking down on the problem with the introduction the new strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from May 25. The hope is that the new rules will shift the balance of power in the market for data away from companies and back to the owners of that data.
The GDPR applies to companies who trade in the EU or process the data of people in the EU. This includes some of Australia's biggest companies, such as the Commonwealth Bank and Bunnings Warehouse. Since companies that don't operate in the EU or process the data of people in the EU aren't required to comply, Australian consumers could soon be facing a two-tier system of privacy protections.
That isn't all bad news. By choosing to deal with companies with better data protection policies, Australian consumers can create pressure for change in how personal data is handled across the board.
How the GDPR empowers consumers
The GDPR makes it clearer what companies should be doing to protect personal data and empowers consumers like never before. When dealing with companies operating in the EU, you will now have the right to:
This final right will lead to another profound improvement in regulation of the market for personal data.
Consumers as a regulating force
As a result of these new rights and powers, consumers themselves can help regulate company behaviour by monitoring how well they comply with GDPR.
In addition to complaining to authorities, such as the Information Commissioner, when consumers encounter breaches they can complain directly to the company, share stories online and alert fellow users.
This can be powerful - especially when whistleblowers actually work in the industry, as was the case with Cambridge Analytica's Christopher Wylie.
Companies that don't protect people's personal data will face fines from the regulator of up to 4% of global turnover, or €20 million. In addition, they could be required to pay compensation directly to consumers who have asked investigating authorities to claim on their behalf.
This potentially means that all those millions of EU citizens who were caught up in the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal could, in the future, be able to sue Facebook.
From the viewpoint of empowering and motivating consumers to monitor what companies do with their data, this is a momentous change.
A shift in our expectations of data privacy
The way things currently stand, there is an imbalance in the personal data market. Companies take all the profit from our personal data, yet we pay the price as individuals, or as a society, for privacy breaches.
But as a result of GDPR, we are likely to see expectations of how companies should act begin to shift. This will create pressure for change.
You've probably already been sent notifications from companies asking you to re-consent to their privacy policies. This is because GDPR expects consent to be more explicit and active - default settings and pre-checked boxes are considered inadequate.
Consumers should also expect companies to make it just as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it.
Unlike New Zealand, which has strong privacy laws, personal data protections in Australia - and the massive data markets of BRIC countries - are not considered "adequate", and fall below EU standards.
Consumers should be wary of vested interest arguments, such as Facebook's claim that it just wants to connect people. To use an analogy, that's comparable to an alcohol manufacturer saying it just wants people to have a good time, without highlighting the potential risks of alcohol use.
If you want these greater rights and protections, now is the perfect time to lobby your Members of Parliament and demand the best available protection from all the companies you deal with.
Vincent Mitchell, University of Sydney
Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union
Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)
April 8, 2018 | CPTPP Open to Final Challenges Before Ratification
March 8, 2018, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP or TPP-11) was signed by the respective nation's trade ministers in Santiago, Chile. It was then brought back to Australia and tabled in the country's Federal Parliament on March 26, 2018.
There is still the inevitable administrative steps that must be followed with the CPTPP before it gets through both Houses of Australia's Parliament and is ratified. It will be reviewed by Australia's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) and public comment from interested parties and organizations have been invited to make submissions on the CPTPP by April 20, 2018.
Freedom Publishers Union will make a brief Submission.
The United States of America controversially pulled out from the deal, a move supported by Freedom Publishers Union. The countries that remain part of the reformed CPTPP deal are (in alphabetical order) Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Following the signing of the trade deal in Chile, procedures for the CPTPP to progress into the relative final stages and actually come into effect must now proceed through the political processes required for ratification, by all nations.
Our position on the CPTPP remains unchanged and we will continue to press and advocate for better political outcomes on the issues associated with the trade deal, that are of most concern and of which Freedom Publishers Union has publicly expressed before.
We remain extremely disappointed of the conditions of secrecy of which the trade deal was negotiated, allowing it to reach the stage of signing. The entire process from the very beginning has been shrouded in complete secrecy with no transparency from the countries involved. The only way the public has learned of the details inside the trade deal is through leaks of the draft documents from Wikileaks and other independent media organizations - when the trade deal was referred to as simply the TPP.
January 26, 2018, Freedom Publishers Union made a public call for the reformed text of the CPTPP to be released. It was released in the public domain on February 21, 2018, and is now available for access on Freedom Publishers Union.
Politically, we intend to continue to challenge the details in the CPTPP trade pact on the issues of:
Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center
March 27, 2018 | Infrastructure Investment and Increased Bandwidth Will Solve Net Neutrality Problem. Not Further Regulation
Most Americans use the internet for entertainment purposes. By most, we mean a majority. But we cannot forget the minority. With recent changes to the rules surrounding net neutrality, the majority of Americans will actually find their internet services may be improved, which will see more internet bandwidth priority put towards entertainment services, including Netflix and YouTube along with any pre-packaged services.
Freedom Publishers Union still has many concerns on the rule changes which could still impede on actual net neutrality principles. But the real problem is bandwidth availability.
In the United States of America, this has somewhat been helped along by Amazon, Google, Microsoft and even Netflix having caching servers installed. This actually helps alleviate some of the network congestion problems which are generally caused by lack of available bandwidth. This highlights another problem though, which probably goes more unnoticed. Traditional broadband companies which had a large grip on infrastructure have merged into the realm of media. The merge into media has been gradual, yet organic of liberal business which expands and transitions into different sectors.
To solve the looming bandwidth problem is not going to be through net neutrality laws. The real solution will be found by forcing a company break-up into different divisions - one which handles entertainment service delivery and one which handles the infrastructure back-bone.
Infrastructure is simply a utility, which in business terms equates to a not all that profitable sector. But with remaining under the same ownership and parent company as entertainment services delivery, the profits can be shifted to infrastructure where needed and has the potential to actually benefit everyone. Looking even further ahead, service providers need to invest in infrastructure development to grow the capabilities of the networks to a point that net neutrality can actually be achieved through capacity and pricing, where getting higher packet priority services will not matter as there will effectively be enough bandwidth for everyone and the constant screwing with net neutrality legislation will not be required.
The view on net neutrality is split. Major organizations in support of retaining net neutrality rules are the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Greenpeace and Mozilla Foundation. Proponents claim that removing net neutrality hands too much power to service providers and hands them the keys to operate a multi-tiered system of control which is effectively aimed to direct flow of profits to benefit them.
While opponents include the technology giants of Intel, Juniper, Qualcomm, Cisco and old big blue, IBM. They all argue that net neutrality rules defer investment in broadband infrastructure.
Currently, there are many different States in the US taking up the fight to the FCC in opposition to the recent changes - fighting in the name of "net neutrality". In late January, Wired website reported that 21 States were taking up the fight and challenging the FCC. A publicly available table on Wikipedia which is dated February 28, details 23 States as suing the FCC. While more recently, on March 19, independent media website Digital Music News reported that up to 36 States were fighting.
Freedom Publishers Union is unable to verify the exact number of US States in opposition to the FCC changes because each State is responding differently in the fight. Some are jointly suing the FCC. Some are introducing legislation which either blocks the changes or has workarounds which go towards restoring some net neutrality standards. While others haven't actually introduced the legislation proposals yet but have plans to do so soon. One thing we can verify though, is that there is definitely opposition to the FCC's decision and this matter does not seem like it has been resolved just yet.
Freedom Publishers Union is led to conclude that this will not solve anything nor will it improve the situation. Instead, to find the right solution we need to look much broader than just the pages of rule books. They should be looking at options which eliminate competition laws and create more incentive for more investment into network infrastructure. Market forces will solve the problem of the current lack of investment in this area, but it starts with removing the political barriers which stand in the way of progress.
One could be forgiven for concluding that the whole net neutrality battle is simply a smokescreen for covering the service provider's need to generate revenue to pay for entertainment purchases to deliver to their customers. Service providers are actually against breaking up into separate business divisions, as we mentioned earlier. And they are also against local monopoly laws that are currently preventing them from other service providers in small jurisdictions neighborhood and city level. Net neutrality forces service providers to provide transport to other entertainment companies without prejudice. That is actually part of the solution to this problem. It allows customers to experience entertainment from other sources at much lower cost than the service provider's choices offered.
Infrastructure is where service providers do have a legal monopoly. Yes, from investment perspective, this would make the infrastructure division function more like a utility company which to investors, is rather boring and not that attractive. So, we see continued investment in entertainment content and eliminating competition by consolidating small services into entertainment mega-pack delivery.
This is where the hole in net neutrality benefits service providers. Wireless service delivery is exempted from neutral carriage, which is why we are seeing wireless service providers offering so much zero-rating and free entertainment from specific content sources. Since wireless is cheaper per customer to roll-out and maintain compared to traditional wired networks, we simply have a duplicate of the net neutrality problem, just without the wires this time around. With the incoming roll-out of 5G services, bandwidth availability will rival that of wired networks. Therefore, we may see a situation where the entire net neutrality fight will start all over again.
To summarize everything - ultimately, the focus needs to shift to infrastructure being forced through regulation and into a monopoly, or duopoly, where we can see true focus and investment put into service delivery capabilities rather than entertainment and other content being prioritized. This could have a side-effect of gradual price increases over time for customers and may also slow roll-out of new technology, but it will enforce connection consistency across America, on both wired and wireless networks, which has much better and fair results for everyone. Because at the end of the day, we do not want a two-tiered broadband network for Americans across the nation which serves a majority one level of service and a minority a different level. Because if priority is given to the majority, it's the minority that will ultimately suffer as focus of investment and delivery of services are giving the majority priority over minority. It is unfair. And whether you agree with the definition of net neutrality or not, that goes against the very principles of what it stands for.
US Press Office - Salt Lake City News
March 23, 2018 | Human Motive to Blame for Abuse of Deep Packet Inspection Technology
It is the intention by design that deep packet inspection hardware is supposed to look at data contents of a packet coming into the network and determine what the content represents how it should treat it and by what action. If the content matches the profile for either a rogue website, malware or anything else that may be determined to be harmful, the deep packet inspection box is supposed to drop the packet and not act in order to make the website think that it has given you the data and then proceed to report the problem to the system administrators.
The problem with deep packet inspection boxes (or DPI for short) technology is that it can also be used for good as well as evil. At corporate sites, DPI boxes send a message to the system administrators if anyone attempts to visit an external website that is on the list of banned connections from the company. For example, if YouTube is on the list of banned websites and person A goes to YouTube on the company internet connection, a message stating that person A is attempting to contact a restricted service will go straight to the systems administrators. Again, this is what DPI boxes are supposed to do in a corporate environment and it's all completely normal procedure, really. They both protect from external threats and limit potential internal threats from going to places that the company deems as not business-orientated or simply classified as insecure.
Because they have the ability to intercede and inject another website or redirect to another URL, the DPI box can, if programmed, do malicious things as well as good things. That is obviously what the Sandvines packet monitor is doing. In a sense, this is not outside of what the device is supposed to do. However, it has been subverted to do something that is not in the best interest of people inside the dictatorships of authoritarian governments that are deploying this device in a subversive way. The fact that Sandvine advertises this capability to its governmental clients is questionable but it is not outside the capabilities of any DPI box that's designed to provide the version of connections to sites that are deemed not advantageous to the government or corporation that uses it.
Malicious payloads are criminal only under the laws of the country where diversion has taken place. So, it might very well be that Turkey, Syria or any other countries that have implemented the Sandvine device(s) are not aware of the malware it is in fact diverting traffic too. However, it might just be another way for them to use people they considered to be a problem, to help them gain some revenue or use in defense of things they want to protect. We do not know for certain. But it must also be considered.
Use of packet sniffers and deep packet inspection software to monitor networks is not uncommon. They are used for a variety of reasons, most of the time for legitimate security monitoring of network traffic and packet activity. Sometimes they are utilized to debug problem devices connected to the network. Generally, software tools do not have the same ability to do what DPI hardware does. They can't go in and edit packets and send them back on-the-fly. Instead, software simply looks at what's going on and reports where necessary. They are effectively just monitors, with very specific limitations. Still, it's important to understand the technical differences between software and hardware network monitoring and packet inspection technology and how each is implemented and utilized.
It is equally important to understand and acknowledge that deep packet inspection, diversion or deletion of packets in a data stream is not necessarily an evil or dishonest thing to do. As noted earlier, corporate firewalls make use of this exact same technology in order to protect the internal network from possible malware coming from public sites. It's also used to prevent employees from visiting sites that are unrelated to work purposes and visiting sites that could potentially pose a threat to corporate network security.
All this is something that is done at virtually every level of the internet by the companies that provide the backbone of the infrastructure that support it, interconnect it and ensure last-mile distribution and connectivity. Internet service providers often deploy this technology in order to send messages or interrupt a customer's session. We know of cases where this has been done. It is also possible for the internet service provider to actually replace advertising that is on the network coming from a remote site with their own advertising, or to remove it completely because of its malicious nature. This could actually have the potential of raising legal questions in some countries of whether it is deemed acceptable security practice or be deemed to be interference with the service being provided to the client, who is paying simply for internet access and no other service(s). A good example which demonstrates this, only locally, is your ad-blocking software that you're probably running inside your browser. It is doing the exact same thing as these deep packet inspection boxes are doing: it is examining the HTML code, looking for specific URL patterns or other suspicious tags, and then either removing them or replacing them with something else. The script-blocking software NoScript does this down to a very specific, programmable level. You can have it eliminate each element one at a time, by groups or by a variety of different filtering criteria. In effect, it is working as a DPI firewall, within your browser.
The recent security research published by Citizen Lab is focused on the Sandvine DPI device. Virtually every hardware firewall device is capable of doing the same thing. Cisco, Barracuda etc. can all be programmed to perform the same diversions outlined, including malicious diversions too. The only difference is the intent of the owners of the device: protecting or deceiving their users.
It has been suggested that various countries around the world are placing serious consideration to the concept of implementation of national-level firewalls, similar to the Great Firewall of China. There are already various means of which countries can block inbound or outbound internet traffic from its borders. And there have been rumors floating around of some countries having an internet "kill switch", which would essentially stop all internet traffic within the country with the simple launch of the rumored kill switch. Although Freedom Publishers Union is not aware of such Hollywood-style kill switch being in actual existence. It was recently revealed that Russia is open to the possibility of implementing its own internet, which would include the Russian operations of a central domain name system, similar to ICANN, which holds primary responsibility over access and traffic flow of the world's internet. Some media outlets conclude this is an attempt by Russia to create an entirely new and separate internet. This is incorrect. If Russia's concept was to come to realization, then it would effectively create a separate backbone of access to the existing internet. The concept requires further review and scrutiny, but based on what we know so far, it's actually a perfectly reasonable and sensible proposal.
Whilst implementation of a national-level firewall is one option to control internet access of a nation - which will probably be argued that it is to protect citizens from exposure to malicious content - it does raise many issues of civil liberties and freedom of access to the internet which is free from censorship. The alternative approach is the path the United States of America which prefers to continue to operate mass-surveillance networks which are wide in scope and vast in reach, to log, store, analyze and monitor traffic from everywhere around the world, rather than block it.
Ultimately, this technology whether it be software or hardware in nature, can be used beneficially or maliciously. The use/abuse of it is determined by the laws of the country that hosts the network. A country that defends its citizens freedom of expression and the Rule of Law to protect them will use these tools for good. It is the duty of organizations like Freedom Publishers Union to keep democratic nations that way.
Quality Publishing Works - International Media Group - Reykjavic Press
February 20, 2018 | Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Submitting to Government Pressure, Deleting and Editing Stories on Government Request
The ABC News, Australia's flagship public broadcasting news agency operated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was once known for cutting edge reporting, investigative journalism and fearless reporting on all the important issues. Something has changed within the walls of the ABC offices. It has somewhat lost its edge and its age-old mantra of fearless reporting is beginning to show signs of cracks around the edges.
Last week, The Guardian reported on a particular story which was written by the much respected ABC journalist and presenter, Emma Alberici. The piece that she published on the ABC was taken down off the website after reported complaints by Australia's Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
(As we were about to go to press with this Editorial, Freedom Publishers Union learned from The Australian that the Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, also made a formal complaint to the public broadcaster, in addition to the complaint lodged by the Prime Minister.)
The Guardian reports that the ABC claims that the story was removed because it did not meet the required editorial standards for an analysis piece. There was also another news story which accompanied the piece that was also removed, which made accusations to QANTAS that the company had not paid its corporate tax for 10 years. At the same time Alberici's first story was being removed, her accompanying story on QANTAS was being edited and rewritten by the news editors. It was republished, but key economic data and charts have been removed.
According to Guardian Australia, it reports that ABC management were holding what it describes as 'crisis meetings', which occurred after the Prime Minister launched attacks on the ABC story by Alberici in Question Time. This was followed up by an official complaint in written form, to the public broadcaster. Later, the ABC would claim the meetings were held before the complaints were lodged. Freedom Publishers Union is at odds with this claim and calls on the ABC to produce meeting minutes as documentative evidence of the definitive schedule of these meetings.
Freedom Publishers Union has become concerned that the ABC, particularly its news division operated under the Director of News, Gaven Morris, is willingly responding at the apparent request of government ministers to have information edited or removed. In this particular case, Australia's highest minister - the Prime Minister.
ABC's Director of News, Gaven Morris, has seemingly caved in to government pressure by acting on the complaint of the Prime Minister by removing a story and having another edited. Freedom Publishers Union is certainly not directly accusing Mr. Morris of personally ordering the deletion and editing of stories to please government officials. But to hide behind reasons that particular stories are removed/edited for simply not meeting editorial standards is strange. Strange, as it is out of character for the ABC and also unjustified on such an accomplished journalist such as Emma Alberici, who studied economics and was also the hardline former presenter on Lateline, where she was known for her tough and relentless interviews of Australia's most prominent politicians.
Freedom Publishers Union is very concerned of the editorial tampering the ABC's news-level management are taking against its journalists. We were able to access the deleted story through the Wayback Machine and can confirm that there was no data in the article that was incorrect. Alberici opened the removed story with the following statement, which we understand is the primary cause of the governmental complaints towards the piece, with the following comments, "There is no compelling evidence that giving the country's biggest companies a tax cut sees that money passed on to workers in the form of higher wages.". This opening comment was justified, absolutely has merit and is not just a matter of uninformed economic opinion of the author, as suggested by ABC editorial management.
Freedom Publishers Union researched and fact checked the information and concurs with this opening statement. Based on the interactive economic data and graphs we analyzed for the period of 2008-2018, the data proves that company profits have increased and company wage growth has actually dropped. Economic projections for wage growth in Australia in 2018 is pretty dismal too. Projections show that Australia is set to grow wages at only 0.4%, some of the lowest growth rates in developed economies. The theory that lower tax rates bring better wages for workers is largely based on theory, rather than actual historical data. In fact, data proves contradictory to the theory. We cite the UK, where over the last 10 years the corporate tax rate has gone from 30% down to just 19%, the lowest it's ever been, yet has not flowed through to wage growth. Actual wage growth has dropped, and for most of the last 10 years has been stagnant. The data is much the same for Japan. Despite over the same 10 year period of Japan's corporate tax rate dropping from 40% to 30%, wage growth has been slow and again, quite stagnant over the same period.
Our concerns over the integrity and editorial standards of the ABC extend even further and are not solely related to this one instance.
Freedom Publishers Union were critical of the ABC's decision to return the source document files from the relatively uneventful publication of The Cabinet Files. The documents that were used as the source of a very limited publication, were handed to the ABC by a source who's identity has not been revealed. Supposedly, the documents were acquired through the purchase of an ex-government filing cabinet which was locked and sold without the key. The new owner broke into the cabinet after allowing it to sit, unattended for several months. Reportedly, inside were thousands of government documents - some of which were classified as "Secret" and were relevant to many different national security matters. Many of the documents were said to be marked "Australian Eyes Only".
Freedom Publishers Union understands that the source would have handed these documents to the ABC because the ABC has been for a very long time the most trusted source of news in the country. It is much more respected than commercial news broadcasters. We cannot independently confirm this was the reason for the source trusting the ABC with the documents, but through careful analysis and process of elimination, this was the most plausible conclusion that we can draw.
It seems we are not alone. Many analysts in the media have echoed our conclusion. If this was in fact the case, then Freedom Publishers Union believes that the ABC had a journalistic and ethical responsibility to carefully analyze the documents, said to be in the thousands of pages, and report on them using safe, ethical and responsible editorial and reporting methods. The ABC is more than capable of handling such sensitive documents and information. Why was it not able to handle the sensitivity surrounding the information that was provided inside The Cabinet Files? Instead, we saw the ABC managerial team swoop in and take over what was to be released and what was to be handed back to the government. And let's be honest, the stories that were published can be described as disposable and genuinely uninteresting to most people. It was only days later though, that government officials and ASIO intelligence officers entered the office of the ABC and took possession of the physical documents, supposedly to ensure national security interests were protected. Or the other possibility - to avoid international embarrassment through the leaking of such sensitive intelligence information.
What Freedom Publishers Union finds extremely disturbing is that the ABC is claiming that there was nothing in the documents that was of public interest. We just can't allow ourselves to believe this claim. We seriously cannot conclude that there is nothing of public interest in a cabinet full of government documents that many of them were marked secret/top secret or for Australian Eyes Only. Freedom Publishers Union advocates for governmental operations transparency. But if such material was deemed to be too sensitive for public disclosure, then we would expect the ABC to report on the information in a responsible manner and by using appropriate, yet minimal document redaction processes to ensure national security was respected and maintained.
Freedom Publishers Union is not the first to point out that the ABC is more than capable of such a task and is one of the best news agencies in the country for dealing with investigate journalism and reporting on sensitive issues. Even the ABC networks own media program, Media Watch, expressed strong views and skepticism towards the network's handling of The Cabinet Files. Paul Barry of Media Watch cited Gaven Morris when he claimed, "We [the ABC] could have told hundreds of stories over weeks or months". Paul Barry responded by asking the most obvious rhetorical question, "If that is so, why on Earth did the ABC not tell them?".
Investigative journalist, Brian Toohey, from the Australian Financial Review responded with much the same response by saying, "The ABC's filing cabinet kowtow to ASIO and the government was gutless".
Paul Barry sums it up very well by stating, "it is a sorry end to what in many ways was a great get for the ABC" and reaffirms that the network was "trusted by its source" and "how sad that what could have been a triumph ended in something of a train wreck".
Freedom Publishers Union believes that the public broadcaster failed the Australian people through deciding to not publish more detailed information on The Cabinet Files. And if the source of the documents chose to hand them over to the ABC for proper investigative journalism to be carried out, then we expect they must also be extremely disappointed in the way the nation's public broadcaster buckled to government pressure to get their hands on the documents. In the end, the ABC failed and the government got their way. Which seems to have become common practice now at the public broadcaster.
Freedom Publishers Union support Australia's free press. The country is extremely lucky that it enjoys so much freedom. But we feel under the current Liberal Party run Government that this is gradually shifting into frightening territory and slowly, piece by piece, these freedoms are eroding through overbearing legislation that impedes on the nation's freedoms and rights of the people. Specifically, the issues with the ABC started with reduced funding of the public broadcasting sector, which also includes the SBS network. Prior to the Liberal Party entering into government, there was a specific promise to the Australian people that public broadcasting would not face funding cuts. Once Liberal was elected into office, they effectively backtracked on this key election promise. There is no denying that the Australian people were lied to. Albeit, these reductions were small. They were nevertheless reductions which has seen the ABC forced to make major changes to its radio and television programming to accomodate. Current affairs and news programming has suffered.
Whilst we're sure the public broadcasters are doing their best to withstand the constant barrage of attacks from the government, we also believe that they are growing weaker and are more likely to cooperate with the government, or face the very real possibility of further funding cuts if the ABC demonstrates too much independence. The government is constantly attacking the ABC network when views and opinions expressed through their journalism differs to government policy or direction of political debate. SBS remains unscathed most of the time. This is very concerning and Freedom Publishers Union remains in the constant battle to protect public broadcasting in Australia and aims to protect journalism so it remains free from censorship, governmental interference and can maintain editorial independence. We constantly watch closely, just how much the government aims to curtail the truth about its flawed economic policy, which when revealed to be flawed through the use of actual data has the potential to influence public opinion and turn the public's interest against the government's agenda. They don't like it.
Governments are free to disagree with media analysis and opinion. However, they are not free to launch formal complaints just when they disagree and put media and journalists under pressure to a point they feel they must comply. But this must be backed up with strong leadership and management from media. And this is the key area where the ABC is failing the public. It no longer has a spine of stubbornness and is much too easily intimidated by government pressure, which it appears to comply with at almost every request.
Australian's once had a very strong public broadcaster and had confidence in the ABC, which was usually reliable in standing up for its cause. And Australia's media landscape was stronger for it. Now, we're not so sure.
Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center
February 10, 2018 | Tribute to Freedom Fighter, John Perry Barlow
Freedom Publishers Union is deeply saddened to learn from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) of the passing of internet pioneer and cyber-libertarian, John Perry Barlow.
John was a Co-Founder of EFF and Freedom of the Press Foundation, and one of the true internet pioneers who in the 1990's foresaw the internet's full potential to change the lives of humanity, for the better, whilst acknowledging that it could also be used for evil.
John was a true freedom fighter for digital rights and believed that the internet should remain free from unethical government interruption and over-regulation. Freedom Publishers Union fights for these same rights! So to lose John, is to lose one of our own.
The legacy of his work will continue through the EFF, but John's presence will be missed by all. John was a true freedom fighter for digitals rights.
As a tribute to John Perry Barlow, Freedom Publishers Union is publishing a manifesto he wrote in 1996 titled "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace":
A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace
Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.
We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.
Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.
You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.
You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract. This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.
Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.
We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.
We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.
Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.
Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge. Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.
In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.
You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.
In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.
Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.
These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.
We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.
Freedom Publishers Union - Public Relations Department
February 4, 2018 | New Bill Would Make Australia Worst in the Free World for Criminalizing Journalism
Australia is a world leader in passing the most amendments to existing and new anti-terror and security laws in the liberal democratic world. Since September 11, 2001, it has passed 54 laws.
The latest suggested addition is the Turnbull government's crackdown on foreign interference. The bill has been heavily criticized by Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and major media organisations for being too heavy-handed and far-reaching in the limits it would place on freedom of expression and several other civil liberties.
The government's own intelligence watchdog, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, argues the bill is so widely worded that its own staff could break the law for handling documents they need to access to do their job.
A case in point is whether the ABC's publication of confidential and secret cabinet documents would be in breach of the proposed bill. Two filing cabinets full of thousands of confidential cabinet documents were given to the ABC by a source who, astonishingly, had bought them for small change at an op-shop in Canberra.
The ABC made an assessment and chose to publish a very limited number of the documents it deemed in the public interest. The ABC has so far clearly acted responsibly, and no documents that could harm Australia's national security were in the first publication.
Some of the published documents are embarrassing for both the current and former Coalition and Labor governments, but that should not stop publication - rather, the opposite.
Read more: New foreign interference laws will compound risks to whistleblowers and journalists
What the bill would mean
The foreign interference bill, in its current form, suggests it should be criminal for anyone to "receive" and "handle" certain national security information. It would seem that by just receiving the filing cabinets and assessing what to publish, the ABC staff would be in breach of the provisions suggested in the bill.
Furthermore, this makes an already heavy-handed whistleblower regime from an international perspective even more draconian. It is sure to lose Australia several places on the Press Freedom Index if implemented as suggested.
The bill is an overreach in many respects. But one of the worst aspects, from a transparency and accountability point of view, is that it seeks to extend the draconian Section 70 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act.
Section 70 makes it a crime, punishable by a maximum of two years in prison, for public servants to communicate or supply information to anyone outside government without permission. The ABC's publication of the cabinet files clearly illustrates that media organisations with ethical and thorough editorial polices are perfectly capable of assessing what to publish.
The bigger picture is that the current bill is part of a pattern that started after the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001.
In our forthcoming book, In The Name of Security - Secrecy, Surveillance and Journalism, my colleagues and I assess how the anti-terror laws and mass surveillance technologies in the Five Eyes countries has impacted on in-depth public interest journalism. We also compare the Five Eyes with several BRICS countries and the situation in the European Union.
Our main conclusions are that the current fear-driven security environment has made it much harder for investigative journalists to hold governments and security agencies to account. This is partly due to anti-terror and security laws making it harder for whistleblowers to act.
Add to this the truly awesome powers of mass surveillance making it increasingly difficult for investigative journalists to grant anonymity to sources that require it for their own safety, and you end up with a very complex journalist-source situation.
Another important factor in Australia and the UK is that all national security agencies are exempt from Freedom of Information laws. This makes it virtually impossible to independently acquire information from the security branch of government.
The balance between national security and transparency is complex. As citizens, we want to feel safe and know what is being done to keep us safe. In our book, we have labelled this the "trust us" dilemma, meaning governments argue they can't disclose what they are doing security-wise, lest the "bad guys" find out.
That leaves us needing to trust the government's security actions and policies. But the problem is, how can we as citizens decide if we trust the government if we don't have the information on which to base this decision?
There is no easy answer to this question. Political philosopher Giorgio Agamben takes our reasoning one step further when he argues that the liberal democratic world has been in a "state of exception" since September 11. This has granted powers to security agencies that are creeping increasingly closer to those of the totalitarian regimes in Europe in the 1930s.
Agamben traces various states of exception all the way back to Roman times. The pattern is similar through history: governments point to an "other" - often a hard-to-define enemy - as a reason for increased powers to the security apparatus. They are convinced they are doing the right thing.
The problem is that if we don't roll back the strengthened security laws in times of lower threat, we start from a high level next time we enter a "state of exception". This in turn can lead to a never-ending war on real or perceived threats where our cherished democratic civil liberties become part of the collateral damage.
If we allow the "state of exception" to become permanent, we risk allowing the terrorists to win.
Johan Lidberg, Associate Professor, School of Media, Film and Journalism, Monash University
Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union
Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)
February 1, 2018 | Grip on Australia's Press Freedom Looks to be Tightened. Borders on Authoritarian!
It was on the last day of sitting for 2017 for Australia's House of Representatives, that the Liberal Party of Australia introduced proposed changes to the laws surrounding espionage and other matters of national security, which could see the possibility of detrimental effects be placed on the free press in the country.
Criticism comes as the Parliament is set to return next week. The proposed changes in the legislation titled "National Security Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017", is sure to become a deep topic which will see heavy debate ensue.
The proposed espionage changes are reportedly in response to Australia feeling the pinch from threats from foreign interference of other nations. Although it has not been officially recognized, China is at the heart of their concerns, along with Russia. Whether the two countries actually pose any legitimate threat to Australia's strong functioning democracy, is an open question. In fact, the proposals are more reflective of attacks that attempt to silence specific areas of the media.
There are many valid concerns which have been raised by many journalists, publishers and media outlets. The proposed changes are complex in their writing and the scope much too broad. As outlined in the actual legislative document, anyone and media will be forbidden to:
("it" refers to information)
Freedom Publishers Union expresses opposition to the proposed changes because there have already been sweeping changes over the past couple of years with other parts of the law, directly related to national security concerns. "The changes Australia has already implemented have done enough. In my opinion, they've already gone too far and already threaten the freedom that Australia enjoys with a free press. These latest proposals threaten the free press even further. But not just the free press, but whistleblowers, journalists and publishers. Effectively, our own organization [Freedom Publishers Union] could face legal action if we are to even receive information related to anything on national security matters. And that's even before we've made the information public. To me, that sounds very authoritarian.", says Freedom Publishers Union Editor, Chris McGimpsey-Jones.
Under the current proposals that have been tabled, journalists, publishers and media outlets can all face heavy handed legal action pushed against them when reporting on foreign intelligence and national security matters. And this is irrespective of whether it is in the public's interest. The proposals actually take a much tighter grip on the free press, by leaving open the possibility that those in media can face the same hefty legal action if they do not report on the issues, but are in possession of source documents that could be used for reporting on matters which the Government is claiming are sensitive to matters of national security. Whistleblowers could also face legal action placed against them. There's nobody in the chain of how the source-to-media process operates that would be free from possibility of prosecution under these draconian espionage law changes, if they pass and get enacted.
Chris continues, "As the grip around freedom of speech and the free press in Australia gets tightened, Freedom Publishers Union sees dark times ahead for Australian media if we are not even allowed to report and document on matters which may be based off leaked documents or other information, deemed to be in the public interest and declared suitable for public disclosure.".
In a completely ironic and unforeseen situation, as Freedom Publishers Union were in the process of preparing this Editorial, a major developing story broke from the nation's public broadcaster, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The news agency has obtained thousands of pages of top secret and classified documents from several different Parliamentary Cabinets. The ABC obtained the documents from a source who purchased some ex-government filing cabinets. The filing cabinets were bought cheap as they were locked, reportedly with no key for access. The owner cracked into the filing cabinets to find the source documents, unexpectedly. Whilst this story is still effectively developing as we go to press, it must be noted that to the best of our understanding, under current laws the ABC is more than entitled to report on the documents. However, under the aforementioned proposed changes, no media agency would be permitted to report on them. "Effectively, this is media censorship at its finest. Here, in Australia, happening right in front of our eyes.", Chris concludes.
The timing of the documents coming into the hands of the public broadcaster could not be more perfect, as it puts on a public show by example of the threat that the current espionage proposed changes actually pose to Australia's free and open press which is still taken for granted by so many Australian citizens.
Despite the claims by the Liberal Party that the legislation has protection clauses drafted into the document to prevent any restrictions being placed on the free press, we are not confident that it goes anywhere near far enough. As we have analyzed the proposed legislation, we can only find minimal reference in just a line or two, noting that there will be legal exclusion for "fair and accurate reporting". Freedom Publishers Union advocates very strongly against the proposed changes, unless serious amendments are put forward which will guarantee protection for whistleblowers, journalists and publishers.
Australia enjoys a free press, much like the Unites States of America and other democratic countries. It must be protected against constant attempts to place restrictions on what can be and what can't be reported by media. Media outlets must be allowed to have the freedom to publish what they deem to be in the public interest, in an ethical, and professionally responsible manner.
Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center
December 30, 2017 | Yemen - 68 Civilians Killed in a Single Day, 109 Killed in 10 Days
The Yemeni Civil War is entering its third year. What has changed and what progress has been made over its deadly course? Nothing. Zero. We still see the same arguments from both sides, the same claims and we still see civilians being caught up in the unjust war, often becoming the targets.
In the past 10 days, 109 civilians have been killed, in two separate incidents. 54 civilians were killed at a busy vegetable market in Attazziah, in the province of Taiz. Among those killed were 8 children. The civilian casualties were the result of Saudi-led airstrike.
In another incident, a family of 14 were killed on a farm situated further West, in Al Hudaydah. The region is where Saudi Arabia believes that Iran is smuggling weapons to Houthi rebels. A claim that goes unconfirmed and is disputed by many.
It's all a too familiar scenario, as the United Nations (UN) states that the Saudi-led coalition continuously target civilians and their residencies. International aid groups and advocacy groups echo the calls of the UN. The accusations stand justified, by observing the continued destruction of the country's medical facilities and other critical infrastructure. Much of which is damaged beyond use or completely destroyed by airstrikes and reduced to just rubble.
Freedom Publishers Union has recently learned that the Houthi's are not an innocent party and should not be portrayed as such. They now initiate crackdowns in regions that remain under their control. As we understand, they are arresting hundreds of people they believe were previously associated with the former Yemen President, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Despite the accusations being questionable, the automated assumption of being guilty and no way to prove their validity, people are still being arrested. It remains unclear to Freedom Publishers Union what is happening to those that are arrested and we have genuine concerns for the welfare of innocent victims. Houthi rebels are also blocking entry of humanitarian aid transport and there are reports they are continuously trying to force the shutdown of internet access. Although Freedom Publishers Union can not independently verify the latter claim.
Jamie McGoldrick of the UN says, "The incidents prove the complete disregard for human life that all parties, including the Saudi-led coalition, continue to show in this absurd war that has only resulted in the destruction of the country [Yemen]".
Reportedly, the Saudi's are very unhappy with the comments and views made public by Mr. Goldrick which give the impression the UN supports the Houthi rebels. The Saudi's also claim it puts doubt on the information and data gathered and used by the UN to draw their positions on international matters. A major sticking point with Saudi Arabia is their staunch view that the Houthi rebels are supported by Iran. It is well known to the international community the Saudi-led military has the complete support and backing of the United States of America and Britain, through political support, motive and arms sales.
UN officials clearly state that there are no military solutions that can or will resolve this conflict. Freedom Publishers Union calls for an immediate cease fire from all sides, followed by peace negotiations. That is what is needed. Otherwise, we fear there will be no foreseeable end to the conflict and it will potentially drag on for many years, with no vision or mission which will see the end of this horrific war which is largely being ignored by many parts of the developed world.
Chris McGimpsey-Jones of Freedom Publishers Union says, "It is quickly becoming clear that those that have major influence and power in international politics choose to stand by and watch the horrors of civilian casualties inside Yemen, unfold right in front of their eyes. They have the power to inluence an immediate change of course of this war and put Yemen on a path to peace. Yet it's clear they're choosing to turn a blind eye to the atrocities of civilian casualties.".
There is no accurate figure which can detail the increasing death toll, but estimates suggest it to be over 10,000 killed. That figure was an estimate put forward in 2016. As we approach the last days of 2017, it is very likely the number is on the conservative side and almost certain to be much higher.
Saudi Arabia have not officially released any statement or acknowledgment in response to the deaths of the civilians, as an undisputed and direct result of the latest round of airstrikes. Instead, they are attempting to divert attention off civilian casualties and are proudly announcing that they are allowing humanitarian aid to pass through the port of Hodeidah, over the last couple of weeks. Despite the UN pushing for the port to be reopened and utilized to its full capacity, the Saudi's continue to only allow a small number of ships into the port with the very real possibility that the port will again see closure in just 30 days. Yet they so proudly declare to the public of their shy efforts of allowing humanitarian aid into Yemen, which is said to be starving up to 70% of the civilians stuck inside the war-torn country and who require the aid so urgently.
The reopening of the port is a good thing. It doesn't matter which side it comes from, if humanitarian aid is free to travel through ports and into Yemen, then that can only be encouraged. However, we must not ignore the hypocrisy of the Saudi's who attempt to charm the international community by touting their lackluster humanitarian contributions and use it as a façade to continue to launch airstrikes on civilians which directly violate international law and carry out human rights abuse on a grand scale in Yemen and within the borders of their own country.
European Press Office - Moscow Press
December 16, 2017 | New Foreign Interference Laws Will Compound Risks to Whistleblowers and Journalists
The Turnbull government has announced a crackdown on foreign interference in Australian politics and national security. Proposed laws include a ban on foreign political donations, new criminal offences, and a transparency register for those acting on behalf of foreign governments or organisations.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull carefully emphasised that the proposals are not focused on China's influence in Australia. But, as the Lowy Institute's Euan Graham put it, there's an in the room.
The proposed criminal offences will significantly expand the scope of existing laws against espionage and treason. This will make it easier to prosecute spies and other foreign nationals who seek undue influence over Australian business or politics.
However, the new laws pose risks to whistleblowers and journalists. They suggest the concept of "national security" is continually expanding.
Further reading: Ban on foreign political donations is both too broad and too narrow, and won't fix our system
The Criminal Code currently sets out an offence of espionage that is punishable by 25 years' imprisonment.
The main offence applies where someone communicates or makes available information that concerns Australia's security or defence. The person must intend to prejudice Australia's security or defence, or advantage another country's security or defence. Under the proposed changes, this offence will attract a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Where a person recklessly endangers Australia's security or defence, this will be punishable by the current penalty.
The new espionage offences will apply to possessing or receiving information, in addition to communicating it. They will protect a broader range of information, including unclassified material.
Other new offences, punishable by 15 years' imprisonment, will target preparation for espionage and the theft of trade secrets.
Proposed offences for foreign interference will target conduct not ordinarily considered to be espionage or treason.
Currently, the federal offence of treason describes very rare and serious conduct, such as assassinating or capturing the Queen or prime minister.
These new offences will target covert, deceptive or undisclosed conduct that is directed, funded, supervised or undertaken on behalf of a foreign interest. The penalties will range between ten and 20 years' imprisonment.
To constitute foreign interference, the conduct must be intended to:
serve the intelligence purposes of a foreign actor
harm Australia's national security
influence the exercise or performance of a democratic or political right, or
influence a government or political process.
Other new offences will target the support or funding of foreign intelligence agencies. These will be similar to existing crimes for supporting or funding terrorist organisations.
Are the new offences needed?
The changes will make it easier to prosecute foreign nationals who intentionally interfere with Australia's business, political or foreign policy interests.
Where such influence cannot strictly be described as impacting on security or defence, successful prosecution under the existing espionage or treason offences is very difficult.
The government's other justifications are much weaker. The current espionage offences already extend beyond the communication of information to making, obtaining or copying sensitive records. The Crimes Act includes offences that are triggered when an Australian public official discloses official secrets or obtained in the course of their employment.
What are the risks?
The proposed offences will target some conduct that should clearly be a serious criminal offence, such as intentionally supporting a foreign intelligence agency.
However, the proposed laws go well beyond such clear cases to target a broad and vague range of conduct affecting Australian interests. This includes possessing unclassified information and any deceptive or undisclosed conduct that influences government processes.
Most importantly, the proposed changes pose risks to whistleblowers and Australian media organisations. These risks were compounded in 2014 by changes to national security legislation in response to the threat of foreign fighters.
Further reading: National security bills compound existing threats to media freedom
A journalist could face serious penalties under the proposed espionage offences for receiving information leaked by a government official or intelligence whistleblower, before they even decide to publish that information.
It seems the information need not even be classified for the penalties to apply, provided making the information available would benefit a foreign country or organisation.
The government needs to ensure that journalists publishing sensitive information in the public interest will not face criminal prosecution for espionage or other federal criminal offences. This should be done by drafting legal protections for journalists who act in a professional capacity in the public interest.
Assurances from Attorney-General George Brandis that journalists will not be prosecuted for doing their job are not enough.
The proposed laws should be viewed not only as a response to increasing Chinese influence in Australia, but also as symptomatic of a post-Snowden crackdown, in which all potentially embarrassing information about government is closely protected.
Similar debates about expanded espionage offences and press freedom have already taken place in the UK. These debates confirm that "national security" is no longer simply about physical threats like terrorism or traditional forms of spying.
Increasingly, the language of national security is invoked to protect a government's broader interests - political, business and economic.
Keiran Hardy, Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Member, Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University
Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union
Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)
October 9, 2017 | Let's Face It, We'll Be No Safer with a National Facial Recognition Database
A commitment to share the biometric data of most Australians - including your driving licence photo - agreed at Thursday's Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting will result in a further erosion of our privacy.
That sharing is not necessary. It will be costly. But will it save us from terrorism? Not all, although it will give people a false sense of comfort.
Importantly, it will allow politicians and officials to show that they are doing something, in a climate where a hunt for headlines demands the appearance of action.
Your biometric data
Biometric data used in fingerprint and facial recognition systems is indelible. It can be used in authoritative identity registers, featured on identity documents such as passports and driver licences.
It can be automatically matched with data collected from devices located in airports, bus and train stations, retail malls, court buildings, prisons, sports facilities and anywhere else we could park a networked camera.
Australia's state and territory governments have built large biometric databases through registration of people as drivers - every licence has a photograph of the driver. The national government has built large databases through registration for passports, aviation/maritime security and other purposes.
Irrespective of your consent to uses beyond those for which the picture was taken, the governments now have a biometric image of most Australians, and the ability to search the images.
COAG announced that the governments will share that data in the name of security.
Sharing data with who?
Details of the sharing are very unclear. This means we cannot evaluate indications that images will be captured in both public and private places. For example, in retail malls and libraries or art galleries - soft targets for terrorism - rather than in streets and secure buildings such as Parliament House.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has responded to initial criticism by clarifying that matching will not involve "live" CCTV.
But the history of Australian surveillance law has been a matter of creep, with step-by-step expansion of what might initially have been an innocuous development. When will law enforcement agencies persuade their ministers to include live public or private CCTV for image matching?
We cannot tell which officials will be accessing the data and what safeguards will be established to prevent misuse. Uncertainty about safeguards is worrying, given the history of police and other officials inappropriately accessing law enforcement databases on behalf of criminals or to stalk a former partner.
The sharing occurs in a nation where Commonwealth, state and territory privacy law is inconsistent. That law is weakly enforced, in part because watchdogs such as the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) are under-resourced, threatened with closure or have clashed with senior politicians.
Australia does not have a coherent enforceable right to privacy. Instead we have a threadbare patchwork of law (including an absence of a discrete privacy statute in several jurisdictions).
The new arrangement has been foreshadowed by governments over several years. It can be expected to creep, further eroding privacy and treating all citizens as suspects.
Software and hardware providers will be delighted: there's money to be made by catering to our fears. But we should be asking some hard questions about the regime and questioning COAG's statement.
Let's avoid a privacy car crash
Will sharing and expansion of the biometric network - a camera near every important building, many cameras on every important road - save us from terrorism? The answer is a resounding no. Biometrics, for example, seems unlikely to have saved people from the Las Vegas shooter.
Will sharing be cost effective? None of the governments have a great track record with major systems integration. The landscape is littered with projects that went over budget, didn't arrive on time or were quietly killed off.
Think the recent Census and Centrelink problems, and the billion dollar bust up known as the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record.
It won't be improved by a new national ID card to fix the Medicare problem.
Is the sharing proportionate? One answer is to look at experience in India, where the Supreme Court has comprehensively damned that nation's ambitious Aadhaar biometric scheme that was meant to solve security, welfare and other problems.
The Court - consistent with decisions in other parts of the world - condemned the scheme as grossly disproportionate: a disregard of privacy and of the dignity of every citizen.
Is sharing likely to result in harms, particularly as the biometric network grows and grows? The answer again is yes. One harm, disregarded by our opportunistic politicians, is that all Australians and all visitors will be regarded as suspects.
Much of the data for matching will be muddy - some street cameras, for example, are fine resting places for pigeons - and of little value.
As with the mandatory metadata retention scheme, the more data (and more cameras) we have the bigger trove of indelible information for hackers. Do not expect the OAIC or weak state privacy watchdogs (which in some jurisdictions do not exist) to come to the rescue.
As a society we should demand meaningful consultation about official schemes that erode our rights. We should engage in critical thinking rather than relying on headlines that reflect political opportunism and institutional self-interest.
The incoherent explanation and clarifications should concern everyone, irrespective of whether they have chosen to be on Facebook - and even if they have nothing to hide and will never be mistaken for someone else.
Bruce Baer Arnold, University of Canberra
Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union
September 23, 2017 | Increased Usage of CIA Drones Raises Questions of Morality
Last week, the NY Times reported of new efforts underway within The White House, to garner the appropriate measures required to remove any legal restrictions currently imposed for operations of unmanned drones used by the CIA for air-strikes, in Afghanistan.
There are three questions that require closer analysis by international academics. Right now, not enough questions are being asked by academics with global influence. This story was only covered by the NY Times, as most other reputable media outlets ignored the story. And the smaller agencies that did publish information on the story simply produced recycled content from the original NY Times piece. It's time that we start to begin asking the most vital and fundamental questions as to the role the US plays in the world.
1. Is the US really in a position to declare itself the world's 'police force', engaging 'criminals' at the regime level around the world?
2. Is this simply justification for being war-mongering racists?
3. Are we continuing to pursue the Taliban and al Qaeda because they have political resonance in America, or because they are a real danger to global stability?
As the continuing terrorist attacks in London and wider-Europe illustrate, these terrorist groups and loyal followers are going to do this no matter what. Whether they are religious zealots or simply anarchist extremists, terrorist acts will continue to attempt to disrupt our modern way of life and our very democracy, as long as there are malcontent people.
The Jonestown massacre of 1978 in Guyana, or the Aum Shinrikyo subway sarin attack of 1995 in Tokyo - there is no redeeming aspect of a cult that exists solely to kill others, just because they believe they are better off or live the better way of life. The real question isn't can we take action to stop terrorism, because we can't. As long as there are malcontent people, there will be terrorists. Historical evidence cements the theory. What we need to know, is can we use military actions - overt or covert - to significantly reduce terror attacks.
If al Qaeda is the fan club for terrorists (they get their membership card, stickers for their notebook and cars, and a 20-page instruction manual that gives them a public brand for their actions), then destroying the club house is probably worthwhile.
If you are view al Qaeda as simply a Creative Commons-type service that anyone can use (like a hash-tag) then it's pointless to try and destroy leadership, because there isn't any. It very much resembles the concept of the Anonymous computer hacker collective. You deal with them like any other brand that you want to eliminate - you dilute the relevance of the brand by shifting the exposure of the brand to totally meaningless gestures. If they try to claim responsibility for a terrorist act, refuse to credit them and give it to someone else with a more specific meaning focusing on the individual who carried out the attack.
Media have a huge ethical responsibility here and must take action. Unfortunately, we believe that won't happen. News will continue to report terrorist attacks by brand name as it grabs viewer's immediate attention and we will continue to use military options. Not because military options work. But it's one of the few things governments can point to and say, "we're working on it".
Just like the TSA searches at airports, the symbolism of inconvenience makes people think 'something' is being done, even though the actual activity does absolutely nothing to improve security procedures over previous methods.
Freedom Publishers Union believes that drones do have a role in military conflict. However, we also have a strict view that they must be used for specific targets which are based on very reliable source information. CIA drones are too easily used as a tool to exclude all aspects of human responsibility for civilian casualties, when they occur. The fact can not be ignored that they will occur. When civilians are killed, then the CIA, the US Military or any other government associated killing force must act, own up and someone must take full responsibility for civilian casualties from drones.
US Press Office - Salt Lake City News
September 11, 2017 | Paid News Subscriptions Are Key to Sustainable Media and Journalism
There was a moment in independent media history when I was a staunch advocate against all forms of web advertising and paid news subscriptions. I thought the formula was just all wrong and thought it would be death of media and news on the internet as we knew it. It was some years ago, but to be fair, my strict opinion of the time was probably justified and reflective of most people's opinions towards the concept of paying for news. Boy how times have changed. I can unashamedly declare that I have gradually formed a view which could be deemed polar opposite of the view that I used to have. I now proudly pay for a number of news subscriptions and for those services, among others, I actually allow web advertising through my ad-blocking browser extensions. Yes, a view completely of opposites. Shock.
It's difficult to pinpoint a single time in history that I could state that my opinion changed. Rather, it's been a gradual shift through a combination of reflection of the media industry as a whole, careful analysis of the differences between mainstream commercial news and quality journalism and how journalists and their work are both appreciated and not appreciated by the audience. As a result of my slow, yet careful and calculated reflection which has been an assessment drawn out over the last two to three years, I've come to a better understanding of all things media, the true benefits of targeted web advertising for respective media agencies that actually deserve the revenue they receive through advertising and also how funds received through paid subscriptions not only benefits the quality of journalism produced, but also carries on to breed and nurture further quality journalism.
If I was to break it all down even further, I could say that paying for news is paying the journalists for their work and tireless effort. It's all about creating a and sustaining a creative media platform. If you don't show your appreciation for the hard work, then there will no longer be quality journalists in media to produce such quality content and instead we will see news being produced, recycled, facts twisted, published and re-published by robots. The sad fact is, this is already happening with some online media producers. Somewhere in my complicated unexplainable personal media analysis algorithm, I guess this point was also included to bring me to any kind of conclusive judgment of why we should be paying for news.
One can present the obvious counter-argument of why would you pay for news when you can still read it for free. Well, it's a fair argument to make as no one can deny there are still many free news sites remaining online and don't look like they're going to disappear anytime soon. Still, if you are one of these people to assume the position that they're always going to remain online, remain free and regarded as quality journalism, then you're taking both a naive view towards the media industry and showing not only lack of appreciation for proper quality journalism which is fact based and properly researched, but also shows your obvious display of no appreciation for the services you consume - most likely every single day.
Running a media agency or publishing business is expensive. Although it mat not seem so obvious when you are staring into the glow of a computer screen, everyone must understand that all aspects of the operations cost money. That money has to come from somewhere. It must come from a combination of commercial interests through targeted advertising and paid subscriptions. I will refrain from publicly naming the news agencies and websites that I now subscribe to, in effort to avoid promoting one agency over another and to also avoid being shamed to taking a particular media bias or political media perspective. In fact, it's the opposite of that. My own selection of media subscriptions that I have chosen to support covers a range of left/right political bias and spreads across a national Australian and international spectrum.
I also wish to make the point that if you pay for news through subcription services, it not only has benefits for the media agency producing the news you consume and retains the quality of the journalistic efforts, but your support through subscription also has a greater personal meaning when you visit that website. When reading content through paid subscription, you begin to appreciate the words you are reading. They almost take on a completely different meaning and you begin to respect journalists instead of taking it for granted.
The benefits are apparent for journalists, publishers, consumers and the entire media industry.
This Editorial is written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones, who is the Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Publishers Union.
Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center
September 8, 2017 | Google's Ideological Echo Chamber
"Google's Ideological Echo Chamber" is also more commonly known as "The Google Manifesto", first cicrulated as an internal memo within the ranks of Google offices. The manifesto is dated July 2017 and since its original publication on the Gizmodo website, the author has been revealed as US-based Google software engineer, James Damore.
The manifesto specifically outlines Damore's concerns on Google's diversity policies and argues that Google continues to shut down conversations about diversity within the Silicon Valley company.
Since the release of the manifesto, Damore has been fired from Google. We believe the manifesto is important in the issues that it raises and should be published, not censored. We also believe that the firing of Damore was completely unjustified. Although Damore's actions probably did violate Google's employee code of conduct, we think the actions of firing the employee for his actions of speaking out justify the issues he outlines in the manifesto - speak up, and you get shut down.
Freedom Publishers Union has published the most complete and unedited version of the text of the manifesto available, below.
Google's Ideological Echo Chamber
Reply to public response and misrepresentation
I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don't endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can't have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber. Despite what the public response seems to have been, I've gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change.
- Google's political bias has equated the freedom from offence with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.
- This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
- The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.
- Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression.
- Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression.
- Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don't have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.
People generally have good intentions, but we all have biases which are invisible to us. Thankfully, open and honest discussion with those who disagree can highlight our blind spots and help us grow, which is why I wrote this document. Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology. What follows is by no means the complete story, but it's a perspective that desperately needs to be told at Google.
At Google, we talk so much about unconscious bias as it applies to race and gender, but we rarely discuss our moral biases. Political orientation is actually a result of deep moral preferences and thus biases. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the social sciences, media, and Google lean left, we should critically examine these prejudices.
- Compassion for the weak
- Disparities are due to injustices
- Humans are inherently co-operative
- Change is good (unstable)
- Respect for the strong/authority
- Disparities are natural and just
- Humans are inherently competitive
- Change is dangerous (stable)
Neither side is 100% correct and both viewpoints are necessary for a functioning society or, in this case, company. A company too far to the right may be slow to react, overly hierarchical, and untrusting of others. In contrast, a company too far to the left will constantly be changing (deprecating much loved services), over diversify its interests (ignoring or being ashamed of its core business), and overly trust its employees and competitors.
Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google's left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies. For the rest of this document, I'll concentrate on the extreme stance that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment and the authoritarian element that's required to actually discriminate to create equal representation.
Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech 
At Google, we're regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognisant of this, but it's far from the whole story.
On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren't just socially constructed because:
- They're universal across human cultures
- They often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone
- Biological males that were castrated at birth and raised as females often still identify and act like males
- The underlying traits are highly heritable
- They're exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective
Note, I'm not saying that all men differ from women in the following ways or that these differences are "just." I'm simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don't see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there's significant overlap between men and women, so you can't say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.
Men's higher drive for status
We always ask why we don't see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.
Status is the primary metric that men are judged on, pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths.
Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap
Below I'll go over some of the differences in distribution of traits between men and women that I outlined in the previous section and suggest ways to address them to increase women's representation in tech and without resorting to discrimination. Google is already making strides in many of these areas, but I think it's still instructive to list them:
- Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things
- We can make software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration. Unfortunately, there may be limits to how people-oriented certain roles and Google can be and we shouldn't deceive ourselves or students into thinking otherwise (some of our programs to get female students into coding might be doing this).
- Women on average are more co-operative
- Allow those exhibiting co-operative behaviour to thrive. Recent updates to Perf may be doing this to an extent, but maybe there's more we can do. This doesn't mean that we should remove all competitiveness from Google. Competitiveness and self reliance can be valuable traits and we shouldn't necessarily disadvantage those that have them, like what's been done in education. Women on average are more prone to anxiety. Make tech and leadership less stressful. Google already partly does this with its many stress reduction courses and benefits.
- Women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average
- Unfortunately, as long as tech and leadership remain high status, lucrative careers, men may disproportionately want to be in them. Allowing and truly endorsing (as part of our culture) part time work though can keep more women in tech.
- The male gender role is currently inflexible
- Feminism has made great progress in freeing women from the female gender role, but men are still very much tied to the male gender role. If we, as a society, allow men to be more "feminine," then the gender gap will shrink, although probably because men will leave tech and leadership for traditionally feminine roles.
Philosophically, I don't think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women. For each of these changes, we need principles reasons for why it helps Google; that is, we should be optimising for Google ¿ with Google's diversity being a component of that. For example currently those trying to work extra hours or take extra stress will inevitably get ahead and if we try to change that too much, it may have disastrous consequences. Also, when considering the costs and benefits, we should keep in mind that Google's funding is finite so its allocation is more zero-sum than is generally acknowledged.
The Harm of Google's biases
I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices:
- Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race 
- A high priority queue and special treatment for "diversity" candidates
- Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for "diversity" candidates by decreasing the false negative rate
- Reconsidering any set of people if it's not "diverse" enough, but not showing that same scrutiny in the reverse direction (clear confirmation bias)
- Setting org level OKRs for increased representation which can incentivise illegal discrimination 
These practices are based on false assumptions generated by our biases and can actually increase race and gender tensions. We're told by senior leadership that what we're doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology that can irreparably harm Google.
Why we're blind
We all have biases and use motivated reasoning to dismiss ideas that run counter to our internal values. Just as some on the Right deny science that runs counter to the "God > humans > environment" hierarchy (e.g., evolution and climate change) the Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ and sex differences). Thankfully, climate scientists and evolutionary biologists generally aren't on the right. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of humanities and social scientists learn left (about 95%), which creates enormous confirmation bias, changes what's being studied, and maintains myths like social constructionism and the gender wage gap. Google's left leaning makes us blind to this bias and uncritical of its results, which we're using to justify highly politicized programs.
In addition to the Left's affinity for those it sees as weak, humans are generally biased towards protecting females. As mentioned before, this likely evolved because males are biologically disposable and because women are generally more co-operative and areeable than men. We have extensive government and Google programs, fields of study, and legal and social norms to protect women, but when a man complains about a gender issue issue [sic] affecting men, he's labelled as a misogynist and whiner. Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women's oppression. As with many things in life, gender differences are often a case of "grass being greener on the other side"; unfortunately, taxpayer and Google money is spent to water only one side of the lawn.
The same compassion for those seen as weak creates political correctness, which constrains discourse and is complacent to the extremely sensitive PC-authoritarians that use violence and shaming to advance their cause. While Google hasn't harbored the violent leftists protests that we're seeing at universities, the frequent shaming in TGIF and in our culture has created the same silence, psychologically unsafe environment.
I hope it's clear that I'm not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn't try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don't fit a certain ideology. I'm also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I'm advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).
My concrete suggestions are to:
- As soon as we start to moralize an issue, we stop thinking about it in terms of costs and benefits, dismiss anyone that disagrees as immoral, and harshly punish those we see as villains to protect the "victims."
Stop alienating conservatives.
- Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently.
- In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.
- Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is require for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.
Confront Google's biases.
- I've mostly concentrated on how our biases cloud our thinking about diversity and inclusion, but our moral biases are farther reaching than that.
- I would start by breaking down Googlegeist scores by political orientation and personality to give a fuller picture into how our biases are affecting our culture.
Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races.
- These discriminatory practices are both unfair and divisive. Instead focus on some of the non-discriminatory practices I outlined.
Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.
- Discriminating just to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as mandating increases for women's representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts.
- There's currently very little transparency into the extend of our diversity programs which keeps it immune to criticism from those outside its ideological echo chamber.
- These programs are highly politicized which further alienates non-progressives.
- I realise that some of our programs may be precautions against government accusations of discrimination, but that can easily backfire since they incentivise illegal discrimination.
Focus on psychological safety, not just race/gender diversity.
- We should focus on psychological safety, which has shown positive effects and should (hopefully) not lead to unfair discrimination.
- We need psychological safety and shared values to gain the benefits of diversity.
- Having representative viewpoints is important for those designing and testing our products, but the benefits are less clear for those more removed from UX.
- I've heard several calls for increased empathy on diversity issues. While I strongly support trying to understand how and why people think the way they do, relying on affective empathy ¿ feeling another's pain ¿ causes us to focus on anecdotes, favour individuals similar to us, and harbour other irrational and dangerous biases. Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts.
- Our focus on microaggressions and other unintentional transgressions increases our sensitivity, which is not universally positive: sensitivity increases both our tendency to take offence and our self censorship, leading to authoritarian policies. Speaking up without the fear of being harshly judged is central to psychological safety, but these practices can remove that safety by judging unintentional transgressions.
- Microaggression training incorrectly and dangerously equates speech with violence and isn't backed by evidence.
Be open about the science of human nature.
- Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.
Reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory for promo committees.
- We haven't been able to measure any effect of our Unconscious Bias training and it has the potential for overcorrecting or backlash, especially if made mandatory.
- Some of the suggested methods of the current training (v2.3) are likely useful, but the political bias of the presentation is clear from the factual inaccuracies and the examples shown.
- Spend more time on the many other types of biases besides stereotypes. Stereotypes are much more accurate and responsive to new information than the training suggests (I'm not advocating for using stereotypes, I [sic] just pointing out the factual inaccuracy of what's said in the training).
 This document is mostly written from the perspective of Google's Mountain View campus, I can't speak about other offices or countries.
 Of course, I may be biased and only see evidence that supports my viewpoint. In terms of political biases, I consider myself a classical liberal and strongly value individualism and reason. I'd be very happy to discuss any of the document further and provide more citations.
 Throughout the document, by "tech", I mostly mean software engineering.
 For heterosexual romantic relationships, men are more strongly judged by status and women by beauty. Again, this has biological origins and is culturally universal.
 Stretch, BOLD, CSSI, Engineering Practicum (to an extent), and several other Google funded internal and external programs are for people with a certain gender or race.
 Instead set Googlegeist OKRs, potentially for certain demographics. We can increase representation at an org level by either making it a better environment for certain groups (which would be seen in survey scores) or discriminating based on a protected status (which is illegal and I've seen it done). Increased representation OKRs can incentivise the latter and create zero-sum struggles between orgs.
 Communism promised to be both morally and economically superior to capitalism, but every attempt became morally corrupt and an economic failure. As it became clear that the working class of the liberal democracies wasn't going to overthrow their "capitalist oppressors," the Marxist intellectuals transitioned from class warfare to gender and race politics. The core oppressor-oppressed dynamics remained, but now the oppressor is the "white, straight, cis-gendered patriarchy."
 Ironically, IQ tests were initially championed by the Left when meritocracy meant helping the victims of the aristocracy.
 Yes, in a national aggregate, women have lower salaries than men for a variety of reasons. For the same work though, women get paid just as much as men. Considering women spend more money than men and that salary represents how much the employees sacrifices (e.g. more hours, stress, and danger), we really need to rethink our stereotypes around power.
 "The traditionalist system of gender does not deal well with the idea of men needing support. Men are expected to be strong, to not complain, and to deal with problems on their own. Men's problems are more often seen as personal failings rather than victimhood,, due to our gendered idea of agency. This discourages men from bringing attention to their issues (whether individual or group-wide issues), for fear of being seen as whiners, complainers, or weak."
 Political correctness is defined as "the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against," which makes it clear why it's a phenomenon of the Left and a tool of authoritarians.
US Press Office - Salt Lake City News
August 31, 2017 | Xenix: The Microsoft Unix That Once Was
One would not normally associate Microsoft with Unix. While Microsoft's interest(s) in Unix may remain minimal in recent times, history tells a very different story. Let us take a quick journey down memory lane, back to the late 1970's and into the early-mid 80's.
In 1979, Microsoft formed an agreement with AT&T Corporation to license Unix from AT&T. Then Microsoft licensed out its renamed Unix to OEM vendors, including Intel, Tandy and SCO. Those companies then ported it to their own hardware architectures and requirements. Microsoft was hit by a legal problem of the ¿UNIX¿ name not being able to be used. Therefore, Microsoft was forced to come up with their own distribution name. Xenix was chosen. To put it simply, AT&T licensed Unix to Microsoft and then Microsoft passed on the same Unix software re-branded as Xenix.
Microsoft's intention was to take Xenix to the 16bit microcomputer market. The initial port of Xenix was to the Zilog Z8000 series and then followed on the the Intel 8086/8088 architecture. By the time Microsoft reached the 7th edition, it was incorporating elements of BSD. Xenix became the most widely installed base of any Unix distribution. This was largely due to the continued popularity of the relatively inexpensive x86 processor. There was lots of modifications being done to Xenix by many different companies. Microsoft Xenix originally run on the PDP-11. It was then ported to the Zilog Z8001. Altos ported it to their Intel 8086 based computers. Tandy Corporation ported it to their 68000 based computers. SCO released a port to the IBM PC in September 1983. There was even a port for the 68000 based Apple Lisa.
During this time, Xenix was based on AT&T's Unix System III. Xenix version 2.0 was released in 1985, based on Unix System V. Microsoft then released the updated 2.1.1, which added support for the Intel 80286 processor. There were several more compatibility releases based on Unix System V. In 1987, SCO ported Xenix to the Intel 386 processor, which was a 32bit based chip. Xenix 2.3.1 was released and included support for i386, SCSI and TCP/IP. SCO's Xenix system was the first 32bit operating system available for the x86 architecture.
By the mid 1980's, Microsoft signed an agreement with IBM to develop OS/2. The code name for the project would be called CP/DOS. As Microsoft continued to develop CP/DOS with IBM, they gradually lost interest in Xenix. It took 2 years for IBM and Microsoft to develop the first release of CP/DOS, which was released with the name OS/2. It was released in 1987. And in the same year, ownership of Xenix was transferred to SCO. The agreement left Microsoft with a 25% ownership in SCO. History would repeat itself with Microsoft and OS/2. Microsoft lost interest in OS/2 development and focused its future and company strategy towards Windows NT. Despite Microsoft losing almost complete interest in Xenix, the company is said to have used Xenix internally right up until as late as 1993.
SCO released SCO Unix which was based on System V Release 3. SCO had included a number of improvements over Xenix. Although, Xenix did remain in the services line-up for SCO. AT&T and Sun Microsystems collaborated on merging portions of Xenix, BSD, SunOS and System V in to what became System V Release 4. Although SCO Unix was based on System V Release 3, it did include most of the advanced features that were included to make up System V Release 4. The last version of Xenix ever released was Xenix 2.3.4. At that time, Microsoft had little or nothing to do with the release or development. The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) has gone through several transitions of company re-organization and re-structuring. The former SCO and SCO Group are now owned by UnXis Inc. Derivatives of Xenix and SCO Unix continue on today and is now known as SCO OpenServer. It could be considered that if Xenix development had of continued, OpenServer is what it would now have been. The latest OpenServer 6.0 release still maintains backward-compatibility for software applications developed for Xenix 286 forwards.
Wikipedia proved to be a great resource for my research on Xenix and provided me with enough information to write this article. Anyone can go to Wikipedia and read the whole story for themselves. But I have attempted to simplify the details in to a more friendly and readable format. Personally, I find it an interesting story to find that early in Microsoft's history as a software company, for many years there was a serious reliance on Unix based operating systems for its initial survival. It probably ensured their long-term survival too. Whether you agree with all the past, present and future decisions that Microsoft made and continue to make, they're an interesting company to observe and one that always presents an interesting story.
It's also worth noting although Microsoft don't necessarily have a Unix or Linux based system available nowadays, they do contribute plenty of source code to the Linux kernel tree and other software projects. They have also rebooted their open-source initiatives in recent years with the launch of an internal department titled Microsoft Open Technologies. Microsoft now provides access to native Ubuntu Linux running inside Windows 10, as a sub-system. And development continues to bring Fedora and OpenSUSE sub-systems into Windows 10 also.
Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center
Disclaimer: This article was originally published on Unixmen. The original author of the article is Chris McGimpsey-Jones and the article is published under the Creative Commons license model. The article remains published on Unixmen, however the website breaks the terms of the Creative Commons license and additionally, Unixmen has changed the name of the author and claims the article as their own. This is incorrect. Chris McGimpsey-Jones is the original author of the article and it is now published to Freedom Publishers Union, with permission by the original author and under Creative Commons license as permitted by the correct terms and conditions in accordance to the license.
August 30, 2017 | The Children of Linux
Linux - It's really not a hard operating system to learn. In fact, that statement is quite wrong. Linux is not an operating system. Linux is a kernel which is used as the very core to build an operating system around. But these are the things that children of today are not learning. At least, not in the public schools anyway.
When I was a teenager, I was very interested in computers. I looked forward to and really enjoyed my Information Technology classes. But it wasn't just the computers that I was interested in. The more I got involved with them, the more I wanted to know about what goes on to make them work. Or to be precise, the operating system. It's a long time ago now, but I remember when I was talking to my teacher one day he briefly said something about "Unix".
Until that time, I had never heard of this mysterious Unix system. He mentioned it only this one time. At the time, I really didn't know anything about Unix but was intrigued of what Unix could be. It was some years later before I got my first glimpse of anything to do with Linux. Which is the widely-accepted modern alternative to Unix. My first encounter with Linux was SUSE 8, which came free on a magazine at the time. I might mention, it later came to my attention the magazine was not actually meant to be giving the operating system away on the front cover as they were. Not long after my acquisition of the disc, I learned that I was the one responsible for having the copies of the disc recalled by the magazine publisher. How many were actually returned out of ethical duty is anyone's guess. I suspect it was not many. But ever since my first experience with SUSE 8, I never let go of Linux and have always been involved with it in one form or another.
Now as you all know and are well aware, Microsoft Windows is basically the only operating system taught in our public schools. I understand that the Windows operating system is the industry standard and I can accept that. But I don't believe teaching children how to use Windows solely, is the way forward to a positive IT future. And it is definitely not going to solve the problem of being able to fill the coming flood of positions that are set to become available in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) sector. If Linux even got a mention, it would be progress.
My high school years are well gone now, yet nothing has changed. Public schools are still teaching children Windows and (unintentionally) presenting it as the only operating system you'll ever need to learn and the only operating system than can cater for your daily computing requirements. This assumption is just so untrue and Linux has now evolved to become a great challenger to the Windows operating system in the home and office.
There arises many issues and setbacks with the aforementioned lack of Linux teachings in high schools. One of the primary reasons, being the IT teachers themselves having no concept of how to use Linux. There are many issues from many different angles. We are very lucky in some ways that we live in a world of fast broadband access where anyone can download and install Linux for free. This is accompanied by the huge wealth of technical information, guides and open-source development communities waiting to help, with a quick search in your favorite search engine. When I was in high school, a 56k dial-up internet connection was a true privilege and there was only one computer in the whole school that had internet access. I'm probably still on that waiting list to use that computer, as the list was always a mile long and your turn never seemed to arrive.
All my 15 years of Linux experience that I have today has all been self-taught. I have put myself through free courses and done my fair share of tinkering, configuring and certainly my fair share of breaking systems - sometimes accidental and sometimes intentional by motive of learning. I continue to get yelled at by family members because I've broken the computer once again or changed something! I'm sure it will continue for a very long time. Why? Because Linux offer endless learning capabilities. And despite being a Linux veteran, I am still learning things on Linux on a daily basis and still intentionally break things to see how they work in detail. In fact, I continue to experiment with third-party distributions and development packages which have potential to provide a very different user experience from the usual mainstream Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Fedora.
That is where we begin the see the whole point. There's endless possibilities of learning when it comes to Linux. And perhaps that's the problem when it comes to public schools and teaching Linux. It is such a large scale eco-system with so many different facets, where would one begin to teach. I see that as an excuse for not teaching Linux and not a valid argument. Because even giving children a glimpse of Linux in their high school studies will no doubt have a flow-on effect to further private studies and courses. Linux must be taught to future high school students. Otherwise, we are going to experience a severe shortage of knowledgeable Linux administrators in the future. We are already seeing the first signs of this problem and unless we start arming the young nerds of today with the knowledge they require to make up their own mind, we are going to continue to have even more problems than we do at present.
If things don't change soon, I can only hope that today's students come out of schooling as open-minded as I did and choose to at least give Linux a try and see for themselves the true raw power of free and open-source computing that is modern Unix - Linux.
Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center
Disclaimer: This article was originally published on Unixmen. The original author of the article is Chris McGimpsey-Jones and the article is published under the Creative Commons license model. The article remains published on Unixmen, however the website breaks the terms of the Creative Commons license and additionally, Unixmen has changed the name of the author and claims the article as their own. This is incorrect. Chris McGimpsey-Jones is the original author of the article and it is now published to Freedom Publishers Union, with permission by the original author and under Creative Commons license as permitted by the correct terms and conditions in accordance to the license.
July 18, 2017 | Civilian Casualties Abused and Disrespected by Coalition Forces. Bodies Just Become Collateral Damage Statistic
On July 11, 2017, ABC News in Australia published scathing details of civilian casualties in Afghanistan which includes the lethal shooting of children and unarmed men which have fallen at the hands of Australian Military involvement. This is followed up by details of abuse of bodies of the deceased in Afghanistan, with documents dating incident from 2009 right through to 2014.
The Afghan Files publication by ABC News is very alarming and brings to light the question of potential misconduct of Australian Special Forces soldiers in the Afghan warzones and the broader aspects of the culture that bonds these elite forces together, which mostly operate in secrecy and under what appears to be very limited oversight from the Department of Defense.
The details were based on leaked documents which authenticate the horrific allegations of abuse, which the ABC has chosen not to publish in full as many of them are marked with AUSTEO - Australian Eyes Only. Additionally, the reports are said to include details of a secret internal military inquiry into the cases of the civilian casualties and abuse claims.
Understandably, there has been growing frustrations within Afghan communities. The frustrations are directed towards the Australian Military for the many alleged cases of Australian soldiers killing innocent civilians, who are often determined post-incident to be unarmed, uninvolved in the conflict or in some cases found to be children. As further details are revealed, unarmed civilians who have been killed are often subjected to Australian soldiers setting up a 'scene' by placing knives or guns onto or surrounding the bodies of dead victims to portray them as being armed at the time of death by the Australians.
Freedom Publishers Union is deeply concerned by the details found in the ABC publication and we urge the Australian Government and the Department of Defense to look into the many outstanding issues surrounding these claims, which have been documented, leaked and published by the ABC, yet previously shrouded in secrecy from the wider public by the Department of Defense.
Later details reveal disturbing details of Australian soldiers mutilating dead Afghans by severing the hands off the bodies, in a so-called effort of identification-related purposes. As we understand it, Australian Military personnel are required to collect fingerprints and eye scans as part of the identification process of the deceased. But only if possible to do so. We are so disturbed that soldiers are resorting to what we view as desperate measures of body mutilation, in an effort to gain identification of the civilian casualties when they are not actually required to do so if it is deemed not possible.
The published details are graphic, disturbing and raises many questions of whether Australia's Military require closer oversight in war operations and also raises the potential question of whether a review of the current Rules of Engagement and other related military response and operations guidelines should be further reviewed. For obvious national security reasons, Rules of Engagement and other related military operations techniques and guidelines are usually kept secret and out of the public domain by the respective country's military.
Therefore, it remains nigh on impossible for Freedom Publishers Union to put exact parts of such operations and techniques under further scrutiny due to the surrounding secrecy measures implemented. However, we feel we have every right to call out possibilities of operations breaches if we have suspicion that there is in fact a breach or multiple breaches which have occurred.
The allegations and details publicized by ABC News bring many of these allegations to light, but it's also backed up by documented evidence that these cases did occur and that the Australian Military was aware of the possibility of multiple breaches, yet it was kept secret and out of the public domain.
The latest documents were dated as late as 2014, yet the atrocities carried out by Coalition forces, which includes Australia, continues today. It is important to view the violence from both sides of the coin and understand that these acts of aggression and violence is not just carried out by Coalition associated military forces, but also from Islamic State (IS) forces.
On July 10, 2017, Amnesty International released a 50-page Report titled "At Any Cost - The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul, Iraq". The Report notes that in March and May 2017, Amnesty International visited Northern Iraq to examine and investigate possible violations of human rights abuses and international humanitarian law.
The Report outlines the war atrocities and horrific and often unimaginable violence directly and indirectly involving civilians which is carried out by both Coalition and IS Military Forces.
IS continues to disrespect and outright ignore the laws of war, international humanitarian law and the most basic elements of human rights. The basic importance of human life also seems completely irrelevant in many cases. IS rounds up thousands of civilians at a time, moves them into known war zones and uses them as human shields. Essentially, this creates a very big problem. When you can't distinguish the 'Enemy' from 'Civilian' - as is the case fighting IS militants and the various off-shoot groups which are present in so many of these places across Iraq and Syria - you're going to get civilian casualties.
Furthermore, some of them are going to be deliberate killings. You can report, document, investigate and prosecute the soldiers retroactively, but as long as your are making war, this will continue to happen.
What we do need and what Freedom Publishers Union immediately calls for is civilian casualties properly acknowledged and respected, through proper documenting of the incidents surrounding their deaths. At present, we constantly see vast differences in the numbers of civilians killed based on the figures from Amnesty International and independent monitoring groups such as Airwars and Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in camparison to 'official' acknowledged and documented civilian casualties published in the public domain by The Pentagon.
With such vast difference in numbers of civilian casualties released to the public, suspicion grows and questions need to be asked. Somewhere between the high count of independent organizations and the relative low count of documented civilian casualties published by Government representative departments, we need to get a more accurate figure.
We need greater transparency and we need to see better public disclosure, whilst allowing independent monitoring groups better access to limited military data for the purpose of documentation of civilian casualties. Where classified information and sensitive data is involved, we urge better collaboration between independent monitoring organizations and the military to ensure proper security protocols are followed and respected.
This must also be followed up by ensuring that Rules of Engagement and military operations manuals and techniques are adapted to better accommodate the process for documenting incidents of civilians casualties in a secure, respectful way without the secrecy and constant denial of which we are currently witness to.
Too many civilians are being killed in Iraq and Syria and whilst being denied recognition of their untimely and unexpected deaths, they are equally being denied the respect they deserve. These civilians of foreign countries being caught up in military conlfict zones are still human and are therefore entitled to have their human rights respected, inclusive of their dignity.
There is a deep problem. It is war. Civilian casualties happen. The only way to not have civilian casualties is to not go to war in the first place.
Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center
June 30, 2017 | Elon Musk's Multi-Planetary Civilization Essay, a Blueprint for Serious Consideration
During the month of June, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, released a 16-page essay on multi-planetary civilization, the science community was a little surprised. Some academics were critical of the essay's contents and expressed concern it has no scientific credibility and that it was nothing more than a fantasy.
Before you go head and read the essay, one must open up their mind to the concept of multi-planetary civilization. In reference to Musk's essay and from a scientific stand point, there are many innaccuracies and clear expressions of ignorance of some of the major scientific and engineering challenges that such a cosmic venture would pose. Additionally, from an engineering perspective there remains many problems which would potential make or break any plans for humans to settle on Mars. However, we need to take a step back for a second and look at the structure of the essay. Musk presents the essay by going through each challenge in the appropriate steps which would be required to be completed for any such plan to become reality and to be successful.
The essay starts by outlining humanity's necessity to consider migrating to another planet. In Musk's proposal, he has chosen Mars as his focus. This is not just a random planet pick out of our solar system, he actually does make his case for choosing Mars specifically. The essay continues on and outlines in brief, the requirement for a little more exploration of Mars prior to initiating plans for civilization inhabiting the planet and to start building self-sustaining cities. He is not completely ignorant to the challenges posed by such an ambitious plan. Musk outlines the common challenges that require immediate attention. Technology challenges are very present which would require heavy investment, much research, technical and engineering development and vast improvements to existing technology. We also can't ignore the fact that in some cases we are considering technology that does not yet exist and scientific challenges that have not yet been explored, analyzed and produced any kind of unaninous academic and scientific conclusion. But it's not just the technical challenges that are of immediate concern, there are additional multitudes of engineering challenges too.
The essay continues to detail space ship types and sizes required to transport equipment and actual humans, along with the rocket and propulsion technology required to launch, operate, direct and land these massive ships of which the world has not yet witnessed anything that comes close to resembling the size that Musk proposes is required. Again, we need to remind people that it's a very ambitious plan which will require much more detailed analysis and research.
Finally, the essay concludes with plans for refuelling these ships mid-flight and even goes as far as detailing eventual requirement for fueling 'stations' located in various parts throughout solar system and beyond.
The main problem with the essay is it remains very brief. The entirety of the essay is just 16-pages and it includes information, technical details and diagrams to help illustrate the proposal. The plan is all clear and for such a short essay with only brief information, Musk does a great job of getting his point accross. He deserves credit for that. But where the essay remains very brief, is also the subject of its negative critique. For such a vast plan to be drafted and proposed in just 16-pages could be viewed as ridiculous. And if the proposal is to be ever taken serious, we feel that it would require much more detail, technical specifications, scientific and engineering analysis than this. A serious proposal would most likely run into thousands of pages of text and diagrams.
Elon Musk should not be ignored nor should this essay be treated as ridiculous science fiction. Some might make the assumption that Musk has fallen victim to his own work to the same degree that Ron L. Hubbard succumbed to his own science fiction stories by actually believing what he was writing, to be the truth. The concept of multi-planetary civilization is nothing new and Musk is not the first person to come up with such a concept. When reading the essay you can't help but feel the enthusiasm in Musk's words. His passion for the concept and further development to make the concept a reality is very obvious. On this front, he should be credited for spawning the idea. After all, he founded Tesla and SpaceX to much critique in the early development stages of the companies. Despite the criticism, both Tesla and SpaceX have succeeded and continue to make milestones in technologies and development in their respective fields of business.
We should not discredit Musk and in fact, we should be embracing the passion and thought put into the essay. It's a starting point and all great ambitions start with a basic plan. Even if that plan is to come across as initially crazy. There are obvious challenges present which humans have not yet been forced to deal with. But that leads us to the point where we start believing that Elon Musk's essay is not so ridiculous as you might think. He has outlined problems. He has only provided basic and vague ideas to overcome these challenges. He is just one man. But he is a visionary. Imagine what the brilliant minds of humans could achieve if more thought, research and development was put into multi-planetary exploration with an eventual plan for civilization and establshment of self-sustaining cities on Mars and beyond.
As humans continue to destroy Earth at rapid rate and continue to absolutely outright ignore the problems we are already facing and will face in the future by climate change, and take into consideration the undisputed resource problems that our planet will face, we need a plan B. Elon Musk has proposed an alternative. Is it really such a bad thing to put forth a plan which could possibly see the continued existence of our species? We say it again - He is just one man. But he is a visionary.
Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center
June 19, 2017 | Misrepresentation of CIA Spying Activities, Following Latest Vault 7 Release by Wikileaks
Wikileaks continues to disperse information which reveals just how deep the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spying techniques really go. The latest documents leak from the Vault 7 cache paints a true picture of what we already suspected of the CIA intelligence gathering methods - there really is no boundaries for their targets. Essentially, everything is a target.
The latest documents contain information which detail with frightening certainty that network hardware, routers, switches and firewalls are a focus of the CIA's vast spy program. The network routers that are the forefront of the Wikileaks publication don't just single out one or two brands or models of network hardware, but entire series of routers which the CIA has methods of tampering with, typically by installing unauthorized modified firmware.
The hardware range targeted are some well known brands of D-Link, Belkin, 3Com, Linksys and Cisco. Oddly, the equally popular consumer brands such as the Billion, Netgear and TP-LINK network hardware are not mentioned. We could make the assumption that the brands targeted have less security and are easier for the CIA to manipulate and supposed non-targeted brands have better security. It's important to note this is assumption only and we have absolutely no substance of data to back up this assumption. We can not confirm whether there is more routers which have fallen into the cross-hairs of the CIA, but there is some notable absences.
There has been some over-hyped reporting on the latest release. But it's important to keep the entire Wikileaks publication in context. The CIA has the ability, as we've now learned through these publications, to install modified firmware onto these network hardware devices. There is a mix of consumer level hardware and also business centric hardware. We do not urge panic. We urge caution. But we should never remain complacent and should always aim to stay one step ahead of security contractors that work for government intelligence gathering agencies and ahead of the intelligence gathering agencies themselves. ie. CIA, FBI, NSA, GCHQ, ASIO and others.
Most good network administrators know their hardware very well and should therefore know when/if firmware has been changed or updated without their consent. Freedom Publishers Union considers our own network security to be quite strong. Our server resides on a network behind multiple routers, multiple switches and firewalls. We are confident of our network security and always maintain priority of our network activity at software and hardware level. There are certain indicators which would draw immediate attention to network hardware that has been tampered with. However, in large corporate environments with large and complex networking infrastructure, it would be fair to say that one could not expect the administrators to be able to monitor their state of health and security of every single hardware device connected to these networks. It would be unfair to expect this and outright unrealistic to imply that such undertaking could even be possible without appropriate resources and personnel to carry out such a massive task.
This most likely explains the absence of most consumer level networking hardware. But we can not be sure whether there is more information that accompanies what has been published by Wikileaks, or whether Wikileaks has purposely held some information back. Or it could be a case that such information never leaked through to Wikileaks as part of the Vault 7 cache because it simply does not exist.
This much is speculation. What is not speculation is the very fact that the CIA does carry out spying, hacking and all other forms of intelligence gathering without boundaries or morals. We must remember to always go back to the source documents themselves and analyze the finer detail where required.
March 21, 2017 | Are We Forgetting About the CIA's Lack of Morals and Ethics?
The Julian Assange and Wikileaks bashing has proceeded once again. When the notorious publishing organization released the first dump as part of the Vault 7 cache, the same old arguments were launched and carried on for the days that proceeded. These arguments are quite unjustified. Assange, through Wikileaks, is constantly finding himself under scrutiny for the controversial releases and files dumps of the content that the publishing organization gets it hands on, through anonymous user submission.
The work and data dumps of Wikileaks shouldn't be about Assange. Nor should it be about Wikileaks. Yet for some abhorrent reason, we constantly find mainstream media outlets questioning the journalistic responsibility and integrity of Assange and Wikileaks. Again, Freedom Publishers Union reminds these select media groups that it is not about Assange and it is not about Wikileaks. The real focus of the story should be exactly what the data dump presents - The CIA operating an internal hacking network and of which its activities should be questioned for morals and ethics against the spy agency's mandate.
The CIA should be put to scrutiny. That is what should be the focus of the story. It is precisely what Assange makes clear in his Press Statement which accompanied this release.
The CIA has a mandate. They have regulations and the agency must (and should) operate within the boundaries of its mandate. If it operates outside of its limitations, then it should be put in the public spotlight and put on the stage of public debate.
Whether this is by means of internal whistleblowing and leaked data - it's irrelevant. The public debate on the actions of the CIA must ensue.
It will not come as a major shock to anyone to find out the CIA regularly dabbles outside of its mandate. Due to the serious nature of the agency's activities and operations that it is tasked for, there should remain a certain amount of flexibility within its operating activities.
It's also well known that the NSA operates mass-surveillance and spying programs. We have all put eye ball to the documents that prove these programs exist through the very public discourse and extensive media coverage that followed the initial release of the Snowden leaked documents from the NSA and its intelligence sub-contractors.
Now we've learned through the most recent release from Wikileaks, the CIA is also carrying out spying programs of its own, somewhat in competition with its fellow spy agency, the NSA.
One thing is so obvious that you might as well head to the CIA Headquarters and paint it on the front door - The agency has no morals and no ethics. It is that obvious.
One could make the argument that the CIA et al are spy agencies tasked with spying. It's what they do. One could back up that argument with another, by stating that based on those activities the agencies do not have to adhere to morals and ethics.
Freedom Publishers Union disagree. The CIA, NSA and all government operated intelligence departments should operate with a certain level of understanding of their moral and ethical obligations.
Morals and ethics exist and should be followed. The obvious absence of them is what should be reported. These agencies are essentially behaving at free will, creating the tools to initiate as much discomfort and annoyance they feel satisfies their incredible need for knowledge and power over citizens and their civil rights.
Please don't bring out the old 'we only perform these operations on targets' card. That card has failed every other time and it will continue to fail. Much the same as the argument that everything is done to ensure 'national security' from 'terrorists' and the other 'bad guys'.
Come on, please.
If these agencies think we sit idle and actually take notice of their pathetic justifications for their over-use and overreach of their surveillance and spy powers, then these agencies will continue to be forced into the public spotlight by willing whistleblowers and brave publishers such as Julian Assange and Wikileaks.
Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center
March 21, 2017 | Spying May Be Unethical But it Must be Done, Within Legal Boundaries of the Law
The morality of spying. This is not a new issue. For many millennium, spying has been classified as an immoral operation. Indeed, spies have been subjected to torture and ignominious death since the Chinese and Egyptians ruled civilization because of their moral turpitude. In parallel with this, however, the amount of spying and its scope certainly has never decreased. So obviously there is a double standard in the way governments and rulers see the utility of espionage vs morality. Even the world's citizens see spying with two views. We hail the men and women that worked in the underground against Germany in World War II; stealing information and sending it on to the Allies for action. Indeed; the defeat of the German U-boats was only possible after espionage was able to break the German (and Japanese) military codes.
Domestically, Americans have for decades known that the FBI uses espionage to counter criminals, from wire-tapping to intercepting messages and ciphers. This has proven to have prevented many acts of crime and violence.
Our agencies - and indeed, the rest of the "Five Eyes" - do adhere to standards of morality and legality. And secrecy. For nearly every person in America or elsewhere in the "Eyes", this has been one of the foundations of our freedom. We know that our privacy is being protected, because we aren't all being arrested for committing the 'crimes that everyone in America commits'. It is not against the law to bash our government; it isn't illegal to trash talk our leaders; hell, it's not even illegal to discuss revolution in public! If we were being spied upon, America would be a lot more like Turkey or Egypt. This must be remembered.
We have a tolerance for the morality of spying, so long as we feel that it isn't being used on us. I'm not going to discuss the way Americans and the rest of the world were duped into questioning individual privacy. But recognize that we, as citizens, look upon our privacy through a many-faceted glass, causing us to reflect on freedom and privacy in many different and often diametrically opposed ways.
On Wikileaks and their information; the publishing organization performs a service that is critical to the functioning of freedom in the abstract and practical sense. It provides information about activities that are being done that may or may not meet with our intellectual and moral approval. Some of these actions may truly be illegal as well as immoral. It is important for these actions to be revealed and corrected in order to ensure that our freedom is based on the 'Rule of Law', both in its scope and in the limits that we, as a civil society, must have.
However, we also need to look at Wikileaks with the same caution that we use on any other media source. While the information Wikileaks releases is usually verified by the same agencies that stand accused of the actions in question, the information does come from anonymous sources with little provable veracity - at least until someone at NSA 'fesses up that 'it's true'. Even then, 'first impressions' authenticity can still be put to question.
One of the problems with getting this information is that it is often impossible to verify it before it is released. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the perpetrators usually admit to the act and corrections are made. However, over time it becomes more and more difficult for Wikileaks to not be duped by cleverly created 'propaganda dumps'.
The release of the "DNC emails" during the election is an example of something that - in and of itself - was not a really surprising or shocking revelation for anyone that has worked in politics. However, the cachet of being release by Wikileaks, a source we trust for revealing hidden facts and secret stuff - and the fact that we were in a contentious elections - caused the story to carry far more weight than the facts it contained inside the documents. It also can not be ignored that the DNC emails publication revealed a bias in the Editorial staff of Wikileaks, that had been underplayed in previous releases - A bias that has somewhat undermined the credibility of the organization.
All of our intelligence agencies and all of our other Government departments need to be held up and inspected on a regular basis through genuine auditing and oversight. It is far too easy to commit criminal acts where you're behind the line of the law instead of in front. But at the same time, everyone needs to put this information into a true perspective, rather than simply take the spin a certain news organization put on it.
As an example, the 'revelation' of the Samsung TV recording [spying] capability - It is well known and documented elsewhere that nearly every connected device in a home [Internet of Things (IoT)] can be hacked to perform some form of spying or disruption. Learning that a spy agency has that in its closet is completely obvious, really. And we must understand this isn't the first time this has happened. Back in 2014 the Chinese company, Huawei, was banned from selling their excellent switches in some countries because the CIA discovered that they had malware baked in by the Chinese government. No outcries from that!
It isn't government surveillance that I am concerned about. It's the basis of the government itself. Both the US and Australia are governed under a "Constitution" that establishes the "Rule of Law" and how it is applied and enforced. The Rule of Law ensures that when freedom or rights are violated, it is redressed with the full force of the government of the nation. Thus, if someone were to be harmed by unwarranted surveillance and invasion of a guaranteed right, the agency committing the harm would be fully liable under law. Even if there is no known harm, once the violation is discovered, legal proceedings to prevent future violation are undertaken.
You spy without legal permission, you and your agency are punished. It has worked in the case of the Snowden revelations; it will continue to work as long as the American Constitution is held supreme, as it must.
The bottom line is how intrusive the surveillance is.
Scanning phone records meta-data doesn't violate privacy in nearly all cases. If I call someone in country X, yes, that record will be scanned. But there isn't anything actionable about it, so nothing happens. It is, literally, the case of 'a tree falling in the woods'. On the other hand, if that record triggers an investigation into me and my actions, then, unless I've violated a law or I'm under suspicion of violating a law, any result of that investigation constitutes a violation of my rights under Constitutional law. And I'd have a prima facia case in court.
Agencies like the CIA, NSA, GCHQ, ASIO and other members of the "Five Eyes" DO NEED TO BE AUDITED TO PREVENT ILLEGAL ACTIONS. But the line must be drawn at when the agency actually breaks a law, not merely that their action can potentially break a law. Scanning meta-data is legal, so long as the results remain anonymous. Listening to my conversation is illegal without a specific warrant - and a FISA court warrant is still completely legal. And adding software to a device to perform surveillance may be legal so long as it doesn't immediately violate my Constitutional rights. Especially if that software is actually in place for another purpose and isn't specifically introduced for surveillance - like the inadvertent ability to enable a web-cam already present in existing software. Solong as a warrant is obtained to use it for surveillance purposes, it's legal. On the other hand, if the 'bug' is intentionally introduced, then a FISA warrant better be in hand because that action borders on illegal - and would be if it is used.
At Freedom Publishers Union we must stress that we are not advocating for enabling a "Big Brother" state; far from it. But we all need to understand the need for some of these techniques and technologies: foreknowledge is forewarned. There are times where the "Ends Justify the Means. But in all cases, the agencies must work within the limits of their charter and the Constitution and be held to it. Even if sometimes the permission is retroactive.
US Press Office - Salt Lake City News
January 28, 2017 | Trump's Influence on Balance of Privacy and Law
There is growing fear spreading throughout digital societies that our privacy is being eroded. Fears continue to be sparked, largely due to the erratic and somewhat unpredictable behavior of newly elected US President Donald Trump and his Administration. A common term that we are beginning to hear get thrown around the office is, "There is no such thing as privacy". This term has a disturbing amount of truth to it.
If we specifically refer to modern computerized technology, our privacy as it existed pre-modern computers, is being leaked to the world at rapid rate and on a daily basis. If we disregard privacy, it is possible to have temporary secrecy. But even that can and will disappear as soon as there is value in doing so. It doesn't matter who is in charge of making the rules, because we already know that the rule of law doesn't apply when it comes to privacy and secrecy. If we make privacy a legal right, then covert surveillance will be conducted without legal oversight anyway. If we acknowledge that there actually is no privacy, then we will prepare ourselves for the consequences of our actions being revealed when we take them.
We can't deny the fact that President Trump will be no more abusive with privacy than any other President and Congress would be. Even with strong laws protecting privacy, if there is a compelling reason to violate the law and obtain the data, it will be done regardless of legal status or classification. By making it easy to obtain warrants publicly to conduct privacy invasions, at least we can ensure that there is some level of transparency, which therefore opens the door for accountability.
We can't ignore the possibility of the worst case scenario: strong privacy laws making it impossible for journalists and publishers to do their investigations and press duties legally. Anything that is considered private, confidential or secret is now a crime to reveal under various laws that already exist. Even if the information leads to more criminal actions, it would become inadmissible evidence, as obtaining it would violate the right to privacy in the first place. If it is leaked illegally, even if the leaker is captured and convicted, the damage is already done.
There can not be a guarantee to the 'Right to Privacy'. It needs to be clearly defined what constitutes private and privileged communications, and what does not. We must unambiguously create laws that define these boundaries, strictly. And we need to ensure that all privacy laws apply equally regardless of the station in life or publicity of the person or organization involved. The challenge comes with being aware of what the consequences of these laws are with regard to journalistic integrity and the response to illegal violations of privacy and secrecy.
We cannot condone the actions of Edward Snowden and Wikileaks on one hand and then condemn government agencies for doing the same thing - with the power of law and warrant on their side. Both parties need to be held to the same standards and those legal boundaries must be clear enough to prevent unwarranted snooping yet porous enough to permit reasonable investigative actions by both journalists and government agencies.
US Press Office - Salt Lake City News
December 17, 2016 | Australian Federal Court Orders Block of The Pirate Bay and Others
Freedom Publishers Union learned on December 15, 2016, the Australian Federal Court handed down its judgment on the blocking of BitTorrent website The Pirate Bay, along with several other websites - of which some are now defunct.
Primarily, the target of the case was demonstratively The Pirate Bay, as the Federal Court has ordered that the website must be blocked at the ISP-level, by whatever means the ISP deems necessary to the acceptance and standards accepted by rights-holders - in this case primarily led by Foxtel and Village Roadshow.
Freedom Publishers Union holds a very strong view on censorship matters and our position on this matter has never changed. We support freedom of information and any technology that allows for freedom of the flow of information. This includes BitTorrent software and websites that index and provide torrent and magnet information.
Copyright requires much reform. This is very well known. If proper copyright reform was to be pursued, with the intention of the addition of fair-use clauses and appropriate provisions, it would have a much greater effect on reducing piracy levels than simple attempts of website/domain blocking. ie. Censorship.
We believe the existence of The Pirate Bay and other websites that permit for the freedom and dissemination of digital information on a mass scale should be acknowledged for their technical expertise, abilities and implementation and the possibilities that they enable by allowing for the very freedom of information, distribution and dissemination that we refer to.
We believe that they should never be used as a pawn for fighting for copyright protection by incoherent media companies and rights-holders which continue to demonstrate their absolute lack of understanding of the larger issues. This is not new, as has been done in the past many times and continues with this latest case and judgment which has resulted in another country (Australia) paving the way for blocking measures to be implemented. We also believe that this is the very first step towards greater implementation of censorship of Australian internet.
We will continue to fight for and advocate for freedom of information and will always oppose against censorship and attacks against net neutrality.
Freedom Publishers Union will oppose the judgment to the fullest extent and advocate that all blocking measures be reversed and seriously reviewed so a better solution can be established with the pursuit and addition of copyright reform.
Additionally, Freedom Publishers Union will continue to distribute software that will bypass such blockages and offer a level of security and anonymity, through digital dissemination and distribution of Tor Browser packages and its source code. We will also continue to operate our own The Pirate Bay sub-domain which redirects to the official domain name. If this results in blocked pages being displayed, as it will be dependent on the blocking techniques implemented by the ISPs in Australia, then we will guide our website users to information that will instruct them to download and install Tor Browser, so that the intended website(s) and page(s) can then be accessed - securely and with anonymity.
Heading into 2017, we will strive to continue to oppose governments, their associated agencies and departments that implement any kind of censorship on Australian users, as we will proceed to do the same in any country implementing censorship on its internet users.
Finally, and in conclusion, we will continue to push for copyright reform and the addition of fair use clauses and provisions.
Copyright reform and fair use are the solution to combat mass global piracy, not censorship. Information should be free. That is what Freedom Publishers Union will continue to fight for.Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center
November 30, 2016 | UK Now Has Legalized Dragnet Mass-Surveillance. Carry On, Nothing to See Here.
Soon, the Investigatory Powers Bill will become law in the United Kingdom. The Bill is also commonly referred to as the "Snoopers Charter" or simply the "IP Bill", and has passed both Houses in the UK Parliament. Sadly, there was very little attention given to its finer details, nor was it really put under the required scrutiny. And, it seems there was very little interest in any amendments being put forth which put any kind of restraint on the powers that the Bill enables. The only effective amendment was protective measures that allow for Parliamentarians and specific Government officials to be excluded from exposure to the Bill's Provisions.
Under the provisions of the IP Bill, it allows for lawful hacking by police, security and intelligence services which can include computer networks, mobile devices and servers. Methods can include interference using existing vulnerabilities known, in software to gain access, to extract data or monitor the device and input/output data.
The only requirement for these tasks to be carried out and be deemed legal, is for a warrant to be obtained.
At the time of going to press, It remains unclear of the broader terms surrounding 'bulk hacking', with the Provision allowing for data gathering from a large number of devices in a specific location. This can include foreign regions suspected of terrorism activity. Concerns are present, that data of untargeted and unknowing civilians will be caught up in this mass-surveillance Clause, which uses terms much too broad and very non-specific and allowing for extended surveillance techniques to be carried out by UK law enforcement and intelligence officials. This is effectively dragnet surveillance.
Some measures are being taken to include steps are implemented to oversee activities and to attend to any problems that shall arise. This will be handled by an Investigatory Powers Commissioner (IPC) and Judicial Commissioners, which will be appointed by the Prime Minister of the day, currently Theresa May.
The IPC will audit legislation compliance of hacking and surveillance operations and carry out investigations into operations mismanagement, if required. Reporting and recommendations determined by the IPC are to be made public.
Mandatory data retention of 12 months is to be maintained, with requirement for data to be stored which includes web browsing history and connections. This data will be accessible to police, law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Combined, making these some of the most invasive data retention measures in the democratic world. Concerns over the precision and amount of data being required to be stored is mounting and the fact can't be ignored of the immense pressure which gets applied on internet service providers (ISPs). This has been witnessed first-hand by financial constraints and pressure on limited resources with ISPs in Australia - a country which has similar provisions for data retention requirements, albeit meta-data only being retained.
Under the IP Bill, data must include websites visited, servers accessed, day, date, time, where it was accessed from and using what device on what network. In short, the Investigatory Powers Bill has just legalized dragnet mass-surveillance in the UK. Again, warrants must be obtained, but we suspect this will be much too easy, enabling access of private data.
Privacy has been eroded to almost nothing, with the upcoming enactment of the Snoopers Charter. Civil liberties that lead to the right to privacy, has been eaten into, in large bites.
Freedom Publishers Union urges citizens to play on the side of caution. More thought and consideration of steps to implement encryption to enhance ones privacy must now become priority. Also, we need to make it difficult as possible for authorities to collect the data in the first place. This can be achieved by using tools which aim to implement anonymous internet access, by using Tor Browser which connects to the encrypted internet network of Tor, also referred to as "The Onion Router".
We must remember to call this invasive legislation out for what it is - Snoopers Charter. We must continue to apply pressure on future legislators which can make future amendments which will see even a slight amount of curbing of some of the worst Clauses and Provisions, which allow for this mass-surveillance to continue under the banners of 'legality'. And, we must continue to see that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner and the Judicial Commissioners are held accountable for their actions, if they fail to fulfill their duties of oversight of surveillance operations and their compliance with the legislation set before the citizens of the UK. Civil liberties have been violated - a common theme which has been replicated by many democratic governments across the globe.
Once invasive legislation which legalizes sweeping, dragnet mass-surveillance is enacted and made law, focus must shift to amending the legislation and implement the most important amendments which aim to curb at least some of the most invasive measures. Where violation of civil liberties has occurred, this must be counter-balanced by operations transparency and accountability being ensured through people power, by those who remain strong enough to stand up for civil rights, their liberties and the right to privacy in the digital sphere.
European Press Office - Moscow Press
October 14, 2016 | Yahoo Inc. - Initiator of Sweeping Surveillance
It was an explosive revelation when Reuters published details of Yahoo Inc. providing direct assistance to the conglomerate which has become internationally recognized as the world's mass-surveillance state, the United States of America and primarily, the NSA and its international intelligence partners.
Details have emerged that Yahoo has cooperated directly, with a demand from the US Government providing the platform for enablement of sweeping surveillance by scanning all incoming Yahoo customer emails, for specific keywords and character strings. The practice was carried out by Yahoo, by providing the tools to enable and perform the email scanning.
According to details since revealed, Yahoo performed the sweep by modifying existing source code for a program the company already uses to scan and identify malware inside its customer emails. The new program was developed through heavy code modification, which resulted in a complete new program going live on Yahoo servers. The program was then used at the hands of Yahoo, in direct and undisputed co-operation and as demanded by the US Government intelligence officials.
One of the most disturbing elements is that Yahoo representatives never disputed, questioned or resisted the demand. Exact details of the legal demand for Yahoo to perform the sweeping surveillance have not yet been revealed at the time of going to press. We do expect the precise legal details and documentation to be treated with a high amount of secrecy - much like all operations directly related to the US mass-surveillance programs.
Freedom Publishers Union condemns such undisputed sweeping surveillance and untargeted mass-surveillance on any scale. Any digital surveillance should be targeted and have a legally obtained warrant provided. When Apple was asked to assist the FBI with the cracking of one of the company's iPhone devices in the San Bernadino case, Apple stood by its company standards and refused to cooperate. Apple's decision must not be confused here, as it is to quickly make an assumption which is wrong. Whilst the legal side of this case gets much more complicated, what we learned from the public perspective is that Apple is willing to stand its ground, stand by its products and uphold the privacy which is enabled by the provided security on Apple devices.
The iPhone in the San Bernadino case was eventually cracked and data accessed with the efforts of a third-party security company and without any involvement from Apple. Yet we must note that Apple never relented or caved into the mass-surveillance institute led by the US Government. Yahoo Inc. has let its customers down, by simply cooperating with the mass-surveillance regime, without question and with a certain amount of enthusiasm from the company's CEO, Marissa Mayer. According to sources inside Yahoo, it has been said that Mayer's actions, judgment and lack of questioning of the reasons for the demanding of email sweeping caused some major disunity among the executive ranks of Yahoo.
Freedom Publishers Union maintains our view that digital surveillance measures should be carried out as targeted operations based on a legally obtained warrant and must be absolutely justified.
As we continue to debate privacy, encryption and civil liberties, this case could easily become a reason to begin to question whether any progress has in fact been made since the debate become mainstream back in 2013. We believe it is fair to point out that progress is being made by a majority of the big technology companies, who wish the gain back the trust of their customers through providing better security and encryption for their services. Things are much better that just two years ago. Yet equally, we still have a long way to go.
The institute of American-led mass-surveillance continues and the legal loopholes that exist are being found and abused by the institute as a means to justify their actions and be able to publicly claim their operations 'are legal'. Legal - perhaps. Ethically responsible and acceptable - absolutely not. Mass surveillance must stop. Sweeping surveillance must stop. The constant attempts of intelligence agencies and their legal goons to use whatever means to find these legal loopholes and policy makers deliberately creating the loop holes so they can be exploited by the mass-surveillance institute must also stop.
Finally, technology companies must continue to provide better security for their customers, not only through their services and products, but backed up by said company standing firm against untargeted surveillance.
In this latest case, Yahoo Inc. has failed on all counts. We have lost what little respect we had for company. Will it hurt the company's bottom line? Probably a little bit. But probably not much. What is guaranteed to stain Yahoo's immediate public image and become a sore spot of its history, is its failure to stand by and protect the privacy and rights of its customers in favor of preferring to collaborate with the US mass-surveillance program and becoming a direct initiator of a sweeping surveillance program through the development of software that Yahoo developed.
US Press Office - Salt Lake City News
September 1, 2016 | France Leading Charge for EU and Global Push for Anti-Encryption Legislation
For just once, we wish that all sides of the encryption wars would agree on a cease fire and public and governments accept that encryption is a tool and not an end-all in itself.
Freedom Publishers Union has published much content and documents supporting encryption. We are known advocates for encryption and see it as a vital tool to enhance individual's privacy. But not just encryption - strong encryption. We understand its abilities to protect the privacy of an individual's data - which is the purpose of encryption.
Equally, we understand that it is not a government's place to tamper with or modify to any extent encryption algorithms or access methods - ie. implementing government sponsored compulsory backdoors.
We stand by and always aim to protect the civil liberties of individuals and their absolute right to protect their own privacy. The connected world as we know it (as the internet) is under constant mass-surveillance. Thankfully, in a relatively short amount of time since we learned of PRISM and its associated spying programs, the digital world has come a long way, as has encryption. But there is still a long way to go, as we are nowhere near where we should be for protecting ourselves from these mass-surveillance programs. The tools are readily available. The software is already out there and most of it already open-source and known to have not been tampered with. When potential vulnerabilities are detected, patches are quickly developed and pushed out to the public through the open-source distribution model.
During the month of August, France made calls for nations in the European Union to unite and campaign against the use of encryption. It has specifically called upon Germany for help, to get the country to start drumming up support for a campaign to stop implementation of strong encryption. This is a time when the citizens must equally unite and fight back, in support of strong encryption.
Why is France complaining about encryption? According to a recent article published by news giant Reuters, France believes one of the reasons they are struggling to thwart terrorist attacks on home soil is because of encryption. The article specifically points out Telegram and its implementation of end-to-end encryption.
This all needs to be kept in perspective; there are lots of good people, businesses and non-profit organizations that use encryption software on a daily basis, in a completely innocent manner - which is to enhance their privacy and protect important data. No harm intended, encryption used for protection of data and to maintain privacy of legitimate behavior. Whether this data needs to be protected or should be protected is not for governments to make that judgment. It is the right of civil liberties of any individual to make the call whether they want their data protected. Simply standing up and touting that the 'terrorists are using encryption, let's stop all use of encryption' is not only taking the entire thing out of context and perspective, but it also underlines the failings, again, of the understanding of the purpose of encryption.
Telegram has been heavily criticized for its method of encryption and the implementation of its algorithms which used to protect the communications of its users. This criticism has mostly come from respected members of the crypto community. However, there are some conflicts in the validity of the criticism and the actual reliance of the security measures by Telegram. The claims by French authorities that Telegram is a major cause for concern because terrorists are using the software's encrypted chat ability to organize and communicate their operations and their apparent inability to penetrate the software's encryption provide much merit to the software security mode, despite the criticism posed by security researchers.
Freedom Publishers Union takes encryption seriously and we would actually like to see more software services take encryption and its security abilities much more serious. There are still many software services that are used on a daily basis that are still rendered insecure because there is simply no implementation of encryption. However, technology companies claim to be working on more secure implementations of their services, albeit the development and roll out has been slow to date. Despite the Silicon Valley consistently telling us 'we are working on it' and 'it is coming'.
The new French-born attack on encryption (with more EU countries most likely to join), is unjustified. By claiming that use of encryption must be reduced, stopped or backdoors implemented (by law) so governments and their law enforcing and intelligence agencies can snoop around their respective citizens' data is just another gross display that governments still do not understand the pillars of encryption, its purpose and how it actually enables security conscious citizens to protect themselves and their data from the 'bad guys'. Even worse, they're having to use it to protect themselves from their own governments too.When citizens become scared of the bad people in society, there is most likely issues with rising crime. But when citizens become scared of the bad people within the governments they entrust their confidence, yet who have apparently become absolutely and certifyingly obsessed with knowing everything about everyone and then sharing that information with their international allies, then its another demonstration of the veracity of the ongoing crypto wars and the wider implications of the ongoing mass-surveillance programs. Unfortunately, the war is between the government and the citizenry - rather than between the government and the bad people.
It's about how we look at it.
Encryption can be viewed and examined from many different aspects. All issues surrounding encryption need to be kept in perspective, otherwise it can be confusing and information that should be of relevant importance becomes just a mess.
Strong encryption is no different than a strong safe. A safe is used to store valuable or secret information, with the assumption that it will be very difficult for anyone to open it without authorization. Law enforcement has been dealing with safes for centuries. If the owner refuses to provide or authorize access, they are held in contempt and law enforcement then has the authority - under a legally obtained warrant - to break into the safe.
Companies like Chubb or Diebold certainly do not build backdoors into their products simply because law enforcement would 'like to have them'. And any attempt to pass legislation that would require a master key to all safes - including banks - would be stopped at the doors of Congress.
Encryption should be treated the same way. In the most famous case to date - breaking into the iPhone that was used by the San Bernardino murderers - the phone was effectively cracked without the assistance of Apple, the carrier or the deceased owner. No one was forced to reveal secrets that made every other device insecure. Although challenges were made to weaken the safe of encryption, nothing was actually legislated and no contempt charges against Apple or the carriers were filed.
This is exactly the way it should be. Treat encryption and safes the same way and be done with these legislative tantrums. It must be understood, if law enforcement does break encryption while executing a warrant, they do not have to share the method with anyone. If they can keep the 'secret' to breaking into an iPhone, then they are welcome to it. All this means is that the defense has to keep working to fix bugs and improve safety. Just as the offense continues to work on breaking through into the safe. Because eventually any such 'secret' will be revealed, the bug fixed and everyone goes back to square one.
Remember that this approach is completely within the boundaries of the Constitution or Charter of most Western nations today. Receiving court permission to gather evidence means that a robust case was made that convinced a judge that there was merit in allowing the action to proceed. And if the warrant was issued without due process, there is redress in law for the plaintiff. If the laws surrounding the execution of these very important components of fair jurisprudence and law enforcement are broken in the execution or obtaining of a warrant, then this can be raised immediately and further legal action taken. We know that this works, as there are hundreds of cases dismissed because of improper procedure every year, including some high-profile cases dealing with exactly this issue in the mass collection of citizen's information in America.
So we come to the conclusion.
Security researchers and cryptologists have been here so many times before. We pose the same argument for encryption, defining it's importance and presenting scenarios to attempt to justify our argument. Those against encryption do the same.
If one was to be uninformed of the definition and purpose of encryption and read media accounts of the arguments and government calls for anti-encryption legislation, it would all seem so simple. "Bad guys are doing bad things with software that allows them to mask their operations and communications." When looking at it through the glasses of realism, you understand the complexities of encryption - its history - its intended purpose - and how it surrounds us already through technology integration. This is too often over-looked when calls are made to reign in encryption use.
We remain confident that common-sense will prevail in the long-term, however it does not mean that we must remain complacent. We will not stand by and watch encryption and security software be attacked. Freedom Publishers Union remains dedicated to upholding civil liberties for all citizens around the world, including encryption and privacy.
Freedom Publishers Union is yet to view any actual EU legislative proposal which has potential to affect, change or outlaw encryption from the current form. We will watch with a keen eye and publish any documents as they become available.
US Press Office - Salt Lake City News
August 27, 2016 | European Copyright Leak Exposes Plans to Force the Internet to Subsidize Publishers
A just-leaked draft impact assessment on the modernization of European copyright rules could spell the end for many online services in Europe as we know them. The document's recommendations foreshadow new a EU Directive on copyright to be introduced later this year, that will ultimately bind each of the European Union's 28 member states. If these recommendations by the European Commission are put in place, Europe's internet will never be the same, and these impacts are likely to reverberate around the world.
The 182-page document identifies three general objectives-ensuring wider access to content, adapting copyright exceptions to the digital and cross-border environment, and achieving a well-functioning marketplace for copyright. In this initial article we examine the recommendations that fall under the third of these three objectives, which are amongst the most alarming proposals, including new obligations on Internet platforms, and new copyright-like powers for news publishers.
More specifically, this article will look at two of the proposals for what the Commission calls "upstream" problems, or difficulties faced by copyright owners in extracting value from the use of content online. We'll deal with other parts of the document in later posts.
"Sharing of Value" Proposal Exposes Rights-holder Greed
The assumption that copyright owners should be entitled to share in any value created by online platforms is never really examined by the Commission. The theory is that because online platforms are doing rather well in the digital environment, and because traditional publishing industries are doing less well, this gives the publishers some kind of claim to share in the profits of the platforms. It's a questionable starting point, and as we'll see, the recommendations that flow from it are ill-considered and harmful.
The first of the two problems that copyright owners supposedly face in extracting such value is that there is a large amount of user-generated content uploaded by users to sharing platforms, and that European law does not place an obligation on platforms to proactively police this content for possible copyright infringement, but instead relies on the latter to identify that the material has been uploaded without authorization and to request its removal. That existing law strikes a reasonable balance, similar to Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the US.
Major entertainment companies characterize this as a problem because it means that copyright owners have less ability to ask online platforms to pay licensing fees for their content. In the case of user-generated content platforms (think YouTube and SoundCloud), the platform can simply offer to remove a copyright-owner's content rather than paying for it-or, in practice, to voluntarily offer a compromise such as YouTube's Content ID that automatically scans uploaded content and shares ad revenues for content identified as the copyright owner's.
As for platforms that offer access to their own library of content (think Netflix and Spotify), rights-holders contend that they may be willing to pay less in order to remain competitive with the user-generated content platforms. In either case, major copyright holders contend that platforms should be paying them more for the content that the platforms make available online.
The European Commission's proposed solution, however, is worse than the supposed problem. The Commission is proposing that user-generated content platforms should be forced to seek, in good faith, to conclude private agreements with copyright owners and to put in place "appropriate and proportionate content identification technologies". In short, the use of something like YouTube's Content ID system is being made compulsory.
This is a treacherous idea for many reasons, but just to give two:
More broadly, this kind of insidious regime of private agreements pushed by government is the kind of cop-out from good lawmaking that EFF calls "Shadow Regulation"; a concept that we'll be introducing in more depth in subsequent Deeplinks posts, where we will give some other examples of the same. But in short, such agreements can embody the worst of all possible approaches, by combining the coercion of government regulation, with the lack of accountability of corporate self-regulation.
A Link Tax in Favor of News Publishers
The European Commission doesn't stop there, but also has a similarly ham-fisted proposal to address the declining revenues of news publishers from their print publications, which leaves them with fewer resources to continue to invest in journalism.
We have previously agreed that this is a real problem. But where the Commission errs is to pin responsibility for this problem on the reuse of news content by web platforms under exceptions to copyright; and it compounds this error by seeking to limit their use of such copyright exceptions going forward.
The Commission's proposal is to award publishers a new copyright-like veto power, layered on top of the copyright that already exists in the published content, allowing them to prevent the online reuse of news content even when a copyright exception applies. This veto power may last for as little as one year, or as many as 50-the Commission leaves this open for now.
This kind of veto power has been described as a link tax-notwithstanding the Commission's protestations that it isn't one-because when the publisher controls even the use of small snippets of news text surrounding a hyperlink to the original article, it essentially amounts to a tax on that link. The result, as seen in Spain, will be the closure of online news portals, and a reduction in traffic to news publishers.
A new wrinkle on this link tax proposal is that the Commission also proposes that publishers who have received a transfer of copyright from authors should also be entitled to collect revenue from whatever copyright levies member states may impose to "compensate" authors for use of their content under copyright exceptions. The notion that "compensation" is needed for users exercising their rights under copyright is a thoroughly perverse one, as we have previously explained. This addition to the link tax proposal is a gift to copyright collecting societies that will further increase the cost and complexity of lawfully reusing content.
What Happens Now?
The impact assessment is not yet a draft law, but it is a crystal clear indication from the European Commission about the content of the law that is is proposing to develop as a draft for approval by the other European institutions, namely the European Parliament, and the Council of the European Union. Users will have further opportunities for input into the proposals when they reach that stage. But we'll have the best chance of stopping these misguided proposals if European officials are alerted to our concerns right away. They need to understand that Internet users won't accept the "Shadow Regulation" of intermediaries by requiring them to enter into expensive and error-prone arrangements with copyright owners for the automating flagging of user content. Neither will they accept a new "link tax" for news publishers that could stifle the dissemination of news online.
Jeremy Malcolm, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union
Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States (CC BY 3.0 US)
July 13, 2016 | An Appeal for the Reduction of Confinement of Chelsea Manning
Freedom Publishers Union has consistently called for better treatment of Chelsea Manning and our call for Clemency remains.
Most notable Chelsea Manning leaks:
Chelsea Manning completed her 6 years of imprisonment by May 21, 2016. While it is still a point to ponder whether she should be called a whistleblower or a traitor, as she violated the terms and conditions of her employer. She was charged with 16 charges including those under the Espionage Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
At Freedom Publishers Union we do not declare whether her confinement is right or wrong, but to analyze the fact that her punishment is much more than her crime (if whatever she did should be referred to as a crime).
Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) is responsible for the biggest military leak in history [at the time of going to press], which showed the 'other' face of modern warfare. An aspect our governments do not want us to know.
The first leak was a video of a US Army Apache helicopter brutally killing civilians in Baghdad, Iraq. Helicopters misidentified two Reuters journalists as terrorists carrying guns. Without any warning or opportunity to surrender, the video shows the helicopter's engagement, killing the innocent civilians.
Later, they also fired on a van which came on-site to collect the bodies of injured and dead. The people from the van also received the same fate. Two children were also injured due to deliberate civilian firing. The children were sitting in front seat of the van yet the pilots ignored the fact and claimed that it was their fault that they bring children to a crime scene.
The video was leaked to Wikileaks which then produced the video and released it under the title of "Collateral Murder". Many activists agreed on the name as the video clearly describes just that. Manning also leaked ~91,000 reports covering the war from 2004 to 2010 known as "Afghan War Diary". Reports also describe the number of persons stated to be killed, wounded or detailed during the course of the war in Afghanistan.
The Afghan War Diary is the most significant archive about the reality of war to have ever been released during the course of a war. The deaths of tens of thousands is normally only a statistic but the archive reveals the locations and the key events behind each most of these deaths. "We hope its release will lead to a comprehensive understanding of the war in Afghanistan and provide the raw ingredients necessary to change its course", says Wikileaks Editor, Julian Assange.
Manning is also responsible for ~390,000 classified military documents on the war and occupation in Iraq, from 2004 to 2009, as told by soldiers in the US Army. Notably, the months of May 2004 and March 2009 are absent. This is known as "Iraq War Diary" and is one of the biggest military warfare data leaks in history. The majority of deaths in the Iraq war is civilians (60%) which is [average] 31 civilians dying everyday over the span of 6 years. During that time Iraq was five times more lethal with respect to equivalent population.
"Cablegate" is another affiliation of Manning's data leaks, in which ~250,000 US diplomatic cables were leaked which comprised of talk from 274 embassies around the world. This data shows the spying nature of US Government and how governments have many faces.
Since her confinement, Manning has been awarded many times. She is also three time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. Which clearly indicates her good deeds towards the data leak concept. But as the charges are applied on her, it is clearly a battle between law and ethics. Everyone must agree that no law is flawless and ethics are the same throughout the world. We are taught from our early childhood about how transparency, truth and honesty are essential qualities and one must do good no matter what. Chelsea Manning did the right thing and got many appraisals for that but the law is clearly not happy with her.
She was reported to authorities by one of her confidants, a renowned hacker [at the time]. After confinement she stated that her intention was not to hurt anyone or give the leaked information into the wrong hands, but to ensure transparency. Manning's leaked documents showed us how modern warfare looks and how innocent civilians are caught up in conflict and killed because of corrupt and unethical politics.
Many of us will agree that the Iraq and Afghan war(s) changed the world, but not for the better. The Arab Spring is a result of multiple failures of US operations in these countries and their neighbors.
Then we have the violent terrorist group, known as "Islamic State [also known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh]" which effectively developed as a result of the power vacuum left by the Western invasion in the Middle-East.
War is bad and these documents are proof of that.
Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die. --Herbert Hoover
This was not the first time when documents regarding the war became helpful and showed wider harms to the rest of the world. The Diary of Anne Frank describes the situation of war [World War II, 1947] and today we can imagine the torridness of that era just by analyzing such documents. Back in those days when Adolf Hitler was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize , these documents show us their importance. Some of us agree that single photo of Napalm Girl helped end the Vietnam War. So we can say that the data leaks by Chelsea Manning is good for whole mankind.
Now, the more important thing is how this whole incident is going to affect all of us. Whistleblowers are definitely seen as selfless martyrs doing the right thing for the right cause. But this incident shows how whistleblower protection must be a real thing with real powers. And Manning's imprisonment for this duration [35 years] is too much punishment and this contrasts with the decision of the rest of the world where Manning is appreciated for her contributions. If the confinement period is not reduced very soon, then surely whistleblowing will be a thing of the past and we will keep struggling with corruption and selfishness of our leaders.
Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center
July 9, 2016 | Data or Just Numbers? British Intelligence Gathering Dates Back to 1990's
On April 21, 2016, The Guardian published an article referencing documents released by Privacy International which detailed extensive surveillance, which dates back to the 1990's and how it was to be the primary source of intelligence gathering for Britain's intelligence organizations - GCHQ, MI5 and MI6.
Freedom Publishers Union has viewed the documents, which includes 116 documents detailing intelligence gathering information across many hundreds of pages.
The document dump was provided by Privacy International.
Through our US Press Office, upon closer review of the document dump by Freedom Publishers Union Sub-Editor, Brett Brennan, he provided the following analysis of the history of intelligence, whether privacy still exists and how encryption is still so important, as failing on encryption marks you as just another 'suspect' on a very long list.
I work with clients that take available data sources - most of them open in the public record - and use data warehouses to compile multiple sources of information into a detailed profile of literally millions of people. Financial institutions and risk analysis firms have access to additional private data which they can legally, whilst following privacy guidelines, combine with other data sources - often the same public data - to create even more detailed profiles of individuals. Then, law enforcement can take the data and combine it with their legally obtained sources to create an even more detailed insight into people's lives.
There are rules and laws surrounding what can and cannot be done with this information. Most of these agencies work within those rules. Many of the rules didn't exist a decade ago, far less back through the 20th century. FOIA works both ways: I can walk into a courthouse or records office and look at data about anyone that is on public record, then take that information with me and composite it with other information that obtain - legally and openly - from other sources and build a profile that would be scary to anyone other than a data scientist.
What we all need to consider is not so much the collection and correlation of this data. What is far, far more important is the uses that this data is often compiled for. Taking a bulk collection of CDR's (Call Detail Records - telephone bills) and using it as an input into a profiling system doesn't violate legal privacy. No one is identified in the bulk data, it's just data - impersonal, anonymous and massive. Creating a profile of anyone based on the data in that data-set also isn't an invasion of privacy - it's still just data, with more attributes.
It's only when that data is put through a filter and a model is created to use the data that we first start getting close to pin-pointing the individuals contained within. It's all in the 'context of the use', not the data itself, that defines an invasion of privacy or anonymity. And in most of the Western world, that last step requires legal oversight.
Let me put it another way. My Wife mines huge amounts of data from public records doing genealogy research. Most of the data she dumps, simply because it doesn't fit the model (family history) that she is using as the filter criteria. She has "viewed" private information that is in the public domain, but doesn't act on it. When she does use the data and enhances it with other sources, she can paint a more detailed picture of the people that she is analyzing. Cheating husbands and wives can be identified, splits in a family that even the family didn't know about at the time, along with a lot more information about the financial and even mental state of those individuals that have their data in public records.
But even armed with that information, she still has not violated any privacy laws of morals. Her correlation is not the causation of the events that happened to these people. If she publishes the newly correlated data - which she (and everybody else involved in genealogy research does) - she still hasn't violated privacy laws. The data is in public domain and effectively, anyone can do the same process and arrive at the same data-set. The consequence of this publication may cause people who are unaware of the information to feel as though their privacy has been violated, simply because this new view of the data breaks their preconceived and strongly held belief of what the 'story' of their ancestors and living relatives is.
When a Government or other associated agency collects data, it is simply taking the data-sets and correlating them into a suitable model. The result set is still nothing but just data, but it is now data that meets the criteria of the model - the filter - being applied to it. It is only when that data is used to precipitate an action does it trigger consequences.
This brings us to the 'real' fears about data collection. When there are thousands of laws being enforced, all of us are in violation of some law at some point. Maybe we skipped out on paying a parking ticket back in 1979 and that minor violation has gone to warrant for arrest due to the failure to comply with the parking law. If that data is put into a database that any law enforcement agency can access and they choose to check the ownership record of a vehicle against outstanding warrants (mostly looking for stolen vehicles and criminals known to possess a specific vehicle), they might just find that the person who skipped that $12 parking ticket is wanted back in Kansas City for a criminal charge. They can then stop and arrest that person legally - and because there is a crime involved - perform additional actions to determine if more crimes have been committed by that individual. Like having an open beer can in the car, which remains a crime in most of the 50 States in the US, that requires arrest and arraignment. So an unsuspecting person who has completely forgotten about a trivial crime committed 20 years in the past and who has some trash in his car, ends up incarcerated for a day or two, loses their driving privileges and pays a hefty $2000 fine.
People are scared of being arrested for something minor. This is simply because with new data collection capabilities, law enforcement can uncover the violation and make a legal arrest. Cops have been doing this for centuries without the help of bulk data collection. All computers do is make enforcing the law - even completely trivial laws - that much easier.
Privacy is about hiding information. The same as State Secrets. The reason we hide information is to prevent moral or legal implications to change our lives. If we had a single law - one single law - in force throughout the world, there would be people who had violated it always worrying about being caught. Discovery of this violation through data analysis would be a violation of their privacy. A completely legal and acceptable violation because laws protect the rights of the many against the transgressions of the few.
It can not be disputed that privacy is dead and gone. Never collecting any data won't change that. We simply return to the halcyon days of the 1960's where testimony (unreliable) and opinions (less reliable) substitute for evidence. Any laws we enact around the use of data to prevent unauthorized use are completely mooted when we live our lives on Facebook and Twitter, literally.
Until strong and evolving encryption is used by everyone, then anyone who uses encryption will be flagged by traffic analysis as a suspect. Instead, let's deal with privacy from the root cause backwards. Let's fix the laws so that anyone can understand which law they violate immediately, rather than worrying about something that they just don't know.
Data is extra-judicial. It has no value, use or worth as a raw piece of information. Phone numbers are just a random string of numbers, until a model translates them into a useful piece of information. Data is a Heisenberg uncertainty: until you give it context and a model, it doesn't exist. Only by understanding the context of the data we generate in our life-wake can we understand its value. And by removing the cause of the fear most people feel, more so in a post-Snowden era, they can get on with their lives without worrying about who has access to their data. Because without laws to provide context, it's just Heisenberg numbers.
US Press Office - Salt Lake City News
June 17, 2016 | Death Penalty: Is it Justified or Just Plain Wrong and Unethical?
May 13, 2016, The Guardian published an article on pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, and their decision to ban its products, through increased control in an effort to ensure that the company's products are not used for the purpose of lethal injection in prisons.
Freedom Publishers Union as an organization takes a strong stance against the death penalty in any country. On June 9, 2015, we released a Press Statement which initiated our global condemnation against any nation that practices the death penalty.
Death as a punishment has been the reason of debate for a long time. Before we start analyzing the pros and cons of death as punishment, we must consider the opinions and mindset of whole humanity.
In many religions, people celebrate the death as it appears to them as a gateway of another life. But there are very few communities that celebrate the death of young ones.
It can not be questioned that death penalty is extreme punishment. Usually, we humans try to separate some individuals from the rest of us because we think that these individuals are dangerous to others as they violate some laws who are made for betterment of everyone. We hope that within the time of solitude, that criminal will either learn to live as everyone or he/she will be too weak to commit a crime after the solitude.
But a criminals perspective is totally different. Punishment for them is not related with introspection but pain for them and their loved ones. They fear to commit crime because they and their loved ones will be tortured for their heinous act. The gentlemen who decide the punishment for a criminal hope that during the imprisonment, the person will look into their inner-self and he/she will try to be good. But that is not true always.
Death punishment comes as a liberty to some criminals. They do not think much while committing a crime because their pain is for once only. Above all these, terrorists affiliated with Jihad embrace death. Their mindset tells them that death while committing a crime is guarantee to be martyr. They believe and hope that after death they will go to heaven, so-called Jannat, where they'll be caressed by fairies. These criminals are more worried about their after life. Death is not a punishment for them at all. But these incidents encourage others like them to commit crime and reserve some place in heaven.
While we are talking about artificial death, we must make equal consideration of euthanasia. It is also known as "death due to mercy". Euthanasia can be categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries. Non-voluntary euthanasia (patient's consent unavailable) is illegal in all countries, as we understand.
Involuntary euthanasia (without asking consent or against the patient's will) is also illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.
Methods which are used to carry out euthanasia are selected in such a way that the candidate feels the least amount of pain. But the same is true for the death penalty as well, or supposedly. We stress there are many cases and claims of abuse of the practice of the death penalty through lethal injection. And these claims can not be ignored. Some countries do not kill people for crime. Other countries who still believe in law and democracy attempt to use the least painful method for death. In India, where hanging is method for death, the executioner prepares a special rope for hanging. He will even go to lengths to apply wax on the rope so that death is instantaneous and painless.
So we can see that criminals fear of pain and the ultimate penalty of death does not provide the pain they should in-fact be afraid of. While a majority of criminals embrace death. In all ways, the death penalty is totally illogical because people who commit the heinous crimes and get punished by death are abnormal people. They are mentally unstable and not enough attention is paid to this fact and the immediate need for more medical treatment, as an alternative to the death penalty.
However, the death penalty itself is not designed to impact the mental state of the individual being killed. Rather, it is intended to act as a deterrent to those elements of society that may be contemplating the commission of a heinous crime. It also acts to provide a sense of justice to other, 'decent' people in that society: the perpetrator of this horrid, heinous crime is being removed completely from society for all eternity.
It is this distinction that centers the debate on societal ritual killing for justice. The debate is whether the death penalty is a sufficient deterrent to others and if it truly provides society with the catharsis and closure needed to heal from the emotional upset of the crime.
In most modern societies, the majority of murders are committed as crimes of passion. They are the result of a momentary event that causes insanity in the perpetrator. Enough to override their instilled morality. It is difficult to see societal value in death as punishment for these crimes. Many of these perpetrators end up committing suicide on their own when the impact of their actions finally hits them.
The few murders that remain - those committed by psychopaths and fanatics (which are just a special case of psychopath) - are not going to feel remorse over their crime. Indeed, most feel satisfaction as a result of their actions and are expecting complete release and approbation from their deaths. Keeping them alive does nothing to cause remorse; killing them does nothing but satisfy them.
In these cases, the benefit to the greater society needs to be analyzed. If society is going to benefit psychologically from their killing, then it would be best to provide this closure, as the perpetrator just doesn't care. However, the way that the killing is done may need to be altered in order for it to not only assuage society's feelings, but to send a message to other potential murderers that this will not get them the satisfaction they want. This would probably involve setting aside the "cruel and unusual" punishment clauses that promise a humane death. How this is done is a topic for another debate on this already very complex and sensitive topic.
US Press Office - Salt Lake City News
January 4, 2016 | Tribute to Debian Founder, Ian Murdock
On December 28, 2015, the free software world lost of one its smartest programmers and software engineers, Ian Murdock. Ian was most well known for his founding and creation of one of the most respected Linux distributions to date, Debian.
Through Ian's creation of Debian, the Linux operating system has gained a reputation for being one of the most solid, reliable and versatile Linux operating systems for the server and desktop sectors.
Debian has provided the basis for many Linux based operating systems, including the world's most popular Linux system [at the time of going to press], Ubuntu.
Debian development continues today through the volunteer efforts of thousands of software developers and engineers. Whilst Linus Torvalds is often considered the grandfather of Linux, Debian is equally considered the grandfather of Linux based operating systems.
The tireless work that Ian Murdock put into Debian and other projects earned him the respect that he deserved.
In January, 2006 Ian's hard work led him to a role as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) with the Free Standards Group, which eventually evolved into the Linux Foundation. Ian continued his role as CTO until the following year of March 2007 where he was employed at Sun Microsystems to lead Project Indiana. When Sun Microsystems merged with software giant Oracle, Ian resigned from the company.
From 2011-2015 Ian was employed by Salesforce Marketing Cloud, until in November 2015 he joined Docker Inc. His role with Docker was short-lived, when on December 30, 2015, Docker announced his tragic passing.
Whilst specific circumstances surrounding his passing have not been officially released, there are indications that Ian Murdock had taken his own life. Absolutely tragic and deeply saddening for Ian's family, friends, colleagues and all of the free and open-source software community.
It's important to remember the legacy that Ian left behind, through his work as a free and open-source software developer and engineer. More specifically, Ian will always be remembered for the founding and creation of the world's most loved and respected Linux operating systems, Debian.
May you rest in peace Ian Murdock, you will be sorely missed.
As a sign of our respect to Ian, today we finish our tribute by publishing the "Debian Manifesto" written by Ian Murdock in 1994:
A.1 What is Debian Linux?
Debian Linux is a brand-new kind of Linux distribution. Rather than being developed by one isolated individual or group, as other distributions of Linux have been developed in the past, Debian is being developed openly in the spirit of Linux and GNU. The primary purpose of the Debian project is to finally create a distribution that lives up to the Linux name. Debian is being carefully and conscientiously put together and will be maintained and supported with similar care.
It is also an attempt to create a non-commercial distribution that will be able to effectively compete in the commercial market. It will eventually be distributed by The Free Software Foundation on CD-ROM, and The Debian Linux Association will offer the distribution on floppy disk and tape along with printed manuals, technical support and other end-user essentials. All of the above will be available at little more than cost, and the excess will be put toward further development of free software for all users. Such distribution is essential to the success of the Linux operating system in the commercial market, and it must be done by organizations in a position to successfully advance and advocate free software without the pressure of profits or returns.
A.2 Why is Debian being constructed?
Distributions are essential to the future of Linux. Essentially, they eliminate the need for the user to locate, download, compile, install and integrate a fairly large number of essential tools to assemble a working Linux system. Instead, the burden of system construction is placed on the distribution creator, whose work can be shared with thousands of other users. Almost all users of Linux will get their first taste of it through a distribution, and most users will continue to use a distribution for the sake of convenience even after they are familiar with the operating system. Thus, distributions play a very important role indeed.
Despite their obvious importance, distributions have attracted little attention from developers. There is a simple reason for this: they are neither easy nor glamorous to construct and require a great deal of ongoing effort from the creator to keep the distribution bug-free and up-to-date. It is one thing to put together a system from scratch; it is quite another to ensure that the system is easy for others to install, is installable and usable under a wide variety of hardware configurations, contains software that others will find useful, and is updated when the components themselves are improved.
Many distributions have started out as fairly good systems, but as time passes attention to maintaining the distribution becomes a secondary concern. A case-in-point is the Softlanding Linux System (better known as SLS). It is quite possibly the most bug-ridden and badly maintained Linux distribution available; unfortunately, it is also quite possibly the most popular. It is, without question, the distribution that attracts the most attention from the many commercial "distributors" of Linux that have surfaced to capitalize on the growing popularity of the operating system.
This is a bad combination indeed, as most people who obtain Linux from these "distributors" receive a bug-ridden and badly maintained Linux distribution. As if this wasn't bad enough, these "distributors" have a disturbing tendency to misleadingly advertise non-functional or extremely unstable "features" of their product. Combine this with the fact that the buyers will, of course, expect the product to live up to its advertisement and the fact that many may believe it to be a commercial operating system (there is also a tendency not to mention that Linux is free nor that it is distributed under the GNU General Public License). To top it all off, these "distributors" are actually making enough money from their effort to justify buying larger advertisements in more magazines; it is the classic example of unacceptable behavior being rewarded by those who simply do not know any better. Clearly something needs to be done to remedy the situation.
A.3 How will Debian attempt to put an end to these problems?
The Debian design process is open to ensure that the system is of the highest quality and that it reflects the needs of the user community. By involving others with a wide range of abilities and backgrounds, Debian is able to be developed in a modular fashion. Its components are of high quality because those with expertise in a certain area are given the opportunity to construct or maintain the individual components of Debian involving that area. Involving others also ensures that valuable suggestions for improvement can be incorporated into the distribution during its development; thus, a distribution is created based on the needs and wants of the users rather than the needs and wants of the constructor. It is very difficult for one individual or small group to anticipate these needs and wants in advance without direct input from others.
Debian Linux will also be distributed on physical media by the Free Software Foundation and the Debian Linux Association. This provides Debian to users without access to the Internet or FTP and additionally makes products and services such as printed manuals and technical support available to all users of the system. In this way, Debian may be used by many more individuals and organizations than is otherwise possible, the focus will be on providing a first-class product and not on profits or returns, and the margin from the products and services provided may be used to improve the software itself for all users whether they paid to obtain it or not.
The Free Software Foundation plays an extremely important role in the future of Debian. By the simple fact that they will be distributing it, a message is sent to the world that Linux is not a commercial product and that it never should be, but that this does not mean that Linux will never be able to compete commercially. For those of you who disagree, I challenge you to rationalize the success of GNU Emacs and GCC, which are not commercial software but which have had quite an impact on the commercial market regardless of that fact.
The time has come to concentrate on the future of Linux rather than on the destructive goal of enriching oneself at the expense of the entire Linux community and its future. The development and distribution of Debian may not be the answer to the problems that I have outlined in the Manifesto, but I hope that it will at least attract enough attention to these problems to allow them to be solved.
Freedom Publishers Union - Public Relations Department
September 30, 2015 | Tribute to the Father of the C Programming Language, Dennis Ritchie
Dennis Ritchie, the man behind the scenes who created the C programming language or as they call him, the Father of the C programming language. Richie was born on September 9, 1941 in Bronxville, New York. His father Alistair Ritchie, was a switching systems engineer at Bell Laboratories. Dennis was later moved to Summit, New Jersey with his family. Dennis graduated from Summit High School, then got a bachelors degree from Harvard University in Physics and Applied Mathematics field in 1963, and a PhD in Mathematics in 1968 from Harvard University. He later moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dennis was a key developer of the UNIX operating system, and co-author of the book "The C Programming Language". He worked along with Ken Thompson (A scientist who wrote the original UNIX). Later, he developed a collaboration on the C programming language with Brian Kernighan and they were known together as K&R (Kernighan & Ritchie). Dennis Ritchie had an important contribution to UNIX which was that UNIX ported to different machines and platforms. His ideas still live on, at the center of modern operating systems design, in almost all new programming languages, and in every bit of open systems.
Richie started his career in 1967, as he started to work at the Bell Laboratories - Computing Sciences Research Center. (One of the most famous centers of digital innovation in the world at that time and the birthplace of the transistor).
Jeong Kim, President of Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs said, "Dennis was well loved by his colleagues at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, and will be greatly missed. He was truly an inspiration to all of us, not just for his many accomplishments, but because of who he was as a friend, an inventor, and a humble and gracious man. We would like to express our deepest sympathies to the Ritchie family, and to all who have been touched in some way by Dennis.".
At Bell Laboratories, Ritchie worked on the Multics project. Multics was an operating system which could replace the idea of batch processing with interactivity. (Programs were running one at a time from a cards stack by an operator and the programmer or user themselves had full control during the writing of a software). There, Dennis met Ken Thompson, who later became one of Ritchie's main collaborators.
Dennis said, "One of the obvious things that went wrong with Multics as a commercial success was just that it was sort of over-engineered in a sense. There was just too much in it.".
Bell Laboratories stopped working on Multics, Ritchie and Ken decided to not abandon the ideas of interaction and collaboration and they began to work on a successor, called UNIX. That modern operating system (UNIX) spread within Bell Laboratories and later was announced to the world in 1973.
Computer hardware design in the 70's had many variations and experimentations which reflected badly on software writers' life as they had to either spend more time and energy recreating their software for each new platform or limit their programs to run only on one particular platform.
The original UNIX kernel was written in the Assembly language, but Ritchie and Ken decided that they need a higher level language, to give them more control over all the data which spanned the operating system.
Richie and Thompson used BCPL (Basic Combined Programming Language) to write UNIX by squeezing it into 8 kilobytes and renamed it "B".
Ritchie responded to that problem by designing a new computer language, called "C" as an upgrade of the B language by adding data types and new syntax to it. B was an interpreted language that was executed by an intermediate piece of software running over CPU, but C was a compiled language translated into machine code and then executed directly on the CPU.
Dennis once stated, "UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity.".
C was able to easily and quickly move between different hardware. Software that were written in C language could run with little or even no modifications on any device that could run C.
C used very few syntax and little instructions, but it was extremely modular and structured. Because of this C was easy to use in different computers. There were huge blocks of C functions which were already written and programmers could copy the whole code into their own software without any need to start from scratch, making it easier and faster to implement. Such functions blocks were easily accessible and available in libraries, so programmers could access them.
Ritchie and Ken rewrote the UNIX in the C language and they could give UNIX the portability option as well as they gave programmers the chance to learn one operating system, one programming language, and some set of tools. Only one side effect that UNIX later became a natural place for experiments and inter-networking between various systems.
Dennis declared, "Obviously, the person who had most influence on my career was Ken Thompson.".
In 1978, "The C Programming Language" book was published by Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan. The book covered a brief definition of the C language and a peerless introduction to different styles and techniques of programming in C. This book still remains an inspiration reference and practical guide for programmers, today.
By the middle of the 1980's, the C language became one of the most popular programming languages in the world. Because of the functionality and speed with which C could be easily used to write software and run them, many companies started to use C to develop their own applications.
The C programming language is still being universally used nowadays as the second most popular programming language in the world in application systems, operating systems and embedded systems development, and its influence is still seen in most modern programming languages. Also UNIX influences in establishing concepts and principles which are now computing precepts.
"C was already implemented on several quite different machines and operating systems. UNIX was already being distributed on the PDP-11, but the portability of the whole system was new.", says Dennis.
The last important technical contribution that was made by Dennis Richie to UNIX was the Streams Mechanism which was used for interconnecting devices, applications and protocols.
Numerous amounts of applications were and still are written in C language and its object oriented successor C++. C was standardized by ANSI and ISO, that's why it was multi-purpose and becomes in almost every aspect of the computing industry today.
As an example, languages which came later (such as C++ and Java) were derived from the C language, [some] browser's code are written in C. Also, Microsoft Windows was initially written in C. Even Both of Apple's operating systems (Mac OS and iOS) are based on the UNIX-derived system of FreeBSD.
There is no doubt that Dennis Ritchie's contributions on the computing industry has significantly altered the core of the history of computing industry.
Ritchie later became the head of Systems Software Research Department at Lucent Technologies, and was striving to make computers work better and more easily for users, until his retirement in 2007.
Dennis had admitted that his personal life and his professional life were mixed together as he stated in an interview, "I've done a reasonable amount of traveling, which I enjoyed, but not for too long at a time. I'm a home-body and get fatigued by it fairly soon, but enjoy thinking back on experiences when I've returned and then often wish I'd arranged a longer stay in the somewhat exotic place.".
Dennis lived alone at his home in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. He was found dead on October 12, 2011. The cause and exact time of his death are unknown.
He spent several years in frail health following treatment for prostate cancer and heart disease. He died a week after death of Steve Jobs but his death did not receive as much media coverage as Jobs.
The Fedora 16 Linux Distribution, was released and dedicated to his memory in 2012.
The computer historian, Paul E. Ceruzzi, stated on Dennis Ritchie's death, "Dennis Ritchie was under the radar. His name was not a household name at all, but if you had a microscope and could look in a computer, you'd see his work everywhere inside.".
On Linux, Dennis stated, "I think the Linux phenomenon is quite delightful, because it draws so strongly on the basis that UNIX provided. Linux seems to be among the healthiest of the direct UNIX derivatives, though there are also the various BSD systems as well as the more official offerings from the workstation and mainframe manufacturers.".
Rest in peace Dennis Ritchie. We miss you.
Freedom Publishers Union - Public Relations Department
October 4, 2014 | Australian Government May Be in Violation of 11 Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Freedom Publishers Union is publishing our growing concerns that with new amendments and legislation the Australian Government is currently implementing, it genuinely raises the legitimate question of whether Australia is violating human rights, based on the United Nations' very own document.
Freedom Publishers Union is not claiming that any specific legislation or section of any legislation does actually violate any of these rights. We simply note there are specifics in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights document, which we believe require very careful consideration from the Australian Government.
We also understand that the said document from the United Nations is not a legally binding document and United Nations countries are not legally bound to abide by the Declaration. But it does provide the basic fundamentals of civil and human rights within a supposed free and democratic country. Something Australia is quickly shifting away from.
As the Declaration is not legally binding, it begins to raise the question of whether there is a valid point of having the Declaration in the first place if countries are to simply outright ignore the civil rights of its citizens and go ahead and introduce legislation which legally wavers the country responsible for these human and civil rights.
Australia proudly touts itself as being one the eight original countries involved in drafting the original Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Australia also so proudly chants how much of important role it played in the founding of the United Nations and the UN Charter. If Australia is so proud of its achievements and its involvements in the United Nations, then it raises further questions of the integrity of the current Australian Government and how it so proudly and possibly, breaks up to 11 of the Articles in the United Nations - Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center
April 15, 2018 | Submission to Joint Standing Committee on Treaties
Freedom Publishers Union would like to present our formal Submission, in response to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific (CPTPP/TPP-11).
Our organization has remained in a consistent position of opposition to this extremely complex and detailed trade deal.
As the CPTPP enters the final stages of administrative approval, and despite our position of continued opposition, we remain realistic and take the understanding that the agreement has enough support and momentum from the Australian Parliament to be ratified.
The path to approval is very close, but we still wish to outline that we remain very disappointed in the lack of transparency that has accompanied the entire process for the duration of the negotiation stages, from when the agreement was negotiated in the original TPP format through to the latest iteration which has been reformed as the CPTPP. The path of negotiation was carried out in absolute secrecy. It is very disappointing that the negotiations for CPTPP followed the same path of secrecy.
We remain concerned about key issues in the agreement, specifically:
The focus of advocacy for Freedom Publishers Union will now shrink, and shift to key political decision making points and legislation on these specific issues.
Amit Gautam - Spokesperson
March 11, 2018 | Submission to Digital Platforms Inquiry
Freedom Publishers Union considers the Digital Platforms Inquiry to be of great importance, which will act as an attempt of grabbing a snapshot of the current climate of Australian media and how it has been affected by the encroachment onto Australia media by numerous digital media distributors.
We believe that any information technology company that pursues distribution of digital media, news and information over the internet should be of interest to the Inquiry's goals. Primarily, we believe the Inquiry will naturally focus largely on the operations of Google and Facebook, simply due to the sheer scale of the company's combined market share, which can not be ignored and probably should be taken into consideration. However, we warn against making these two companies the sole focus and recommend that all other companies involved in the distribution of digital media, news and information also be considered.
The Inquiry must focus on the distribution models of the content that is under review as part of this Inquiry. It should not matter whether the content is created inside the borders of Australia or overseas. Its creation origins are not going to have any overall effect to the quality of journalism and news accessibility in Australia. It is the actual distribution models that will have the greatest effect.
Freedom Publishers Union prides on our publishing and pays particular attention to accuracy and fact checked information, which has been properly researched and processed through our strict editorial procedures. We believe if we can achieve this with a small amount of staff members which of most are volunteers, combined with absolute minimal costs and resources, then large media companies can achieve the same if the effort is made to resource them appropriately. If it is deemed that Australian media is failing to deliver quality journalism and news on digital platforms in accordance to the processes that we outlined, then the questions must be asked as to why it is not happening. To a large degree, cost savings measures constantly being refined are having a dramatic effect on allowable allocation of resources for large media companies to achieve this. This should be taken into consideration for this Inquiry.
In the Digital Platforms Inquiry Issues Paper, which has been accessed by Freedom Publishers Union prior to preparation of our Submission, it outlines the vast resources and platforms of distribution that Google has at the company's disposal. Google can effectively deliver digital media, news and information through its Search engine, Google News, Play Newsstand and YouTube. These are only the core platforms that Google can utilize. It must be understood that the company has much more potential than solely these platforms and it must also be taken into consideration how intertwined Google's services are. The company's extensive advertising network has very far reach and much dominance in the digital advertising sector.
Following on from the information on Google detailed in the Issues Paper, is profiling information on Facebook. Facebook is at a transition. The company was once primarily known as a social media company. It is now entering the field of media. Some industry analysts already identify Facebook as a media company. We identify Facebook as a fully established software company. As Facebook seeks to work out more ways to monetize its gradual, yet inevitable slide into the media sphere, its influence will also grow. Not too dissimilar to Google, Facebook also has a vast advertising network which is constantly expanding throughout its portfolio of software services including Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. It has a lot of market share and has great potential to take even much more.
In our Submission, we do not wish to focus too much on Google and Facebook. But as smaller information technology companies and startups use these two giants as Silicon Valley role models, it gives some indication of the areas that smaller and more aggressive companies seeking to prove themselves will also begin to focus on as they also grow and look for new markets, potentially in digital media distribution.
To make any credible analysis on the quality of the distribution of digital media, news and information in Australia, Freedom Publishers Union believes that any argument should start the basic question of 'free versus subscription'. Nobody can deny that the word "free" grabs attention. It is within human nature that when we are offered two choices - free or paid - by our very human nature we will almost every time choose free. The issue of quality journalism, news and its accessibility is much more complex than just a simple choice of free versus subscription. On news, consumers must understand the difference between the two distribution models and understand what they sacrifice to get something for free and what they receive for their money when paying for subscriptions. Currently, public education is not so good and as a country, Australia must do much better at educating those who consume news, of any differences.
The argument was examined by us a little closer in September 2017 by our (former) Editor-in-Chief, who published a column on Freedom Publishers Union in which he poses the most obvious question, "why would you pay for news when you can still read it for free.". The opinion piece concludes that paying for news subscriptions is not only a sign of appreciation for quality journalism and the publication that publishes the piece, but it also goes a long way to supporting the Australian media industry. News generated by bots and other forms of artificial intelligence are accelerating the pace of which news can be distributed to consumers. This is having an overall negative effect on the quality of proper journalism through traditionally respected publications. It is putting great pressure on traditional publishers to follow suit and join the 'publish now and publish fast' revolution that has engulfed global media. At the very least, paid subscriptions go a long way to restoring the traditional model of journalism, eases the pressure to some degree and also restores confidence in traditional media agencies by giving assurance that their readers are willing to pay for quality journalism if it is produced. This is reiterated in the aforementioned opinion piece when it is said that if you "pay for news through subscriptions services, it not only has benefits for the media agency producing the news you consume", but "retains the quality of the journalistic efforts".
Google, Facebook and other information technology companies are not really content creators. The news and information delivered by their services are usually aggregated by the use of computer operated algorithms. These algorithms make it easy for these services to generate news summaries and headlines which grab the attention of the user. Often, data already held by these companies is also used by the algorithm to determine which news articles and stories are presented to the consumer and which are disposed as not relevant. Freedom Publishers Union believes this to be unfair as it does not give the consumer the complete offer of available news articles and stories. Naturally, the particular stories that will be shown will be based on personality traits of the consumer, which has been determined through the deep and often much too intensive personal data collection. It is by allowing these companies to collect and store your data and share it with advertisers and trade with data brokers, which makes these services free. When consumers agree to the terms and conditions upon signing up to these services, they are actually giving the companies permission to raid their personal information. This is not the sole fault of the consumer and is not a case of simply not reading the terms and conditions. They are usually very lengthy and written in very complex legal jargon which is not easily understood by the consumer.
Freedom Publishers Union believes that it is outright abuse of consumer habit to take advantage of their natural reaction to just click "Agree" and carry on with setting up their profile without thinking of the eventual consequences of what the company will do with the consumer's data and how the tweaking of the company's algorithms is performed to adapt to certain personality traits which results in presenting the consumer with a very limited set of news stories. It is having an effect on the quality of journalism and accessibility of certain stories which are not being offered the complete opportunity they deserve to have their creative works distributed to the widest audience possible across the networks of digital media distributors.
The result has been traditional publishers placing pay-walls onto their news websites. There is various models of accessibility in place with publishers. Some allow a set number of free articles before you are forced to pay for a subscription, while others will not let the reader view anything without a paid subscription. We believe that these pay-walls are not the best design for protecting quality journalism and retaining accessibility to as many people as possible. But we also completely understand that due to aggregation services effectively stealing the content from traditional publishers and integrating them into their own services which are delivered to their consumers for free, is both morally wrong and should be considered stealing.
To conclude, we return to five key points of matters to be taken into consideration, outlined in the Issues Paper and add our footnotes on each to summarize our position. Our position should be taken as general in nature and is not focused on any specific digital media distributors:
i. the extent to which platform service providers are exercising market power in commercial dealings with the creators of journalistic content and advertisers;
Freedom Publishers Union believes primarily due to the shear massive scale and global market share, digital media distributors abuse their power through dominance of their services without regard to the wider effects on the quality of journalism and accessibility of digital media, news and information.
ii. the impact of platform service providers on the level of choice and quality of news and journalistic content to consumers;
The practices that are carried out by digital media distributors are not producing appropriate choice of digital media, news and information to the consumer. By offering targeted content, it is effectively impeding on any consumer choice and is making the choice for them.
iii. the impact of platform service providers on media and advertising markets;
It is clear that the free distribution model is not aimed at producing quality content for consumers. Rather, it is aimed at fast and targeted distribution which is further aimed at getting the consumer to click on targeted and selective content so the digital media distributor benefits from advertising revenue that is produced. If Australia were to have a majority subscription based media, then the advertising sector would remain unaffected by any large degree and consumers would see an increase in the quality of digital media, news and information.
iv. the impact of longer-term trends, including innovation and technological change, on competition in media and advertising markets;
If the current trends are permitted to continue, Freedom Publishers Union fears that consumers will see less choice and more targeted content distributed. This will undoubtedly have a flow on effect and force more traditional publishers into shutting down operations as their subscription models will not be allowed to grow at the same rate that free models can. This will unfortunately lead to much less proper journalism and lower quality digital media, news and information distributed. And consumers will see a dramatic increase in unreliable news and information produced by bots and other forms of artificial intelligence.
v. the impact of information asymmetry between platform service providers, advertisers and consumers and the effect on competition in media and advertising markets;
Taking all of the information, opinions and analysis that we have outlined in this Submission into consideration, Freedom Publishers Union remains certain that the eventual path will lead to less journalism, less quality publications, less revenue to produce it and make news and information unreliable and riddled with errors and unchecked claims.
Unless serious action is taken and reform is introduced by the Australian Government which can protect traditional media distribution models, which is effectively protecting the quality of journalism and guarantee their continued operations, Freedom Publishers Union can only conclude that quality journalism will drop back to just a few small independent publications and digital media distributors, that will remain dedicated to delivering services using the proven traditional media distribution models.
If this were to be allowed to occur, it would not be good for Australian democracy or the media industry.
Amit Gautam - Spokesperson
January 25, 2017 | Increased access to Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Data Retention Data/Meta-data
Freedom Publishers Union would like to make a formal Submission in response to the Access to telecommunications data in civil proceedings matter.
We are firmly against any extension of access to data/meta-data collected from the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Data Retention regime, to civil proceedings. Freedom Publishers Union is against the regime which legally allowed for surveillance to be implemented in Australia, on a mass scale in comparison to the operations that were already being carried out by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
We do respect that Australia's democratic and Parliamentary process allowed this Bill to pass, and we must respect it. However, we believe that any extension of access of any information, data and meta-data collected through this program is completely unjustifed and unnecessary. This is backed by the Advisory Report, carried out by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security - where it has clearly been defned in the Report that it is not recommended that civil proceedings be allowed access of the said data.
We echo this recommendation from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.
Freedom Publishers Union would like a better explanation of what any new law will do. We express concern and do not want any court to be able to do an unnecessary 'NSA - style' data grab for civil proceedings. To our understanding, no reason(s) has (or have) been outlined by the Attorney General's website for any specifc scenario that could justify any extension of access.
Copyright remains at the heart of our concerns, that any new law(s) that permit increased access would be used to pursue cases of copyright infringement , which we must point out is not the reason this surveillance Bill was established. There are already copyright laws that allow for investigation into possible copyright infringement. We believe that current copyright laws are sufficient and provide enough access to allow for investigations into copyright infringement. Albeit we acknowledge these laws are very much outdated and advocate that any amendment to these laws should remain separate.
Additionally, and in conclusion, we do want to preserve access to court records as required, to permit appropriate appeals and legal research. But we specify, this should remain completely separate to permitted access of data/meta-data from the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Data Retention regime.
Amit Gautam - Spokesperson
May 12, 2016 | Productivity Commission Publication of Intellectual Property Arrangements Draft Report
Freedom Publishers Union would like to make a formal Submission in response to the Intellectual Property Arrangements Draft Report.
We commend the report and its greater detail, as it provides the best source of information related to recommendations for reform to intellectual property and copyright in Australia.
Freedom Publishers Union has always advocated and supported calls which demonstrate the need for a sensible and realistic approach to assist the reform of the aforementioned laws and legislation in Australia, whilst upholding current outstanding international obligations.
We commend the following key recommendations as presented in the Intellectual Property Arrangements Draft Report:
We support a free and open internet across the entire world which provides unrestricted flow of information and adheres to proper net neutrality principles. Geoblocking is a major hurdle which puts restrictions on internet users rights and permissions to access specific content. Companies and persons who carry out technical operations which go towards implementing geoblocking mechanisms are failing to uphold the very basic principles of net neutrality and Freedom Publishers Union condemns this behavior of restricting specific internet users to specific content and deem it unacceptable.
Internet users who aim to and successfully circumvent geoblocking in an effort to simply access legal content which should be available to them without having to resort to the use of such circumvention techniques, should not be presented as criminals and should not be punished, in cases where they are accessing and paying for legal content and of which has no financial burden or effect on the content producers and/or distributors.
Essentially, we would support any recommendations made by the Productivity Commission which would support and legally allow for use of geoblocking circumvention techniques.
In its current form, we believe that Australia's (and the entire world's) copyright laws are much too restrictive, are far out-dated and are a major contributor to high levels of piracy. Consumers have demonstrated their frustrations with out-dated copyright laws which do not reflect current content and media use in a digitally connected world. When copyright laws were devised, digital media and the way it is used by consumers today (legally and illegally) was not considered, for obvious reasons.
Therefore, we would support the Productivity Commission's recommendations to have copyright law reformed and the duration of copyright reduced to a more reasonable time frame. Currently, copyright is having a negative effect to what it is supposed to control - fair-use of material, content and media covered under copyright law.
Emphasis must be made on fair-use of copyrighted material, content and media. Currently, we can see no fair-use provisions or clauses which accommodate the behavior and methods of how material, content and media is sourced, used and shared in the 'modern age'. It's a trait of our very human nature to want to use, try, test and share everything that we access, at a personal level. Copyright laws put heavy restrictions and burdens on consumers and do not allow for any type of defined fair-use of such content.
Freedom Publishers Union urges the Productivity Commission to place emphasis on recommendations that promote implementation of fair-use provisions and clauses to be amended into copyright reform. With legally allowable fair-use, we believe that this will ease the burden off content and media producers who feel that their content usage that is copyrighted is being abused or the copyright being ignored. In many cases it is not and in-fact, the content and media is being used or shared in a very fair, acceptable and what we consider 'reasonable' manner which has absolute minimal or no financial impact on producers of copyrighted content.
With all of the above taken into consideration, Freedom Publishers Union believes that the Productivity Commission's key recommendations which primarily promote reform of intellectual property rights in Australia, whilst maintaining our international obligations under current (and future) international trade agreements is a great start to achieving overdue reform of the IP sector and to assist in promoting a positive approach to legislative reform that could potentially be fair for all parties.
Amit Gautam - Spokesperson
March 6, 2015 | Communications Alliance - Copyright Notice Scheme
The following Submission is made to Communications Alliance. It was devised in collaboration between Freedom Publishers Union and Pirate Party Australia. It is an official joint Submission. The Submission is our response to the recent publication titled "Copyright Notice Scheme".
In our joint Submission, we outline a total of 19 concerns. In addition to outlining our concerns, we additionally suggest our recommendation of resolve for each concern to the extent of what we would deem reasonable and in the interest of all parties that may be affected from any eventual implementation of a Copyright Notice Scheme.
1. Initial concern - Actual details are not clear and detailed enough as to what each of the three notices are, informing the Account Holder.
Recommendation - Outline, preferably at the beginning of the document, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, what each notice is and what are the incursions for acknowledging and/or ignoring the notice.
2. Initial concern - Actual details are not clear and detailed enough as to what are the incursions for ignoring the third/final notice informing the Account Holder.
Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, what are the incursions for all concerned parties, if the Account Holder ignores this notice.
3. Initial concern - Actual details are not clear and detailed enough as to what are the incursions and resulting action be for Account Holder ignoring the third/final notice.
Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, what are the incursions and resulting action from the ISP and Rights Holder, if the Account Holder ignores this notice.
4. Initial concern - No Clause or Provisions set out in this document, for "fair use", substitute or equivalent.
Recommendation - A Clause and associated Provisions must be added to the document, which outline in specific detail some implementation of "fair use" policy. Additionally, there needs to be clear details which outline the specifics of what is deemed "fair use". Effectively, when a "fair use" Clause and associated Provisions are implemented, relevant, sensible steps and guidelines need to be added and strictly followed, to integrate the Clause and any Provisions into other working and related Clauses and Provisions of this document.
5. Initial concern - What exact information is deemed "personal details".
Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, what details and information of the Account Holder is deemed "personal details". Stating "Same as Privacy Act" is not sufficient in specifying what is deemed "personal details". It needs to be stated within a Clause of this document.
6. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.12; How accurate is the method(s) and technological techniques used for IP address detection of possible copyright breach of the Rights Holder, from the ISP and Account Holder.
Recommendation - There needs to be specific guidelines and procedures outlined within a Clause and Provisions of this document, in which [a] specific method(s) and technological technique(s) used for IP address detection of possible copyright breach of the Rights Holder, from the associated ISP and alleged Account Holder. All outlined technological details and specifications presented in the document, must read in basic, understandable terms and remain as uncomplicated as possible.
7. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.13; The Clause uses the term "must" when referring to ISP issuing a notice upon request of the Rights Holder. What incursions result when a ISP fails to proceed with issuing a notice to the Account Holder, as requested by the Rights Holder.
Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, what are the incursions and resulting action from the Rights Holder, for an ISP ignoring the request to issue notice to the Account Holder.
8. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.16; This Clause Requires stronger emphasis.
Recommendation - Refer back to Privacy Act.
9. Initial concern - Will require further review when more information on numbers is provided in the document.
Recommendation - Update document as necessary.
10. Initial concern - Not enough detailed information is provided in the document to describe what a "Preliminary Discovery Application" is.
Recommendation - Our understanding indicates it is the Rights Holder gaining personal details and information of the Account Holder. If this is correct, it needs to be ensured this is legally doable and possible without breaching any Clauses or Provisions in the Privacy Act.
11. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.9.2 (6); Pop-up; How will this technology be implemented.
Recommendation - There needs to be specific guidelines and procedures outlined within a Clause and Provisions of this document, in which [a] specific method(s) and technological technique(s) used for "pop-up" to alert Account Holder of relevant alleged breach and possibly ignoring the notice. It needs to be guaranteed, to a 'reasonable' extent, to not be bypassed (unintentionally through the use of ad-blocking software mechanisms) and remain unacknowledged by the Account Holder.
12. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.9.2; It remains unclear whether an ISP is required to re-attempt a second (or more) time if one selected contact option fails to the Account Holder.
Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, if the ISP is required to re-attempt a second (or more) time if one selected contact option fails to the Account Holder. If repeated attempts are required, it must be specified how many times as a minimum and to what maximum re-attempts is considered 'reasonable'.
13. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.10; How can a Account Holder obtain a Challenge Notice.
Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, how and where a Account Holder is to obtain a Challenge Notice.
14. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.10; How does the Account Holder send the Challenge Notice to the Adjudication Panel.
Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, how and what method is used for the Account Holder to send the Challenge Notice to the Adjudication Panel.
15. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.10.6; In the details of this Clause, it is unclear whether the stated "28 days" applies to the date the Final Notice is sent to the Account Holder or the date the Final Notice is received and officially acknowledged by the Account Holder.
Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, whether the stated "28 days" applies to the date the Final Notice is sent to the Account Holder or the date the Final Notice is received and officially acknowledged by the Account Holder.
16. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.10.13; The term "Privacy Principles", as used in this Clause is too broad and non-specific.
Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, what specifically "Privacy Principles" defines and refer to the official title of the Privacy Act.
17. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.11.1; The period for records keeping at 24 months, as specified in this Clause is too long and unnecessary.
Recommendation - The period for records keeping should be reduced to a period of a maximum of 12 months.
18. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.11.2; Details outlined in the Clause require amending in accordance to Clause 3.11.1.
Recommendation - Amend details outlined in Clause 3.11.2 in accordance to Clause 3.11.1.
19. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.11.2; The term "may destroy", as used in this Clause is not sufficient in terms of respecting the rights to privacy of the Account Holder.
Recommendation - Amend details outlined in Clause 3.11.2 and replace the term "may destroy" with the effective term of "must destroy".
Chris McGimpsey-Jones - Director of Freedom Publishers Union
and Member of Pirate Party Australia
May 18, 2018 | Accusations of Ecuador Spying on Julian Assange, Instead of Upholding Protection
Allegations have been revealed through multiple publications by The Guardian of Ecuador spying on the activities of Julian Assange, as he remains detained inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, United Kingdom.
Additional accusations have been made against Assange, claiming that he had compromised the digital security of the Embassy's communications, by methods of hacking.
Freedom Publishers Union acknowledges the accusations, but without documentative proof of any of these accusations made against Ecuador or Assange, we are unable to collaborate them and declare there is no change in our position on the matter.
Freedom Publishers Union continues to support Julian Assange and Wikileaks, calling for the US to drop its Grand Jury investigation.
We also continue to call for the UK to stop the ongoing detainment to the Ecuadorian Embassy and allow for free passage to safety for Assange.
We extend our call to the Ecuadorian Administration and urge them to uphold the protection of Assange and use all its resources to seek a suitable diplomatic resolution with the UK and the US, which will see eventual freedom provided to Assange.
Additionally, we urge Ecuador to restore all previous communications and internet access that Assange was previously provided and (re)enable visitation rights to him for personal, work, health and legal purposes, inside the Embassy.
March 15, 2018 | Death of Stephen Hawking
Freedom Publishers Union is sad to learn of the passing of Physicist, Cosmologist and Author, Stephen Hawking.
A man bigger than all of us, and who seemed invincible has gone home to the cosmos. #StephenHawking— CM-J (@hXmxhvEM2mtY) March 14, 2018
The world renowned scientist had great respect from the both the science community and general public right around the world. Mr. Hawking suffered from a crippling motor neurone disease which gradually took hold of his body and restricted him to a wheelchair. However, his disability never stopped him from continuing his important work as a scientist and writer. His work ethic was accompanied by a cheeky sense of humor, which helped him earn the respect that he deserved.
Stephen Hawking was the recipient of many academic awards and his contributions to science is simply immeasurable.
Freedom Publishers Union pays respect to Stephen Hawking and we send our thoughts and love to his family and all in the science and academic communities which are undoubtedly moved by this loss.
Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up. --Stephen Hawking
February 22, 2018 | Resignation of Editor-in-Chief
I am both incredibly joyed and incredibly sad to have to announce of my resignation as Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Publishers Union. My resignation will be effective from February 26, 2018.
My resignation will also extend to my position at Tecseek Technology.
I am sad to have to relinquish my position, but it was all put under careful consideration under the terms of agreement for our new ownership structure, which sees more parties take effective ownership of Freedom Publishers Union, FPUorg and Tecseek Technology.
Under the new agreement, I will remain as a staff member, but in a much reduced role and with much less operations influence and responsibility.
My new role for Freedom Publishers Union will be Head Advisor.
My new roles with FPUorg and Tecseek Technology will be Secretary and Head Advisor, respectively.
The change in my role was essential for the new ownership model to proceed. On a personal note, as I increase my outside political commitments and ambitions, I have for quite some time felt that to remain in an editorial position of a publishing website is a direct and indisputable conflict of interest.
It has been a privilege to remain as Editor for such a long time and I have no regrets. I am positive of the changes ahead for the organization and wish everyone involved with Freedom Publishers Union only the best wishes for the future.
Chris McGimpsey-Jones - Outgoing Editor-in-Chief, Incoming Head Advisor
February 15, 2018 | Julian Assange Ruling #2 - UK Arrest Warrant Upheld
The latest decision to uphold the arrest warrant for the Editor-in-Chief of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, is a carbon copy of last week's decision which concluded with the same disappointing result.
Mr. Assange will remain detained to the Ecuadorian Embassy for now, until the next step in the long running legal standoff can be determined.
The latest judgement comes from Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot, who believes that the arrest warrant is a proportionate response to the situation. Ms. Arbuthnot attacked Mr. Assange by claiming that he was restricting his own freedom by remaining in the embassy and stated that he was free to leave at any time. This attack was delivered to Mr. Assange while completely disregarding the immediate and direct threat of arrest if he were to leave the embassy. Also, Ms. Arbuthnot stated that she believed any suggestion that the Swedish authorities would extradite him to the US was unbelievable. The judge believed if this were to occur, it would put a great amount of strain on international relations between the UK, Sweden and the US.
Freedom Publishers Union condemns Judge Emma Arbuthnot for publicly discrediting any conclusion by the United Nations that the ongoing arbitrary detention of Julian Assange is illegal.
It is unclear to Freedom Publishers Union whether Mr. Assange's legal team will appeal the latest decision.
Freedom Publishers Union's ongoing support for Julian Assange continues and we call for UK authorities to drop the arrest warrant, allow a safe passage to freedom for Julian Assange and for the US to drop its unjustified and outstanding Grand Jury investigation into Wikileaks and Julian Assange.
February 7, 2018 | Julian Assange Ruling - Arrest Warrant Remains in Place
Julian Assange and his legal representatives have again been set back in their legal efforts to see Mr. Assange be able to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy, without the ongoing threat of unjustified arrest by the UK, which would inevitably see eventual extradition to the US.
The latest decision has been decided on one point only and the remaining points of Mr. Assange's legal team's arguments are still yet to proceed and remain undecided.
Freedom Publishers Union continues to support the efforts of Julian Assange and will continue to advocate for his freedom, from illegal arbitrary detention and unjustified combined pursuit by the UK and US.
February 6, 2018 | Lauri Love Will Not Be Extradited to the United States of America
Freedom Publishers Union is happy to read that the English born hacker, Lauri Love, has been dealt some reprieve from being extradited to the United States of America.
We can not comment on the computer crimes charges that he has been accused of, however, we do believe that Mr. Love's case is another public example of a British/US governmental witch hunt against activists and members of the computer hacking community.
Mr. Love still has a legal fight ahead of him. But the charges can be dealt with in relative calm in the United Kingdom, without immediate threat of US extradition hanging over him and his family. Freedom Publishers Union believes that if he were to be extradited, there would be no doubt that he would face an unfair trial and be faced with an exhorbitant sentence that does not match the charges.
Freedom Publishers Union has admittedly lapsed in supporting the cause behind Lauri Love. Our resources have been stretched to their limits at times. But we are proud that he has enjoyed the support of many activists and supporters, all over the world. In particular, the continued support from the Courage Foundation has been relentless.
January 26, 2018 | CPTPP Still Shrouded in Too Much Secrecy. USA May Re-Enter the Trade Pact
Australia's claims that the new refined Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP), or otherwise known as TPP-11, trade pact is finalized and ready for signing has now been put up for question after the announcement by US President, Donald Trump, stating that his country is possibly interested in joining the CPTPP. The refined trade pact reportedly cuts out the USA from automatic inclusion due to the decision of the Trump Administration to pull his country out of the original TPP. Freedom Publishers Union understands that the decision was made by the 11 nations which remained committed to keeping the deal alive, that the USA's inclusion remained an important factor.
We cannot independently confirm any details about the reformed deal, which is being touted as having been renegotiated, primarily to address the concerns raised by Canada. Initially, it was thought that Canada's reservations expressed and refusal to sign would ultimately seal the fate of the deal. Many thought that it was the end of the CPTPP. However, it is said that Canada is once again on board and happy to sign the deal in its current form. But, there is now some concern about any March 2018 signing after Trump has called for renegotiations. As we go to press, there has been no response from any of the 11 CPTPP nations on the statement made by Trump, showing US interest.
We remain not confident of any public release as the CPTPP continues to be tweaked, while shrouded in secrecy despite involved nations consistent claims that there is nothing secret about the negotiations process. Freedom Publishers Union previously made available the original full text of the TPP on our website. What has changed since this release, is unclear.
Freedom Publishers Union urges the 11 countries involved in the latest negotiation process to agree to further transparency measures. We call for the latest version of the text be made available for public access by being placed into the public domain. Only through placing the text in the public domain can the public begin to scrutinize and focus our attention on the parts of the deal which are unfair and deemed to be not in the best interest of country X and its citizens.
January 22, 2018 | Tragic Passing of Another SecureDrop Developer and Open-Access Advocate, James Dolan
When Executive Director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, Trevor Timm, publicly announced the tragic passing of James Dolan, shock waves were felt inside the media and publishing industry.
James Dolan was the Co-Creator of the SecureDrop document submission platform, which he developed alongside the late Aaron Swartz and journalist Kevil Poulsen.
Swartz fell victim to heavy handed legal pressure from the US justice system, which saw him facing the possibility of spending decades in prison and putting huge financial pressure on himself and his family. The figure is now known to have run into the millions of dollars. Swartz tragically committed suicide.
Dolan was a former US Marine, who served time in Iraq. Those close to Dolan say he suffered from PTSD as a result of his time spent in Iraq. It is also reported that his experiences and the constant secrecy around military activities were a major contributor to his motivation to develop SecureDrop.
So far, there has been no official details released of the circumstances surrounding the passing of James Dolan, however it is widely accepted that the cause of death was also suicide - a tragic resemblance to the fate which consumed Aaron Swartz.
Freedom Publishers Union does not implement SecureDrop. However, we absolutely support the system and its purpose 100%. We believe that it is only through leaks from government, business insiders and whistleblowers who are witness to illegal or unjust behavior, that the world learns about it and can then begin to apply pressure and take action. SecureDrop allows a secure and anonymous passage for leaks to occur and Freedom Publishers Union is effectively in support of the software.
We support the dedication that Freedom of the Press Foundation has given to developing and maintaining SecureDrop. But it was only through the passion and dedication for open access that James Dolan and his colleagues advocated, that SecureDrop has got the respect the platform so rightly deserves.
December 22, 2017 | Acquisition of Democratic Pirates Australia
Freedom Publishers Union, led under authority of GC Media Publishing Management, are extremely proud to announce the acquisition of all web assets of Democratic Pirates Australia.
We have previously worked with the former alternative Pirate Party, operated out of Australia, on various key issues that both organizations shared common interest.
A formal motion for the full takeover of Democratic Pirates Australia was proposed in an internal Freedom Publishers Union Memorandum and put to a voluntary vote of all staff members of Freedom Publishers Union. The Director of Freedom Publishers Union, Chris McGimpsey-Jones, was restricted from the voting process to ensure the entire process was independent of his involvement and persuasion, based on the grounds of a possible conflict of interest.
Following the commencement of voting, it was quickly confirmed that the formal motion as proposed had majority support and would be carried in the affirmative.
The acquisition was effectively approved and effective as of December 20, 2017.
The acquisition is a proud moment for us, as the data and website assets that we receive through the acquisition is extremely rich in political value and information that we can adapt, reform and include into the cache of already existing content on the Freedom Publishers Union website.
We intend to carefully adapt the information of Democratic Pirates Australia and integrate the most appropriate content into the website of Freedom Publishers Union. Some information deemed not relevant, will be virtually discarded.
We must stress that this does not change the direction of Freedom Publishers Union. We are still an independent media organization focused on the very same core issues and stay true to the same values as before. Any political views that we have will be integrating into our existing Editorial Procedures, and will follow the same principles as we've always had - publishing fact checked, accurate information.
We take this opportunity to thank our readers and supporters for their continued support as we draw 2017 to a close, with this positive news.
December 12, 2017 | We Support Wikileaks, Despite Obvious Bias
We refer to recent revelations of Wikileaks corresponding with Donald Trump Jnr. on matters related to the Clinton/Trump Presidential Election campaign.
It has now become clear that Wikileaks has expressed its bias. To a certain degree, this does change our position of support towards Wikileaks in which we want to make very clear.
We will continue to support the work of Wikileaks. However, we trust them as a document source. Additionally, we support the articles presented on Wikileaks that accompany their publications, but now take on a fresh view that it is presented with a certain amount of bias. A view of bias that we did not carry before.
This brings Wikileaks into line with our acceptance and determination of trust towards other media organizations that are part of our trusted sources through out strict editorial methods and standards.
We believe Freedom Publishers Union has some of the strictest editorial standards of independent media and we intend to remain strict, to ensure our focus on accuracy and fact-checked information remains.
December 4, 2017 | Appointment of Barrett Brown and Biplab Das, as Freedom Publishers Union Advisory Board Members
We are proud to announce the official appointment of Barrett Brown as the newest member to be appointed to the Freedom Publishers Union Advisory Board.
We are also proud to make the additional announcement of the appointment of Biplab Das, also joining as a member of the Advisory Board.
Freedom Publishers Union will use their combined extensive and rich knowledge of the greater importance of independent media and freedom of information, and integrate it into the already existing collective knowledge of the Advisory Board.
The Advisory Board appointments have taken immediate effect.
November 17, 2017 | Appointment of Dinesh Raja, as Freedom Publishers Union Public Representative
We are proud to announce the official appointment of Dinesh Raja as Public Representative for Freedom Publishers Union.
The appointment of the position is to become effective immediately.
The appointment is accompanied by some small changes to our Advisory Board. Two seats have been vacated, as we seek new candidates to fill the positions.
When any appointment has been made to the Advisory Board positions, we will release Press Statements accordingly.
November 5, 2017 | Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Pact Reemerges, as Possible TPP-11
Discourse surrounding the highly controversial trade agreement officially known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), has reemerged.
It has remained relatively dormant since earlier this year when the announcement by US President, Donald Trump, that he will officially withdraw the United States of America as a signatory from the TPP.
The withdrawal of the US put the future certainty of the agreement in jeopardy. Doubt was immediately raised as to whether the agreement could proceed without the inclusion of the US, which effectively brought the tally of 12 nation signatories down to 11.
This week, the trade agreement has made news headlines again. There is renewed calls by the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to get negotiations underway that would see the TPP revisited and reformed into an agreement which could proceed without the inclusion of the US, but with included provisions that would allow for the possibility of re-inclusion of the US in the future. Which if re-inclusion were to eventuate, it would most likely occur under a new US Presidency, as Donald Trump has continued to vow his opposition to the TPP.
We stand by the decision of Donald Trump to withdraw the US, as Freedom Publishers Union oppose the TPP.
Freedom Publishers Union has previously made our concerns public, highlighting specific elements of the TPP. Our position remains firm and will remain firm for any reformed trade agreement, dubbed "TPP-11".
Despite our firm opposition to the TPP, as a compromise, we will continue to urge the 11 remaining signatory nations and their governing political parties to renegotiate the agreement in a completely open and transparent fashion, allow for free passage of regular updates to media, along with drafts of chapters that have been amended to be placed in the public domain rather than relying on leaked copies having to be released through whistleblower platforms.
We conclude by stating that despite our push to have future amended draft chapters released through both mainstream and independent media channels, we will continue to offer our full support to whistleblower platforms such as Wikileaks, as their importance for providing source documents in the media for journalists and reporters is greatly under-appreciated.
August 21, 2017 | Freedom Publishers Union Continues to Support Free and Open Internet, and Oppose Censorship
Late last week, following on from a series of lengthy legal attacks led by Village Roadshow, Warner Bros, Paramount, Universal, Disney, 21st Century Fox and Australia's cable subscription network, Foxtel, the Federal Court of Australia ordered in favor of blocking specific internet sharing services and torrent index sites that are claimed to be directly or indirectly assisting in copyright infringement.
The Federal Court has ordered that the site blocking measures must be implemented by affected internet service providers within two weeks of the court's ruling.
Freedom Publishers Union is concerned of the continuing trend in censorship being implemented and pushed onto Australian internet users, through these blocking measures which are getting authorized in the Federal Courts under copyright infringement, in continued legal attacks from the major production studios who use their market dominance to force the blocking (with intention of shutdown) of legitimate file sharing sites and their associated networks, which some enable legitimate and completely legal file sharing services for creative and organic content.
We always advocate for a free and open internet without government interference and with minimal international regulation, which includes open access without restrictions and without any form of internet blocking or censorship. Freedom Publishers Union has never bent or moved on our position to uphold these digital rights for all internet users around the world, including Australia.
We remain firm in our position and always advocate that users facing censorship through website and/or domain blocking, should consider using Tor Browser as a means of bypassing these relatively meaningless and ineffective censorship techniques.
Freedom Publishers Union will continue to fight for digital rights on the internet, alongside copyright reform and always advocate against and oppose censorship to the fullest extent possible.
August 9, 2017 | Israel Ordering Closure of Al Jazeera Office, an Attack on Global Press Freedom
Freedom Publishers Union is deeply concerned at the latest attacks on press freedom, specifically aimed at censoring Al Jazeera. This week, the state of Israel announced plans to force closure of the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem and also revoke outstanding media credentials of its journalists in Israel.
The announcement from Israel echoes that of other leading countries in the Middle-East who have issued condemnation of the Qatar-based media organization. Middle-Eastern states who continue to attack independent journalism and the free press are constantly making false public claims that Al Jazeera is supporting terrorism and their related terrorist organizations. It is not. These claims are false, misleading and are simply aimed to attempt to undermine the editorial independence of the network and damage its model for revealing the truth and facts about the true events and nature of these repressive regimes which falsely claim to be democratic. The attacks are a targeted distraction from the facts of repression.
Al Jazeera strives off the independence of its journalism model and holds a massive amount of respect in the media industry for its independent and non-bias stance on the issues it reports on. Freedom Publishers Union absolutely supports the independent journalism model and firmly believes in a free and open press. Al Jazeera holds our dedicated and absolute support, as does its journalists.
Freedom Publishers Union condemns the state of Israel for the latest attempt to silence Al Jazeera and its journalists. While Israel remains a key ally of Western nations, including the United States of America, the very nature of the forced closure and stripping of media credentials of journalists puts the repressive actions of the Israeli Government on public display. It's counter-productive to what Israel claims.
Al Jazeera remains a grave threat to repressive regimes, specifically in the Middle-East where repressive regimes continue to flourish, through threats to any form of any independent voice. Only through a free and open press can unjust events and actions be reported and published for the public, for citizens to make their own determination of whether their respective governments are in fact operating a democratic system, or continue to suppress freedom of information through their governing model of power, force and secrecy.
Despite the attacks on the news agency and forced closure of its Israeli-based office, in a Statement released by Al Jazeera, the agency has vowed to continue to report and detail important issues that they always have and have said despite the office closure, "Al Jazeera will continue to cover the events of the occupied Palestinian territories professionally and accurately, according to the standards set by international agencies, such as the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom)." Additionally, Al Jazeera has indicated that it will pursue legal action as a result of the decision.
Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support the excellent, independent and quality journalism of Al Jazeera, based on the principles of the free and open press model that we so strongly aim to serve, support and advocate.
In conclusion, we urge Middle-East states to immediately stop the attacks on the freedom of the press and if differences of opinion are present, to accept the difference is real whilst commence to realize the greater importance of free and open journalism which comes from an independent publishing model.
December 3, 2016 | Release of Barrett Brown
Journalist, Writer and Internet Activist, Barrett Brown, has been released early from serving his sentence in prison.
Freedom Publishers Union has been in support of Mr. Brown receiving fair treatment and early release from prison.
We remain confident that he will continue his writing through his work as an independent journalist and activist.
Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support his legal cause, as Mr. Brown is still obligated to pay restitution and other legal fees.
We wish him the best of luck for the future and we are proud that our Organization was able to support such an incredible talent and independent journalist, by assisting to keep up the public pressure for early release.
July 28, 2016 | Shutdown of KickAss Torrents (KAT) Website
Freedom Publishers Union is extremely disappointed to learn of the recent shutdown of the torrent website KickAss Torrents, or more commonly known as KAT. In addition to the website shutdown, its Founder has also been arrested and is currently detained.
Our Organization has always advocated and supported services and infrastructure that allow for the dissemination of information and data in a free and open internet environment.
We have witnessed continued attacks against torrent indexing website, The Pirate Bay (TPB). It has been consistently attacked, at the domain level with countless domain seizures. Although the website has experienced downtime, it continues to make a full recovery and returns online. Ironically, it is now located and accessible at its original .org domain. Freedom Publishers Union has supported The Pirate Bay and called for the constant attacks from authoritative figures, representative bodies and media industry behemoths, on TPB services and infrastructure to stop.
Our full support extends to KAT. We support the website and the operations from its owner(s). We should hope that KAT will make an eventual return to the internet. Whether it be in official form or a new service dedicated to uphold the KAT legacy in the torrent sphere, is yet unclear. Until we see an official endorsement from an entity associated with the official (and original) KAT website, we warn torrent users to be cautious about accessing websites that attempt to replicate the original website. As we have witnessed by previous TPB shutdown attempts, unfortunately scams are born from closures of popular torrent websites.
Freedom Publishers Union supports and advocates freedom of internet and data flow. BitTorrent is a protocol that allows for the freedom of this data to flow, with minimal interruption. Therefore, we support the BitTorrent protocol, its associated technologies and all indexing websites, in-full and will continue to do so.
Attacks against websites and persons associated with the core functions of BitTorrent operations that allow for torrent indexing and access, must stop immediately.
We do not endorse piracy, rather Freedom Publishers Union supports fair-use provisions of copyrighted material, along with further copyright reform. We believe that aggressive pursuit of copyright reform would be much more productive as a counter-piracy measure. We will continue to seek out measures and consult with organizations and political entities across the world, to advocate the importance of a free and open internet and the equally important matter of copyright reform and fair-use.
June 29, 2016 | Acquisition of Tecseek Technology
GC Media Publishing Management has completed the acquisition of Tecseek Technology. The successful acquisition will see the website and its entire operations integrated into the business and publishing services under its new parent owner, GC Media Publishing Management.
Tecseek Technology will remain a separate website and its operations will operate as normal. Going into the future we will see even closer integration with the website of Freedom Publishers Union and closer integration with current server technology which is utilized throughout our business.
We are proud and positive for the future of Freedom Publishers Union, as the acquisition of Tecseek Technology gives Freedom Publishers Union the absolute best opportunity we could possibly have to extend our reach with technology based publications. This has been a core focus for our business in 2016 and we openly admit that we have lagged in our efforts and we see this as a great opportunity to reinvigorate and accelerate our focus on technology publications across the IT sector.
Freedom Publishers Union supports open information sharing through releasing all our content through the Creative Commons license. This will also be followed on to Tecseek Technology and all content published through Tecseek Techology will also be released through Creative Commons licensing.
The acquisition will see former Editor-in-Chief and current Director, Chris McGimpsey-Jones, return to his former position and be reinstated as Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Publishers Union and all its integrated publication services. Mel Khamlichi will become the Technical Advisor for all operations.
Furthermore, the acquisition of Tecseek Technology will see a change of the share of ownership to GC Media Publishing Management. This will have no public operations or publications impact and will remain solely an administrative task.
January 15, 2016 | Death of David Bowie
Freedom Publishers Union is deeply saddened by the recent passing of Singer, Songwriter and Musician, David Bowie.
Bowie passed away on January 10, just 2 days after the release of what would be his final album, Black Star. The album was quickly dubbed to be a farewell gift to his fans and the wider music world.
He was a unique individual and never seeked rock-star status and many times almost disappearing from the public eye, fueling speculation that he had quit the business of music. However, all through his career he continued to release quality music with equally impressive lyrics. Sometimes controversial and sometimes quirky. Bowie is said to have inspired the rock music of the early 70's and influenced punk rock with his style of dress, music and stage performances.
No words can truly explain the impressive career of Bowie which spanned over 50 years. David Bowie will be sorely missed by the music industry and the wider music world.
Freedom Publishers Union pays respect to this special individual who never failed to produce topshelf music which was very much appreciated by his fans. To some extent, Bowie will never know how much he was loved and appreciated for his contributions to the music industry.
September 25, 2015 | Presidential Pardon of Al Jazeera Journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed
Freedom Publishers Union commends the efforts made by the Egyptian Government, under Presidential orders to officially Pardon the Al Jazeera Journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed.
We have continuously campaigned against the unjust detainment of all three Journalists, including Peter Greste who has not yet been officially Pardoned.
The latest development has restored some degree of confidence in the Egyptian Government and International relations.
Peter Greste has been released and is now residing back in Australia. His criminal convictions remain in place. Although Mr. Greste enjoys freedom in his own country, the criminal convictions that remain in place do however limit his journalistic work as a Foreign Correspondent and limits the countries that he can now travel to.
Freedom Publishers Union urges the Egyptian President to take the next step, restore much more confidence in its Government's control over International relations and extend the Presidential Pardon to Peter Greste, so all crimimal convictions can then be cleared.
With all three men now free from unjust detainment in Egypt, the landmark decision also draws our campaign to a close.
August 30, 2015 | Retrial Verdict of Peter Greste and Al Jazeera Colleagues
Freedom Publishers Union is deeply disturbed and concerned by the verdict of the retrial of Al Jazeera Journalists Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed.
Our Organization has been at the forefront of the campaign for freedom of these Journalists and our support remains with them, on the basis of human rights, press freedom and democracy.
On June 24, 2014, Freedom Publishers Union released a Statement raising the initial concerns expressed from our own Organization on this matter. This is when our campaign for freedom of the Al Jazeera Journalists commenced.
On July 12, 2014, Freedom Publishers Union contacted the Egyptian Embassy in Canada and Australia, pleading for equal justice for all three men and for recognition that their human rights and fair legal justice had been violated.
Since our initial contact with the Egyptian Embassies, our campaign has been relentless and have always called for a fair trial based on truthful information, evidence and a legal justice system. To date, the trial and retrial has been completely flawed, falsified and the justice system and prosecutors have failed to present truthful evidence of any illegal activity from all three Journalists.
Our concerns remain firm and the announcement of the latest verdict from the retrial is equally disturbing and flawed as the first attempt at a fair and just legal proceeding.
With the support of all staff members involved at Freedom Publishers Union, we intend to continue to pursue complete equal freedom for all three Journalists, in honor of press freedom and democracy.
July 30, 2015 | Suppression of Grand Jury Documents, in Eric Garner Case
Freedom Publishers Union condemns the decision by the Appellate Division, Second Department to suppress the Grand Jury files, on the case of the death of Eric Garner.
Eric Garner was killed by a police officer on July 17, 2014, in New York City, by methods of a banned "choke-hold".
Freedom Publishers Union has backed support for calls to have the Grand Jury files released to the public, for increased awareness and information purposes for the wider community on the truth of the details of the case. Instead, we see the files have been suppressed and kept secret.
Freedom Publishers Union supports the New York Civil Liberties Union in their appeal of the decision and calls to have the documents released to the public.
July 11, 2015 | Condemnation of Government Interference with Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Questions and Answers (QandA) Program
Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia express our condemnation of the Liberal Party, under the leadership of the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, in its handling of the Coalition's response to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and its Questions and Answers (QandA) program.
The ABC is funded by the Australian Government and the Australian taxpayers. However, it is an independently operated entity without Government interference or control over its operations.
Australia is a democratic country with a free and open media ecosystem. Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia wish for it to remain free, open, transparent and off-limits from all attempts of bureaucratic interference.
We will continue to advocate absolute media freedom in Australia and condemn any attempts of any member or party of Government that attempts to suppress or stamp upon these freedoms.
June 9, 2015 | Global Campaign Against the Death Penalty
Freedom Publishers Union condemns the use of the death penatly in any country, for any crimes committed.
The April 29 execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia, demonstrates a lack of respect for the human rights of the individuals and complete lack of respect for their human dignity.
It remains true the individuals did commit crimes; however, Freedom Publishers Union firmly believes the individuals did serve the necessary time imprisoned in detention in Indonesia, to become reformed citizens.
It can not be disputed our views were echoed in the media arena, both in Australia and on the International circuit.
Freedom Publishers Union is moving to consider ways to step up our campaign against the use of the death penalty and will continue to advocate against its use, regardless of country the horrific practice is undertaken.
March 21, 2015 | Response to Unexpected Passing of Malcolm Fraser
Freedom Publishers Union is deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser.
Malcolm Fraser was very much respected and a great source of inspiration for many people, during his time serving as Prime Minister of Australia and for the entirety of his life.
He always provided insightful and intriguing commentary on all current issues and was a regular on Australian television broadcasting networks, for interview.
On many occasion, Staff Members at Freedom Publishers Union used the commentary of Malcolm Fraser as a preliminary analysis of our own contributions.
Malcolm Fraser, 1930 - 2015.
February 20, 2015 | Equation Group and its Cyber-Espionage Activities
In a joint Statement, Freedom Publishers Union and Quality Publishing Works denounce the activities which have been published through information revealed on the "Equation Group" and its involvements in cyber-espionage.
We are deeply disturbed and were immediately concerned by the technical sophistication of the finer details of the activities undertaken, as revealed by information security researchers at Kaspersky Labs.
The technical cyber-espionage activities undertaken by the mysterious group, dubbed "Equation Group" by Kaspersky Labs, use very sophisticated techniques of which have not been witnessed before, with effects that have the potential for results that pose alarming concern for how widespread the actions are and how integrated the activities and the originating entities are potentially and most-likely connected to Government Agencies and the greater mass-surveillance landscape.
Freedom Publishers Union and Quality Publishing Works jointly condemn this kind of illegal, wrongful, unwarranted, immoral behavior and activities of any group involved in cyber-espionage.
We will continue to analyze any further information and details revealed on this matter and publish as appropriate.
February 9. 2015 | KickassTorrents and the Potential Threat of More Domain Name Action
The domain name extension used by KickassTorrents website, .so has been seized. The website is no longer accessible by this domain name extension as it has apparently been banned by means of domain name system blocking.
The website soon moved to utilize the .to domain extension and is now accessible through using the .to extension.
Freedom Publishers Union condemns these continued attacks on freedoms of the internet. Torrent websites are consistently at the forefront of the ongoing threat by movie and music production studios, in their attempts to limit and shut down file sharing websites and their associated services.
We will always continue to support freedom of the internet and services that continue to provide the means and technology that promote and provide those very freedoms to any internet connected user anywhere in the world, regardless of locale and state and country borders.
It's a continuing threat from worldwide authorities and production studios, in their bid to restrict and have absolute control over media and information flow on the internet. Attacks such as domain seizures, domain name blocking, website shut downs and confiscation of hardware and other personal property from the respective operators; Freedom Publishers Union views all of these events as attacks on freedom of information and internet information flow and will continue to fight, defend and support those very freedoms when under threat.
January 23, 2015 | Response to Sentencing for Barrett Brown
Journalist, Writer and Internet Activist, Barrett Brown, has been sentenced to 63 months imprisonment and ordered to pay the amount of $890,000.
There has been worldwide outrage over the conviction and sentence with many well-respected journalists and media organizations expressing their disappointment in the sentencing.
Freedom Publishers Union echoes the concerns of many others and express our own disappointment with the result.
We believe the case and entire judicial process has been seriously flawed. Many valid points and facts have been brought forth by Brown and his Legal Defense, yet outright ignored by the judicial system. Again, a systematic fail of the United States legal process.
Combined with information that has been twisted and/or concocted by the FBI (as Brown points out in his own Statement) and falsely presented to the Court, along with information that is just plain wrong, makes the Barrett Brown case absolutely ridiculous.
What is equally concerning is the fact that the case of Barrett Brown is not limited to this case only, there are others which compare. There will undoubtedly be more in the future, which we intend to ridicule where necessary in defense of Journalist' who do their job all too well and get punished by the highly flawed and pre-determined verdicts that extend from the Unites States of America legal system.
Freedom Publishers Union is very disappointed with the decision and intends to examine what avenues of support we can now offer the Free Barrett Brown movement.
We hope that the gifted Journalist and Writer that Barrett Brown is, continues to write from the walls of the concrete confinements of prison as we will continue to publish future works of Barrett Brown and Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support his legal defense.
January 9, 2015 | FBI Accusations Against North Korea for Sony Hack, Seemingly Unfounded
There is undoubtedly much more information to be released about the alleged origins of the recent "Sony Hack". In the United States, the FBI has consistently pointed the finger at North Korea as being behind the incident.
The release of the Sony Hack archive and associated detailed information dealt a massive blow to the planned release of the movie which supposedly prompted the cyber attack on Sony, "The Interview".
Freedom Publishers Union is concerned the FBI consistently points the finger at North Korea, yet to date has not publicly released any actual-physical information which gives respect to the claims made by the FBI and the US Government. The FBI has gone as far as classifying the so-called evidence it contains; as secret, in which supposedly proves the cyber attack on Sony did originate from North Korea.
At the time of release of this Statement, North Korea have denied being responsible for the Sony Hack.
Following the Sony Hack archive release from the hacking group who call themselves, Guardians of Peace (GoP), the world witnessed a complete outage of North Korea internet access. Speculation quickly mounted that the US Government was behind the country-wide internet outage.
The US have denied being responsible for the N. Korea internet outage.
Freedom Publishers Union is skeptical of both sides and can only describe the entire political bashing between the two countries which has spilled into the public domain, as ridiculous.
We are concerned that the US Government is seemingly using the Sony Hack as an excuse to implement further sanctions on North Korea. If sanctions are to be placed on North Korea from any country, a legitimate reason and political purpose and agenda should be publicly declared and backed by information that gives cause and merit to the sanctions.
To date, the US Government and the FBI have released nil information which can be backed by conclusive evidence which proves the origin of the Sony Hack was North Korea.
Cyber-Security Experts, Cyber-Security Analysts, Cyber-Security Researchers, hacking group Anonymous and even ex-hacker turned FBI informant, Hector Xavier Monsegur (aka. Sabu), have all publicly declared that there is very little chance North Korea could be behind the Sony Hack due to the complexity required to carry out the hack and the amount of material which was sourced.
In a recent interview with CNET, Monsegur goes on to describe his own analysis of the Sony Hack, claiming the amount of material sourced by the hack was gathered in a highly-sophisticated manner and undoubtedly not stored on one single server within Sony's infrastructure, concluding there was very little chance a rogue country such as North Korea with very little [known] technical capability could be the masterminds behind this kind of cyber attack.
Based on the information that Freedom Publishers Union has viewed, we echo the claims made by Hector Xavier Monsegur, that the hacker(s) would have to have had some pre-knowledge of the internal server structures of Sony and its technical infrastructure.
As we go to publish with this Statement, technology media organization ZDNet has released an article on its website with information which displays how easy it could potentially be for anyone or any country to essentially 'take down' the internet access for North Korea.
Freedom Publishers Union reserves judgment on any country, any group, any persons or entity in the case of the Sony Hack incident. We make judgment based on clear facts backed by clear and conclusive evidence which gets presented in the public domain. We can not base judgment to anyone on any matter based on the rhetoric of the US Government, the FBI and North Korea.
We will continue to follow developments in this ongoing and constantly unfolding story and publish information when it gets released to the public.
Freedom Publishers Union will continue to call on the US Government and the FBI (and potentially the NSA), to release any conclusive evidence it has in its possession, into the public domain for public scrutiny and judgment.
January 9, 2015 | Charlie Hebdo Incident, an Attack on Freedom of Expression
Freedom Publishers Union condemns the attacks on French media and publishing organization, Charlie Hebdo.
The attacks can only be described as horrific and cowardly. Freedom Publishers Union views the attacks on Charlie Hebdo as a direct attack on the world's open media platforms and freedom of expression.
What concerns Freedom Publishers Union, is that the story is much more detailed than what has initially been reported by mainstream media organizations. Independent media organization, The Intercept, has published information and details of a Statement it received from persons allegedly officially associated with 'al Qaeda' and claim 'full responsibility' for the attacks in Paris, France.
We feel much more detail is yet to be revealed on the matter. Freedom Publishers Union will continue to monitor the ongoing investigation into the attacks and publish relevant information as it comes to light.
In closing, on behalf of all the Staff at Freedom Publishers Union, we express our sincere condolences to the friends and family of the victims who have been caught up in the violence of the sensitive political incident.
January 7, 2015 | Welfare and Human Rights Concerns for Asylum Seekers, Detained on Manus Island and Nauru
The living conditions and welfare of Australian Asylum Seekers and Refugees detained on Manus Island and Nauru has rapidly deteriorated under the control of the Liberal Government and under the guidance of Australia's [former] Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison MP and [current] Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton MP.
Freedom Publishers Union has been witness to some alarming information in the last 3-6 months. In recent weeks, we have viewed information in which demonstrates an absolute injustice and willingness to ignore the welfare of Asylum Seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.
As recently as November-December 2014, claims of homosexual rape, have leaked to media by an anonymous Asylum Seeker who is currently detained at Manus Island. The alleged rape victim and detainee has stated they are reluctant to report the alleged rape offenses to security officers within the detainment facilities for fear of further abuse, both sexually and physically, including mental torment.
On Nauru, there is constant claims of horrific child abuse, self-harm and suicide attempts, from Asylum Seekers being detained under torrid living conditions.
Amnesty International has previously visited the detention center at Nauru and officially described the living conditions as "a human rights catastrophe". Whilst the United Nations has also publicly condemned the living conditions on both Manus Island and Nauru detention centers, deeming them unacceptable.
Based on information Freedom Publishers Union has witnessed, there appears to be absolute lack of welfare awareness from Australia's Immigration Ministers, former and current. Equally concerning, is the lack of concern by the companies that are employed to operate these facilities and manage the security personnel.
The Manus Island detention center is operated by Transfield Services. The Nauru detention center is operated by SERCO.
The facilities on Manus Island and Nauru are operated in such military-like secrecy, with no information publicly accessible as to the physical locale of these facilities and detention centers.
Freedom Publishers Union is current exploring avenues of action we can pursue in raising awareness of the concerns we have towards the violation of the human rights of the Asylum Seekers and Refugees, being detained on Manus Island and Nauru detention centers.
January 5, 2015 | Peter Greste Released, Colleagues Remain Imprisoned
After more than 400 days, Australian Journalist, Peter Greste has been released from imprisonment in Egypt.
Freedom Publishers Union is proud to have contributed to the global campaign to have Peter Greste released from Egyptian imprisonment.
Our contribution consisted of consistent calls for release for all three of the Al Jazeera journalists, who were imprisoned as a result of flawed and falsified legal proceedings against the journalists.
Additionally, Freedom Publishers Union contacted the Egyptian Embassies in Canada and Australia, to plead for Presidential Pardon of the three journalists.
Freedom Publishers Union is grateful to the Egyptian Government for allowing the release Peter Greste to proceed without further interference, as we requested in our correspondence with the Egyptian Embassies.
The release of Peter Greste is the result of a global media campaign, condemning the imprisonment of the journalists and calling for their immediate release.
The focus of our campaign at Freedom Publishers Union shifts to a different stage, as we now focus on calling for the release of the remaining two Al Jazeera Journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. Their civil and human rights must be upheld and immediate release of the remaining two men must proceed as quickly as possible.
Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support and call for the release of Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, as we did for Peter Greste.
Additionally, in coming weeks we will be contacting the Egyptian Embassies again, in an attempt to [re]state our case that Freedom Publishers Union believes the civil and human rights of these men, has been violated through misleading and falsified legal proceedings.
January 2, 2015 | The Resurrection of The Pirate Bay and Future
Effective February 1, 2015, The Pirate Bay is back online.
The website has defied recent legal action and emerged once again under the same domain name of thepiratebay.se
The current site is partially operational, with some services still not yet functional.
The investigation by Swedish authorities continues into the website and its activities. Although no official Statement has been released by The Pirate Bay's owners and administrators, articles published in TorrentFreak detail that there is tension among the administrators on a range of issues related to how the website should now be operated and into the future.
Additional reports go on to suggest that former associates of The Pirate Bay have been so dissatisfied with the way the website has been reformed and defectors are drawing up plans to relaunch a new The Pirate Bay website, which could be claimed as being the original and only official The Pirate Bay.
Freedom Publishers Union can not independently verify these reports from TorrentFreak
Freedom Publishers Union is proud that the website has defied its critics and authorities, in a bid to exercise the principles of freedom of information sharing.
At current, The Pirate Bay is considered by name the [un]official Godfather of torrent file sharing eco-system in a modern digital landscape. We believe the hydra behind The Pirate Bay is key to its success into the future.
The time has come for other websites to adopt The Pirate Bay hydra and contribute in their own way to the torrent, peer-to-peer, freedom of information and information sharing eco-system that should and deserves to exist on the internet.
We conclude by stating that we will continue to monitor the ongoing and always unfolding story of The Pirate Bay legal investigation.
However, we are concerned the website is slowly heading towards disrepute and eventual mainstream abandonment by wider audience, if it proceeds and continues to flood the website with pornographic and suggestive advertising banners.
We have previously documented the former Owners and Founders of The Pirate Bay "thepiratebay.org" have also expressed concerns that the website does not resemble what they set out to achieve and preach.
How The Pirate Bay website proceeds from here, will ultimately determine its longevity into the future in its current form.
Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support The Pirate Bay and its service, as it actively demonstrates the very principles of freedom of information flow on the internet, without censorship and without borders.
December 19, 2014 | Response to Probable Shutdown of The Pirate Bay
Since we received the initial word that The Pirate Bay had been raided and sent offline by order of the Swedish authorities, there has still been no official word in black and white from official representatives of The Pirate Bay.
Torrent news website Torrentfreak.com did however receive word from a person supposedly associated with the project, that The Pirate Bay will not be back online for the foreseeable future. This person went on to state that they hope the BitTorrent community and former TPB users go on to keep their legacy alive, in any form.
At this stage, it seems unclear whether the website, its owners and which associates are still being investigated as the Swedish authorities have been very tight-lipped about revealing much detail related to the investigation. There has also been no official word of the domain names used to access the website "thepiratebay.org", which redirected to "thepiratebay.se".
One of the original Co-Founders, Peter Sunde, has been outspoken of his former bay's demise, by stating that he would be pleased if it were to not return to online status. Sunde felt that the current owners had killed the site's spirit he helped create with the other two Co-Founders, Gottfrid Svartholm (anakata) and Fredrik Neij.
Peter Sunde's words were very strong and there was no holding back in his Statement published on his website.
Perhaps Sunde was right. Perhaps now was the time TPB in its current form set sail for the horizon and let the community of users behind ultimately decide its fate.
It seems that TPB and the BitTorrent user community have responded to keep the TPB legacy alive. We wish to point, specifically, to the work of Isohunt.to, who have put in a great amount of effort to launching www.oldpiratebay.org, which leads users to a Isohunt.to powered torrent search engine which keeps the legacy of The Pirate Bay alive by mimicking the former website's appearance with a tweaked blue theme.
It looks fantastic and functions very well. Search results are equally fast, if not better than they were on TPB.
A massive kudos to the group of developers at Isohunt.to who put this site together. If there was any website that aims to keep TPB legacy alive, www.oldpiratebay.org has succeeded.
Freedom Publishers Union believes that The Pirate Bay was much more than just a torrent search index website. The symbolism of what TPB stood for is what mattered; freedom of information flow and freedom to share, without restriction. Unfortunately, law enforcement authorities and music/movie studios beg to differ and it is now left to the BitTorrent community to decide what gets remembered and what gets forgotten about The Pirate Bay.
Freedom Publishers Union wanted to do our part to support The Pirate Bay legacy and keep the spirit of freedom of information flow and file sharing alive.
For now, that is where The Pirate Bay has left its legacy. If anything is rebooted and presented in the future for The Pirate Bay, it is undoubtedly guaranteed to be positive. Until then, we watch with great anticipation to see whether The Pirate Bay returns.
The original website might be now offline, but the powerful spirit and symbolism it created a decade ago under the control of the original founders, is certainly still online and felt.
Freedom Publishers Union will continue to monitor the current case that is still in its infancy and undoubtedly yet to reveal much more detailed information. We will continue to publish information as it becomes available.
We also warn of torrent users to be mindful of the many scams and websites attempting to cash-in on The Pirate Bay name and website logo. We can't stress enough that these are not the original The Pirate Bay website and are actually re-creations, alternatives, mirrors and reboots using the same name and logo, but are not making this clear to their users. Beware of these kinds of websites and please use them at your own risk.
December 11, 2014 | Initial Response to Raid and Shutdown of The Pirate Bay
It's now well documented that The Pirate Bay has been shut-down and its datacenter raided by Swedish authorities.
As yet, there is no official comment released by the Swedish authorities, other than they were responding to complaints against The Pirate Bay website and claims of copyright infringements.
It's simply too early to attempt to predict where this case is heading. Media reports are showing mixed reactions, claims and predictions on the future of The Pirate Bay.Some media organizations are reporting that this will be the end of the file sharing website and it may never come back online.
Whilst, pirate loyalists and those in favor and greatly supporting its return to online status, remain confident that 'something' is definitely happening in the background and continue to believe that it will return very soon.
Over the course of its existence, The Pirate Bay has endured rough conditions, treatment and legal battles on its journey, both under the leadership of its original three founders and also its current operators, currently unknown to the public and will most likely remain in the shadows for as long as needed.
Freedom Publishers Union will comment in more detail on the matter at a later date, when we have more information. But at the moment, the following key points are what we do know:
Freedom Publishers Union will follow the case carefully and release another Statement when we have more official information about the case.
Until we know and understand more information which comes from reputable and official sources associated or familiar with TPB operations, we urge torrent users to please avoid using TPB mirror/proxy sites and seek usage of alternative torrent file services, for the time being.
More to come.
December 8, 2014 | Plea for Leniency for Barrett Brown Sentencing
Journalist, Writer and Internet Activist, Barrett Brown, had his place of residence raided by the FBI back in March 6, 2012. It was not until September 12, 2012 Brown was arrested.
Brown had experienced several different encounters and harassment from US law enforcement prior to his indictment and arrest. He is currently detained, until his sentencing date which has been unjustly delayed, many times.
Freedom Publishers Union has followed the Barrett Brown case from the very beginning, as we have followed most major cases of this nature. Until now, we have been silent on the case, because only now we feel there is substantial reasoning for a lenient sentencing against Brown.
Our understanding of the case details tells us that the initial arrest of Brown was based on a scattering of some false and some often 'misleading' information. The experiences that Brown entailed dealing with law enforcement borders abuse of power from US authorities.
From evidence that we have read and viewed, the case against Brown is and always has been very weak. We feel the continued delay of sentencing hearing dates, is an effort by US legal representatives to attempt to manipulate a weak case and present Prosecutors something more fearsome than the actual finer details suggest.
Brown continued to be harassed by US law enforcement and at one point during his arrest experience, Brown has claimed that he was injured and received insufficient medical attention for his claimed injuries.
For a person being detained for alleged crimes such as what Barrett Brown is alleged to be involved in, his treatment has been unsatisfactory.
Freedom Publishers Union understands that there is a probable possibility of some wrongdoing on Brown's behalf, but we can not cite any direct consequence against any persons or entity that has come to harm from some of Brown's previous actions and alleged involvements.
From September 2013 to April 2014, Barrett Brown was placed under a Federal-issued gag order and was prevented from discussing details about the case, as was any of his legal representative(s).
Barrett was presented with evidence against him and entered a plea-bargain with authorities, primarily related to his alleged knowing of events surrounding the Stratfor hacking and leaked emails.
March 2014, many of the initial charges that were placed against Brown were dropped. Some still remain, for which he resides in detainment long-awaiting a sentencing hearing date.
Freedom Publishers Union suspects that the case against Barrett Brown has been very weak from the very beginning and based on unreliable information and evidence we describe as 'sketchy', at best.
We would like to re-iterate that again, no harm has come to any persons or entity from the alleged charges against Brown and we are confident he poses no risk to society when he is to be released.
For such minimal charges based on lackluster evidence, Brown has been through much already. Yet the legal system insists on delaying the sentencing hearing for Brown, which has now been set for December (no exact date cited) or possibly as late as January, 2015.
Freedom Publishers Union is currently seeking an official date, but as yet have been unable to seek such information.
The continued delays and setbacks of sentencing hearing dates adds to the confusion of the case against Barrett Brown.
Authorities involved in the Brown case have displayed absolute lack of respect towards Brown during this sequence of events. They have even gone as far as to claim that he is not a Journalist or a Writer and completely ignoring the work and writings of Barrett Brown and where his efforts have been published.
Additionally, Brown has received full payment for his published work by many different publishers. His professional contributions to journalism and writing can not be disputed and has earned the respect to use the title, Journalist and Writer.
This must be respected by law enforcement and authoritative figures.
US authorities seem determined to label Barrett Brown as a viscous, violent hacker who is ultimately responsible for the entire control of the Anonymous hacking movement.
In closing, Freedom Publishers Union does not dispute that Brown may have done something wrong, based on the official evidence we have read through, in official released legal documents. Specifically, his public statements, remarks and specific threats to specific individuals released through his YouTube videos, can not be disputed and these kind of threats to members of the public is unacceptable and inexcusable.
We do however believe that he poses absolutely no risk to society through his previous wrongdoing and other alleged matters.
We conclude that his previous offset behavior would be related more toward third-party issues in Barrett's life, rather than a genuine intention to carry out an action of such threats made to specific individuals.
It's well documented that Barrett Brown is a former heroin addict. Brown himself has gone on the record to declare his history of illicit drug use. This should be taken into account in the event of an eventual sentencing.
Finally, Freedom Publishers Union is and will continue to plead with Prosecutors, to be lenient with Barrett Brown and take into consideration the entire chain of events that have led to his arrest and detainment. And the time he has already spent under detention also needs to be considered when a final sentence is given.
We believe Brown should receive a minimal sentence as deemed appropriate to the actual instances according to US law and not a pre-determined sentence.
When Barrett Brown is released back into society, we believe if placed under the right conditions, in a suitable environment and with the right support, he can re-enter society a good citizen.
November 5, 2014 | Arrests and Detainment of The Pirate Bay Co-Founders
We echo our Statement released on November 1, 2014, on topic of verdict and unfair trial of The Pirate Bay Co-Founder, Gottfrid Svartholm (anakata).
The remaining The Pirate Bay Co-Founders have now been arrested and detained.
Peter Sunde was arrested in Sweden in May 2014. Fredrik Neij has been arrested and is currently detained, in Asia November 2014.
All three original The Pirate Bay Co-Founders have now been arrested and are currently detained.
The Pirate Bay was developed as a file sharing service to allow its users to share files and information via a fast peer-to-peer based network. That is what The Pirate Bay continues to do today.
Whether the charges presented against the detainees are presented as such or not, it's clear the arrests, detainment and sentencing of Gottfrid Svartholm, Peter Sunde and Fredrik Neij is an attack on The Pirate Bay, its users and the worldwide network of file sharers which use the torrent-based protocol to share files of their choice.
The arrests and detainment of the aforementioned persons is a direct attack on the freedom of internet users and the free and open choice we have, to share files and information between our friends and fellow internet users.
Freedom Publishers Union condemns this type of behavior and provocation from the legal systems of the respective countries involved.
As we release this Statement, news of the most recent arrest of Fredrik Neij is still unfolding. At the time of publishing, torrent news website TorrentFreak is reporting that Thai media is claiming that "US movie companies" hired a law firm to search for and locate Neij.
There will be more updates and revelations as the investigations continue.
As the world has witnessed previously (too many times), with The Pirate Bay related court cases and other legal cases against renowned technologists, there will undoubtedly be a case based around false, misleading and absolutely inconclusive evidence that in a functioning legal court system, would fail.
Yet we continue to see pre-determined verdicts prior to the case being heard in court, which eventuates in the final verdict that was clearly determined before the case entered to judicial system phase.
November 1, 2014 | Final Verdict and Unfair Trial in Hacking Case Against anakata
As we go to publish with this Statement, The Pirate Bay Co-Founder, Gottfrid Svartholm (anakata), has been found guilty of the hacking charges he has faced since 2012. At the time of publishing, he is yet to be sentenced.
Freedom Publishers Union does not normally comment on public hacking cases such as the anakata case, but when the evidence is weak as the case against anakata, we feel it necessary to put forth our view to the public.
Whilst it is true that anakata has been caught up in legal battles in previous years, both related and unrelated to The Pirate Bay, it's important to understand that this case is stated as unrelated to The Pirate Bay.
Freedom Publishers Union, does firmly believe that in all previous cases against anakata, evidence has been what can only be described as weak. The latest hacking charges anakata faces are no different. Again, we are seeing a case built around weak and inconclusive evidence and the courts and judicial system has failed.
The anakata hacking case somewhat resembles that of the Bradley Manning case, in a sense that the prime suspect of the courts are suspects of so-called crimes based off computer crimes charges of a nature and proceed through the drawn out court procedures, ending with the expected "Guilty" verdict, in an effort to make a public example out of the suspect(s) and display publicly what the courts and judicial system can and will do to technologists who test and push the system to its limits.
In this case, it is anakata.
In previous (recent) cases, it was Manning. And there's been many more examples before them.
So what effect will the latest conviction of anakata have on The Pirate Bay (TPB)? Absolutely none.
TPB has been shut down previously, each and every time administrators have somehow managed to re-emerge from the depths of the dark and murky waters.
There has been countless attempts to shut the service down, through seizure of server hardware, IP blocking, domain blocking and domain snatching from countries and domain name providers.
TPB's technology has changed, evolved and adapted and has proven that it has become nigh on impossible for authorities to take down the service, permanently.
If the judicial system's intent was to use anakata as bait and make an example out of him, with the side-effect of taking down The Pirate Bay, they have failed at that task too. Almost as much as the failing of the lawful intentions of the judicial system itself.
It's not file sharers that are suffering;
It's not pirates that are suffering;
It's not The Pirate Bay that is suffering;
In fact, the only person to suffer out of the ordeal, is Gottfrid Svartholm, more well known as anakata.
A gifted programmer, anakata has also suffered from drug related problems and mental health issues in the past. All of which seem to have been ignored, along with the fact the evidence against anakata is ill, inconclusive and flawed.
Freedom Publishers Union does not condone illegal piracy. However, we do believe in and advocate that systems and services such as The Pirate Bay (and other torrent indexing websites) are provided so that users have the option and to make the decision for themselves, without laws and government interference. That's primarily why these systems were born and developed.
It's freedom. It's openness on a global scale. It must be protected.
October 16, 2014 | Use of Manning's Identity Reference in the Media
There is public conversation in the media at current, regarding specific references to US Army Intelligence whistleblower, Private Manning.
The center of the discussion is based around how to identify Manning and how to address the identity of Manning and which name to correctly use.
It's a complicated issue and something nobody will find any official reference of a way to properly address the identity of a person who has been medically diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
Freedom Publishers Union needs to address this situation for our own readers and how our own Organization refers to the identity of Manning, officially.
At a moral level, it is important to understand that Bradley Manning has legally changed her name to Chelsea Manning. Therefore, when referring to Manning in a generalized context, it is respect to Chelsea that the media refer to her by her correct and legal name. Additionally, members of the public and media need to understand Chelsea is the name she wants to be called. Therefore, out of respect to Chelsea, that is what needs to happen in the media at a broader level than what is currently happening.
Freedom Publishers Union will refer to Manning according to the following guidelines:
Freedom Publishers Union firmly believes that Manning deserves recognition of his/her identity according to the time frame in the context the identity reference is being presented. It's not only respect for Chelsea Manning herself, but also what Manning was/is officially identifiable as, at the time frame of the referenced context.
September 11, 2014 | Concerns Over Security and Privacy Breach from Apple
Today, it was announced that Apple customers had received what is being referred to from the company as, "A Free Gift". If Apple's iCloud customers were to enter their accounts today, it may have come as a surprise when they find Apple had uploaded a free copy of U2's latest album release into their account.
From a security and privacy perspective, this is of great concern.
There are a few points we need to examine;
Unsolicited content being mass distributed - It is of concern, being of the very nature that Apple customers did not ask for the content to be uploaded to their account. Additionally, they were not given a choice to receive or not receive the content.
Choice - If the content in question is not wanted by the customer, they should be given the option to remove the content and have it deleted from their account. At the time of publishing, we are not aware of any users being able to delete the content from their iCloud account.
Forced data retention - iCloud users do have the option to 'Hide' the content so it is not visible. However, users must understand that simply 'Hiding' content from visibility is not removing the content the their accounts. When using the 'Hide' option to effectively remove the content from view, it does not physically remove the content from your iCloud (or any other Apple service) account.
Privacy - User's privacy is being invaded and ignored. It displays a lack of respect for user's accounts and their right to privacy. Apple as a company, have a global responsibility to respect the rights of privacy of its iCloud service and its customers.
Security - Forth-most, it raises more questions than what it answers, on the topic of not only iCloud account security, but the security of all Apple accounts and services. If Apple is able to simply upload data to any, all and everyone's accounts at any given time, without the permission of the account holder; then serious questions need to asked about the overall security of Apple and its services.
We advise that Apple customers be very careful and aware of what information and data they upload to iCloud accounts and other Apple services.
Additionally, users need to be aware that this latest move from Apple demonstrates that the company most-likely has full, unrestricted access to all its user's accounts and related content associated with their accounts.
August 25, 2014 | Pirate Party Australia, Membership Announcement
Freedom of information and the flow of information, transparency and democracy have always been very important to me. Moreso, as we continue to delve deeper into a digital world of information and internet presence.
Internet publishing plays a very important role in keeping the information that we consume, open and transparent. Since its founding, Wikileaks has consistently been at the forefront of pushing the limits of all traditional media organizations in an effort to keep governments open and transparent.
The efforts of Julian Assange and Wikileaks have continued with Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and the founding of Freedom of the Press Foundation.
Despite all major efforts from the aforementioned people and their respective and associated organizations, it is a continual uphill battle, due to the higher powers of world governments, otherwise known as the "Five Eyes" (United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), ordering, yet denying, the suppression of such information.
This a direct attack on democracy and freedom of speech. Both of which are basic civil and human rights.
The Australian Government continues to press ahead with intentions to close all forms of information transparency and censor information in which should be readily available to the public. Additionally, post-Snowden leaks, the "Five Eyes" nations continue to track, collect and store data on its citizens from many countries around the world.
I, along with my business partner founded Freedom Publishers Union to not only publish and promote the use of Linux and free and open-source software, but also mature the Organization into an open publishing platform of wider information. We are based on and adhere to the very same principles of Wikileaks and Freedom of the Press Foundation.
Politics doesn't have to be any different. I have been thinking of entering the political arena for some time. Years actually. But the truth remains that until only 2013, there has been no valid established political parties in which stand up for all of the issues that I have outlined above.
Today, I announce I have become a member of Pirate Party Australia.
The first Pirate Party was founded in Sweden, back in 2006. Pirate Party Australia was formally registered as an Australian political party on January 17, 2013. Key focuses of attention is given to many areas;
In addition to the above key elements of attention for the party, there is a strong focus of bringing to the attention of the Australian Government much outdated copyright laws. Which let's be honest, were not created for and do not cater for the era of digital information and media that we now digest at a rapid rate.
Through my involvements and membership with Pirate Party Australia, I hope to build on the efforts that the party performs and contribute to the platform and policies that it practices.
In closing, I must stress that Freedom Publishers Union has no affiliation with Pirate Party Australia or any other political party nor will it be used to publish or promote my political views and motives respective to Pirate Party Australia and involvements within the party.
The entities are separate, as is my role as Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Publishers Union and my role as a member of Pirate Party Australia.
August 20, 2014 | Julian Assange's "Leaving soon" Announcement
Wikileaks Founder, Julian Assange's recent announcement that he would be leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, "soon", is as cryptic as the man himself.
We know as much as everyone else. We would safely say that Julian obviously knows more than the media and the truth behind his declaration to be leaving soon, is yet not known by a wider audience.
We certainly hope Julian Assange is released soon, as the man has been locked into the Embassy for over 2 years, without charge of any crime(s). That's not counting the time he has spent in house arrest prior to him entering the Embassy, for the purpose of political asylum.
Julian Assange's life has literally been a media circus. Equal to the circus of allegations and investigations (and the denial of investigations) into Assange and his freedom publishing organization, Wikileaks.
It's not only a war by ruling powers on freedom of publishing but also on human rights. The Julian Assange case in point, is a clear example of exploitation of all human rights by the United States of America and United Kingdom. It's unacceptable.
Freedom Publishers Union was founded on the basis and principles of freedom to publish any material related to free and open-source software. The same principles apply for the actual process of publishing itself. What we publish is our choice and we have the legal right to do so, providing we can ensure that the material we publish is backed up by facts and truth. As Wikileaks' published material is and has been proven to be.
Wikileaks and Julian Assange's efforts and advocacy for freedom of publishing is strong, unique and of inspiration to many publishing organizations, including our own.
We operate our publishing methods and standards based on what Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, their associates and media partners advocate. It's what we have done since we commenced publishing and what we plan to keep doing, long into the future.
July 25, 2014 | Official launch of FPUorg
At Freedom Publishers Union, we are passionate about being as generous to the world as we can, with what limited funds we have available at our disposal.
There are many Charities and Non-Profit Organizations, everywhere around the world in which rely on and require a constant flow of funds, sourced from donations from business and corporate entities. We contribute to some of these Charities and try to make even a small difference.
FPUorg has been founded to separate our charitable operations, so that Freedom Publishers Union can focus on the publishing side of the business and FPUorg can focus on where our donations and funds get allocated.
FPUorg is operated by Freedom Publishers Union.
The domain name is registered for www.fpuorg.com. Both entities of Freedom Publishers Union and FPUorg operate in co-operation with each other but are treated as completely separate organizations.
June 24, 2014 | Arrest and Sentencing of Al Jazeera employees, Peter Greste and Colleagues
Al Jazeera journalists, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been arrested and sentenced, by the Egyptian Judicial System.
Peter and Mohamed received 7 years imprisonment. Baher received 10 years imprisonment.
The sentencing decision has been condemned by Amnesty International, the Australian Government and the US Government.
The recent events of the Al Jazeera journalists can only be described as unlawful (by International Standards), unfair, disturbing and a declaration of war against freedom of journalism and publishing, by Egypt.
At Freedom Publishers Union, we are not journalists. However, we are involved in internet publishing and media operations. Whatever direct field of work a person, persons and their associated organizations are involved in, whether it be journalism, news, and/or media publishing in any form; any declaration, statement or threat directly or indirectly related to the freedom of the press, is deemed offensive. We believe, rightfully so.
We must take a stand on such behavior and it can not be accepted by the broader publishing media industry.
Peter Greste and his fellow Al Jazeera employees were simply doing their jobs and taking on their responsibilities as journalists. For this, they should not be punished by a forceful and unlawful Government of Egypt.
Freedom Publishers Union operates on a freedom based principle, as do Al Jazeera and most other forms of world media organizations. This must be protected at all costs and enhanced where possible.
Our Organization can not and will not sit back and support such decision by Egypt and we will play our part in spreading the message across the industry, with the tools that we have at our disposal; that this behavior of Governments seeking to quash freedom of information and publishing will not be tolerated nor supported in any way, by us or any other respected media organization.
December 1, 2016 | Pirate Party Online Security and Privacy Advisory
So what's this new IP Bill I keep hearing about?
Recently passed as legislation by the UK Parliament, the IP Bill (amongst other things) requires UK internet service providers (ISP) to retain a log of all the websites and apps that your computer or mobile phone connects to. This data can then be viewed and accessed by the Police, Department of Health and any other Government agencies, such as the UK intelligence agency GCHQ. Equally, once stored it will be a magnet for hackers and some of the data will, at some point, be hacked into by a third-party and released publicly.
Why is that a problem for me?
The list of every website that you visit is hugely personal information. Just think about those that you visited over the last week. It would almost certainly reveal who you bank with, where you get your main source of news, your political affiliation, which social media networks you use and how often, any health issues you might currently be concerned about, what schools your children attend, where you are thinking of going on holiday or what presents you are looking at for your loved one(s). For even the most innocent person, it is information that could be embarrassing if your work colleagues knew about it, but could be really valuable for anyone wanting to steal your identity.
It is even more of a potential problem for lawyers protecting client confidentiality to ensure fair justice, for journalists protecting sources and the knowledge of stories that they are currently investigating and researching, to minorities who are being, or who could be targeted and harassed by others.
So what can I do about it?
As far as the IP Bill is concerned, to reduce the ability of your ISP to log the websites which you visit you can use Tor Browser. When using Tor, the ISP will see that you are connecting to Tor but won't see which websites you are visiting on the encrypted network. It provides the best consumer-level anonymity by routing the data through a number of different Tor connected servers, known as relays, rather than by connecting directly to the website you're visiting through your ISP as you normally would.
Can I download and use Tor Browser today?
You can download Tor Browser for Windows, Mac and Linux at www.torproject.org
For Android devices, use Orbot. This can be installed from the Google Play Store.
But hang on, I thought that website connections were secure? And what's that padlock thing and why doesn't that help?
The difference is between hiding the identity of the website to which you are connected, and hiding (encrypting) the information that you are exchanging with that website. In simple terms, it is the difference between the ISP logging that you are connected to your bank's website, and which bank that is, compared to someone knowing what information you exchange with that site (eg. Your account number and password).
HTTPS (where your browser shows a padlock symbol in the corner) is where the data that you exchange with that site is encrypted between the two sites (so your ISP or anyone else can't read/see the specific data). Whilst this level of security is obviously important for online banking, making credit card payments etc., we believe that most (if not all) websites should be encrypted so that people don't know if you are reading the sports news, finding out the latest stock market movements, or looking at obscure news from a repressive regime somewhere in the world that you are about to travel to. This is your privacy, therefore should remain private.
Can I install HTTPS Everywhere?
In order to force HTTPS where possible, you can download the HTTPS Everywhere Extension for your chosen web browser. Most popular web browsers are supported. (eg. Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Android). The Extension can be installed at https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere
Stop for a minute! Google and Microsoft are tracking my searches. What do I do?
Traditional internet search engines such as Google and Bing utilize all the data they gather about you in order to present you with the most relevant results and advertising. This data will be a combination of your searches on Google, Calendar items, YouTube viewing habits and even the contents of your e-mail (Gmail, Outlook.com). This means that Google and Microsoft have vast amounts of data on you and can utilize that data to optimize their business model.
What are the secure search engines that respect my privacy?
In order to avoid search engine tracking, we recommend switching your search engine to DuckDuckGo or StartPage.com as they do not track your search habits and do not collect personal data to present your search results.
Visit www.duckduckgo.com to search using DuckDuckGo
Visit www.startpage.com to search using StartPage.com
Are there any more ways to improve my online security?
Secure Messaging is a tough one. There are secure messaging providers out there such as WhatsApp, Signal, Wickr and Telegram, but unless the people you chat with also switch to the same provider, you're not going to be gaining any advantage. If you can't convince the people you communicate with to make the switch to secure and encrypted messaging services, simply refuse to share sensitive information over insecure messaging services. You would be surprised at the amount of people who still carelessly drop their bank account information over unencrypted and insecure messaging networks.
What about Facebook Messenger?
Facebook has been at the receiving end of criticism of the lack of security for the company's Messenger program. Thankfully, Facebook listened to the criticism and implemented device end-to-end encryption as an option for its Facebook Messenger app. If you want maximum protection for your messaging on the social network, ensure you use the Secret Conversation option, as it enables end-to-end encryption which will ensure that your message can not be read by Governments and intelligence services.
What about Twitter and Google?
If you're serious about secure messaging, then please avoid using Twitter direct messaging as there is no option of encryption and access by Governments and intelligence agencies would be relatively easy to gain, if required. Google has a myriad of services which allow for communication. If you insist on using Google for your messaging service, then consider installing the recently released app, Google Allo. It has an option for encryption and will give you the best security for messaging on any of Google's networks and communication services.
What aout secure web-based Email?
Google and Microsoft both offer great webmail services. However, due to the popularity and company status within Silicon Valley, they are also targets for mass-surveillance and dragnet data gathering. As we have learned from previous intelligence disclosures, Google and Microsoft are not very secure and encryption is sub-standard. Yahoo is worse and we recommend avoiding use of Yahoo for email if you want any serious security.
There are more secure options for web-based email which are also completely free to use and secure your email by implementing encryption as their standard service. We recommend taking a look at Tutanota.com or Hushmail.com
What about device encryption? How do I secure data on my computer?
On desktop computing, you can choose to encrypt anything you can compress. Keeping sensitive information in a compressed file is a quick solution but often when setting up your hard disk you have the option to encrypt the drive, depending on your operating system. Mobile devices are similar - you can choose to encrypt the contents of your SD card and/or internal memory of the device. Take some time to get to know your system and learn the benefits of encrypting your smartphone or other portable device.
What are my options for software encryption?
Device encryption is important. Equally as important is software encryption. For small, yet very important and private data that you want to secure and protect, consider using a software method for container encryption. Using software encryption services such as Veracrypt and CipherShed (both are forks of the now defunct TrueCrypt (the software used by Edward Snowden for The NSA Leaks)) enable users to have absolute control over the level of security for their encrypted containers for their data. You can protect data by a simple password method, an encryption key file or a combination of both for maximum security.
Let's not complicate matters by explaining the ins and outs of encryption. It will suffice to say as long as you encrypt, it's exceptionally unlikely someone will crack it, including the FBI, CIA, NSA et al. Instead, the most likely way someone will get through your encryption is with a key logger installed on your system - so take a look at a few points we advise below which aim to illustrate good basic security practices:
IP Bill: Investigatory Powers Bill. Also known as the "Snoopers Charter". The bill has now been passed by both Houses of the UK Parliament and puts it onto a firm and legal path to guaranteeing all the surveillance and hacking powers that the Government wants, it can legitimately and legally perform.
ISP: Internet Service Provider. The company who provides an internet connection. (eg. Telstra, Optus, iiNet, Internode, TPG, Dodo etc. for fixed-line connections and Telstra, Optus, Vodafone etc. for mobile data connections.
Tor [Browser]: The Onion Router. Accessed by using Tor Browser. A way of connecting to the internet which 'hides' or enables a certain amount of 'anonymity', by encrypting the details of the websites that you are accessing.
HTTPS: HTTP Secure (HTTP is Hyper-text Transfer Protocol) - A standard method and protocol of which websites send information and data in an encrypted (secure) manner.
Adapted by Democratic Pirates Australia, from the original text published by Pirate Party UK | Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
July 3, 2016 | BEREC Draft Guidelines for Net Neutrality in the European Union (EU)
To Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC);
Democratic Pirates Australia advocates and supports net neutrality in its simplest form and implementation.
Following advice from Free Software Foundation, we support the Draft Guidelines for Net Neutrality in the European Union (EU).
As outlined by FSF, we are also concerned of the provisions that surround "zero-rating" service. In summary, this is where a particular service is offered to the end-user by an ISP or other service provider on the basis that the specific set-out service does not count towards data usage for the end-user. It is common commercial practise that once the limit has been reached, the service delivery is deliberately manipulated.
We support zero-rating delivery, however once the limits that have been put in place have been reached by the enduser, we do not support service providers slowing down or modifying the connection of the service delivery, in any form. Doing so is directly in conflict with net neutrality provisions and require immediate attention, shall the Draft Guidelines be adopted.
We prefer this problem be addressed by increased limits to prevent these limits being reached so quickly. This has the potential to also be accompanied by a fee increase or optional fee due, once the data has been reached. This would be in favor of any form of connection manipulation which affects net neutrality standards. However, potential adoption of these measures must not be deliberately abused by service providers in an effort to seek quick profits at the expense of the end-user.
Democratic Pirates Australia urges BEREC to consider all concerns raised through all public Submissions and ensure that those concerns are addressed and the final Guidelines effectively modified to reflect net neutrality in its truest form and intention in the European Union.
Chris McGimpsey-Jones - President
August 16, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Australia President Contacts Civil Liberties Australia
To Civil Liberties Australia;
My name is Chris McGimpsey-Jones and I write to you as President of Democratic Pirates Australia. I have corresponded with your organization before on previous matters, as a representative of the publishing organization Freedom Publishers Union.
Democratic Pirates Australia is a small political party movement based on Pirate Party principles. Last week, we released a Press Statement expressing our concerns over the revised Social Media Guidelines for Civil Servants, in which we describe as "draconian" and "overzealous".
We believe many elements of the guidelines go beyond their scope of purpose and call for Civil Liberties Australia to speak out on these unnecessary and unjustified guidelines which as described in our Statement, "censor communication and impede on our civil liberties and right to freedom of expression".
We would be more than happy to discuss the matter further if you have any questions for us. You can contact our press contact on the following email address [email protected]
Thank you for your time and we look forward to your reply. Have a great day.
Chris McGimpsey-Jones - President
August 14, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Australia President Contacts Andrew Wilkie MP, on Introduction of Bill of Rights Legislation
To Andrew Wilkie MP;
Good afternoon. I am the Party President of a small developing political party movement called Democratic Pirates Australia. We are based on the principles of the global Pirate Party movement.
As President of our Party, I wanted to personally write to you and thank you for taking the time to introduce a new Federal Australian Bill of Rights legislation into the Parliament.
Our great country is in dire need of such legislation and its introduction is very much overdue. Our Party Policy for a Bill of Rights is currently under review and being re-developed. We originally advocated to have it amended into the Australian Constitution. But upon closer analysis, we came to the conclusion that this path of implementation for any such Bill of Rights would be expensive, complex and just not viable. Your proposal is extremely consistent with that of our own Party view and is equally consistent of the direction we intend to take our revised Policy once our internal review is complete and the Policy re-developed.
It makes me extremely happy that you have paid so much attention to this frankly, missing, piece oflegislation for Australia. And it's great to see such a respected member of the Australian Parliament standing up for civil liberties and human rights protections of all Australians.
We are currently reviewing your proposed legislative bill in full and will comment further in coming weeks.
On behalf of Democratic Pirates Australia, I commend you for the proposal and the equally impressive speech in the chamber to back the legislation's introduction.
You have 100% my personal support and that of our Party's support and we intend to support it through our own public avenues of communication we have at our disposal. We seriously hope this bill fosters the support and traction needed to progress through the Parliament and see eventual enactment.
Keep up the great work Mr. Wilkie.
Chris McGimpsey-Jones - President
May 11, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Australia Membership Application Withdrawal from Pirate Parties International
To Pirate Parties International (PPI);
Democratic Pirates Australia would formally like to advise PPI that we no longer seek membership.
As a result of our Pirate Party no longer seeking membership, we formally withdraw all and any outstanding documentation which is currently before PPI.
Our Pirate Party goals for a more open and transparent world have diverged from that of PPI. Therefore we have decided to take this opportunity to cease immediate collaboration opportunities with PPI, in order to better pursue our own growing Pirate Party agenda.
We expect and look forward to working with PPI in the future, as both our organizations grow.
Primarily, we represent Australians of a new generation in this new and very open technological world, holding the Pirate Party Principles true to our core values and beliefs. We are increasingly focusing on international pirate politics and as we grow it will become a stronger focus for our Party in the near future.
We are open to collaborative and constructive discussion in the future with PPI, when we see an opportunity that our core interests are following the same path.
Thank you for your time and please feel free to contact us anytime through our Press Contact.
Chris McGimpsey-Jones - President
May 25, 2017 | Power of Government, Policies and Overreach, a Reflection of Us
We, the people of the first world, have finally reached the end of our modern flirtation with democracy. In countries ranging from the UK and the USA, to Australia and Asia, citizens are requesting that their governments do more to protect them from the harms of free speech.
The UK Conservative Party published their Manifesto last week, which contained a proposal to rescind the right to freedom of speech in virtually every public and private context. In practice, this new legislation would remove from public access any and all material that the State deems to be inappropriate, hateful or morally questionable. The thoroughness of this proposal would result in a English society fettered by the same type of rules that China, Turkey and Iran impose upon their citizens.
Yet no one - other than a few libertarians and journalists - are protesting this proposal. Indeed, reading the text of this blueprint for public discourse, the restrictions are couched in words about safety, children, anti-terrorism, and preventing crime. Cut off the ability for terrorists and criminals to communicate and recruit from their communities, eliminate once and for all the threat of child molestation and cripple criminal gangs before they can even imagine a crime; all this sounds worthy and worthwhile.
Maybe, for the majority of citizens, this is what they want from their government. To feel safer at home, in their neighborhood and on the internet. And maybe a majority of the citizens have thought through this legislation and have decided that, in the long run, the loss of some freedoms now will make life better further on.
The Conservatives are certainly absolutely sincere about their belief in the benefit of their Manifesto. These aren't profiteering businesses colluding on price fixing, or sociopaths that awaken and say "I'm going to go out and hurt 50 people today". These are people who have given up part of most of their lives to try and provide for the thousands of souls that they represent. This is not an easy or comfortable (or lucrative) job to hold. Yet it is crucial to have the best of the best serving, that the best courses of action are mapped for the rest of the country.
The Manifesto is not some power-grab by greedy politicians driven by commercial bribes. This document truly reflects the will of - if not a majority, then the largest plurality - the citizens of the UK. Brexit was a warning: Britons are fed-up with all the bad news about job losses, terrorists, crime and poverty. The belief is that making it harder for rabble-rousers to incite anti-social behavior is a benefit that outweighs those of the freedom of speech that the UK takes for granted.And, maybe, this time it will actually work. But history has taught us that inviting the government to assume power to regulate our speech and ultimately communicating our thoughts to others is simply inviting a 'real' sociopath to lead the government into a dictatorship, or worse.
Yet, when you look at what happens when this does occur, many - if not most - citizens don't really notice any change. Sure they get lectured on saying something that offends, or act overly lewd toward other persons and may even pay fines. But as long as the stories of terrorism and bullying and fights disappear from the news, the citizens will be content with their lot in life.
The question we must ask ourselves: Are these people actually wrong about trading freedoms - especially the freedom of speech - for a more secure society? Has unbridled dissemination of ideas gotten to a point where ideas are doing more harm than good? Have we simply outgrown democracy and freedom as our forefathers understood it?
It's easy to point fingers at government overreach and condemn the legislators for bringing these measure to become law. But these people are elected by us, and therefore are doing what we ask them. Sometimes it doesn't seem that way on a personal level, but by and large this is the case.
So the finger of blame - or approbation - needs to be pointed not at Theresa May or Donald Trump. It needs to be pointed in the mirror, at us. And we need to honestly answer to ourselves: Is this what I really want for my future? That is the way we're supposed to govern in a democracy. Let's get to it.
Brett Brennan - Chairman
December 8, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Australia President Resigns. Operations Cease and Placed in Caretaker Mode
I regret to inform our supporters and followers that effective immediately, I resign my position as President of Democratic Pirates Australia.
As the original Party Founder and President, I remain immensely proud of what we have achieved as a developing political party and hope some day operations can continue under new leadership, a complete restructure and under the operations of a new Party Constitution.
To take immediate effect, all operations will cease and be placed in caretaker mode until further notice.
Thank you everyone for your support. Keep up the hard work and keep fighting for digital rights, privacy and copyright reform!
Chris McGimpsey-Jones - Founder and Former President
December 7, 2017 | Marriage Equality Now Reality in Australia
What a historic day for Australia, as the Federal Parliament passes the Same Sex Marriage legislation in both Houses.
It been an ugly path with some very negative public campaigning by many different lobby groups, political parties and individuals. However, this has been offset by overwhelming community support which saw a huge public majority declare their support for Marriage Equality.
Democratic Pirates Australia led a #VoteYES campaign. Today, as we witnessed the legislation pass through the House of Representatives, we stand proud of our own campaign and firmly believe that we backed the right side - the side of Marriage Equality for all couples.
Well done Australia!
November 8, 2017 | Continued Condemnation of Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)/TPP-11
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a monolithic trade agreement, which includes a total of 12 nation signatories - in its original form.
Since the announcement of the withdrawal of the USA from the agreement, made by President Trump early 2017, the 11 remaining signatories have reconfirmed their commitment to the TPP, which is being unofficially referred to as TPP-11.
There is renewed calls, led by Japan, Australia and New Zealand, to re-negotiate elements of the TPP to include appropriate provisions to leave open the possibility of the USA re-entering the agreement in the future.
Democratic Pirates Australia opposes large, overpowering trade agreements such as the TPP and urge Australia to reconsider its increasingly aggressive pursuit of TPP-11.
After the final details of the trade agreement were ironed out by former Australian Trade Minister, Andrew Robb, our Party was quickly drawn to the conclusion that the TPP does not favor Australian trade, workers or our economic interests as it is being touted. Instead, it is an agreement intended to favor big multi-national corporations and generate large profits.
Democratic Pirates Australia was drawn to our conclusion of opposition based on five specific elements surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement:
Specifically, we condemn the 7 years of secret negotiations and will always promote the process of transparency throughout negotiations of trade agreements. Even more so for trade agreements which wield so much economic power and potential for ruin.
The inclusion of ISDS clauses and provisions are not uncommon in trade agreements. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, various varieties of ISDS clauses are present in over 3,000 trade agreements worldwide. They do vary throughout these agreements. Basically, the inclusion of this clause inside the TPP reveals the potential for large multi-national corporations to sue domestic governments if they introduce law(s) that could potentially have impact on their profits of their services provided in the region.
The Environment Chapter is weak and does nothing of significance to aim to combat climate change. Additionally, we see nothing of significance that encourages protection of the environment that is not already being pursued by local laws. This much is clarified by Wikileaks' own analysis of the Environment Chapter, "When compared against other TPP chapters, the Environment Chapter is noteworthy for its absence of mandated clauses or meaningful enforcement measures.". We echo this analysis.
Intellectual property and copyright are a natural and organic interest for The Pirate Party. Many aspects of the Intellectual Property Chapter are wide ranging in its scope and have the potential for directly affecting freedom of information, civil liberties and the digital rights of consumers. As a political party with direct focus on intellectual property and copyright reform, it is only natural that we approach this area of the TPP with extreme caution. Aspects of the TPP's copyright provisions set extremely lengthy time-frames for copyright, before expiration and eligibility to be released to the public domain. Additionally, the TPP puts heavy restrictions on public broadcast rights of copyrighted content. The provisions covered under the Intellectual Property Chapter, with the inclusions of Copyright provisions are unacceptable and are many steps backwards. They are designed to work in favor of copyright holders, producers and the studios that back them. These provisions should be designed to find a fair and balanced middle-ground which will benefit consumers and content producers. Instead, the consumers are punished and we see the TPP designed to work in favor of big profits and more controlling power by studios and their various heavily cashed up lobby groups.
Our concerns surrounding Pharmaceuticals are perfectly justified and echoed by many. The TPP forces healthcare authorities to give big pharmaceutical companies crucial information about national decisions on public access to medicine and gives big corporations greater powers to challenge decisions they believe to be harming their pharmaceutical business interests. Big pharma already have unchallenged power throughout the developed world. The TPP is guaranteed to deliver them even more power and combined with ISDS, there will be even less legal avenues of challenge for domestic governments to negotiate the best medical practices and medicine for citizens of their respective nation. Taking into consideration the nature of the Intellectual Property Chapter and ISDS, we believe this is extremely dangerous and has detrimental possibilities for the development of medicine and their availability through monopolistic ownership and unrealistic intellectual property retaining time-frames.
We will continue to oppose the TPP and fight for better outcomes for Australians, through implementation of local laws which are devised, presented, negotiated and debated in full public view with complete transparency. Political legislation should never be developed and negotiated in complete secrecy, as the TPP has been and continues to be with fresh negotiations of TPP-11 set to ramp up soon.
October 9, 2017 | Civil Liberties and Privacy More Important than Mass-Surveillance Expansion
Democratic Pirates Australia condemns the latest proposal by the Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to establish a national photo identification database.
Our Party remains concerned of the wider security issues that come as a result of any centralized national database.
We believe the database directly violates the rights to privacy of the citizens of Australia. There is no justification for the establishment of such an invasive program which questions its own legitimacy based on privacy rights.
We feel that there is every possibility that the database and its collected information will be integrated into more sophisticated programs operated by our intelligence agencies, with a possible extension of access to our international partners for further integration into the global mass-surveillance networks.
We know these mass-surveillance programs exist. We understand their role. However, we believe their existence and intended purpose is not a free ticket to continue to be expanded through further creation of new programs which aim to fill in the gaps of information on citizens that may currently be missing.
Democratic Pirates Australia will continue to push for the upholding of civil liberties and privacy rights and will always advocate that surveillance programs remain limited in operation, targeted and propose that further enhancements be made to their operations through increased oversight and transparency.
Only once an appropriate balance of oversight and transparency is implemented should we look at further enhancements and refinement to existing mass-surveillance programs. At the very core of our Party's principles, upholding civil liberties and privacy are our main concern over further enhancement of mass-surveillance programs under the deceiving blanket excuse of "national security" which is used much too often.
October 7, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Supports an Australian Space Agency and Increased Science and Research Investment
We support the establishment of an Australian-based national space agency. Exploration of space, our galaxy and the wider universe is key to human development and is a natural extension of our want for knowledge in science.
Space exploration - especially private space exploration - is a major growth industry and adds significantly to a nation's economy both directly through high-skill jobs creation and indirectly through the support industries that grow around it. Australia already hosts a number of space research facilities; what is missing is an agency to coordinate, manage and encourage participation in growing this field as a resource for the nation. We would support a significant amount of budget dollars to be placed into the initial and future investment of such center, to ensure it has the necessary funds readily available to make the significant scientific contributions that an Australian space agency could produce and to guarantee it operates at its full potential.
Australian scientists have made many contributions to astronomy through a range of projects and programs, both domestically and internationally. However, this has been limited in scope due to the current absence of a national-based agency.
We see a national space agency as a perfect solution to grow our academic science community. There is also the added benefit of spawning new interest in the STEM area of study. We see a space agency as a perfect incentive for young people to take a keen interest in this field of scientific study and the opportunities have the potential to reach far beyond simply astronomy and space.
We see a national space agency as key in keeping the STEM graduates in Australia and significantly contributing to economic growth. It would allow Australia to be an equal player in the multi-national space community, a peer to America, the EU and Russia.
Once a national space agency is established, we would like to see the CSIRO receive an increase in funding, a new focus placed on climate science and research and a working scientific relationship established between the CSIRO and a national space agency.
Democratic Pirates Australia supports the Government's efforts in bringing the concept of a space agency to the forefront of scientific focus.
October 1, 2017 | Unreleased Report of the European Commission and the Effects of Copyright Infringement (Piracy) on Legal Digital Media Sales
A previously unreleased European Commission report from 2015 revealing that piracy of digital media has statistically no impact to the majority of digital media sales, was placed into the public domain by Julia Reda, a member of the Pirate Party Germany.
The Report was accessed and released by a freedom of information request. If no request was ever filed, the the Report may never have been made available in the public domain. Democratic Pirates Australia commends Julia Reda for successfully requesting access of the Report and making it available in the public domain.
The Report, established by the European Commission and conducted by Dutch firm, Ecorys, was made final in 2015 and is based on 2014 data, across 6 European nations, including Germany, UK, Spain, France, Poland and Sweden. It consists of over 300-pages and is focused on the "relation between online copyright infringement (digital piracy) and sales of copyrighted content" of music, audio/visual, books and games.
The details provided in the Report paint a very familiar picture of what has been known and advocated by Pirate Parties around the world and many in the industry. Yet it seems almost too convenient that when details are illustrated to highlight lack of sufficient evidence to support the notion that piracy continues to be a major contributor to legal digital media sales, the true representative facts are suppressed, not highlighted in their true context or presented in mainstream commercial media to paint a different picture which is usually set to work in the favor of the commercial networks interests and advertisers.
The Report's Executive Summary concludes, "In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements. That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect. An exception is the displacement of recent top [cinematic] films.".
Essentially, it's safe to conclude there is no significant long-term negative effect to legal and legitimate sales of digital media, despite continuation of illegal access to pirated content, which is effectively copyright infringement.
Through the release of the Report, we hope to see questions being asked to the European Commission of why the findings were never released to the public once it was made final. Additionally, we also hope it regenerates the political conversation around the world, pushed by international Pirate Parties, that there is valuable, reliable and reputable evidence readily available that almost unanimously concludes to a large degree that declined sales in digital media is not the direct and sole result of continued access to pirated content.
The secret to preventing piracy is to make legal access cheaper than pirating. But it must also have the same level of convenience and flexibility of accessibility. Netflix and Amazon Prime have gone some way to achieve this. However, current services offered still fall shy in allowing downloadable content, audio and video, for ease-of-portability once legally purchased. There is still too many restrictions being imposed on legally purchased digital media. It's also significantly restricted by the mechanism of the streaming platform.
We reiterate the position of Democratic Pirates to express the lack of significant copyright reform. With the lack of suitable and effective copyright reform, accompanied by the fact that media producers and distributors still fail to deliver consumer media in technical formats free of digital rights management (DRM) and other proprietary technology which imposes restrictions on media flexibility, it has become obvious that piracy is the next most convenient step to fill the void of accessibility and flexibility that the media industry continues to ignore in its constant flame war on copyright infringement.
Copyright reform must also be always accompanied by fair-use provisions. We have for a long time advocated that fair-use be treated as equally important as copyright reform. Together, they can absolutely help foster a sustainable and financially viable creative media industry that works for providers, distributors and consumers.
Democratic Pirates will continue to push our copyright reform agenda as one of our major policy platforms of the Pirate Party, in addition to fighting to maintain open and accessible internet free of censorship.
August 20, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Australia Solidarity to Spain
Once again, Democratic Pirates Australia finds ourselves expressing our thoughts and prayers to our international friends in Europe and Pirate Party of Spain.
This weeks terror events that unfolded with striking similarity to previous European events of terror, have reminded us all that the threat of domestic or home-grown terrorism is not yet over.
The methodology behind these events and how they are carried out are cowardly and are always viewed as an attack on the very democratic values that we share and need to stand together to protect.
August 15, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Australia Marriage Equality #VoteYES Campaign
Today, we officially launch our #VoteYES campaign to help see marriage equality become reality in Australia.
Democratic Pirates Australia has a long standing Marriage Policy which in its entirety, promotes and advocates marriage equality for everyone, irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.
With last week's announcement from the Coalition Government that it will proceed with a voluntary postal plebiscite (also referred to as a survey), we encourage all Australian's who are not yet registered with the Australian Electoral Commission to commence to make immediate arrangements and register to become eligible to vote.
The choice of a postal plebiscite would not be our Party's choice of process to see the eventual establishment of marriage equality in Australia, however we do support any effective measure that go towards seeing any very real possibility of establishment of marriage equality, providing that it remains within the scope of our Party Policy and position that we take on such an important matter.
The postal plebiscite will be voluntary, but we urge all registered Australian voters to participate in this important and potentially historical decision for Australia and equal rights reform on marriage.
So please stand up, make your voices heard and make your vote count towards a more fair and equal system for marriage.
Democratic Pirates Australia supports Marriage Equality and urge all Australian's to #VoteYES
August 10, 2017 | Changes to Civil Servant's Social Media Guidelines are Draconian, Overzealous and Unjustified
The Australian Public Service Commission's social media guidelines have been amended. The new guidelines which appy to Australian Government civil servants include changes that must be taken seriously and are simply unfair, unjustified and downright overzealous.
The latest changes include civil servants facing possible disciplinary action if they simply 'Like' content on Facebook or other social media platforms if the content is critical of the Government in any way. That is just the beginning. The guidelines extend further to content and comments posted online by anyone else who also shares the same negative or opposing views of the Government. And if that very content is posted or shared to the civil servant's social media profile or page, then the guidelines instruct the servant to delete the content or otherwise be faced with the possibility of further disciplinary action taken against the civil servant who fails to comply.
There are many problems with these guidelines and our Party condemns the latest changes and deems them absolutely unjustified, ridiculous and completely unnecessary. We understand the necessity and intent behind implementation of social media policies. However, in this instance we believe the changes are much too strict and urge the Australian Public Service Commission to put an immediate halt on the new changes and implement a more simplified social media policy that is more understanding and fair to legitimate social media usage and reflective of civil servants' internet habits within Government departments.
The guidelines claim, "As members of the Australian community, Australian Public Service (APS) employees have the right to participate in public and political debate.". We believe this opening statement of the guidelines to be absolutely contradictory to the text of the guidelines. The Pirate Party always encourages political debate and questioning of the democratic values of Australia's political environment. By claiming employees have the right to participate in public and political debate and then following up the statement later in the text with guidelines that absolutely prevent that debate without the looming threat of retaliation as a response, is effectively shutting down the debate before it commences. It is essentially preventing employees from contributing in public and political debate and forcing them to share the view and political position of the Government of the day.
We are concerned that the guidelines outline the recommendation of adding a disclaimer to personal social media accounts to publicly declare any views expressed are solely the views of the social media account holder and not of that of the employer. We believe this is fair and reasonable and is currently common practice. But again, we see contradictory text in the guidelines that outlines the following, "It's a good idea to include a statement on your social media platforms, or in individual posts if necessary, to the effect that your views don't represent those of your employer. However, this won't always protect you from a finding that you have breached the Code." In other words, it is effectively saying that you are free to have a social media account and you are free to use it, as long as you promote the Government's political view points. However, you are not free to express your personal or political views through your personal account as it will be deemed as "anti-government", according to the guidelines.
Furthermore, it is expected that social media account holders take full responsibility to what is posted on their social media accounts and their associated social pages, not just from themselves but for that of other peoples comments and responses too. This is a ridiculous assumption that social media account holders can personally monitor each of their social media accounts and essentially filter and censor where required, any views that are deemed by the Government as opposite to that of the Government of the day.
Pirate Party President, Chris McGimpsey-Jones, makes his own position very clear on the matter, "It's absolutely absurd that social media guidelines of this nature can be implemented without any effective opposition. It's a ridiculous situation and I can't believe that this has been implemented as official Government supported guidelines for social media usage. It's effectively taking out the 'social' part out of the equation of the social media formula and instead implies that everyone must share the same view of the Government or you're not entitled to any view at all. Yes, it's absolutely crazy and I can't believe this is happening under a democratic political system. Our freedoms are vanishing. And vanishing fast, yet no one seems to care. To be frank, it really bothers me.".
Disappointed and somewhat angered by negative, yet accurate media coverage of the changes from ABC and specifically The Australian, the Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd, responded with a Media Statement and claimed, "The APSC consulted extensively with APS agencies and employees in late 2016. This consultation indicated that the policy settings did not need to change.". Mr. Lloyd added, "It is not more restrictive than previous guidance. Rather, it clarifies the parameters around what public servants can and cannot say, and should give greater confidence to APS employees when they are participating online activity.". Again, we must acknowledge to contradictory claims made by Mr. Lloyd. The guidelines are greatly limiting, restricting and are censoring the freedom of expression of civil servants and by making claims that indicate otherwise is simply false and unacceptable.
Democratic Pirates Australia firmly believes in civil liberties and the right to freedom of speech. This very right extends to the internet and digital realm. We view expressing your opinion and communicating online to identify as no different to a conversation with your mates at the local pub. Whether it be in the physical world or the cyber-world, communication is identified as exactly that - communication. Therefore, we absolutely oppose to the truest extent any form of Government supported documentation that attempts to censor communication and impede on our civil liberties and right to freedom of expression.
July 26, 2017 | Pirate Party Supporting a Murray-Darling Basin Inquiry
It has been reported on the Four Corners television program that water is being "stolen" by irrigators in the Barwon-Darling region of the Murray-Darling Basin. The television program detailed accusations of cotton growers stealing billions of liters of water from the Murray-Darling Basin, through methods of water meter tampering and other water delivery manipulative actions. Water that was purchased by taxpayers and was intended to be returned to the environment under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Our Policy has always stated that Democratic Pirates Australia would call for a review of the current Water Act 2007. However, this should not be taken out of context and we are absolutely in support of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and believe that control should remain with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. Democratic Pirates Australia President, Chris McGimpsey-Jones says, "Environmental matters are extremely important to us. Especially the Murray-Darling Basin, hence why we have a dedicated Policy towards the Basin. We believe the current Murray-Darling Basin Plan is the best option for water supply management and is necessary to ensure fair usage of the water from the Basin for commercial agriculture, irrigators and community purposes.".
Management of the Murray-Darling Basin is a difficult task and ensuring that all parties who have access to the Basin's water supply correctly understand and comply with the correct regulations, is a difficult and demanding task to enforce. Chris continues, "As with any system or initiative, it can often be open to abuse, overuse or illegal activity. Therefore, accusations and reports of water theft or any abuse of the provisions of the Murray-Darling Basic Plan and the Water Act 2007 must be taken seriously.".
Whilst debate is raging among politicians about what specific authority or government associated body should carry out any investigation into the accusations, The Pirate Party reiterates our commitment to our Policy on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and we echo the calls for an investigation into the matter.
We have no official Party position as to which authority or body should carry out any potential investigation, but we support the calls made by Senators Nick Xenophon and Sarah Hanson-Young, who both state that a Senate Inquiry with full Parliamentary privilege is the best course for investigative action.
July 19, 2017 | Warning Flags Fly High, as Australia Creates New Super Ministry for Peter Dutton
Democratic Pirates Australia condemns the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, for his decision to announce the combining of Australia's top intelligence and law enforcement bodies.
The announcement will see the intelligence agency ASIO, the Australian Federal Police and Border Force departments all combined into one mega-department and take on the official title of "Home Affairs".
The new Home Affairs department is being described as a super-ministry and will be placed under the control of current Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton.
If media reports are to be deemed as accurate, then The Pirate Party understands that the Cabinet, including key Liberal Ministers of the Liberal Party advised against the establishment of such a large super-ministry. Additionally, it has since been reported that some Government Ministers within the UK Parliament have also urged caution.
The cautionary advice has been ignored by Prime Minister Turnbull and it will proceed, against the advice by Cabinet Ministers and members of the UK Parliament. The new Home Affairs department is said to to be based on the same UK platform of "Home Office".
Democratic Pirates Australia can see no sense in the combining of various departments and agencies which will ultimately give Peter Dutton a massive amount of power and oversight responsibility. Our Party is not confident of the capacity of Peter Dutton to carry out his new responsibilities to acceptable and lawful standards.
Such establishment of such a large department within Australia, we believe, is unjustified, not required and will give absolutely no operational improvements or benefit to the current system of intelligence and law enforcement capabilities. Instead, The Pirate Party only sees increased opportunities for the Government to abuse the platform as a new breeding ground for increased mass-surveillance and a reason for the Australian Government to use the Home Affairs department as a means of justification for its increasing attacks on encryption and privacy encroachment. The Government is focusing its attacks on the big technology companies in Silicon Valley which continue to make efforts to safeguard our data by the use of encryption and other security measures - the same encryption and security measures of which the Australian Government is currently seeking to break.
Despite the attacks on Silicon Valley and encryption, Facebook has since stated its firm position on ensuring the safety of Facebook user's data and stated that it will refuse to comply with any legislation or requirements that attempt to break or weaken encryption of its software. We commend Facebook for taking a firm position on encryption and placing the security of its users as a priority.
The Pirate Party will not stand for attempts to weaken or undermine encryption and privacy and we will stand up for Australia and its citizen's right to privacy and digital rights.
June 25, 2017 | Pirate Party Supports Gonski 2.0, But Only a Starting Point for Greater Reform
Democratic Pirates Australia has major education reform in its scope. This will include fairly extensive improvements to the secondary school curriculum, greater improvements on the precise details of existing subject teachings and better funding which will go towards a more fair and improved network for the education system.
We commended the changes proposed to schools funding in our Budget 2017 Wrap-Up. Therefore, we support the Liberal Party's education reform package as it follows the David Gonski model of "needs-based" funding - dubbed "Gonski 2.0".
We still stand by our Party Policy of pushing for private schools to be majority funded by an appropriate private funding model, with the gradual withdrawal of Government funding which will see those funds directed back into the public school sector and with the growing continuation of the needs-based funding model for public schools.
We also urge that attention to wages for teachers must be a priority, as without teachers needs and skills being appreciated through reflective compensation, it will be school children's education that will experience the biggest effects of any fallout which will occur from teachers leaving the education sector in search of greater employment opportunities that reward their high-demand experience and skills. Investment in teachers must be seen as an investment in the education of the nation's children rather than a financial burden of the education sector.
After exhaustive debate, Gonski 2.0 has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate after support was given by Liberal Party members and the vital votes by crossbench Senators. Both Labor and The Greens unsurprisingly opposed the legislation and continue to complain about miniscule negative politics rather than offer beneficial alternatives to Gonski 2.0 which can realistically be fully costed and funded.
This is an excellent result and should not just be solely viewed as a win, rather a starting point for greater improvements and further reform of the education sector. The Pirate Party intends to push for greater improvements in a bid to see better results for Australian children in public schools.
Implementation of Gonski 2.0 is a great launching pad.
June 19, 2017 | Russian Interference in 2016 US Presidential Election
There are investigations currently underway by a variety of US Government associated departments and individuals, into Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential Election which resulted in Donald Trump becoming the new President.
There is lots of information available, some is speculation and some is fact. The most reliable source of information that we have viewed is the document released to The Intercept, by a NSA Contractor and Intelligence Specialist, Reality Leigh Winner.
Democratic Pirates Australia is disappointed by the very fast arrest and detainment of Ms. Winner and we are equally disappointed better security procedures were not employed that would have ensured this information was passed onto The Intercept in a more secure method which did not see Ms. Winner detected and identified with such apparent ease.
The Intercept have been much too quiet on the arrest and detainment surrounding Reality Leigh Winner. However, we understand there is potential legal issues that surround the matter and The Intercept could very well be limited in what comments or information they can reveal.
Democratic Pirates acknowledges that the leaking of the secret report to The Intercept was illegal. But we also believe it be an important document which is in the public interest. Therefore, we urge that this fact should be taken into consideration in any further legal proceedings against the whistleblower.
There is major problems which need immediate and greater attention to which we believe are currently being missed by all the ongoing political turmoil that surrounds the Trump Administration and potential interference in the 2016 by Russia.
While we do not refer to any specific nation in this instance, Democratic Pirates condemns any interference by any nation that carries out any activities that could have any influence, directly or indirectly, on the outcome and results of a democratic election.
We can not simply dismiss the documents that have been leaked and published by media organizations as simply speculation. At their face value, clearly the documents that Democratic Pirates has accessed and analyzed do demonstrate that actual tampering has occurred by Russian associates. Whether it had any actual influence on the outcome is a little more complex to make a certified determination. But some of the articles and stories that have been published to accompany these documents are speculation only. And in some cases, use references to sources that one could argue the very existence of. Everyone must go back to the source documents themselves and put them under closer scrutiny.
It is the job of any investigation team(s) to make determination of whether the activities of Russia have influenced the result of the 2016 US Presidential Election. This is a fast moving investigation and we believe more documents and information will undoubtedly surface before this chapter finds closure.
We must also take into account of potential Russian links to US President, Donald Trump. As we understand it, an investigation is underway into this matter. This will also be taken account with any final assessment that Democratic Pirates Australia make. We could possibly see a 'Constitutional Crisis' in the United States of America which involves the President and possible treason.
No conclusions can be drawn while both matters are still under investigation. Nor will our Party draw any conclusions until actual charges have been put forward.
June 12, 2017 | Democratic Attacks on Encryption Must Be Stopped
As the world's leading democratic powers of the United Kingdom, United States of America and Australia continue to accelerate their attacks on encryption under the predictable guise of increasing 'national security efforts in the face of terrorism', Democratic Pirates Australia publicly reaffirm our commitment to upholding the protection of encryption and the right to privacy through computer security.
In the weeks leading up to the UK election campaign, Conservative Leader Theresa May, released her Party's Manifesto which contained some very disturbing elements in relation to future plan for digital rights and security.
Democratic Pirates Australia has been combing over the UK Conservative and Unionist Party Manifesto 2017.
We had initially been alerted by alarming media reports on plans for the Party to implement a highly restrictive and government controlled internet across the country. As a Pirate Party which does take notice in international political matters of great importance, we felt the need to act.
We find sections of the Manifesto in the "Prosperity and security in a digital age" chapter quite disturbing and if implemented to the extent that we are led to believe, then Democratic Pirates must publicly condemn Theresa May and the UK Conservative Party for developing such intrusive and undemocratic digital age policy held under the banner of internet safety and security. We strongly urge the Pirate Party UK to apply immediate pressure on the Conservative Party and seek to reign in its overzealous and intrusive digital policy.
The UK already has some of the world's most intrusive surveillance operations, which has all been made legal through legislation which has been enacted in recent years, most recently with the "Snooper's Charter". The GCHQ is a primary operations hub for the world's mass-surveillance network and operates in collaboration with the National Security Agency (NSA) and its other intelligence partners within the 'Five Eyes' nations which is built up of the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
We are extremely concerned by some of the proposals that come to our Party's attention and aim to seek further information and better detail in an effort to understanding just how exactly the proposed measures would be introduced, what specific technology would be used and what specific techniques these so-called restrictions would implement.
As we continue to learn more about the plans to implement the aforementioned measures and gain a better understanding of its related proposals through our Party's international politics focus, we intend to call out and oppose any such measures which would impede on the freedoms that the internet enables. We will aim to ensure that any such changes do not have any immediate or future effects on net neutrality and also seek to ensure that the global mass-surveillance ring, assisted greatly by the operations of the GCHQ, does not get an increase in spying and surveillance powers other than what can be naturally justified as proper national security necessity.
Democratic Pirates is absolutely committed to protecting the right to privacy and will always advocate for the freedom of use of encryption in software and technical form, in a bid to protect the privacy of individuals and business.
We have contacted the Pirate Party UK and offered our support. We will continue to advocate that rights to privacy through encryption must be uphold on a global level. We oppose any measures will seek to impede, alter, challenge or block the use, development or implementation of encryption or any other measure of computer security.
As the world's most powerful governments continue to introduce legislation to legalize their extensive networks of mass-surveillance, encryption must not be used as a political tool to attempt to justify such overreach of parliamentary privilege.
May 22, 2017 | Alarm Bells Ring, Over UK Conservative Party's Outline for Digital Safety and Security
Democratic Pirates Australia is currently combing over the fresh release of the UK Conservative and Unionist Party Manifesto 2017.
We had been alerted by alarming media reports on plans for the Party to implement a highly restrictive and government controlled internet across the country, if it is re-elected in upcoming elections.
We find sections of the Manifesto in the "Prosperity and security in a digital age" chapter quite disturbing and if implemented to the extent that we are led to believe, then Democratic Pirates must publicly condemn Theresa May and the UK Conservative Party for developing such intrusive and undemocratic digital age policy held under the banner of internet safety and security. We strongly urge the Pirate Party UK to do the same and apply immediate pressure on the Conservative Party and seek to reign in its overzealous and intrusive digital policy.
The UK already has some of the world's most intrusive surveillance operations, which has all been made legal through legislation which has been enacted in recent years. The GCHQ is a primary operations center for the world's mass-surveillance network and operates in collaboration with the National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence partners in the 'Five Eyes' nations - USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
We are concerned by some of the proposals that come to our Party's attention and aim to seek further information and better detail in an effort to understanding just how exactly the proposed measures would be introduced, what specific technology would be used and what specific techniques these so-called restrictions would implement.
We are combing through the document in detail. When we establish and gain a better understanding of the aforementioned proposals, through our Party's international politics focus, we intend to call out and oppose any such measures which would impede on the freedoms that the internet enables. We will aim to ensure that any such changes do not have any immediate or future effects in net neutrality and also seek to ensure that the global mass-surveillance ring, through the operations of the GCHQ, does not get an increase in spying and surveillance powers other than what can be naturally justified as proper national security necessity.
May 20, 2017 | Sweden Drops Investigation into Julian Assange
Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia are continued supporters of the cause of Julian Assange and his continued, unlawful and unjustified detainment to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, England, in the United Kingdom (UK).
Last night, it was revealed that after 7 years of political stalemate, Sweden has declared that all avenues to pursue any pending investigation into Mr. Assange have been exhausted and have formally stopped any further potential for pursuit of investigation. This also results in any outstanding arrest warrant(s) from Swedish authorities be formally revoked.
The supposed sexual assault investigation against Mr. Assange has always remained flawed. We understand that the pursuit of Mr. Assange from Sweden was never about sexual assault allegations - it was political and an attack on Mr. Assange's activities with publishing organization Wikileaks, which he remains Editor-in-Chief.
Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia absolutely stand by Mr. Assange and will continue to support his cause, civil right to freedom and his extended publishing responsibilities.
Despite the dropping of investigations and arrest warrant(s) by Sweden, Mr. Assange remains detained to the Ecuadorian Embassy, by continued threats of immediate arrest by UK authorities if he is to leave the premises.
As a result of the looming threats of arrest by the UK, Mr. Assange remains detained.
Together, Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia unite and urge the UK Government to reconsider its threats of arrest, follow Sweden and allow for Mr. Assange to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy and guarantee free passage to safety.
Additionally, we urge the Australian Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Immigration Minister to support Mr. Assange's right to freedom and establish immediate dialog with the UK Government and its authorities, in effort to seeking a quick and safe resolution to the prolonged political stand-off, which will lead to a secure release of Julian Assange.
May 10, 2017 | Budget 2017 Wrap-Up
Yesterday, Australia's Treasurer, Scott Morrison, delivered the Budget 2017 papers, accompanied by his Parliamentary speech. Democratic Pirates Australia is quite impressed by the level of fairness that has been delivered by the Liberal Party.
Fairness does not have to written in black and white text. But our Party has fairness for all Australians at the very heart of all of our Policy. Furthermore, fairness is important to creating and maintaining equality among society and no democratic institute can move forward into a positive future, especially economically, if fairness can not be appropriately delivered by the government of the day.
Below, we have a complete Party wrap-up of Budget 2017 and outline a few key areas of importance. Most areas we commend the Coalition for their budget efforts. Yet, there are a couple of areas which probably did not get the attention and changes they require and rightly deserve.
Thank you to ABC News, The Australian and Herald Sun for the great coverage of Budget 2017 and providing our Party with the data and details for our analysis, through their various budget publications.
Of great importance to Pirate Party is public broadcasting. We are proud to see that the budgets for ABC and SBS have not been touched or reduced any further. Albeit, they have not increased to a level which our Party deems necessary for the public broadcasters to operate to their full potential. But we do take solace that they have not received any further funding reductions.
We have already published a short post to our Facebook Page supporting the recent media reform announcements. The budget outlines further changes which will see the current free-to-air annual license fee abolished and replaced with a much reduced annual payment. This will result in potential savings of $90 million a year for the TV networks.
The changes will see free-to-air TV networks being able to better compete with digital mediums. Cable subscription TV networks will also have a better chance to bid for broadcasting rights of major sports events. There will also be additional funding provided which will go towards helping with the broadcasting of womens sport.
Also included in the changes is the expected ban on gambling advertising during live sports broadcasts.
Pirate Party supports most of the media reform changes. However, we do have a Free-to-air sports broadcasting Policy which would implement further changes and see free-to-air TV networks getting priority over cable subscription TV networks for major sports events.
We feel that current regulations and the proposed media reform changes don't go far enough to protecting free-to-air sports broadcasts and believe lots more needs to be done to prevent major sports events being swallowed up by cable subscription TV networks.
Education and College
Education reform and funding has been a major pillar of Budget 2017. We believe that the Coalition is on the right track to deliver better, appropriate funding and a more relevant funding model, whilst remaining effective and affordable.
The budget will see schools receive an extra $18.6 billion over 10 years.
The new model is backed by the reputable David Gonski and has charmingly been dubbed "Gonski 2.0". It lays out a plan to have schools receive funding based on needs' data, whilst aiming to remain fair across the public and private school sectors.
We commend the Government for their efforts to education reform and funding as it is very much needed and well overdue for an improved and affordable funding model to be implemented, that respects the challenging economic climate that Australia still faces.
College education has also had some changes, which our Party supports. College fees will increase $2,000 to $3,600 for a standard 4 year course. Additionally, the income rate which needs to be reached before college debt must be repaid has been reduced.
There will still be no upfront cost for students to attend courses and college debt is only to be repaid once students are employed and reach an annual salary of $42,000+.
Although there is some initial public disappointment with the college education changes among some Australians and students, our Party believes that the changes will result in young people taking a more serious approach to college education following High School.
We also believe that it will result in those attending college, to take a more serious approach to the education provided and only students that truly want to progress in society and better their education and knowledge will take up the opportunity of attending college. This will eventually eradicate the scheme of students attending college for reasons of delaying entry into the workforce and refusing to contribute to society in greater form.
A new levy will be created which will see Australia's big four banks (National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and Westpac) paying more share of their exorbitant profits, in what is essentially a new tax.
Macquarie Bank is also set to be included.
The levy will commence on July 1, 2017. It will be aimed at generating $6.2 billion over forward estimates.
We support the changes and believe the new levy should be charged at a higher rate than the 0.06% being implemented. However, we support the levy in its proposed state and would support changes into the future which could see an increase in the levy % or simply changes that could be see the % rate based on the massive profits of the big four banks.
We will be seeing some consolidation in welfare payments. This can only be a good thing and will result in recipients on Newstart and Sickness Allowance be rolled into the new JobSeeker Payment.
There are no changes to the payment rate, although there will be random drug and alcohol testing be placed on some new welfare recipients.
Welfare has probably been the biggest failure of the budget and Pirate Party believes that the Coalition has failed Australian welfare recipients, again. Furthermore, implementing random drug and alcohol testing on some recipients which the Government deem at risk of substance abuse is one step too far. It is impeding on the freedom and civil rights of Australians. By giving the Government permission to segregate specific persons and deem them at risk of substance abuse and place them into a basket of special category, will undoubtedly have a dramatic negative effect on the self-esteem of those who are already feeling socially vulnerable and at a low point.
Pirate Party supports the changes to payments which sees categorical consolidation. But we condemn the changes which will see welfare recipient segregation and making inaccurate assumptions based on the bad life choices of just a few. It is completely unjustified and has the potential to unleash a variety of legal issues and probable challenges.
Further changes include job seekers up to the age of 49 being required to attend approved activities of up to 49 hours per fortnight. Our Party also condemns these kinds of approved activities" initiatives on the basis that we believe welfare recipient's time would be better spent on actual job seeking activities. Every hour spent on approved activities is an extra hour taken away from the recipient being able to use that time for proper job seeking activities.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme will now be fully funded, which will be the result of changes to Medicare Levy payments by Australian taxpayers.
Although the changes will not come into effect until July 1, 2019, we support them and believe that the tiny burden put onto taxpayers is worth it, to ensure that the NDIS is fully funded and not be put at risk of tarnishing future budgets by being shortchanged.
First Home Buyers
The Coalition has outlined a new initiative in the budget which will see consumers have to ability to contribute through Superannuation payments to a special account which can then be used for a home deposit.
Pirate Party has been ahead of all other mainstream political parties and we have an entire Policy that would implement changes to Superannuation and allow limited and controlled access to funds, to be used for very specific purposes. Superannuation access for a home deposit is one access option of our Policy.
Although our own Party's Policy option includes access of existing funds up to a maximum of $25,000, we commend the Coalition for the proposed changes despite the slight variation of implementation method.
Defense and Intelligence
There are no changes to defense force funding. However, intelligence agencies are set to get a boost.
We believe current levels of Australian Defense Force funding is appropriate, however we do not believe that intelligence agencies require an increase, based on accessible information.
It's a difficult sector to develop Policy for, due to the secrecy involved in exact numbers of funding provided for ASIO and its intelligence partners. ASIO is set to receive an increase, although budget information does not reveal how much, obviously due to national security reasons.
Pirate Party urges more transparency in the area of funding that is provided to Australia's intelligence agencies. Additionally, we urge the Government to ensure that the increased funding is used to legitimate domestic and international intelligence operations that do not impede on civil and privacy rights of Australians. It must also ensure that increased funds are not used to simply expand ASIO already extensive mass-surveillance program, when any expansion would be completely unjustified.
Finally, foreign aid is set to be frozen for two years, from 2018.
Our Party Policy in the area of Foreign Aid is currently scheduled for review. It remains unclear at this early stage what exact details our Party would settle on for this area, however we would support a freeze on current foreign aid levels as we advocate that all foreign aid should remain for humanitarian reasons and Australia should always ensure that foreign aid funds are being used to improve local conditions in the region being provided and not for illegitimate purpose.
May 10, 2017 | Australian Federal Police Illegal Access to Metadata
Recently, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) were embroiled in turmoil, following the revelation that members within the Federal law enforcement agency had previously accessed the metadata of a journalist, without a warrant.
The Pirate Party points out that this is illegal. For AFP officers to legally acquire access to metadata, a warrant must be obtained. There are specific elements in relation to this report that stand out and are a serious cause for concern for the Australian public. Initially, it was being reported that the said illegal access was limited to one journalist. Since, reports and documents have been revealed by media organization The Guardian, which confirm that there are more claims of AFP illegally accessing metadata, than initially reported.
We condemn the AFP for this intolerable behavior and call for a proper investigation into the matter be carried out. We also call for any eventual Report into the matter be made accessible in the public domain, in redacted form if necessary. But we urge a specific element of transparency to be followed in relation to any potential investigation.
The Pirate Party is taking the opportunity for make the call for metadata laws to be reviewed, again, to determine what suitable amendments must be made to ensure this can not happen again in the future, and also strengthen transparency measures and increased oversight.
February 19, 2017 | Immediate and Future Safety of Julian Assange
Today, we are releasing a Joint Press Statement from Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia.
Through this Statement, both parties wish to publicly express our concerns for the safety of Julian Assange, who continues to be detained to the Ecuadorian Embassy, in London.
Our concerns lie with his future, after the result is declared for the upcoming Ecuadorian Presidential Election. Specific candidates have made public claims, on the record, that Mr. Assange will be asked to vacate the Embassy within 30 days shall they successfully gain entry to Presidential office as the new Ecuador President.
Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates have invested heavily in the veracity of Mr. Assange's advocacy, as Editor of Wikileaks, for the open release of information without prejudice. Our organizations do outline that his adamant partisanship during the US Presidential Election and the dubious provenance of the Democratic leaks, not disavowing the information as being unverified as far as source and content, have changed the tone to a certain degree, of public opinion towards Wikileaks from an impartial source to just another instrument of expression driven by Mr. Assange's personal beliefs.
Had Mr. Assange simply done as he has done in the past and released Wikileaks publications and documents related to the US Election without editorializing and with full disclosure of the provenance of the information, he would have remained a pillar of open information and source for journalistic research, with legitimate right to ask for sanctuary.
However, we wish to continue by stating our support for Julian Assange has not changed and the issue(s) we have are completely separate to that of his involvement with Wikileaks, rather are to do with his personal safety as a political refugee if he were to be 'requested', somewhat forcibly, to vacate himself from the Ecuadorian Embassy and into the arms of arrest by British law enforcement which keep 24/7 surveillance on the Embassy.
If Mr. Assange were to vacate the Embassy and following his arrest by British officials, he would undoubtedly be handed on to US law enforcement and immediately have his civil rights put to immediate scrutiny.
The question - Is he a legitimate political/journalistic refugee and how should his exit status be treated? This will be a test.
Whatever the result of the Ecuadorian Presidential Election, we urge all parties to continue the rightful path of dealing with the very unusual situation and stalemate that Mr. Assange is surrounded by.
We also outline that his detainment to the Embassy has been deemed illegal by the United Nations (UN) and request has previously been made by the UN to release Mr. Assange.
In conclusion, Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia urges calm and responsible action to take course and all involved parties to respect all legal entitlements of Julian Assange and to also uphold his civil and human rights, which have so far been violated on too many occasions.
November 1, 2016 | Australia Continues Down the Road to Immigration Ruin and Torture
Again, Democratic Pirates Australia sees it fit to be expressing our firm condemnation of the Australian Government, on its policy on immigration and attacks on asylum seekers and refugees.
If media reports are to be correct, the Coalition led by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, will introduce new immigration legislation when Parliament returns to sitting next week. The new legislation is said to include harsher measures which will ensure those seeking refugee status in Australia and asylum seekers arriving by boat, never become citizens or be able to call Australia home.
The new legislation will also see those detained on Manus Island and Nauru face a very uncertain future. The time for closure of these centers is slowly ticking. However, the Government has not yet revealed any plans of how they will deal with detainees should any offshore detention center face closure.
Pirate Party President, Chris McGimpsey-Jones says, "Again, these poor people detained offshore have no clear indication of where their future is heading, or where they will be on 2, 5 or 10 years time. It's an outrage that the citizens of Australia continue to allow this to happen. This is a democracy, but it's quickly fading along with our 'fair-go' ethos. The citizens of this country need to seriously take a good hard look at who they are voting into power, and who they keep voting into power, despite continued attacks on our once great country's democratic values".
Democratic Pirates Australia's Chairman, Brett Brennan, who currently resides in the USA draws similar comparisons to the US system, "Just as in America, the laws passed by Congress are a reflection of those who elect them". Brett continues, "If Pauline Hanson can command a sizable minority of voters, if Australians aren't petitioning their MP and demanding that anti-immigrant legislation be banned from consideration, then we can't condemn the Government. Democracy means democracy. The People can be explicit with their demands or, by remaining silent, condone actions taken in their name. The new immigration laws are a reflection of both".
"This, and other issues, are not a direct fault of the Government in either country. Their actions are reflecting the desires of the people, both explicit and implicit. This is Democracy in action. If we want to change the laws, we first have to change the people.", Brett concludes.
The new legislation set to be introduced next week has been questioned on legality, in accordance with international law and several aspects of United Nations Declarations in relation to potential acceptance and treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.
Democratic Pirates Australia remains committed to our Party Policy, which welcomes legitimate refugees and those seeking asylum in Australia, who have legitimately fled persecution in war effected countries. We advocate that processing must take place on mainland Australia under close supervision by an oversight body and appropriate transparency enabled, which allows for journalists and media entities to monitor operations in any such center.
The secrecy must stop. Offshore centers must be shutdown, without delay. We will continue to advocate our stance and push our Policy as a viable alternative to current harsh immigration policy. Democratic Pirates has previously contacted the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton MP, and also the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. To date, all our requests for response and confirmation our correspondence has been received, has been ignored.
The silence from both Liberal and Labor on serious immigration reform is deafening. The noise being created for increased restrictions on asylum seekers and effectively allowing for the enablement of torture in offshore detention, and penalties applied to whistleblowers who expose misconduct, is equally deafening.
We call upon the citizens of Australia to wake up, speak up, take action and demand change and reform which works in favor or protecting those who are most vulnerable - Asylum Seekers and Refugees.
August 22, 2016 | Marriage Equality Plebiscite, Possibly Delayed
Although it has not been officially announced by the Coalition, it was reported on the weekend that the Government is to delay the plebiscite for Marriage Equality, until February 2017.
The Labor Party is pushing the whole "broken promise" point, which has become a disappointing routine for the opposition, whilst The Greens are condemning the delay and asking why the matter can't be dealt with inside the chambers of the Parliament.
Labor does have a valid argument, by stating that any plebiscite would be based on a marriage equality bill that no one in the public has yet seen. There is no draft of the bill (that we are aware of) and we are not yet convinced that any such draft of any marriage equality bill even exists.
Although the marriage equality issue could be dealt with accordingly through the usual Parliamentary process, inside the chamber, our Party would prefer the matter to go to a plebiscite as we feel it is a very important issue which should allow for all Australians to display their point-of-view.
Democratic Pirates Australia recognizes the issue at hand and its greater importance. Our Party calls for the Liberal Party to present the bill text, prior to any plebiscite given a set date and provide Australians a guarantee that the Party will proceed to support and implement the necessary processes to get the legislation into full effect and become law, allowing all couples to marry with equality and without judgement - assuming that the decision were to be a "YES" vote.
Democratic Pirates Australia would preference to abolish the existing Marriage Act and replace it with a Civil Unions Act. However, our Party is open to compromise providing the correct worded legislation is in-effect - will provide and ensure non-discriminatory, gender neutral and non-religion specific marriage equivalent equality is enabled.
June 13, 2016 | Democratic Pirates Australia Offers Condolences to US Pirates
Democratic Pirates Australia offers our sincere condolences in light of the latest mass-shooting in Orlando, United States of America. Of course, this extends to the friends and family of the victims.
Suggestions have been made that the man did have sympathetic views towards Islamic State terrorist group, but it does appear to be the work of a lone-wolf with extremist views and hatred towards LGBT individuals.
The mass-shooting has been dubbed the worst in the country's history, which has resulted in the deaths of 50+ people and another 50+ injured.
Democratic Pirates condemns the actions taken out by this disturbed individual and supports community integration of LGBT persons, without judgment.
Our Party offers the United States of America our sincerest condolences and solidarity for all Americans who have been affected by this horrific event.
March 29, 2016 | Democratic Pirates Australia Solidarity to Belgium
Democratic Pirates Australia expresses our Party's deepest sympathy to the people of Belgium, in light of a recent series of bombings in Brussels.
The bombings have been declared the work of terrorist organization, Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL).
Our Party condemns all actions of terrorism and views the bombings in Brussels as an extension of the growing attack on democracy and freedom within the Eurozone.
We offer the country of Belgium our sincerest condolences and solidarity for the people of a peaceful and democratic country.
November 18, 2015 | Democratic Pirates Australia Offers Condolences to Pirate Party of France
Democratic Pirates Australia reaches out to our friends at Pirate Party of France to express our Party's condolences in light of recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France.
Terrorism has no place in a modern, democratic and open society. Our own Party condemns such actions of these fundamental extremists and recognize all terrorist events should be condemned on a global level.
We would like to wish Pirate Party of France and the country all the best and hope that democratic principles prevail and succeed long into the future for France.
August 18, 2015 | Marriage Equality for All Australians
On Monday August 17, Liberal Party member, Warren Entsch introduced a same-sex marriage bill to Parliament.
The issue of same-sex marriage and marriage equality for all is under debate within the Australian political arena and within the community. There is understandable argument and counter-argument on both sides of the topic. Democratic Pirates Australia retains its position on the issue that no couple should be discriminated against, based on the their sexual orientation and choice.
Democratic Pirates Australia Policy on Marriage remains the same; we believe the Marriage Act should be replaced by a Civil Unions Act.
We must point out that although this remains our stance, our Party is open to discussion and conversation and would support a bill or other such move which allows for same-sex couples to legally unite in the same respect that heterosexual couples enjoy, providing the legislation eliminates all surrounding discriminative barriers in which same-sex couples currently face and therefore prevents them from a legal recognition of their union.
FPUorg is a separate entity which is fully operated under the close guidance of Freedom Publishers Union.
FPUorg was founded in mid-2014, with the intention to separate our charitable operations from that of our parent publishing organization, Freedom Publishers Union. Keeping the two separate, allows each entity to concentrate on their primary goals and objectives and achieve success.
Our goal with FPUorg is to give something good back to the world, through supporting various Charities and Organizations, which rely on community funding and donations to operate. Our donations and support are not always publicly documented, as we give to a wide-range of organizations, large and small.
Supported Charities and Projects
Making a small difference, where we can FPUorg might only be a small entity, as we do not donate massive amounts of money that corporate identities are capable of, but with the donations that we do make we aim to make small, yet much needed difference in the world.
The hand-picked Organizations we support through FPUorg allows us to support various Charities and filter our flow of donations to where it is needed most and where we believe our contributions will make the biggest difference.
For more information, you can contact FPUorg by emailing [email protected]
#open-source #freedom #software #technology #linux #windows
May 22, 2018 | Fedora 28 Review
There seems to have been very little media coverage surrounding the development and release of Fedora 28 (F28). We're not exactly sure why, but it could be because F28 has been overshadowed by the hugely popular release and hype surrounding Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. The attention on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is well deserved, but F28 equally deserves the same level of attention. At least that's what Tecseek Technology believe.
Now, we say there's not much to talk about with F28 and we stand by this rather narrow assessment. During our testing, we experienced numerous problems with Anaconda, the system's graphical installation tool. On repeated attempts, we experienced random freezing, which we were unable to debug to a specific problem. We were able to reproduce the problem upon fresh installation attempts, multiple times. However, it seemed to happen at random stages of the installation process and not really reflective of a specific problem that left us with a choice to change our configuration settings or attempt to bypass the buggy stage. Instead, we were left baffled as to it's cause and relied on luck, really. We didn't keep record of the number of times we attempted our installation. But we can tell you, we find it unacceptable that F28 was pushed out in this state. Clearly there is a problem somewhere and this should have been noticed and fixed before it went gold. Eventually, we were able to get an installation complete and had a F28 GNOME desktop presented on screen, ready.
We found F28 to be quite sluggish. There's not really any reason for it to be, as it is quite a bare bones distribution out-of-the-box. We did get much better performance by logging out of the default Wayland session and changing to X display server. There's also the GNOME Classic session available, which is also much snappier than Wayland. One specific feature that we pointed out the benefits of with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS was its continued use of X display server. We recommend you stick to X with F28 too. Wayland is just too slow and creates unnecessary drag on your system's response frame rates. It creates for a horrible experience and one that can be avoided.
Dissatisfied with the performance, we wanted to see what else we could do to tweak the system and attempt to get things running a bit smoother. Specifically, the desktop frame rate lag annoyed us so we wanted to investigate further to find out what the heck was really causing it. Here's a spoiler; we held back publication of this Review awaiting results back from further testing. This Review now reflects all extended test results.
Someone in the office initiated on a hunch, that installing into a RAID0 configuration would resolve the problem. That hunch was taken literally and we reinstalled F28 to a two-disk RAID0 configuration. To our dismay, it worked! RAID0 and running F28 using X display manager, combined with the latest kernel update literally eliminated all performance lag. Still not satisfied, we went a little more hardcore. We reinstalled it again, this time opting for a four-disk SSD RAID0 configuration. This time, we left it running under Wayland and with no further kernel updates, it still worked. We had resolved our performance and lag problems. It's all very strange because although using RAID0 will always give you some added performance benefits, these benefits will usually only ever be beneficial and noticeable when the hard disk are being utilized. The only time this would occur is if the system was low on RAM allocation, it would result in the SWAP space being thrashed. The system was not low on RAM and the hard disks were not being thrashed, according to both hardware and software disk usage monitors. It's all very strange to us and to be honest with you, we have no real technical explanation which can explain it logically. We do not suspect this to be something that Red Hat/Fedora Developers have missed. Rather one of those simple technical quirks that goes down in the records as 'just weird'.
The default setup includes the 4.16.3 Linux kernel and a GNOME 3.28.2 desktop environment. We noticed within days of it going gold there was a kernel update available. In fact, as we go to press there has been a couple of kernel updates pushed out already, giving us a system running Linux 4.16.8. GNOME has not changed and most major software has remained the same, with the exception of Firefox which has been updated to version 60.0. The GNOME desktop in F28 has replaced Shotwell with Photos, for image management. This is a good decision as we never liked Shotwell anyway. Nautilus is the graphical file manager included in GNOME and is as boring as ever. It gets the job done, but we always advocate that Linux users should learn to rely on the console terminal more for file management. For more complex tasks, you can break out Midnight Commander, or mc, as the package is known by. The Software application is a bit horrible. We find it quite cumbersome and unnecessarily bloated. Again, it's just no match for the terminal console and we suggest you stick to using dnf for software management. It's much quicker.
We have tried to find something in F28 to get excited about. But we just can't. Other technology sites seemed to have found a lot of interest in something called Usage. From what we can see, Usage is effectively just another built-in graphical system monitoring package. We searched our system for this supposedly fantastic tool, but found nothing. At first we couldn't make sense of why our system didn't have it installed. We proceeded to search the available packages and quickly discovered that it is not installed by default. We went ahead and installed it, out of interest. We were left disappointed by it. We will not point fingers at the specific publications which touted how brilliant this package is, but we will say that it was more than just one publication. We're not sure what drugs their lab's team members were taking, but there's a reason that Fedora have not inluded this package by default. It adds nothing to the system that isn't already available. There's plenty of this type of software already out there. In fact, there's already an included graphical task manager and system monitor, ironically, simply called System Monitor. And it does a much better job than Usage anyway. Graphical system monitoring packages might be a nice addition to any F28 system, but we still prefer console tools for system monitoring, such as htop or glances. For disk usage monitoring, we recommend iotop. We might be taking the old fashioned route here by using and recommending console based tools, but we believe in the right tool for the job is always the best route. Usage is not worth the bother of installation. It's plain, useless and uninformative.
There's also great interest by software developers with the new modular repository. At the time of testing, we were stripped of resources here in the office and under pressure of time constraints. Therefore, we were unable to really test out this new feature. Developers seem excited about it. Essentially, the modular repository allows the user to run an alternative version of a particular package whilst the rest of the system is up-to-date and running the very latest available packages. It sounds interesting and extremely useful for developers. The more we read about it, the more we became disappointed that we didn't have the time to dig deeper into this feature.
Aside from some added value for developers, we feel there's not much else to present. As always, it's best to add the RPM Fusion repositories, as they've been updated to accommodate F28. Or if you prefer, you can just stick with the free and open-source offerings. We would really love to be presenting you an awesome review which tells you that F28 is great and well worth taking a look at. It just isn't happening this time around. We imagine F28 as a boring statue in the museum corner that everyone takes a quick glance and then continues walking simply because there's nothing worth stopping for. If you're looking for an upgrade for your Linux computer, we recommend you opt for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS instead. If you're a die hard Fedora Linux fan, then by all means go for F28 because you probably have the experience to deal with any problems you will encounter and also make the necessary changes to make it an exciting system. It has potential, but needs lots of work. We are giving this one a miss. If you really want to avoid Ubuntu (for whatever reason), then try another Linux distribution for a year or more and then perhaps revisit Fedora when 29 comes knocking.
April 28, 2018 | Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Review
At Tecseek Technology, we have been using Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) for several weeks, relying on development builds. Although this is not recommended for mission critical systems, we had plans in place to avoid any loss of data as a result of something going awry. Yet we are glad to say that it has not been required that we roll-out our emergency recovery plans we had set aside, as this latest Ubuntu release has been rock solid stable for us for the duration of the final stages of development.
We started testing 18.04 early so that it had a chance to prove itself against what we consider high expectations of what produces a good Linux distribution. We have high standards. Probably some would deem them too high. But we believe that by having high standards, it is providing a better benchmark to measure against which will ultimately help to determine the good distributions from the bad and the plain old boring ones. However, as you read on you will soon find out that 18.04 exceeded our standards, with ease.
We are running two systems with 18.04 physically installed. Sometimes we rely on virtual machines for our testing, but this time around we have returned to doing things properly and keeping things more traditional by relying on actual computer hardware. We use Intel CPU chips on both systems while AMD and Intel handle the graphics. One system is connected to the network by ethernet and utilizing a VPN. The other system connects to the same network by wireless connectivity and also utilizes the same VPN service, but a different server location.
18.04 is a Long Term Support release. So you are guaranteed updates from the Main repository right through until April 2023 - 5 years from the date of release - for Desktop, Server and Core versions. While other official derivatives get a shorter support life of only 3 years. Ubuntu Studio only gets 9 months of support, for some strange reason.
We are using the XFCE desktop on our main system which is running Xubuntu. Additionally, we are running vanilla Ubuntu which uses the default GNOME desktop, on our laptop. We can safely report to our readers that both releases work superbly. We chose XFCE as our main desktop of choice because we wanted something a bit more customizable and an environment that sticks to traditional desktop usage principles. This is one of the greatest strengths of XFCE. Whilst our Lenovo laptop has some fancy extra buttons and functions, we chose the vanilla version of Ubuntu and GNOME to ensure that we have maximum support for Secure Boot and all our nice little extras. The laptop originally had Windows 10 pre-installed, but we ditched it in favor of Ubuntu. Once we entered the UEFI/BIOS and disabled Secure Boot, we were able to install Ubuntu without any problems. Post-installation and upon reboot, we found everything worked as intended. This included bluetooth, Wi-Fi and all our extra function keys.
When Secure Boot was first implemented, the free software and Linux development community threw their arms up in a state of panic and were quickly concluding that Linux would lose out to Microsoft Windows 10 on systems where the latter was pre-installed. Although the concern is completely justified, in our experience Secure Boot poses no realistic problem anymore once it is disabled. There are various implementations, hacks and workarounds that have been developed by the Linux development community which now properly cater for Secure Boot and are doing their job just fine. There is now suitable compatibility for Secure Boot from Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and commercial Linux company, Red Hat, which extend their compatibility to their community developed projects of CentOS and Fedora.
If you put the two desktop versions we use side-by-side, XFCE remains the snappiest of the two. But we don't take anything away from GNOME as to be fair, it is running on a system with slightly lower specifications than our XFCE system. XFCE is running on an effective 8 cores while GNOME is running off just 2 cores. The total amount of RAM installed also plays a major part in performance. The XFCE system has an extra 2GB on top of the GNOME system, which will give XFCE an undisputed advantage. So our comparison is to be taken as a guide only, rather than any serious technical comparison or benchmark.
If anyone had actually been taking notice, they would have realized that the official 18.04 package repositories were updated the night before official release date. We updated our systems the night before and received some final updates, which included a kernel update. Then we attempted another update the next day, once it had officially been released yet APT reported that all packages were up to date.
Technically speaking, 18.04 comes with Linux kernel 4.15.0-20. Considering the official latest stable kernel available from kernel.org sits at 4.16.5, we remain pretty happy with the version included with 18.04. Actually, considering this is a LTS release, it's a rather aggressive approach compared to traditional inclusions of the Linux kernel in releases with extended support. If you're really keen, you can always roll out the latest Ubuntu Mainline kernel anyway. Or any custom kernels that you might prefer to install.
We don't feel the need to delve too deeply in what versions of software are included. Instead, we prefer to focus on how the desktop as a whole performs. One word is all that is required to summarize our experience - Excellent. We are extremely happy with the stability of this release. Both the XFCE and GNOME desktops perform well and look great. The default wallpapers are a little bit of a let down, but there is plenty of beautiful options to choose from in the desktop settings if you want to change it. We changed them. We also made a small change to the window buttons by bringing them back to the left. But that's up to you what you prefer. While changing this on XFCE is as simple as heading into the Settings Manager, it is a little more tricky on GNOME and required us to jump into APT and install the GNOME Tweak Tool. Although this is not difficult to do, we believe a simple tweak like this should be simplified for GNOME users. But that is just getting picky. We also made another small tweak and changed the window move button to ALT, instead of Super. We believe this change is a no-brainer and the ALT key should be default for moving windows with the mouse and not Super.
Our couple of small critiques aside, the Bionic Beaver is one heck of a release. It still runs X display server as default, with Wayland provided as an option at login. We're not too sure where Wayland development is at, but to be frank, we don't care. We stick to X on every Linux distribution that gets dropped onto our desk, regardless. We have experienced too many stability problems with Wayland so far and just see no reason to pursue trying it any further. To be honest, we're not really sure why Ubuntu Developers seem so insistent on pursuing its development, as it continues to pose problems and continues to be pushed back and delayed all the time. So we're glad that X display manager is still used as default. According to the official Release Notes provided with the arrival of 18.04, the included version of Wayland is still a Technical Preview. Our advice, steer clear of it and don't even bother. Just forget that it's even there. We advocate that if there is nothing wrong with X display server (which there is not), then why go developing any form of replacement that offers nothing that can't be done already with X. So stick with X, please.
LibreOffice is included, obviously. It's a nice update too, with the inclusion of version 18.104.22.168. Firefox Quantum is the latest version at 59.0.2. There's plenty of updates included in Ubuntu Server, but we didn't touch that variant this time and have no intention to. But reading through the Release Notes we can see some nice updates to Apache, Nginx and PHP. All useful for system administrators intending to roll out the 18.04 update on a web server. These would be welcome.
This is a release of Ubuntu that we can really appreciate. Sometimes Long Term Support releases can be a little uninspiring and you're made to feel like you need to upgrade anyway. But this time it feels different. It actually has the cool factor attached to it. It actually makes Ubuntu a cool Linux distribution, again. Powerful, if you will. For a while, the Ubuntu brand name was heading on a path that we feared it could never return. A path which resembled an old man saying, 'I'm old, comfortable and don't feel the need to be cool anymore'. Tecseek Technology believes that in the world of Linux, that's nonsense. Thankfully, Ubuntu has jumped off that path and onto a new path with a more positive future.
With the release of 18.04 it seems everyone is again talking about Linux and everyone wants to install Ubuntu. We believe it's a good thing. If you want to install Linux, then you must install Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver). You just have to!
February 14, 2018 | Setting Up a Smart Home Theater Network in Your Home
So, you've gone out and bought yourself a new large screen TV. While you were at the store, you decided to splurge out and also purchase a new Windows 10 laptop. Sure, your new TV might have been sold to you as a "Smart TV", but in our experience, these over-hyped "smart" units are only as smart as the media that you feed into them.
For modern consumer media consumption, there's no denying that digital wins over having to plug in old fashioned DVD players and other external set-top units. Realistically, everything can now be done from your new laptop by using the new smart TV as an extended display. There's no real need to have all those ugly external units sitting beneath the TV when that wasted space could be better reserved for placing that ugly vase that your Nana passed down to you.
We're going to really modernize the way you watch and listen to your digital media. We make the basic assumption that you already have your video and audio files on your hard drive.
To get started, we simply need to install some basic media player software on the Windows 10 laptop. For video files, we're going to install SMPlayer. For audio files, we recommend foobar2000. Additionally, we also install Spotify. If you do not use Spotify, then you can skip its installation. The problem we continuously see with modern smart TV sets is the format support for files is always much too limited. Some recent models still do not support H265. We have also experienced some problems with playing older DivX files on brand new units. Our choice of software is deliberate for the simple fact that between SMPlayer and foobar2000, you'll find that you will be able to watch and play any file format that you throw at them.
Once you have installed the software on your laptop, we need to connect it to the smart TV with a HDMI cable. This is all that is required as HDMI handles both the audio and video signal of the data transmission. Some HDMI cables even support ethernet connectivity inside them. But that's not relevant to this project. Once connected, select the HDMI source on the TV and you should now be able to see an extended screen which is generated from the laptop. Initially, you will still need to control it using the laptop, but now you are able to listen to all your favorite music and watch all your favorite movies through your new smart TV, powered by the laptop.
Allowing the laptop to handle the processing power of media delivery through the smart TV is much better. Specifically, for video files. You will achieve greater picture clarity, sharper and smoother video playback than if you were to play it directly through the smart TV. This is simply because laptops and computers have much better and much more capable processing hardware. The decoding hardware included in smart TV units is sometimes outdated at the time of purchase and the actual parts used to assemble these units is of questionable quality from the time of assembly.
We recommend you just don't bother allowing your smart TV to try and prove its level of intellect to you. Trust us, you will only be disappointed. Allow the laptop to be the smart one. Selling TV units to consumers as smart devices is somewhat misleading and really requires further review into what defines them as "smart". They're usually just units that operate on outdated versions of Android and have an ethernet port on the back or Wi-Fi capable connectivity.
Now that you have the laptop powering your smart TV, there is no reason to go any further if you don't want to make things any more complicated and if you're not confident. But you might find it a little inconvenient that you have to control everything from the laptop, rather than having a remote control at your fingertips. We have a solution to this problem. You can install the Unified Remote server onto the laptop and install the equivalent app onto your smartphone. Once installed on the laptop, set it to run on Windows startup and then all you have to do is launch the app on your smartphone and it will automatically synchronize with the laptop's Unified Remote server. The smartphone app is effectively a remote control for the laptop, by allowing you to access a virtual keyboard, mouse emulation and a simple media player remote control. The options on the media player remote are basic, with buttons for Volume Up/Down, Mute, Forward/Back skip, Play/Pause and Stop. The best thing is, it's completely compatible with SMPlayer and foobar2000. Inside the app, you can install additional components. One of them is a remote for Spotify. Brilliant!
Now that we have a full working remote control for our media setup, we need to think about how we can make our media more accessible in the house and not so limited to just the one unit in one room. We have installed a media server. Essentially, this is a basic headless PC desktop unit. Believe it or not, Windows 10 does a brilliant job of acting as a server. As our media server is also running Windows 10, it's pretty much guaranteed to eliminate all network connectivity issues as Windows 10 systems always play nice with their own kind.
Once you have setup your media server, you simply need to attach your media files to the network. We have our media files residing on an external USB hard drive which plugs directly into the server and then we share the folders across the network and make it accessible to everyone. This can be useful for large families with children, who can now access media on the server. It's free movies and music for everyone in the house!
What type of connectivity you opt for is really up to you. You may find Wi-Fi is sufficient for you, but you will most likely find the network slows greatly when multiple people try to access your media server. We actually do not recommend Wi-Fi. Only on very rare occasions. And this is one of those cases that if you can, always stick to running your systems on the network with ethernet connectivity. The most important system to ensure it connects via ethernet is the media server. Run the media server through a suitable network switch connected to your gateway router and the media server should be freely accessible to others on the network.
The last step is to install ES File Manager on your Android smartphone. It's a brilliant file manager and has the ability to access files over the local area network (LAN). Once installed, you no longer need YouTube, as you can now stream your own movies and favorite music tracks to your smartphone, directly from your own media server over your own network.
January 4, 2018 | Bitcoin Simplified Explanation
Bitcoin is described as a "cryptocurrency". It was created under the developer alias of Satoshi Nakamoto and the source code released as open-source, in 2009. It differs to other forms of digital currency like PayPal, because it is not owned, operated or controlled by one single person or organization.
One of the first concepts of a cryptocurrency was suggested by cypherpunk and software engineer, Wei Dai, back in 1998. It was said by Dai that cryptocurrency is "money which is impossible to regulate". Core concepts of Dai's cryptocurrency "b-money" were actually implemented into Bitcoin. It is claimed that Wei Dai and British cryptographer, Adam Back, were two of the first people contacted by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 when Bitcoin was still under development.
The real identity of Satoshi Nakamoto has never been revealed. There has been speculation and claims by a few people of being the 'real' Satoshi, however none of these claims have had enough evidence to substantiate and verify their claims. Therefore, they've all been disputed. Many technologists and software engineers suggest that Satoshi Nakamoto is actually a team of developers and not just one person, as originally believed. This is suggested because the source code is thought to be much too complex to be the effort of one sole individual. Tecseek Technology believes this to be a very plausible explanation. It is most likely a group of developers who wish to see their work adopted and spread organically, yet remain anonymous.
Essentially, Bitcoins are created by sophisticated computers processing extremely complicated math problems. The math problems are so complex, it is the intention that it become extremely difficult to create fake Bitcoins. To date, the technology has been relatively effective and it appears it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.
While solving the math problems, the computers are also confirming transactions on the network. The entire Bitcoin public ledger of transactions is known as the "Blockchain". The Blockchain is kept by all miners. The result of the Blockchain is a distributed public ledger. This allows the Bitcoin public ledger to exist without any centralized or controlled server. It can be described as a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency network.
At the time of writing, the Blockchain is 145GB+ in size and grows larger every time a new block is solved and added to the Blockchain. [Source:  https://blockchain.info/charts/blocks-size]
"Mining" is the term used to describe the process of adding transaction records to the public ledger. A "mining rig" is the term used to describe a single computer or server system dedicated to performing the necessary and complex math computations for the "mining" process.
Pool mining and Individual mining:
"Pool mining" is where a bunch of people pool their computers together to mine and then the pool operator divides the rewards evenly among all the miners in the pool.
"Individual mining" is pretty self-explanatory and describes an individual person using one individual computer system to mine.
The kinds of math problems aren't the normal problems that we studied at school. Math problems in this case refers to the SHA-256 secure cryptographic hashing function, created by the NSA. It is used as a tool to secure the network, confirm transactions and create secure Bitcoin addresses. To wrap your brain around it, think of a Bitcoin address as a Bitcoin account. The network is not used to process real world math problems which will produce a result. It's about cryptography and security within the network. These math problems are bundled together in groups called "Blocks". These problems ensure that no one miner can just jump in and confirm all transactions for themselves and claim the reward. The math problems are the miner's "Proof of work".
When a block of these math problems is solved, Bitcoins are issued to the miner that solves the block of problems. The miner also receives the transaction fees of all of the transactions that were processed in that block. (Bitcoin users pay a transaction fee every time they want to send payment.)
If you have a mining farm (a bunch of computers solving these math problems and processing Bitcoin transactions) that solves a block, you will get the reward. So, you would get current Bitcoin rate plus all transaction fees that were paid for the Bitcoin transactions in that block. This goes on and on and on. Once a block is solved and the coins issued, all of the work being done by miners goes into a new block.
Assuming blockchain and Bitcoin technology is still around in 123 years from now, the last Bitcoin will be mined in the year 2140. [Source:  https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Controlled_supply] From that point onwards the miners will only earn the transaction fees for the mining. You can think of this whole process like an automated accountant.
1) Process Bitcoin transactions on the network.
2) Limit the supply of Bitcoins so that they are not worthless.
3) Serve as the "Proof of work" that a miner was actually processing the mining for the network the entire time.
4) To create the public ledger of all transactions that takes place on the network.
A special thank you to Senthil Kumar, who also contributed to this article.
December 31, 2017 | Lack of Education of Alternate Operating Systems is Failing Our Students and the Industry
There is the very real potential for a global shortage of qualified and quality computer and software technicians.
There are so many great alternate operating systems in the public domain, some in a constant state of development, some readily available and stable. Many public high schools still have extremely sub-standard information technology classes. These public classes usually only focus on the sole usage of the Microsoft Windows operating system. In some cases, there may be some teaching using the Mac OS platform. But generally, Windows is still assumed to be the default of most users. To educate students on one or two platforms, whilst ignoring all the alternatives, is much too limiting and does not nearly do enough to take full advantage of the range of operating systems that are available.
It would not be uncommon to survey teenagers still studying in high school, asking them to list the operating systems they are familiar with and find a majority response would be the same two platforms listed - Windows and Mac OS. We would not at all be surprised if the result of reply with these same two answers would be very close to 100%. This lack of knowledge of what alternate operating systems are available and in most cases completely free to download and use, is not the fault of students. It is a direct failing of the public high school curriculum. Public education policy makers must start to pay attention and stop ignoring this issue which has the potential to cause many problems in the not too distant future. And it may not be limited to just a few nations among the developed world. It could quickly expand into a global problem and affect many countries.
We need to start teaching our teenage students about the advantages and disadvantages of different operating system platforms, who created them, why they were supposedly created and their potential to fill a void in the marketplace.
We need to look deep into the development ecosystems of alternate operating systems and at different platforms, looking beyond the Windows, Mac OS and even the Linux/Unix camps. There are third-party projects out there which get almost no attention. Are they worth the attention? Absolutely, yes. Why do they not get the attention they deserve? Lack of education.
Windows and Mac OS are limited in scope, due to their commercial closed-source nature. Linux and BSD have brilliant mainstream offerings, but they have equal brilliance beyond the mainstream projects which might be the default go-to of the platform. Sure, FreeBSD is great. But what is even better and more fun to learn, is NetBSD. If you like the familiarities of Windows, then give ReactOS a shot. Or if you prefer the command-prompt environment of Windows, then that's no problem either as you might enjoy FreeDOS.
Students need to be encouraged to be more open minded and be given opportunities to explore the different options. Not just in their spare time, but as part of their education curriculum.
We need to encourage installation of these operating systems. We need to harvest and take full advantage of what modern software allows us to do. Grab hold of the capabilities to essentially sandbox your operating system testing to Oracle VM VirtualBox and VMWare, or any other virtual machine software. We live in an era of technical and software brilliance that literally hands everything to us on a silver platter. Nobody gives a second thought to how that silver platter was constructed or if there is a different variation of the silver platter available to deliver your goods.
All of the above is what we need to encourage students to do, plus more. Installing new operating systems, trying them, testing them, encouraging them to break things and attempt to fix them when they break. All of these things are of great importance and of equal importance to each other.
Despite the negative attitudes towards proprietary and commercial software from open-source advocates, closed-source software does have its purpose in the market. As does open-source software. But it does not honestly have a place in technical teachings of operating systems. Education spawns with the use of free and open-source software. The free and open-source software community does an amazing job of spreading the word, the knowledge, their skills and the software itself in binary and source form. But it is no longer solely up to the community to do what high schools should be doing. Because it should never be underestimated of the what further skills can be learned by literally heading into the unknown. The result can be new skills learned, developed and improved. If enough interest is generated, then it opens up a very wide door which has the potential for further development - whether it be a fork of an existing open-source project or something completely new. It's what the industry needs to breed and develop new thoughts, new technology and new interest. Only through planting the seeds to grow this interest can we begin to learn what potential we have at our disposal and begin to hone this interest into further skills and areas within the information technology sector that these skills will be of benefit most.
December 22, 2017 | Vaporware Worries Growing, as Atari Delays the Release of Ataribox
It was way back in July that Tecseek Technology first brought you some detailed hints of the Ataribox. It's now December and the end of 2017 is fast approaching, but the Ataribox is still yet to make an appearance.
Since our initial write up on what the Ataribox could potentially be and what specifications it could contain on the inside, we've learned that the unit will run on a Linux-based operating system, will contain Atari classics games as well as some inclusions by indie developers. Additionally, Atari has released a few preview images of the system's joystick, which can be viewed on their Instagram.
At Tecseek Technology, we are a little disappointed that Atari hasn't provided much more information on the technical specifications of the unit. According to the scarce details on the website, the unit is powered by what Atari is calling Open Linux OS. It remains unclear whether this is a customized version of a Linux-based platform developed by Atari in-house specifically for the sole purpose of gaming, or whether it's a modified Debian (or other) release. It's also unclear how the games will be launched by the user interface.
A stimulating thought to ponder is whether Atari have figured out how to run the games natively on top of Linux or whether the unit will simply run the games from a pre-installed emulator. Unconfirmed information available to Tecseek Technology suggest that the Atari games will be run off an emulator, while users will have complete access to the underlying Linux operating system to install additional games. If this information is confirmed, then we suspect that the hardware inside will be very similar to a low-end PC. There are reports that the Ataribox will run on a customized AMD CPU with Radeon graphics adapter. There is also the very real possibility of the unit including HDMI connectivity, multiple USB ports, ethernet networking and an SD card slot for extra storage. How much flexibility there will be with the hardware and the operating system is impossible to speculate. Therefore, it remains speculation until we can cite confirmation by Atari.
The eventual cost of the unit is also unclear and has not been confirmed by Atari, but there are hints that it may be between $249 to $299 mark. Assuming that the hardware will be similar to a low-end PC, this price point sounds like it's heading in the right range. Most likely towards the top end of that price range.
Atari sent out a press email on December 12, with brief details revealing that the Ataribox would be available for pre-order on December 14. But then on December 14, we received another press email titled "Launch Delay". The new email stated that the unit had been delayed. The given reason by Atari was so the company could take "more time to create the platform and ecosystem the Atari community deserves". It's a very vague reason and does not really leave any hint as to when the unit will be available.
Various online reports now suggest that it will most likely be delayed until the second quarter of 2018. We hope it does eventually arrive and sincerely hope that the entire project doesn't turn to vaporware. The Atari and retro gaming community are expecting something pretty special from the company, with the upcoming release of the Ataribox. We certainly hope the company can deliver on its promise and live up to the hype and expectations of the gaming community that awaits.
December 16, 2017 | Fedora 27 Review
The time between the release of Fedora 26 and 27 (F26 and F27, respectively) was very short. You could be forgiven for taking a position to believe the release of F27 was not the full 6 month release cycle. It must be noted that in what was literally just a few months following F26, F27 was not released early. The close time frame between the releases was the result of F26 being delayed. But F27 is nowhere, it's running, so let's take a look at it.
Our initial thoughts follow on from F26, really. This is a good release. It's very sharp and nimble in operation. We have had it installed since its release and it's never gave us any problems since the initial installation. It's also an attractive release. But it doesn't just have good aesthetics, it has some solid goods underneath which make the release worth the real estate on your hard disk.
F27 comes with a Linux kernel 4.13.9 and GNOME Shell 3.26. The best feature in this release is that it comes pre-loaded with Firefox Quantum - the latest update to the popular Firefox web browser. We believe Fedora 27 is the first version of a Linux based operating system to have Firefox Quantum included out of the box. Obviously, any other distribution can update the Firefox package to Quantum. And the next versions of all the mainstream Linux operating systems will include Firefox Quantum also. Still, it's great that F27 had the timing right and was able to include Firefox Quantum, which we must stress is well worth the upgrade. There are still some reports of some extensions not working correctly with Firefox Quantum. So if you're a heavy user of extensions, you might want to do your research to ensure they will work correctly under Firefox Quantum. By the time this Review goes to press [delayed, due to unforeseen circumstances] most popular Firefox extensions should have been upgraded to work with Quantum.
Everything else inside the final F27 package is pretty standard stuff. There's not a lot of custom stuff that is visible to the eye ball. But it has the true feel and spirit of Fedora, where it counts. We recommend if you're already running F26, make the jump to F27. There's many good releases of Linux based operating systems available now. It's becoming difficult to differentiate one distribution from the other. But that's alright. Because if they're stable and they're secure, then we have no problem recommending any of the mainstream distributions to new Linux adoptees. Thankfully, Fedora is fast, secure and its development and funding is backed by Red Hat. Therefore, we place it towards the top of the Linux recommendations camp.
December 16, 2017 | Securing Windows 10 Doesn't Have to Cost You Money
Windows 10 is pretty impressive in its security, when compared to its predecessors. The firewall is resilient and stays out of the way whilst doing its job. And the default inclusion of Windows Defender is a nice security addition. Unfortunately, the Windows operating system platform does still suffer from being a prime target for hackers and virus writers. While it is possible to run Windows 10 without antivirus software, as many advanced users do, we don't recommend it unless you have serious knowledge and understanding of the underlying file system structure of Windows and the system registry and you're confident you can resolve any security issues that might infect the system while running naked. If you're not confident, then please install an antivirus program. Which one and how? Tecseek Technology is here to help.
Let us first start by saying that although there are some reputable commercial antivirus software packages available for purchase, many of them are extremely overpriced, overrated and bloated with unnecessary features that simply slow down your system and duplicate the same features already included within Windows and your web browsers. There are many free antivirus options available, but you need to be cautious about your choice. As with commercial packages for purchase, there are also some free options that you should avoid.
This article is not a round-up of all the free options available. There's plenty of those articles already on the internet. We're not going to flood the internet with even more of the same thing. Today, we're focusing on Kaspersky Free.
Kaspersky security software has been around for a very long time. But Kaspersky Free only emerged as an offering in 2017. Please note, it is offered for free on a non-commercial basis. Other than this limitation, there's not much that has been chopped from the free service. Kaspersky Free offers a full antivirus service which takes care of your operating system security, with additional security features which extend to files, web, instant messages and email. Independent third-party security testing demonstrates that Kaspersky holds its own when compared to its competition, consistently rating at the high end of the scale. Despite some allegations that Kaspersky has links to the Russian Government, the allegations have never been proven and remain just that - allegations. Therefore, we are not taking this into consideration with our recommendation.
The features that are not available in Kaspersky Free are extended application control, firewall, private browsing, webcam protection, anti-banner, network attack blocker, system watcher, anti-spam, application manager and a feature called safe money. Whilst these all sound like brilliant features, many of them are taken care of by features built-in to your web browser and the Windows operating system. The only missing piece which we recommend you need to pay attention to is malware protection. As good as Kaspersky Free is, there will be specific types of malware that will not be detected. This is common with antivirus services and by no means unique to Kaspersky Free. This is something that is easily resolved by installing Malwarebytes, which is also free. As with antivirus software packages, Malwarebytes offers a premium service. But we don't recommend you upgrade to any premium packages. The simple fact is if you are running Kaspersky Free plus Malwarebytes Free, combined with the existing Windows Firewall, Defender and the internal security features of Windows, then your system is going to be pretty difficult for viruses/malware to break. Albeit, not impossible.
With software and computer security, there is no such existing solution that will secure a system 100%. It's not technically feasible to demand 100% security. But installing the aforementioned services won't cost you a penny and is easily up to the task of keeping you and your system safe.
It's not just software that keeps you safe, it's also your own computer habits that you must pay attention to and improve in areas you know are failing. There are simply too many occasions where computer users start blaming their computer and its software for letting them down when things go pear shaped. But those that work within the computer security and service industry will tell you that in just about every case we review, it's the user that is at fault but is simply unwilling to accept the blame for their often unintentional and innocent stupidity. Stay away from pirated software and do not visit websites that you know to be a risk to your system, or have any possibility to pose a risk. There are so many free and open-source software choices now available for Windows (and Linux), there is no excuse for users to be running pirated software.
Upgrade your Windows operating system to Windows 10, patch your system with the latest updates, install Kaspersky Free plus Malwarebytes Free and you are sure to have one of the most secure home computer systems in your street.
October 20, 2017 | Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) Review
Before we delve into the release that is Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark), we need to make a disclaimer. The staff at Tecseek Technology have vast experience in testing and reviewing lots of different free and open-source software and Linux distributions - especially Ubuntu. If you search our website for previous Ubuntu reviews, you might notice there is a severe absence. What you will find available to read on the website is limited. Our limited coverage of Ubuntu is a result of a major data loss event that we experienced recently. The data loss was not the result of anything malicious, rather the sole result of our own malpractice through a combination of hardware failures and data migration between servers. Therefore, despite our vast experience in publishing reputable Ubuntu reviews, we are unable to present to you our previous efforts. We apologize and is disappointing for us. But we are looking forward to the future and taking this latest Ubuntu release as an opportunity for a reboot.
Now with that out of the way, let's get to work and get rebooted in an attempt to restore the faith our readers once had in our Ubuntu reviews, which were always very much anticipated upon release of a new Ubuntu version. Read on loyal minions.
Equal to Tecseek Technology using this release as an opportunity to reboot, the release of 17.10 is a fresh start for the popular distribution. It's the first release which utilizes the GNOME Shell as the default desktop environment. Ubuntu has decided to ditch the relatively unpopular Unity desktop in favor of the much better developed and supported GNOME Shell. It was a great decision, we believe, as we absolutely loathed Unity and thought it was just unworkable. And no matter how many additions, changes and tweaks Unity received, it just never quite felt like it was workable as a desktop for daily usage. So we're really happy that Ubuntu has adopted GNOME Shell. That is the biggest update for 17.10.
We will happily declare that we've always had a soft spot for Ubuntu. It really is the darling of Linux distributions that is well deserving of the love that it receives from the open-source community. We instantly fell in love with 17.10 from the moment we began testing the development builds. Visually, it's so fresh and appealing. We love the aesthetics - the background, GNOME Shell and the semi-transparent side-bar and top navigation bar.
We commenced testing 17.10 from the earliest of the daily builds. As development has progressed, we witnessed 17.10 evolve into one of the finest, most polished and reliable desktop Linux distributions available at this very moment. The world of Linux and the rapid progress of distribution development and releases makes it really hard to pin-point the ¿best' distribution at any point in time. If we were to choose one right now, Ubuntu 17.10 would undoubtedly be our first pick.
At the time we go to press, we are using a completely updated build of 17.10 with the latest packages running on GNOME Shell 3.26.1 and Linux kernel 4.13.0. To be honest, we're really surprised to find such a recent kernel in a Ubuntu release. Traditionally, the focus has been on stability and as a result of this focus, the sacrifice has usually been made to drop back a couple of kernel version numbers for something a little more proven. By choosing to use a very recent kernel version it doesn't mean there's any sacrifice in stability. We put 17.10 through some pretty keen testing and experienced nothing that could take points away from any such stability rating.
The only issue we can take with the default behavior of 17.10 is the window control buttons. The developers have chosen to move them back to the right. Yes, you read that correct! The decision for Ubuntu to move them to the left was taken way back in 2010. Although it was controversial at the time, the decision was made on the basis that it was more natural and also allowed for less mouse-drag due to application menus also usually being located on the left of an application's graphical interface. It all made sense, really. Since the move, we have actually adapted very well to having them on the left and find it very natural indeed. So natural that when we use a Windows-based system, we habitually move the mouse over to the left. But we quickly find ourselves flicking over to the right, because Windows likes to stick to tradition.
Well, seven years on from the initial decision by Ubuntu to move them to the left, tradition wins over innovation and they've moved back to the right. We could go ahead an write a ten thousand word essay on the advantages and disadvantages of the specific location of the window control buttons on an operating system. Yet at the end of the day, it's going to come down to personal choice and what feels natural for the user in front of the screen. To us, we're sticking with our declaration that the left feels more natural and still makes sense. Therefore, switching them back to the left was one of the first tweaks we performed upon fresh installation of 17.10. This was easily achieved by one simple command in the terminal console. An annoyance, for sure. But certainly not a problem to resolve.
We don't want to focus too much on what applications you'll find pre-installed. But rest assured that all the usual applications are present. There's enough to get you going right out-of-the-box. For those software applications and packages you like to use that are missing, they can obviously be quickly installed in the terminal console in just minutes, using APT.
There's everything to love and nothing to hate with 17.10. It's by far the most attractive Ubuntu release to date and the switch to GNOME Shell has made it even more enticing. Whereas distributions like OpenSUSE have previously beat Ubuntu out of the gates on aesthetics and final system polish, it's a very different story this round. It has the goods - popularity, great community support, aesthetics, stability and ease-of-use.
If someone was to ask us right this minute which Linux distribution is the best to install on the desktop, we would find it hard to recommend any other distribution other than Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark).
October 8, 2017 | CentOS 7.4 (1708) Review
We've taken a look at CentOS 7.4 (1708), which is the latest community supported Linux distribution backed by the commercial giant, Red Hat. In past months, we've looked in closer detail the releases of Fedora 26 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.4. Now it's time we take a quick look at the latest offering to badge the support of Red Hat.
Let's keep this simple - CentOS is basically RHEL, without commercial support through paid subscriptions. CentOS is based off the RHEL source code, however, it is supported through the efforts of the Linux development community.
Does it differentiate that much from RHEL? Not really. It performs well, is incredibly stable, very reliable and has fantastic support for an operating system intended to be installed in a small office environment or on enterprise systems that can be completely supported and managed under the guidance of a small to medium in-house IT department.
There's not much put into CentOS that sets it aside from RHEL. It's almost identical in every way with the exception of logos and branding. We gave it a quick run through using Oracle's VM VirtualBox software. It's stable and fast, yet still seems like an operating system limited in use. Whereas distributions like the more popular Ubuntu and Fedora have slightly more flexibility, CentOS feels like it should stick to its target market rather than thinking about mainstream wider adoption of Linux desktop users.
Don't misinterpret our opinion. The flexibility is there if you feel like doing some serious hacking and reconfiguration of the core CentOS components. But to be honest, we recommend you don't bother unless you're completely bored and have nothing better to do with your time.
The points we make should not be viewed as a negative reflection of CentOS. Absolutely the opposite. It's just set in its ways and fit for purpose, with no foreseeable benefits of trying to force it to do anything out of its comfort zone.
At the time of going to press, our test CentOS virtual machine contained the Linux kernel 3.10.0 and Bash 4.2.46. It also runs the GNOME Shell desktop environment that is basically identical to that of RHEL. CentOS also sticks with YUM and RPM, versions 3.4.3 and 4.11.3 for system package management, respectively. As does RHEL. Whilst Fedora opts for the more updated yet comparatively powerful DNF package management software.
If you are already managing a small fleet of desktop systems running CentOS, or perhaps a server or two, you will naturally make the upgrade. In fact, by the time you read this piece, you're probably already running it. If it's fresh deployment with pretty strict control that you're looking for, CentOS will have you covered. But if you're running a support team and want your system's users to have slightly more flexibility and control of what they do with their systems, then we would probably recommend sticking with Fedora Linux, perhaps accompanied with a server running CentOS. There's absolutely no reason you can't accompany the two into the same network and configuration. It will all be dependent on the software requirements of your enterprise users.
Before making any quick adoption, be sure CentOS is the right choice for you and your production environment.
August 21, 2017 | Distraction Free Typing, With FocusWriter
When we are entering text into a computer, we usually use a word processor of some kind. The boring old standard has always been Microsoft Word. Some users may even opt to use the much slimmed down version which is included in the Windows operating system, WordPad. Many features are missing from WordPad but it does have the very basics to get the job done. The most obvious omission would have to be the absence of a spell checker. If you want a better word processing package which does include all the features of Word but simply don't want to fork out the cash for the hideously expensive Microsoft Office suite, perhaps you might want to take a look at the free option of LibreOffice. It is a free office suite which does include a feature-complete word processor, but it's large in size, takes up a lot of disk space on your system and in the same sense as Microsoft Word contains probably much too many features that just are not required or even considered for use by the average user. Or maybe you're the type of person that simply doesn't like a cluttered interface and wants absolute distraction free typing, without sacrificing the most important features used in a word processor. There are some notepad-type software packages that capable of doing exactly this, but it's somewhat of a case of using the wrong tool for the wrong job, despite the fact that it does do the job. Well, the great news is that we can tell you that you no longer have to make sacrifices. There is a word processor that offers absolute distraction free typing and includes a nice set of features that make a word processor better equipped for the task, than just a notepad. Tecseek Technology introduces FocusWriter.
FocusWriter offers complete distraction free typing and word processing, offers an in-built spell checker and saves files in the OpenDocument (ODT), OpenDocument XML (FODT), RTF (RTF) and Plain Text (TXT) formats. Also included is the usual expected features of Cut/Copy/Paste, Bold/Italic/Underline, Alignment, Find/Replace and even a session manager. There are also a few added extras such as Daily Progress tool, Symbols and a Timing function. Sure, all these features are pretty standard stuff and don't really differentiate it from any other word processor. That is true. But there is one feature of FocusWriter that puts this package one above the rest. That is distraction free typing.
FocusWriter is developed using QT and uses a distraction free mode by default. There is a small range of styles and backgrounds in the preferences. But we reckon if you want absolute distraction free typing with an easy-on-the-eye screen mode, we recommend you settle for the "Old School" theme. It presents the user with a complete black background and on screen text is matrix green. The black/matrix green presentation offers the best combination for achieving distraction free typing and the matrix green text color is excellent enough to read both during the day and at night, without any kind of eye strain or squinting (unless you have some other eye condition you're unaware of).
Since we commenced using FocusWriter, we have been asking ourselves how can it be that we have survived so long without it. The perfect combination of just the right amount of features, brilliance of the distraction free typing with the carefully designed mouse gestures when you move the cursor to the screen edge all functions well and feels so natural.
If you find yourself getting frustrated with the bloated interface of your current word processor and want something that stays out of your way without sacrificing the most essential of features to get the job done, then please consider installing FocusWriter. We have installed FocusWriter on Ubuntu using the PPA provided. It is completely free and open-source and is available on all popular Linux platforms in addition to Microsoft Windows and Mac OS.
August 17, 2017 | Easily Check System Uptime on Microsoft Windows 10
To Linux system administrators, a task as simple as checking system uptime is quite simple. You just open up a terminal and enter:
The simply syntax is such a routine task, we doubt that anyone has even really given it a second thought. But what happens when you jump onto a Microsoft Windows operating system?
PowerShell (PS) has eased the burden of many daily tasks you might perform inside a Linux terminal console. However, as good as PS is, it's not the absolute lifesaver that Microsoft will try and market to you that it is. We take nothing away from PS. We use it here in the office in addition to Command Prompt and Clink. But oddly enough, a simple task like checking uptime still can't be done with the same amount of ease as what it's done in Linux.
Thankfully, there is a company that has recognized this relatively simple void, in the world of Windows and provided a simple executable binary that can do exactly what we need.
NeoSmart Technologies has just released Uptime v1.0. It's a simple binary file that you just save to the default home directory for the user in Windows 10. You can download the binary for free from the NeoSmart Technologies website.
Once you have downloaded the binary, save it to:
You simply need to open up Command Prompt or PowerShell, then enter the following syntax into your console, depending on which one you're running.
For Command Prompt, enter the following:
C:\Users\username uptime.exe -h
For PowerShell, enter the following:
PS C:\Users\username .\uptime.exe -h
Once you've executed the correct syntax, you will be presented with the uptime output of the Windows system you're using just as simply as what you would when using Linux.
August 14, 2017 | Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.4 Review
Red Hat have released their latest update to the company's enterprise Linux line-up. We set ourselves up to perform a full review of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.4. Although we're no strangers to RHEL, we must declare that this is the first time we ever set out to review the much respected enterprise-grade Linux operating system. It's a very different animal to tame from what we're used to here at Tecseek Technology. So we will happily admit, we had to move away from our tradition approach we take to Linux reviews and instead, rethink everything.
So what did we end up with as a result of our refreshed and rethought attitude? Read ahead and see.
When you work with software and Linux for the purpose of testing and reviews, you kind of get used to having the very latest in software source code and binary builds right at our fingertips. But then something strange happened. We unexpectedly got RHEL dumped on our desk for testing and review. The first thing we realized was the immediate need to wipe from our brains the usual expected results of what Linux kernel version is included in the build. The latest Red Hat update includes the longterm support branch Linux kernel 3.10.0-693.el7.x86_64, accompanied by Bash 4.2.46 as the default shell. Usually, we see the latest kernel branches included in the latest Linux distribution releases. But obviously RHEL is a very different beast and is primary focused on stability and support for enterprise systems. It is the very core of Red Hat's commercial business structure. So if you want a Red Hat endorsed Linux distribution that includes later Linux kernel(s), then you will have to look at Fedora Linux. The focus on stability is also visible when you take a look at Firefox, which opts for the Extended Support Release (ESR) branch. This guarantees support for extended periods of time. Much longer than what is provided by later builds of mainstream Firefox.
OK, enough of the garble. What how does RHEL perform as a daily Linux distribution? Let's look at it in a little closer detail.
RHEL has made the move to GNOME 3 and finally embraced the Shell by including a GNOME 3.22.3 desktop environment. Red Hat makes a surprise inclusion of the popular GNOME Tweak Tool. There are a bunch of extensions pre-loaded and enabled by default. These go some way as to make the GNOME 3 desktop in RHEL much more usable and friendly. It's labeled as GNOME Classic at the login screen and is the default environment. You can switch the full GNOME Shell to give the user a more complete GNOME experience, but we recommend sticking with GNOME Classic as the default login for RHEL. At the time of the announcement to move RHEL to GNOME 3, Red Hat was met with some criticism among some of the more dedicated Linux circles. Eventually, the change would have been inevitable due to support and development being dropped for the old GNOME 2 source code. The project was forked to eventually become MATE and is now a project primarily led by Linux Mint developers. But Red Hat decided it was in the best interest of RHEL to stick with the well supported GNOME desktop. They've made the necessary changes to make the transition as easy as possible, largely thanks to the inclusion of the GNOME Tweak Tool and the default changes Red Hat have shipped. It works very well and we see no obvious reason why anyone could have reason to complain about the desktop's behavior out-of-the-box. Although, we're sure there is some people out there in the darkness waiting to sit down at their desk in front of a shiny new workstation running RHEL, ready to complain about it. But we believe complaints are unjustified.
With an enterprise-grade operating system like RHEL that is focused on stability and support, you don't really see many new features. At least not visually. Although we do like the RHEL 7.4 wallpapers! RHEL does include a couple of features under-the-hood which grabbed our attention. Anaconda will now specifically wait for network connectivity to become available, in some installation environments. Previously, failed DHCP requests would result in Anaconda proceeding to installation. Now, system administrators can add the waitfornet=X syntax to the boot instructions. Where X is the set amount of seconds to wait before the installer continues on to a default installation. This neat addition eliminates the possibility of the installer unexpectedly proceeding before the network has been detected and an IP address assigned to the system. This is particularly useful on busy networks when detection of network connectivity and DCHP assignment might take slightly longer than what Anaconda expects. Another feature we like is a cool package called USBGuard, which is effectively a system protection tool that aims to protect the system in the event that an intrusive or unwanted USB device is attached. It functions on USB device attributes and according to a whitelist/blacklist determination to apply its system protection. Finally, more security enhancements have made their way into this release with updates included for OpenSSL, OpenSSH plus additional firewall changes for better system protection.
RHEL still uses YUM as the default tool for handling packaging and updates. It's interesting that Red Hat has not adapted DNF for RHEL, as they've deprecated YUM for Fedora Linux in favor of DNF. Although YUM is still included in RHEL, we feel that eventually it will be deprecated also, in favor of the newer DNF packaging tool. Regardless, YUM still gets the job done and is very fast. BtrFS will be deprecated in RHEL. It has previously included several technology preview releases, but Red Hat has decided that BtrFS will not be moved to a full supported version for RHEL and the popular filesystem will be deprecated in future versions. So if you're a system administrator planning on installing RHEL with BtrFS, then you might want to reconsider your options and requirements. If you're really keen on BtrFS, then you can still take up the options that CentOS and Fedora Linux offer as it is a brilliant filesystem which can hold its own against Oracle's ZFS and Microsoft's ReFS.
RHEL is only supported and updated by paid contract support by Red Hat. So if you go ahead and install RHEL without proper support contracts in effect, then don't be expecting to get updates filtered through to your system. You will also not be able to go ahead and install packages using YUM from inside RHEL. We bypassed the Red Hat subscription limitation (for testing purposes) by adding the CentOS repositories to RHEL. This is particularly useful if you want to add some software or additional packages to RHEL. But don't try updating the RHEL system using the CentOS repositories as it will essentially convert your system into a CentOS system. You will quickly see Red Hat logos and branding disappear and CentOS branding put in its place. If you want updates, then you will need to take a look at the community supported offering of CentOS. To summarize, CentOS is RHEL for the consumer, with financial backing and official endorsement by Red Hat.
As a side-note, we should mention Tecseek Technology will be taking a look at the new CentOS 7 (1708) release, which will be based on RHEL 7.4 source code. The update should be available by mid-September. We will take a look at it as soon as we get a build arrive on our desk.
In closing, RHEL 7.4 is a brilliant enterprise-grade Linux distribution. Red Hat have led the field in the area of subscription-based Linux for the enterprise sector, in addition to their massive development contributions through source code development and financial support to a whole range of Linux and open-source related projects. Canonical (Founded in 2004) has made significant advancements along the same lines, but don't seem to be able to grasp the same leverage that Red Hat has achieved on open-source software. But we need to mention the achievements Canonical have made on the brilliant quality release of Linux, that is Ubuntu. However, they have struggled slightly in the tight enterprise market. That's not an entirely fair summary though, as Red Hat has been around longer (Founded in 1993) and essentially had a head-start. But we really love Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4. And if you need fully supported Linux in the enterprise and business sector, then it's going to be a no-brainer to use Red Hat as your first choice.
August 5, 2017 | OpenSUSE Leap 42.3 Review
The first thing you might notice about OpenSUSE Leap 42.3 is that visually it appears to be almost identical to Leap 42.2. If you were to look at the two side-by-side on identical systems, you'd be forgiven for not being able to tell the difference between the two. It's only when you jump into a terminal console and have a poke around underneath is where you're able to go hunting for key differences. ie. Linux kernel version, Bash version. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not. It just makes it more difficult for us to differentiate the parts that stand out the most for presenting this Review. But we promise we will do our best in presenting the most honest Review we possibly can to our readers.
As always, we proceeded our testing by updating the system through SSH and PuTTY. With very few updates required to be downloaded and installed, we had a fully updated system within minutes of boot. We opted to stick with KDE for Leap 42.3. As you always like to point out, the installer has the option for KDE Plasma, GNOME or Server instances. The latter option will install a console system only, intended to be used for servers or the very keen Linux user who has not yet moved on from the days of old and into the world of the desktop GUI. Or there might users out there that just simply have no logical reason to be running Linux with a GUI. Whatever the reason for your installation choice, OpenSUSE has all bases covered.
What we absolutely love about OpenSUSE in general is the verbose power it gives the user. Essentially, the user can really own the system. There is so much information that can be gathered by the user, it's almost ridiculous. This is largely thanks to the software management tools provided. Two of the most important would have to be YaST and KInfocenter. Combined, they provide all the power, control and information about your system. Add in the System Monitor and you have absolute killer system feedback and technical information right at your fingertips. Still, we find the System Monitor referenced under the very peculiar entry of KSysGuard in the application menu. Yet, when you actually enter the application and view the developer credits and version information, everything refers to System Monitor. This should actually be changed in the application menu to more suitably refer to what it actually is, to avoid major confusion.
On the software side of things, it's business as usual. And by that, we mean OpenSUSE and KDE have everything covered. Firefox handles your web browsing needs, while Kmail has email under control. To complement Kmail, you also have KAddressbook, Kontact and KOrganizer. It's great to have all these options available for all these different packages, but we're beginning to wonder whether there's room for consolidation in OpenSUSE, starting with integrating some of these packages via a third-party developed wrapper program and into one office productivity suite. It seems a little overkill when you could simply install Thunderbird and have basically all of those features in one software application. Instead, we see OpenSUSE including 3-4 different applications to get your emails, contacts and appointments organized. However, this is where the KDE Plasma desktop takes over and one of its biggest assets really shines. It has an advantage over any other desktop environment - graphical integration. Even though many KDE-based applications are completely separate packages, they remain tightly integrated thanks to KDE Plasma's unique ability to make everything appear as one nicely integrated system. Clever. OpenSUSE is probably better known for its support and pushing of KDE Plasma more than any other Linux distributor. They deserve credit for it and for sticking with it for so many years. Because KDE Plasma is a very different beast and has gone in a different direction to where GNOME (and the now defunct Unity) have gone. Still, we think application consolidation would not be a bad thing to consider for future releases.
We'll mention a few miscellaneous packages too, for interests sake. GIMP is still included, which is great to see. Too many Linux distributions have dropped the inclusion of GIMP by default, simply due to its size bloating the final ISO size. But we believe it should be included in all mainstream distributions, as size limits are not really a problem in 2017 with the benefits of digital distribution and ISO size no longer being restricted to the CD-R size of ~700MB. It's a moot excuse and we reckon it deserves its place to be included by default.
Codecs have always been a sore spot for Linux users. We still have to install codecs post-installation and Leap 42.3 is no exception. All popular codecs are located inside the Packman Repositories. There is a brilliant website that you can visit called opensuse-community.org and it includes the One-Click Installer buttons which will handle the entire codec installation process for you. Yes, it is a pain in the rear-end that we still have to go installing codecs, but there's really no justification for complaint when the process is made so simple. Kudos to OpenSUSE Developers and the wider developer community for filling the void here and making it simple. Once codecs are installed, OpenSUSE has Amarok included for audio playback and Dragon Player for video playback. It's a bit of an unusual combination as personally, we don't like either application. We recommend a much more powerful combination of Qmmp for audio and VLC for video.
OpenSUSE Leap 42.3 is a great release. There's not really anything brand new and not really any groundbreaking new feature that makes the release a must have. It's an update to Leap 42.2, which was respectfully a brilliant release. It works flawlessly inside a virtual machine with full support for everything we threw at it, including display drivers which give us proper screen resolutions without the restrictions that we experience with some distributions. Additionally, you get even better performance on bare metal. With brilliant support for any environment, great performance and fine KDE polish, we recommend you consider it as your latest Linux installation.
August 5, 2017 | Fedora 26 Review
We are still licking our wounds from the horror and torture we experienced from Fedora 25. In what was originally intended to be a Tecseek Technology full review of Fedora 25 (F25), resulted in complete disaster and to the outside reader could be read as a rant. That would be a fair analysis. It was absolutely a rant and we feel we had every right to publish a rant, considering what a shoddy build F25 was. We are still scarred from it. If you wish to go back and read about our traumatic experience, feel free to do so before reading our thoughts on Fedora 26 (F26). Is there positive news ahead? Absolutely. F26 is a completely different experience - a positive experience. The new release restored our faith in the distribution and has some fine polish to boot.
We always refer to Fedora as one of the most finely polished Linux distributions available. Probably on par with OpenSUSE which never disappoints in the competitive arena of Linux polish. F26 reaffirms this common perception and its overall aesthetics don't disappoint. We adore the default background for the Workstation build. The optional stock wallpapers are always worthy of equal appreciation. We logged on to our test build by through SSH using PuTTY and updated the system to the latest packages. The build we tested after a quick update containing ~500MB of package updates, contained a Linux kernel 4.11.11. Having a deeper poke around the desktop and we found some nice added goodies, including a Clocks application accompanied with a World Clock, a selection of Timers and an Alarm clock. Similar to what you'd find on any typical cell phone device. We found it a pleasant application to use on the desktop. This was complemented by the equally neat Weather application. You can add different cities into the Weather application or use location-based detection if you roam around lots. We find location-based services pretty ordinary on laptop systems as location detection is usually sourced off your internet connection, which if you're paying attention is more often than not, never actually where you are physically located. Effectively, this will produce weather feedback that may not be so relevant to your actual current location. Instead, we prefer to manually enter our locations of weather interest. To finish off what we would describe as the smart desktop, we recommend you take a look at the Maps and Contacts applications too.
The Workstation build is solid and we experienced nothing to complain about. The improvements that we've experienced in F26 compared to its predecessor are vast and impressive. Regardless of desktop environment of choice, we prefer dark themes. Unfortunately, there's no global dark theme option inside F26. So we installed the trusty GNOME Tweak Tool and enabled the global dark theme. While we were at it, we also changed the windows controls buttons to display Maximize and Minimize buttons. By default, the GNOME desktop shipped with F26 only displays a Close button for your windows. We find the absence of the Maximize/Minimize control buttons very annoying and unnatural. We were quick to reinstate them. The fix is rather simple if their absence annoys you too. For a little extra desktop juiciness, we added a Places button to the GNOME desktop panel. It makes the task of opening your files much quicker and it will have positive productivity results if you're a heavy graphical file manager user. One last recommendation is to install PCManFM and change it to the default graphical file manager. We hate the default Nautilus/Files application. It resembles nothing of the power that Nautilus once provided to the user and PCManFM goes some way to restoring the user that lost power. Or you can go full console file manager and install Midnight Commander (mc).
The rest of the GNOME desktop on the F26 Workstation release is pretty much GNOME standard, with the usual feast of Firefox for internet, Evolution for email and LibreOffice to take care of your daily paperwork requirements. The inclusion of Evolution is interesting. We prefer Thunderbird for email, however we can easily adapt to Evolution if needed. But if you really want to install Thunderbird, you can easily do so along with removing Evolution in the process. Overall, there is a nice blend of applications and if installed in the workplace, everything is there to get your day started. If there's anything that we would declare a must, post-installation, it would be the installation of the aforementioned GNOME Tweak Tool. Those few little extra tweaks it enables makes the GNOME desktop feel that little more complete and consumer ready. We like Fedora 26 and believe that if you're looking to install Linux fresh, then out of all the mainstream distributions available, this would be our recommendation.
July 29, 2017 | Atari Still Teasing Us With Ataribox Details
When Atari first hinted at new Atari-branded gaming hardware, through the release of its first teaser video, there was hysteria among internet users, gamers and older Atari fans.
The promotional teaser didn't show much at all, really. There is no mention of hardware type, specifications or what device was actually in the release pipeline from the legendary technology company. It was essentially a camera panning over a very traditional Atari design of ribbed finished plastic and also elements of its traditional wood grain finish. We learned very little from the teaser video. The video was released to simply achieve what it did - tease our Atari senses and give us the sudden feeling of wanting more Atari goodness in our fingers.
Tecseek Technology has been on the watch for any new information that may hint at some kind of detail about what Atari is planning to release. We suspect that it will be PC based hardware. We have not yet received much information from Atari other than a press email which recently arrived in our inbox.
We know it is currently being called the Ataribox. Whether this is the final name of the device or whether it will be changed when final release approaches, we do not know. The press email did show an image of a design of the Ataribox. Whether this image is the final design was not confirmed, but Atari are claiming that the design aims to stay true to the company's heritage and should please both old and new Atari fans. Based on the images we've seen, we think it looks good and we are so damn excited.
The Ataribox is sticking with the traditional ribbed design and contains specific design elements which pay homage to the original Atari consoles which made the company so famous. Also, there are intentions to release two different designs - wood and a black/red edition.
We have a basic understanding of the possible design of the Ataribox, but what kind of hardware are we likely to see inside? Well according to the press email we received, the unit will contain HDMI output, USB connectivity and SD memory I/O. There is no more information yet confirmed by Atari on internal hardware specifications or what operating system the device will run. Sony Playstation actually runs a BSD-based operating system whilst Microsoft Xbox is running a modified Windows platform. We watch with a keen eye to see whether the Ataribox gets a Linux-based operating system. Alternatively, Atari may very well choose to go down the same path as Sony and opt for a modified BSD-based platform.
The company states that any further technical details will be released as more information can be made public over the course of the duration of development. But Atari did confirm that the unit will deliver Atari gaming classics as well as new game content. In what kind of form the gaming experience will be delivered, remains a mystery.
As expected, there's absolutely no information about any expected pricing for the eventual Ataribox unit, games or accessories. Understandably, it's just way too early to even consider what price bracket the Ataribox will slip into. But the company does claim that they are listening to community input, reactions and social media feedback which hopefully, will be reflected in the final unit's design and content delivery.
We eagerly await for more information and specifications for the Ataribox. Tecseek Technology will publish more details as it arrives in our inbox.
July 6, 2017 | Google News Gutted Beyond Use
Google News has been one of the company's services that has seemingly remained untouched for many years. It wasn't a major problem, as the functionality was all there. Google News is and remains a very popular service provided by this behemoth of a company, Google which remains under its parent company Alphabet Inc., and is primarily developed around the core function of internet search. The News service collated and aggregated news from a variety of sources chosen by the user. Or if the user was not logged in or using custom settings for their own choice of news sources, Google would simply present the user with a selection of news from sources chosen by them. Essentially, this is done by Google's very advanced computer algorithms.
News was brilliant. It was often underestimated just how good it was and how useful it could be to news nerds and even those who work in the media and publishing industry. It would be safe to say that it was probably most likely a little underappreciated as well. Google knew this and undoubtedly it would have been taken into consideration when the News service recently received its first interface overhaul in many years.
Interestingly, there was very little excitement when Google recently upgraded the appearance of News accompanied by some additional functionality changes. Google will tout the changes are actually improvements. We absolutely dispute any comments from Google to suggest the changes are any kind of improvement. If that's what the changes were genuinely intended to be.
There has been a major loss of functionality and despite the Google News Team's blog post about the update touting that the company want to give the user more control, this is somewhat a little overstated as we have noticed a significant amount of reduced functionality since the introduction of the latest round of updates. Settings we used to be able to change and tweak to our liking have now been removed. Settings that were once easy to find have now been skinned alive and streamlined into a more simplified configuration interface and a more narrow choice of configuration options.
Google News has effectively been gutted.
The changes have also removed several news and weather sections which were very useful, based on the location set and locations detected. Now, it attempts to provide news and weather based on detected location rather than what you have set. We tried changing this setting inside the configuration options to no avail. It insisted on providing us with news based on the location of Perth. Our office is based on the Gold Coast in the State of Queensland. If our readers are unfamiliar with the country of Australia, then we can tell you our country is large. The Gold Coast is on the east coast of the nation, Perth is on the west coast. Therefore, news provided for Perth has absolutely no relevance to us. And neither does the weather for Perth.
We feel this is either a major oversight by News developers or a major bug which made it way into the update roll out. Or just a downright stupid decision. Whatever the explanation, Google needs to fix this to regain any kind of credibility to its News service.
News has been an important part of our office information gathering process. We operate in a shared office environment and news is sourced from a variety of online services, sources and wires. Google News provided us with a vital platform for news and information gathering and offered the great aggregation platform that we have required to get the news and facts in the one place, to be able to present our readers the content that we publish at Tecseek Technology. Now, we can't help but feel that we have been ripped off of all the progress and ease-of-use that News offered. All the advantages and gains that it has provided for news aggregation and all the giant leaps forward that News provided have now been lost - due to a simple yet effective update rolled out by Google.
As a result of the latest flawed updates, we have decided there is simply too much functionality lost and the reduction of user control required for the service to meet our need is no longer present. Whilst our office still uses Google for our email services, we have officially dropped Google News as our news aggregation platform.
Our decision to drop it was not taken lightly and has been more of a frustration. Google News was a vital service and it's very disappointing that Google did not roll out the updates whilst still allowing the user to have the same level of effective control over their news content, as before. Usually, we embrace changes by Google as their changes are usually useful, necessary and genuinely provide efficiency improvements. Sadly, Google has let down their users on this occasion. For us, it has let us down so much that we made the decision to drop the service altogether.
June 19, 2017 | Debian 9.0.0 (Stretch) Review
Debian 9.0.0 (Stretch) has made its way into public hands. Tecseek Technology has taken a look at the release. We usually find Debian releases to be quite boring. Yes, it's a brilliant base to provide other distribution developers a platform to build upon. Notably, Ubuntu being one of our favorites. But Debian in its raw form feels quite lacklustre. The release of Stretch is no different.
Don't be put off by our rather pessimistic perspective. It's a finely polished product, there is no doubt on that. Yet it just feels so naked. Installation is fast and matches that of more popular mainstream distributions. Red Hat's Fedora distribution is probably the first that comes to our minds when we think of fast installation. Debian comes in at a close second. Installation is easy and very efficient. But it's the follow-up configuration which will consume most of your time and hold most of your attention. You still need to make a quick change to the APT configuration file to get updates working post-installation. And we still find that display drivers are limited in Debian which resulted in us having a very limited display resolution. This has always been a major point of frustration for us with Debian. This release has that same frustration.
Overall, it's a stable release with no major problems that we can determine. There are some obvious niggles though. Lack of proper support for display drivers is one. LibreOffice launcher is present in the XFCE Application Menu is two. We find this quite strange considering that LibreOffice is not even installed in Stretch, by default. XFCE is the only graphical desktop environment offered in the default graphical installation. If you were to be a little more crafty with your installation method, you could easily enable some online repositories and pull in a new desktop environment for installation. But we took the lazy option and just installed with XFCE.
If you want a stable Linux distribution which commands your attention for customization, then you will enjoy Debian 9.0.0 (Stretch). It does demand your attention. But if you prefer a more complete Linux distribution where everything is installed for you and you don't have to spend too much time adding a whole bunch of software post-installation, then we recommend looking at one of the big four mainstream distributions as it's most likely what you're seeking for desktop Linux. Debian on the server is where it really shines. Perhaps not so much on the desktop.
March 1, 2017 | Is Facebook Killing Snapchat One App at a Time?
In its early beginnings, Snapchat was a unique kind of app. I guess you could say it was 'revolutionary', although we do despise using that term which has become so synonymous when used in relation to Apple. At the time Snapchat was developed, it took some time to find its feet for mainstream adoption. However, it had the advantage that there was nothing comparable.
The giants of social media, Facebook and Twitter, were still observers to what kind of threat Snapchat could possibly pose to their market share dominance. It was not until late 2012 heading into 2013 that Snapchat began to really gain traction and a 'following'. Then in the years that followed right up until present, Snapchat (deservedly) forged its way into the category of mainstream apps and that friendly little yellow Snap icon would be found on many smartphones, sitting next to the icons of Facebook and Twitter that you now find on most people's smartphones.
Facebook is long considered the behemoth of social media, closely followed by Twitter. Google+ is worthy of a mention with its various attempts at breaking into the sector. But let's be realistic - Google+ has failed to make any significant impact on the user base of Facebook and Twitter. But we're certainly not stating that Google+ is a bad service. Because it is not. It's important to understand that Facebook and Twitter both have different market focus and are constantly evolving to adapt to consumer demand for new services. While Twitter was a bit more complacent and didn't feel the same level of market threat from Snapchat, Facebook was feeling the heat or perhaps could see the potential of Snapchat if its development path was drastically overhauled.
It was late 2013 when the Wall Street Journal reported that Snapchat had turned down an acquisition offer from Facebook, of US $3 billion. Reports from various news agencies began to fluctuate the final offer figure and we witnessed reports of Facebook offering amounts between $1 billion to $3.5 billion. Despite the unconfirmed final figure of Facebook's offer, it proved what many analysts were thinking - Facebook was feeling threatened. Fast forward to late 2016 to right now and take a look at the feature set that Facebook has launched across the company's portfolio. FB Messenger, Instagram and the most recent update to WhatsApp have all had features included which blatantly copy the features and functions of Snapchat. Carbon copy!
This much can not be denied. It has been a major kick in the guts for Snapchat and despite the company still increasing its user base (statistics from 2016 report on average 150-160 million daily users) questions must be asked about how much longer the company can keep increasing its user base under the current software's design and feature set which on its current development path, seems limited in scope. Snapchat is limited in functionality. Its core functions remain the base of the product and everything is kind of built around this core. This is evident by its user interface and navigation gestures.
Snapchat has been criticized many times for its complicated navigation and lack of instructions of how to use it, for new users. Admittedly, it can be a little strange to navigate at times as it departs from what most people would consider normal navigation and gestures. It is sometimes much too difficult to discover how to perform the simplest of tasks and is an issue that the development team are yet to figure out how to overcome or improve.
Facebook is full steam ahead with its all-out assault on Snapchat. But it's not just the feature copying that Facebook is rolling out across its software, it's the tweaks it adds to these features which makes it work. Sometimes, we find that you can achieve the same (often much better) results using these 'Snapchat-like' or 'Story' implementations in FB Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp than what would otherwise prove very cumbersome and slow using Snapchat. Keeping all of the above in mind, combined with the market power of Facebook, its ability to make life difficult for its rivals and powerful access to developer resources, you can't help but wonder how much longer Snapchat can resist the competition in this relatively niche arena of social media.
When you have the world's most powerful social media company attacking your product, software and features and rolling it out across their entire software portfolio - it's in your face and can't be ignored. If you're working at Snapchat you have to begin to wonder whether your employer has a long-term future in Silicon Valley or whether the white flags will soon be raised.
We don't know. Where Snapchat has felt stale, Facebook has felt innovative. Snapchat developers need to seriously innovate their product and find new ways to stay relevant. The ever changing trends of social media habits and consumer loyalty will ultimately decide the future of whether Snapchat maintains its relevance in an ever increasingly challenging industry that is social media. From what we are seeing, there are dark clouds gathering on the horizon.
February 16, 2017 | Install Spotify on Linux
Linux users seem to be the last of priority for most software makers releasing their products for our beloved operating system. There is no technical reason behind the lack of priority given to Linux users. In many ways, our operating system is much more advanced than others. It's a simple fact that Linux is still not yet considered mainstream, or popular. Thankfully, although Spotify who run Linux don't experience quite the same amount of support that Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android users might enjoy, we are grateful the company does at least provide a Linux client package for Spotify.
The packages provided for Linux are supportive for Debian and Ubuntu installations only. So if you head to the downloads page hoping to find a RPM package file, then you're going to be bitterly disappointed.
To install the Spotify client in Linux, you need to use the following instructions carefully.
First, we need to install the Spotify repository including the verification key. You can do this by entering the following command inside a terminal console:
$ sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com:80 --recv-keys
The verification key has now been configured.
Now we just need to add the repository:
$ echo deb http://repository.spotify.com stable non-free
$ sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/spotify.list
Now the repository has been added, we simply need to update our repositories and then we can proceed to install the Spotify client. Update with the following command:
$ sudo apt-get update
Now we proceed to install Spotify for Linux:
$ sudo apt-get install spotify-client
Spotify client has now been installed successfully. To run the client, it should now be found inside your desktop application menu, or you can simply type the following into a terminal:
February 12, 2017 | Time to Dump Insecure Windows XP, For Secure Linux!
We are still shocked to hear stories of people running Microsoft Windows XP as their operating system. Support, security patches and all other updates for the operating system ceased way back in 2014. Since then, we've seen Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and the latest update which has also categorically become Microsoft's flagship software, Windows 10.
If you have missed out on the many free upgrade offers that Microsoft were throwing out for bait to boost your system to Windows 10, or you simply have an older system that will not run Windows 10 as good as what it runs Windows XP, then Tecseek Technology has the solution for you.
We recommend you install a very light version of Ubuntu Linux, called Lubuntu. It's a very lightweight version of the popular Ubuntu Linux operating system. Once installed, you will find it a nice simple replacement for your aging Windows XP system. That old clunky system will feel new once again.
Most software you use on a daily basis is already installed in Lubuntu, leaving you very little to do post-install. We still recommend you perform a simple update which does not take long and then you will be running a brand new operating system which is completely updated and secure, leaving Windows XP in the history books of Microsoft.
We believe Windows XP was a very good operating system, which is why it was one of the most popular of all Windows operating systems in the company's history (at the time of writing). But its time is up and we see absolutely no sense in continuing to condone the use of or support users who are still running this outdated and now very insecure software. Continuing to run Windows XP through ignorance or laziness to upgrade is the equivalent of running down the street with a terrorist flag hanging on your shoulders and cops yelling, "Let's get him". Yes, XP has become nothing more than a target for hackers looking for easy prey.
If we still haven't convinced you to ditch Windows XP, we seriously urge you to reconsider. Before you go ahead and install Lubuntu as your Windows XP replacement, please ensure that you backup all of your personal files and data onto an external hard disk or other means of external storage. When you backup all your data, double check you have everything off your drive that you want saved, because the installation of Lubuntu will completely wipe the entire drive. Also, please ensure that you unplug the backup storage device from the system before you install Lubuntu. While technically you can leave it plugged in, we recommend you remove it to avoid any drive conflicts or confusion when installing Lubuntu.
Once Lubuntu has been installed, you can then re-plug the external drive back in and copy your personal files and any other data onto the new Lubuntu system.
We hope we have convinced you to install Lubuntu operating system as a replacement for your old Microsoft Windows XP system. You can now plug in your external media that you backed up your Windows personal files on and now copy them onto the new Lubuntu system.
Linux is very secure and very simple to use. Lubuntu is the best choice for older systems as it is very lightweight on resources and is very simple to use. Even for beginners!
January 9, 2017 | NES Classic Hacked, Regenerated Interest in Retro Gaming
We believe Nintendo may have underestimated the extent of its fans and the potential of hackers and the lengths that they will go to, to get what they want, when it released the NES Classic Edition console.
The small console is a modern adaption of the much loved console of the 1980's and which spawned a trend that continued on well into the 1990's with the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or more commonly referred to as SNES. The NES Classic Edition has a limited selection of games pre-installed, for the retro enjoyment of a great gaming era for Nintendo.
Although Nintendo fans seemed super happy with the release of the neat little console, there was still a certain amount of discontent among gaming circles that it was locked down by not allowing users to modify the system to play custom ROMS and adding more functionality to this charming little beast of a box.
ROMS remain illegal in most countries, yet peculiarly remain really popular among retro gamers and are enjoyed by many by using software emulators. Just this week, news broke out that the NES Classic Edition had been hacked and users were able to play custom ROMS that are uploaded to the device by USB.
As we go to press, the news is spreading, technical information and instructions are being thrown around like rapid fire. Equally, information is changing in detail at the same rapid pace as more bugs are posted and improvements being applied.
Based on the information Tecseek Technology has read, the process is quite complicated. And unless you're technically advanced and skilled in this area, we advise that you leave this one alone. Or at least until the process becomes more streamlined and hacking methods simplified.
From our understanding, the process involves booting the Linux-based operating system that powers the console into a special mode known as FEL mode. It then requires you to inject ROM files into the device and make certain configuration changes for authentication. Warning are clear - there is a very real possibility of bricking the device if the process is not performed correctly. If you're not feeling confident, then we again strongly suggest that you avoid attempting it. You have been warned!
Nintendo has always had a loyal following. This is proven throughout the history of the company. The company has been written off many times by gaming industry analysts. Yet somehow, Nintendo seems to reinvent itself time and time again, whilst making significant dents in the gaming industry in the process. Its loyal following is also backed up by the many fan created and maintained websites and the myriad of software emulators available on all computing platforms. Many of these emulators are capable of playing the original games flawlessly, on modern computer hardware and modern gaming controllers which can have their keys mapped accordingly through the emulator.
If tried and tested is what you like, then we recommend checking out one of the popular emulators. If you want to get your hands dirty, then by all means, go ahead and try hacking the NES Classic Edition. But you must consider the risks of bricking the device and making it unusable. There's also the legal question - you most likely will be breaking the law. As a publishing organization, we can't condone illegal activity. However, we advise that you make your own judgment of what is illegal and what is ethically acceptable and who will really be at harm by your actions. One thing remains certain - interest in retro gaming remains strong and interest in Nintendo never ceases to surprise us. Even in the era of gaming of the 1980's and 90's that you thought was long dead, has been revived once again.
December 5, 2016 | Fedora 25 Released - Look Down and Keep Walking
The past few months have seen the latest updates to the big three mainstream Linux distributions of Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and now Fedora 25. This will be the last Linux distribution that we will be taking a look at for 2016. But Tecseek Technology plans to check out many more as part of our publications for 2017. Briefly looking ahead into next year we will be attempting to keep up with all the mainstream Linux releases, as well as taking a look at some of the more not so mainstream and obscure releases that probably don't really get the attention that they deserve. There is some incredible Linux development work going on out there in the wild, much of it goes unnoticed. We feel more recognition needs to be given to the third-party and sometimes 'better' options that are available. But bringing us back to the present, let's take a look at what we have right in front of us right now - Fedora 25 or simply referred to as F25.
We have taken a look at the default GNOME release and the XFCE release. Both of which are technically the same, yet just running a different desktop environment. As is always the case with Fedora, we see some of the most recent software and packages included. Not quite as bleeding edge as Fedora's Rawhide release, but still pretty on the edge regardless.
Fedora 25 follows on this tradition with a Linux kernel 4.8.6 on a fresh installation. Desktop environments we tested were GNOME 3.22.1 and XFCE 4.12. GNOME was just the usual offering provided by Fedora, nothing to really market that differs from any other release. We found GNOME performance slightly disappointing. There was obvious lag and in desktop use the responsiveness was just not up to par with the GNOME desktop components that make up OpenSUSE 42.2 Leap. We tried XFCE to find that performance improved a lot. This much should be obvious though, as it is a much lighter desktop environment than its GNOME counter-part.
We are going to sidetrack for a second and put it out there that we are finding XFCE to be a little boring. There's no innovation and development versions have stagnated. We understand it aims to provide a fast flexible setup, yet the same can be said from the GNOME 2 fork, now known as MATE. Despite MATE aiming to remain a lightweight alternative the developers have still managed to keep its desktop innovative and constantly updated. It's sad to see XFCE sitting out in the cold, freezing a slow death. We don't mean to sound so negative, as it's not all bad news as the project is not dead. But we would like to see some real attention and innovation get put into this once reputable package in the very near future. Otherwise, we feel its uptake will remain limited and only decrease over time and becoming a desktop that will be used by only a very niche bunch of users.
All of this is no reflection on F25, however we feel that considering we did test the XFCE version of F25, it is worth mentioning to those of you that might consider following our test path. Your desktop will remainpretty ordinary and looking a little dated, to say the least. However, you have that edge of speed to boast about. That's something.
Installation runs just fine. Nothing has really changed from previous version of Anaconda and installation was completed quite quickly. We still maintain that Fedora remains one of the most consistently fast full Linux distributions to install, that we regularly test anyway.
Post-installation, we were greeted with the usual Fedora screen that we were kind of expecting. Nothing fancy, just a desktop waiting for the user to do something. Unfortunately, things went downhill for us from this point. We immediately updated both F25 test systems using DNF at the terminal console level. Download of the updates proceeded just fine and the packages seemed to install without any indicative issues. Everything seemed to go as planned and routine, really.
Then when we attempted to reboot into the updated Linux kernel 4.8.10, we were greeted with a no-boot black screen. Nothing. Our system was dead. Initially, we thought it might be the updated kernel and thought something had gone awry during its update. So we attempted to boot back into the original 4.8.6 kernel which we knew worked prior to our update. Sadly, we entered the same no-boot black screen.
This is alarming and equally alarming when the recovery console can not be reached either. That system was absolutely useless and inaccessible in its current state.
We proceeded to try the same process on our F25 system running XFCE. We updated our fresh install using DNF and rebooted into the new kernel. Success. The XFCE system had no problems and would successfully boot into either kernel.
Out of pure determination and part-effort to discover where the root cause of the problem was, we proceeded to setup a new GNOME system from scratch. We went through the entire procedure again then updated the system using DNF. Upon reboot into the updated kernel, we were able to replicate the same no-boot black screen. Nothing had changed. It confirms that our issues were not one off instances, can easily be replicated and proves that there is an update in there somewhere which is affecting all installed kernels, making them unbootable and spreading across the entire system. This is serious and should not go ignored.
To throw a third scenario into the mix, we upgraded an existing and fully updated and functioning Fedora 24 system. The upgrade was simple and fast. It was all too easy. So easy that we don't really have anything more to say about it. All settings and configurations of the pre-existing user accounts was maintained and all packages were updated to the latest 25 core. Extra points for the effort put into making system upgrades so easy between build versions.
F25 is a pretty disappointing release with equally disappointing performance. Fedora loyalists will most likely find themselves upgrading out of simple routine and eventual requirement to do so. However, if you're looking for something fresh for a new system, then we recommend you take a look at OpenSUSE 42.2 Leap instead.
OpenSUSE is much more stable and much more predictable. Installing and running F25 feels like walking a Linux tightrope with no safety net. We found ourselves literally holding our breath way too many times, just hoping that what we were doing would work. If it did work, could it be done a second time with the same result? Sadly, we were let down on too many occasions and in a big way. We are just not confident enough to be recommending this release to anyone as there is just much better options available without the stress you will most likely endure with F25. We were really impressed with F23 and 24. But absolutely not impressed with F25. It resembles that awkward experience of approaching someone you know but don't like in the shopping mall, when you see them you deliberately look the other way and pretend you never seen them at all. When you see Fedora 25 coming your way, best to look the other way and keep walking.
November 11, 2016 | Linux Mint is Safe and Secure
There seems a certain amount of paranoia that has ensued since the revelation of the hacking of Linux Mint servers, which resulted in specific ISO images of the operating system being replaced with hacked versions which contained a backdoor.
If you're part of the Linux paranoia group that I speak of, then please limit your paranoia to yourself as it goes unjustified.
The paranoia has spawned from over-hyped media reports on the hacking and the circulation of the ISOs which contain the backdoor. It's important to understand that this kind of illegitimate web activity occurs all the time and it is not limited in case. Most of the time going unreported or deliberately not publicly revealed.
The team at Linux Mint did all the right things and immediately shut down its website, with the exception of its Blog which was used to notify its users of what had occurred. The team and developers were completely transparent of all details at all times. To the best of our understanding, the team knew what exactly had occurred, when it occurred, what specific ISOs were affected and where the backdoor was located in the ISO filesystem.
The team needs to be commended for its quick action, notification to users and its efforts of transparency. Attacks against Linux Mint, its operating system and spreading false rumors about the quality of the operating system and the project's team members are completely unjustified and outright unfair for the amount of hardwork and effort that goes into developing and producing this high-quality Linux release.
Staff at Tecseek Technology have witnessed Linux advocates publicly stating that they will "never use" or recommend Linux Mint anymore, as a result of the hack. The negative comments continue, with claims being made that the operating system is "no longer safe to use". But it doesn't stop there, with more concerning comments being made by Linux users saying they will never use a "Ubuntu-based" Linux again. Finally, at the extreme end of the scale and some of the more silly comments stating that Linux interest and potential uptake as a whole will "suffer" as a result of the hack, thanks to Linux Mint.
Let us be clear and put the whole scenario into its true perspective. Linux Mint is perfectly safe to download, install and use. The hacking of the project's servers has now been resolved and all images have been verified via MD5 signature verification methods, deemed safe and have not been tampered with in any way. Any information being spread that does not conform to the true facts can be misleading and verges on conspiracy theory and should be ignored.
I am a seasoned Linux user myself (Editor) - a veteran some might say. I can personally assure people that Linux Mint is perfectly safe. It is a top-quality Linux operating system based on Ubuntu, which also remains top-quality.
Linux advocates need to understand the core facts of the situation, move on and continue to do what we do best - advocate for free and open-source software and Linux. We can not let events like this deter us from our advocacy. Instead, we need to understand what occurred, how it occurred, what can be done to prevent this from occurring in the future and make efforts to assist the Linux eco-system in achieving our goals rather than putting our tails between our legs and running scared yelling "Linux has been hacked. It's not safe to use.".
Such comments and statements are simply false, reckless and unjustified.
November 9, 2016 | Brief Introduction to Sed
There is a really neat software package that is very powerful, yet so many *nix users are still unaware of its existence. It's called sed.
sed was developed by a Computer Scientist named Lee E. McMahon, who worked for Bell Labs from 1963-89, with most technologists knowing him for his work on early versions of Unix. McMahon has made contributions to a range of open-source software projects, notably grep and sed. He passed away in 1989.
sed is described as a stream editor and has been touted as a somewhat successor to grep and were both developed in the same year of 1974. However, it remains true that despite being over 40 years old, both are still being used and maintained, today. sed is written in the C programming language.
sed has been referenced as an early inspiration for the scripting programming language, Perl. This reference comes from its ability of using / for pattern matching and s/// for substitution. This was not original to sed and instead was a feature of ed, a line editor developed several years earlier in the late 1960s.
When AWK was developed several years later and when combined with the powerful functions of sed, the software for advanced text processing via the console became widely adopted in the field of computer science. sed has been developed further by the additions it received by GNU sed. There is also super-sed which adds Perl compatible regular expressions. Interestingly, there exists a reverse engineered version called minised, which was originally the work of Eric S. Raymond. He no longer maintains the package, yet it is still maintained by other developers. minised was a simplified form of sed and used by the GNU Project, until a more feature-rich version could be developed by GNU developers. Despite its lack of features, it was said to be very fast and memory resource friendly. minised is used with Minix.
sed is a powerful editor and processor which perform many advanced functions that are still unmatched by other software. Many other software developers have aimed to achieve many of the same functions that is achieved by sed. This has resulted in a multitude of small packages for text and string processing at console level, each with a specific focus on their intended usage. The advanced abilities and raw power at the fingertips of *nix users, thanks to sed, are often what makes people overlook it in favor of more simpler packages which are sometimes much easier to use due to smaller focus on a particular task.
Sometimes an important feature that can be overlooked by sed, is its scripting ability. Using sed scripting can often be a nice way to simplify advanced syntax. As an example, you can write a simple sed script in the same way you would a regular Bash or Perl script, starting with:
Then just save the file with a suitable file name:
Then the sed script can easily be executed directly, by running it from the console.
If you haven't got around to trying out sed, then install it onto your system and try it out now. It can be used as an advanced, versatile yet flexible string editor and also a powerful scripting package. The more I've been using sed, the more I have realized its raw power underneath and what it has the potential to unleash, with just a few simple lines of code. Its power and complicated simplicity (does that make sense?) pays tribute to how this small piece of software has survived for 40+ years. If you're a *nix developer, then having sed installed on your system is an absolute must.
November 9, 2016 | Compile CipherShed on Linux
Anyone interested in cyber security should be ready to learn about CipherShed, the next big thing in on-the-fly data encryption. This open-source disk encryption program is available across almost all major operating system platforms (Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux and even DragonFly BSD). However, it's important to mention that as of today, CipherShed still doesn't have a compiled Linux binary package for installation. On the other hand, seeing as this platform is still technically under development, chances are that it will become available in the near future. According to StatCounter for June 2016, Windows has more users than all the rest combined several times over. But in this guide, we will mostly focus on Linux users.
The program itself is quite promising in both its efficiency and user friendliness, so it probably won't be long until it becomes industry standard. With this in mind, here are a few guidelines on how to successfully set up this program, as well as use it with maximum efficiency.
Even though we've already mentioned this, CipherShed is an open-source program, which means that anyone can study, tinker or distribute it for any purpose [within the provisions of its distributed license]. It's also free, both as in free-of-charge and free speech. All you need to do in order to download the file is go to www.ciphershed.org and then click on the link to the latest release of the program.
Builds for Linux and Mac OS are still unavailable, which means that the users of these platforms will have to find a way to compile it on their own. Also, 64bit editions of Windows Vista (in some rare cases, even 32bit) don't allow this program to run without an appropriate certificate, which CipherShed unfortunately doesn't possess. It's also important to mention that CipherShed is compatible with Ubuntu, Debian and many other similar derivatives. This includes: Peppermint, Linux Lite, Deepin, Kwheezy, Crunchbang, SparkyLinux, Linux Mint, Pinguy OS, Elementary OS and last but not the least, important LXLE.
The installation on any of these platforms is pretty much the same. The most unfortunate thing about Linux setup is that it has to be compiled directly from source code. The first thing you will need to do in order to get started is to secure the pinentry dependencies. Luckily, this is not that difficult and all you need to do is download gtk2 packages. You can easily install them by running this command in a terminal console:
$ sudo apt-get install build-essential libwxgtk2.8-dev nasm pkg-config git wx2.8-headers libwxbase2.8-dev
libfuse-dev libfuse2 libgtk2.0-dev
After this is set up and done, you need to download the CipherShed Git source code, which you can do by typing in the following:
$ cd ~/
$ sudo git clone https://github.com/CipherShed/CipherShed.git
Next, you need to find a way to compile CipherShed and you can do it by using following command:
$ cd CipherShed/src
$ LIBS=\"-ldl\" make
After you have all of this covered, you might also want to ensure easier use, which can be done with a simple symlink:
$ sudo ln -sf ~/CipherShed/src/Main/ciphershed /usr/bin/ciphershed
In the end, if you eventually decide to remove the program from your computer, all you need to type:
$ sudo rm -r ~/CipherShed /usr/bin/ciphershed
After you have it installed, to start CipherShed you just need to open the terminal console, type in its name and press ENTER. It's that simple!
The next thing you will want to learn is how to create and use CipherShed containers and this part is extremely simple (at least when compared to the installation). All you have to do is follow these few simple steps.
When the program opens, you first need to click on the Create Volume button or the button "C" on your keyboard. After this, enter the Volume Creation Wizard, where you need to choose where you want the volume to be created and then click on the Next button. You will also have the option of creating a standard or hidden volume you can choose from and, when the choice is made, all you need to do is click Next, again. Now, the wizard will present you with the option to Select File and then navigate towards the file you want encrypted. Here you will also have the opportunity to name the file. Next, you will be asked to choose the encryption algorithm; if you are not familiar with what they offer, the safest choice would be to opt for AES. In the next section of the process, you will be asked several questions regarding the volume size, the password and the volume format. After this is done, the volume will be successfully created.
In order to access the files you have encrypted, all you need to do is mount them and enter the password in the prompt window.
As you can see, encryption alone is no more complicated than with any other similar program. Even though Linux users still don't have the convenience of a compiled package for installation, going through a bit more trouble to compile the file and install it from the source is always worth it. According to most users of CipherShed, this program is a worthy successor of long since abandoned but never forgotten TrueCrypt, which was actually very much respected among cryptologists as one of the best encryption tools available and was used to encrypt the original leaked documents from former NSA Contractor, Edward Snowden.
September 28, 2016 | Firefox - The Power Under the Hood
If there's one thing that nerds love, it's statistics and streams of verbose output. The verbose part is probably more familiar with the Unix and Linux fellow among the crowd. There's a certain amount of unexplained mystique about verbose output that makes us feel almighty and powerful. It makes us feel in control. It gives us full understanding of what exactly is happening at that moment, often in real-time. Then we get to probably the most boring part of any modern desktop computer - the web browser. Let's admit it, when it comes to web browsers they're not exactly the most exciting and rich generator which seeds nerd conversation. Google Chrome users (and Chromium) are blessed with its built-in Task Manager. Whilst Firefox has a high amount of users, it also has a slightly incorrect and unfair reputation as being the browser that doesn't have a built-in Task Manager like Chrome, therefore it is not as powerful. Well, we disagree to a certain extent. Firefox is much more powerful and verbose than what people realize. The problem is, it is just made a little more difficult to find its included juicy goodness. But we've done the hard work for you, dug deep inside and found the inner sanctum of Firefox's workings. And because we're a friendly bunch here in the office, we're going to share our findings with our readers. Read ahead to find out more.
The first thing to learn about some of Firefox's advanced features under the hood is the about:config utility. It gives you access to all the customization options that change the default behavior of Firefox. But be very aware, inside contains much power to improve your browsing experience, but it has equal power to absolutely mess your configuration to a point of non-function. So please take care and do not tinker with anything unless you're absolutely 100% certain about what it affects.
This utility will provide you with a detailed summary and output of Firefox's memory usage. Be warned that the output given in this utility is extremely complex and confusing. Anyone short of being in possession of a masters degree in computer science will most likely fail to understand a majority of the verbose given here. But it basically allows for verbose reporting on memory usage of Firefox. We could see this being mightily useful for Firefox Developers when debugging new builds, as the memory information gathered and reported by this utility is truly staggering.
This utility actually requires the installation of a small add-on. Once installed, you simply enter the command in the navigation bar. It allows the user to view memory usage of installed add-ons. You can View, Disable and even Uninstall add-ons. It can be useful to see what add-ons are actually using (and in some cases, hogging) all your memory. According to the official add-ons page on the Mozilla website, it is described as experimental. Although we can confirm that it is solid and working just fine, despite the negative comments from some users who seem to have experienced some issues. We have no complaints and recommend you give it a shot as it's a nice complement to the default set of built-in utilities.
The performance utility is a useful tool that provides simple, yet focused feedback about the performance of installed add-ons and open web pages. The performance feature can be very useful when Firefox slows down and you wish to pinpoint the culprit of which add-on is causing the unexpected slowdown. Sometimes it can be a misbehaving extension or a website you have open inside Firefox. This tool allows you to disable the extension causing the slowdown or other problem or Close/Reload the Tab which is controlling the website causing you grief. Firefox used to be notorious for memory leaks and unexplained random slow-downs. Recent builds have improved greatly, but it does still happen on occasion. This utility could be your savior if it happens to you.
Last and probably the most important utility under the hood is the Firefox Health Report. It's the built-in tool which is used to measure and display Firefox browser statistics of performance and stability, recorded and generated over the browsers lifetime. The statistics provided can be useful for analysis and data feedback. Or in the case of developers, essential for debugging. The statistics gathered are also shared with Mozilla Firefox developers, which provides essential feedback on user performance and stability. The data is shared with Mozilla by default, but if you're privacy conscious data sharing for Health Report can be disabled. Other useful data reported is your Firefox build version number and update channel. Also, the number of extensions and plugins installed.
From the perspective of a software developer, we still have criticism aimed towards both browsers. We need an option to launch Chrome/Chromium and Firefox from the command-line with a verbose argument. There are limited options for this at current and we'd like to see more attention paid to this in future builds. We understand Chrome/Chromium is a little better and has some option for launching with verbose logging, but Firefox has nothing that we are aware of. If you know of a way to do this, then we'd love to hear from you. Shoot us an email and let us know.
Armed with the above information and knowledge we have been able to provide you today, hopefully you now understand that Firefox is just as powerful as Chrome/Chromium, when it comes to browser statistics and data reporting for analysis. Have a poke around and see what you find useful. You may even surprise yourself and be hypnotized by how interesting verbose output and data statistics reporting by your boring old web browser that you thought done nothing but load Google.
August 8, 2016 | Silicon Safe Device - Can it be Trusted as Safe?
In 2014-2015, we witnessed a large amount of database hacks which eventuated in the release of many personal details being dumped onto the internet. The scary thing about the hacks is their frequency is increasing and to see such massive scale hacks becoming all too common. We must not be complacent.
It seems that British company Silicon Safe may have developed the answer that the database security sector may be searching for, with the development of a new security device which stores passwords in a separate encrypted hardware box, off the main network.
In theory, the concept sounds great. How it functions in practice will really prove whether the device is up to the task of keeping client data safe and away from increasingly advanced hackers.
Silicon Safe company Founders, Dr. Will Harwood and Roger Gross in a recent interview with BBC stated that the concept came from an "academic exercise", as they were unsatisfied with existing database security technology and stated that current technology was increasingly "proving ineffective\, according to Dr. Harwood. The concept proved itself in a controlled academic environment, so it was decided to take the idea to a commercial venture.
The device is built-up from the hardware level. The device does not run an operating system like computers, rather the underlying software that runs the device is hard-coded into the hardware chip itself - firmware. According to Dr. Harwood, this eliminates the potential for the device to be affected from traditional software bugs and security holes. The Founders of Silicon Safe claim that their method of hard-coding the operating system into the hardware chip makes the device impossible to crack, using commonly used hacking methods.
The key to the device's security is its small hard-coded operating system, which was developed in approximately 10,000 lines of source code. The source code used in traditional software methods of storing secure passwords in database format exceed this by far. Silicon Safe claim that this gives the device an advantage over traditional database methods because the code focuses on only one task - securing the data. There is no log-in credentials required and also no way to log-in using a common username/password method via a web-interface and the system has no display output or graphical interface. Tecseek Technology has been unable to get information on the exact hardware specifications as they are kept secret.
Dr. Harwood claims that hackers can not access the device via the internet and only once they have physical access to the device, could they begin to even attempt to gain access. Therefore, extra security features were added to prevent this. Dr. Harwood details that after four attempts at unauthorized access, the device notifies the system administrator.
At a hefty price tag of $100,000, Silicon Safe is certainly not targeting the small-business end of the market or the general consumer. The target market will be financial and enterprise sector. With such a large price tag, we remain somewhat skeptical that the device will appeal to even that end of the market. Especially when large firms remain confident enough that their data is already secure, using traditional software and hardware methods. Although we do like the concept and hope it spawns a new open-source variety based on the concept of external encrypted hardware devices kept off main networks.
Nevertheless, we do hope that Silicon Safe find a market. The concept is great and gives an entire new meaning to data and password security. The company states that the device fits in with current server rack technology and infrastructure, including ease-of-integration with existing network technology with very few changes required.
Silicon Safe has been trialled at some large UK companies, including a financial institution and a telecommunications firm. But it seems we are not the only skeptics of the device's capabilities to secure data and passwords. According to the BBC, Professor Alan Woodward of the University of Surrey went as far as claiming that the way the device functions will make IT departments in large firms lazy. Professor Woodward went on to state that he believes system administrators should know and understand what they are doing and using a closed-device such as the Silicon Safe, which is engineered by one person and where the administrators don't completely understand the technical details and operations of the device, is not recommended and can therefore not be classified as secure. Tecseek Technology is concerned that according to the Silicon Safe website, Ashley Madison is one of the company's clients. We must point out that the Ashley Madison hack was one of the largest database hacks to eventuate in 2015, with many gigabytes of database and personal details dumped onto the internet. Below the Ashley Madison (and other company logos), the tagline proudly touts "Companies that may have benefited from Silicon:SAFE's Password Protect". The key-word in the tagline is "may have".
Ashley Madison did not benefit from Silicon Safe. It's somewhat of a false claim, on the company's website. This is a concern and we urge caution towards trusting this device.
Despite the skepticism expressed from Tecseek Technology and others, Silicon Safe is out to prove its worth as the company holds a "hacker challenge". The challenge was to access 100 encrypted passwords held inside the device. Silicon Safe states that over 2.5 millions hacking attempts have been made, yet not a single attempt has been able to crack the device and access the encrypted data.
July 19, 2016 | Taking Better Screenshots in Ubuntu
It was just two days ago that we seen a post on social media from popular Ubuntu website, OMGUbuntu, demonstrating a useful piece of software which makes taking screenshots and uploading them to the internet much more automated and hassle-free.
It is called Imgur-Screenshot. As Tecseek Technology is involved with lots of technology and software, taking screenshots is a daily task which can sometimes be a little cumbersome. So anything that makes the task a little more easier through automation and less user-interaction, is naturally going to grab our attention.
Upon visiting the website, we were was presented with an interesting piece which described what Imgur-Screenshot was and how it worked. Today, Tecseek Technology is taking a closer look and to give you a quick demonstration of what it can do to help you make taking screenshots and uploading them to the internet much easier.
It's important to understand that the entire package runs from the included shell script. Imgur-Screenshot is open-source, licensed under The MIT License and can be downloaded from GitHub. Once you have downloaded the package archive, you simply need to extract it to your /home directory.
It does require a couple of dependencies to run properly. These can easily be installed on Ubuntu using your terminal console using the following command:
$ sudo apt-get install curl grep libnotify-bin scrot xclip
The dependencies you have installed are very small and should only take under one minute to download and install. Once complete, navigate to the img-screenshot-master directory. Our suggestion was to put it into your /home directory, however we have chosen to place it in /home/Desktop.
We need to give the script permission to execute. This can be done by simply entering the following command:
chmod +x imgur-screenshot.sh
Now we are ready to use Imgur-Screenshot. When you run the script, you will get a mouse cursor which allows you to select the section of the screen that you wish to capture. Once you have captured your selection, the script will automatically perform the following actions for you:
Capture > Upload to Imgur > Produce URL > Copy URL to clipboard > Open image in browser
The best thing about the script is the fact it's open-source and developers have the freedom to modify the script to their own preferences, in accordance to The MIT License. It's a simple shell script, so modifications are as easy as opening the script file in your favorite code editor and making the necessary changes to customize it to your own preferences.
We took the time to add some custom aliases to our Bash configuration file. We use scrot for some screenshot capturing, yet we'll be using Imgur-Screenshot for other capturing. It really just depends what you want to do with eventual image that is captured. However, aliases will not suit everyone and we encourage you to add your own aliases based on how you capture and use your own screenshots. You have all the freedom in the world to modify the software and its actions and how it is executed to function. It's open-source and completely free. Enjoy it, embrace it and take full advantage of it to customize it and perhaps learn something new in the process.
January 27, 2016 | Visual Studio on Linux, Now a Reality
Linux users are truly blessed with the sheer amount of code editors that we have at our disposal for our programming and coding requirements. But we all have our favorites and tend to stick with the same packages for our work. Or a dedicated collection of packages, at the very least. There was a time when I did use Microsoft Windows for software development. When you're using Windows as your software development environment, you're most likely familiar with Visual Studio. You might even use it yourself!
Many years ago, I migrated to Linux. At the time, I was forced to depart from my beloved Visual Studio package in favor of free and open-source alternatives. After many attempts of many different editors I settled for Emacs. These days, I still use and prefer Emacs and is definitely one software application that I have open on my desktop almost all the time, on a daily basis. It's my go-to tool of choice. Although I remain content with Emacs, accompanied by a selection of other applications, there is a place in my programming heart that will always have a soft-spot for Visual Studio.
So as a Linux programmer, what options do we have for a viable Visual Studio alternative? Up until December 2015 we didn't have much choice. There were options to explore for running Visual Studio through Wine, but all methods remained tedious and resulted in poor application performance. Let's be honest, it could not be taken serious. Times have changed. We now have a native Visual Studio application for Linux, called Visual Studio Code. Does it fill the void we've experienced for so many years? Let's find out.
If you're looking for a full-featured Visual Studio package on Linux, then Visual Studio Code is not for you. It is not what it's designed to be. If you want a more full-featured package, then you will probably be better off taking a look at something like Geany or Atom. Both of which we recommend as good code editors and development environments. Visual Studio Code is designed to be a minimal code editor which has just enough features to get the job completed, yet stay out of your way. It's a perfect blend and absolutely achieves exactly this.
There is limited syntax-highlighting, syntax detection for the most common used programming languages and split screen code editing.
Heavy coding inside Visual Studio Code is an absolute breeze and it's not hard to find yourself wired in to those long sessions that go deep into the hours of the night, usually accompanied by piles of junk food and a nice collection of red bull cans.
Digging a little deeper into the menus and you will find yourself a few extra goodies. Your usual suspects of Cut/Copy/Paste and Find/Find in Files options are all present. No grand surprises here. There is also Zoom options to make your code bigger. I guess this might only be a feature for the vision impaired. But if your eye-sight is good, you're probably not going to be using this feature. But extras points given for the accessibility options.
You can use the Full Screen option to make Visual Studio Code consume your entire screen real estsate. This can also be activated by pressing F11, which is a common key-binding found in many software programs for this feature. And then the same key to deactivate and return to normal window mode.
The color scheme of the interface is completely customizable to suit you own retina. Light or dark themes can be applied as default. I found the Dark (default color theme) the most suited for my eyes throughout day and night editing sessions. This will be personal preference and will differ for everyone. Simply choose one that works for you and allows you to work for extended periods of time without eye strain or having to squint your eyes from too much screen glare due to white eye burn.
There are a bunch of keyboard shortcuts which can be customized. But I will be honest here, I am not a massive user of keyboard shortcuts. So this was of little value to me. Some programmers love shortcuts and is literally built into their coding habits and work-flow. Those users will love the option to customize the shortcuts in Visual Studio Code.
I find the most useful feature in Visual Studio Code is split screen editing. You can literally open two different files at once and work on them simultaneously in the editor. This is also available in most other editors already. But it's great that Visual Studio Code has decided to also include the feature too.
A little known feature that you could be forgiven for overlooking is the Developer Tools. At first it can be a little confusing to use and unless you're editing HTML files inside Visual Studio Code, you will not find this feature all that useful. Loading up some HTML files made the Developer Tools very handy. It is similar to what you will find in Chrome and Firefox web browsers. Basically, if you're a HTML or web developer, you will appreciate these extra little goodies.
Visual Studio Code does not have an automated installer at the moment. The package can be simply downloaded, extracted and run from its own directory. This might sound difficult, but it's not. For this Review I was using Linux Mint and decided to get a little more crafty and extracted it to a directory inside the ~/ directory and then added a custom launcher icon on both my Desktop and Panel. Therefore, I can launch Visual Studio Code just like any other package installed on my system.
Visual Studio Code has it all. I had no problem with editing inside the application at anytime. It is a nice addition to my already crowded list of source code editing programs. The fact remains, I have started using Visual Studio Code equal to my use of Emacs. That has got to count for something. It tells me that it must be good. If an Editor can hold its own up to a package like Emacs, then it's worthy of maintaining its place on anyone's hard drive.
January 16, 2016 | A Positive Open-Source Vision for Microsoft?
While the announcement of releasing the code to was one major surprise coming from Microsoft, there was another announcement which surprised some software developers even more - plans for porting ChakraCore to Linux are in the pipeline. In its current form, ChakraCore can be compiled with relative ease for Windows 7 SP1 or above using Visual Studio 2013/2015, providing that C++ support is installed. Microsoft has gone one step further by calling on the development community for help and suggestions on what platforms they would like ChakraCore developed for.
A clear priority for the road-map is to get the engine developed to function natively on Linux, we see no reason that the same can not be achieved for Android. Developing ChakraCore for iOS is probably forward thinking a little too far. At least a development build supported by Microsoft. However now the code is out in the wild and released under the MIT License there is no genuine reason that no one in the open-source software development community can not develop the engine for Apple devices. Even if we were to witness a build solely for Android devices, it would be a major step towards entering a wider world in the mobile device margin and away from the somewhat niche market of Windows Mobile that Microsoft currently enjoys.
Under the leadership of its relatively new CEO, Satya Nadella, Microsoft has really changed their view of open-source and freedom in software and embraced Linux. The latest decision to release the source code of ChakraCore displays Microsoft's genuine intention to not only support free software, but specifically free and open-source software development. Releasing even small amounts of code or projects is its contribution.
Microsoft is no stranger to the open-source community and it has previously been recognized for making many code contributions to the Linux kernel, both officially as a company and through the work of its employees developing in their free time away from the office. Then in 2015 Microsoft embraced Ubuntu Linux as a platform, revealing that the company uses the operating system to function many parts of its cloud and networking software, simply because it made sense to use existing open-source software which could easily be tailored to their needs rather than developing and maintaining their own from scratch. This also has the added benefit of getting patches and updates provided by the open-source community and eliminating costs of maintaining their own proprietary, in-house developed software. Additionally, Microsoft now offers many different Linux distributions as virtual machine options on its Azure cloud service. According to official Microsoft sources, the Azure service supports CentOS, CoreOS, Debian, Oracle Linux, RHEL, SUSE Linux Enterprise, OpenSUSE and Ubuntu.
Reflecting on a recent article published to ZDNet, there is an apparent common perception among Linux and the common open-source users that Microsoft is evil and has no interest in free and open-source software. At some point in the company's history we're not going to deny the perception has some truth to it. The company vision under the guidance of former CEO Steve Ballmer could only be described as narrow-minded and dark. It was clear the company was heading in the wrong direction. It was clear for a very long time, yet Ballmer seemed determined to continue on its dark and misguided path. This was reinforced when the company replaced Ballmer in favor of Satya Nadella. The change in company vision was stark and was quickly embraced. The company's evil past has mostly been left in the shadows and with a new focus, vision and embrace of Linux and free and open-source software.
Whilst we would not go as far as to say Microsoft is going to open-source its Windows operating system anytime in the foreseeable future, releasing one service at a time and embracing open-source software and giving its development a small boost by occasionally releasing code can only be a good thing for the development community, with added benefits of increased interoperability between all software across all platforms.
May 12, 2016 | Global | CloudFlare Failing to Support Net Neutrality and Improve Tor Access
CloudFlare has got the company into a position where it has a major influence on internet accessibility of certain websites. This is primarily evident for users of Tor Browser. The service has a major customer base of both independent and major owned and operated websites.
There are options and steps that website administrators can take which essentially make access to their website(s) much easier for users of Tor Browser, instead of hiding behind CloudFlare walls which force users to painstakingly attempt to gain access by toggling through reCAPTCHA. Too many times, web administrators do not make the necessary changes required to allow Tor Browser users easy access, as non-Tor users.
Change Movement Initiative would like to make it clear that although the primary responsibility lies with website administrators, CloudFlare also have a key responsibility to ensure their customers know of options to make access for Tor Browser users easier and to ensure free passage for internet access to these websites for everyone, whilst ensuring that the websites remain protected from DoS attacks using CloudFlare's technology and as intended.
We are calling on CloudFlare to continue to evaluate and explore options that the company can take to make its service cater better for all internet users and assist in the promotion of freedom of information flow which result in improvements towards net neutrality.
CloudFlare should take a leading role in the internet accessibility stakes, specifically for users of Tor Browser. The current limitations and roadblocks placed on Tor users is unacceptable and Change Movement Initiative believes that there is much more room for improvements to be made on behalf of CloudFlare and its services.
We are dedicated to advocating and promoting net neutrality. Current practices which CloudFlare implement do not follow the basic principles which enable for true net neutrality and freedom of the internet. Some could make the argument that the company's service is assisting towards promoting a form of internet censorship.
Change Movement Initiative has not contacted CloudFlare about our concerns, but clearly the issues are reaching the company as on March 30, 2016, a post appeared on the company's Blog, making claim that 94% of Tor traffic that flows through CloudFlare's network is "malicious". The company claims the source of the research data was gathered from network usage statistics from their service. Change Movement Initiative has concerns as to the accuracy and validity of the statistic of 94% and suggests it to be inflated to some extent. Our own organization intends to contact CloudFlare directly in response to these claimed statistics and ask for a release of documentation to support the claim.
The Tor Project made their concerns public by publishing their response the following day in a Blog post on March 31, 2016. The claimed statistic of 94% of Tor traffic flowing through CloudFlare to be "malicious", also raised the alarm bells inside the project's members. The Tor Project has also called for CloudFlare to explain how it arrived at this inflated figure.
Change Movement Initiative intends to contact and work with The Tor Project through advocating that CloudFlare continue to make improvements to its service, to make access to websites hiding behind the company's security walls easier for Tor Browser users and to strive for improved measures which aim to support the basic principles of net neutrality.
Update: Since the original publication of this article, Change Movement Initiative contacted both CloudFlare and The Tor Project. Despite repeated emails and us being bounced around to differentemail addresses within the company, CloudFlare was not willing to respond to our concerns and refused to comment. The Tor Project was more positive and did respond to our concerns and expressed a genuine appreciation for the efforts of Change Movement Initiative to press this issue.
March 28, 2016 | Global | Tor Usage in Public Libraries
In a ever connected world, user privacy has become essential to the protection of not only the private details of internet users, but equally as important is internet usage habits.
There is a global push towards increasing the level of privacy for internet users through increased use of encryption. We view the use of the internet no different and there are methods you can use to protect your privacy on the internet. Primarily, you can protect yourself and remain anonymous by using Tor Browser, which encrypts web traffic and routes it via The Onion Router (Tor) network.
A traditional safe-haven for people to go to use the internet is through using public computers in city libraries. Although city libraries offer quiet environments without the immediate threat of spooks looking over your shoulder, there are still remaining privacy concerns for people who use these public systems.
The level of security implemented for these public access systems will vary greatly from city-to-city and library-to-library. There is no unified rule of law that governs these public access systems in libraries. We certainly don't believe there should be. However, we do believe that much more could be done to go one step further in assisting users to protect their privacy and usage habits on library computers.
Change Movement Initiative believes that the tools to provide the security to achieve protection and anonymity already exist, with the Tor Browser Bundle. It is available for free, allowing anyone to download it and connect to Tor, securely and anonymously.
Unfortunately, there are still many public library computer systems which run old, outdated, insecure internet browsers which are often very controlled in their ability to browse the internet and in too many cases do not provide any form of security and anonymity to the user. This leaves users with very little choice to protect themselves in libraries.
We will seek to push our global agenda for libraries to implement and offer access to Tor Browser.
Change Movement Initiative will advocate Tor Browser to be made readily available for access to anyone using public library computers for internet access. We also encourage more resource friendly libraries who have the ability to run a Tor Relay, to do so. But at minimum, Tor Browser should be an option made available in all libraries in an effort to help protect the identity, usage habits and privacy of its user. This should also be accompanied by educational informational on Tor network and the Tor Browser, which details in basic and easily-understandable technical jargon what Tor is and how it works to protect the privacy of its users and allows users to remain anonymous on the network, through encryption.
February 23, 2016 | United States of America | Apple Fight For Encryption and Against Backdoors
February 16, 2016, Apple released a Statement which enforced the company's position on the request put forth by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The legal filing from the FBI compels Apple to cooperate in-full with the investigation into the San Bernadino terrorist shooter. Specifically, the request was made in relation to breaking into the iPhone smartphone device that was retrieved by law enforcement authorities.
The request implies that Apple are to develop a version of its operating system that runs on iPhone devices, with an intentional backdoor built-in, which would possibly allow Apple and the FBI to bypass or break the encryption and access the iPhone's data.
Change Movement Initiative supports the position taken by Apple and believes that if any custom developed operating system or its source code were to leak from the company and end up in the 'wrong hands', the overall effects would be detrimental to Apple's security of its smartphone devices and encryption.
We also believe the FBI request is part of a wider legal game which could, if proved successful, potentially see a flood of other US law enforcement agencies making legal filings against technology companies to develop methods (backdoors) of breaking and bypassing encryption.
This has a global effect on the rights to data privacy of customers of these devices and Change Movement Initiative condemns such action taken by any law enforcement authority in the USA and abroad.
Change Movement Initiative supports encryption and maintains that data privacy remains a key element of the civil liberties of all citizens of all countries.
To date (Feb 24, 2016), Apple has maintained its strong position against the legal filing and has not yet responded.