The Southeast Asian nation is serving up harsh penalties, including fines and prison time, to people who post “propaganda against the state” on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites.
November 29, 2013
HANOI — Vietnam has intensified a crackdown on online dissent with a new decree that threatens fines of several thousand dollars for anybody criticising the government on Facebook.
The legislation, which will come into force in January, looks set to further narrow the space for online expression in a country already branded an “enemy of the Internet” by Reporters Without Borders.
“A fine of up to $4,760 will be applied to anyone producing propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” according to a copy of “decree 174″ posted on a government website.
Undermining national unity, “distorting historical facts” and writing comments on Facebook that “hurt the nation” have all also become administrative offences punishable by a sliding scale of fines.
Serious criticism of the government is already a criminal offence punishable by jail time under a slew of vaguely worded national security laws that have been heavily criticised by rights groups.
The new legislation appears to be an administrative means of punishing Facebook postings that may fall short of meeting requirements for criminal prosecution.
It applies both to individual Facebook users and organisations and enterprises providing social network (services),” according to the decree.
Fines will be lower for individual users.
Facebook — which has some 22 million active users in Vietnam, according to industry figures — is the most popular social networking site in the country, despite being periodically blocked.
The new decree, which was signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in mid November, follows the introduction of another sweeping new law — decree 72 — which came into force in September and criminalises the sharing of news on Facebook.
The government has given no clear indication of how either decree will be implemented and to date it appears no one has been prosecuted under decree 72.
Vietnam’s communist government bans private media and all newspapers and television channels are state-run.
Many citizens use social media and blogs to get news and other information rather than rely on the tightly controlled official press.
The country has repeatedly attempted to crackdown on the rise of online discussions and dissent.
In October, activist Dinh Nhat Uy, 30, received a 15 month suspended prison sentence for “abusing democratic freedoms” through his Facebook posts.
This was apparently the first time Facebook has been specifically mentioned in a Vietnamese criminal indictment.
Agence France-Presse · Thursday, November 28, 2013
President Obama at “DreamWorks.” The problem is that his dream never created jobs, wealth and prosperity for the vast majority of Americans and Obamacare actually hurt the middle class in a huge way….
US President Barack Obama speaks on the economy at DreamWorks Animation in Glendale, California, on November 26, 2013 (AFP, Jewel Samad)
By Daniel Henninger
The Wall Street Journal
The ObamaCare train wreck is plowing through the White House in super slow-mo on screens everywhere, splintering reputations and presidential approval ratings. Audiences watch popeyed as Democrats in distress like Senators Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor decide whether to cling to the driverless train or jump toward the tall weeds. The heartless compilers of the Washington Post/ABC poll asked people to pick a head-to-head matchup now between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Mitt won. This is the most amazing spectacle of mayhem and meltdown anyone has seen in politics since Watergate.
No question, it’s tough on Barack Obama. But what about the rest of us? For many Americans, the Obama leadership meltdown began five years ago.
In fall 2008, the U.S. suffered its worst financial crisis since the Depression. That wasn’t Barack Obama’s fault. But five years on, in the fall of 2013, the country’s economy is still sick.
Unemployed middle-aged men look in the mirror and see someone who may never work again. Young married couples who should be on the way up are living in their parents’ basement. Many young black men (official unemployment rate 28%; unofficial rate off the charts) have no prospect of work.
Washington these days kvetches a lot about what Healthcare.gov is doing to the Obama “legacy.” Far worse than ObamaCare, though, is that the 44th president in his second term presides over a great nation that is punching so far below its weight that large swaths of its people have lost heart.
For five years, news stories have chronicled the social and economic deterioration in America of people with no jobs or weak jobs.
Here’s a headline over a Gallup report: “In U.S. Fewer Believe ‘Plenty of Opportunity’ to Get Ahead.”
Two from The Wall Street Journal recently: “Parents Serving as Emergency Support for Adult Kids,” and “Workers Stay Put, Curbing Jobs Engine.”
On Tuesday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development put out a report saying the U.S. has become a threat to global recovery. The OECD ratcheted down growth estimates almost everywhere for the rest of this year. For the euro-zone nations: -0.4%; for “emerging” India it’s down to 3%; South Korea: 2.7%.
As to the U.S., the OECD says growth for the rest of the year will fall back to 1.7%. That is about the average rate of U.S. economic growth for the entire Obama presidency.
Barack Obama is not the original cause of so much economic misfortune. He didn’t create an advanced U.S. economy in which the highest income returns flow to math geeks who snag jobs at Facebook and Google while average people wonder what hit them. The shift away from traditional manufacturing began before he was organizing anyone back in Chicago. And yes, Mr. Obama has talked of the plight of “middle-class folks” from the first days of his presidency. But what has his presidency done for them? What is there to show for all the talk?
In February 2009, he got $831 billion of stimulus spending. Not even seismographs can detect the results. Every speech he outputs about “middle-class folks” offers them the same solutions: more public spending on education, on public infrastructure projects and, even now, on alternative energy. As he tirelessly repeats what remain promises, the Labor Department’s monthly unemployment-rate announcement on Friday mornings has become a day of dread.
A normal post-recession growth rate of at least 4% would have made it possible for Mr. Obama and his progressive allies to chase virtually any pie-in-the-sky policy they wanted. Instead, the U.S. has fallen far off its normal 3.3% growth rate.
A U.S. president, faced with such devastating labor-market problems and persistently weak growth, should do anything—anything—that will give the American workplace more lift. Instead, he’s willing to entertain just one idea: more federal spending.
You know the theory here: Spend a public dollar and you get $1.50 of economic output. It hasn’t happened, but Barack Obama is gonna crank his old Keynesian Multiplier, created during the 1930s in the era of the Hupmobile, until it sputters to life.
Ponder, though, a partial list of the public-policy decisions that have flowed steadily out of the Obama administration and directly into a job-starved U.S. economy:
The no-decision on the Keystone XL pipeline and its union jobs; the 2,000-page regulatory law draped in 2010 across the entire financial sector; the shutdown in 2010 and then the slow-walking of offshore oil drilling; siccing the EPA on the utilities industry and the National Labor Relations Board on all industry; a 2010 FCC decision to regulate Internet growth; a significant tax increase this year; support this month for jacking up the federal minimum wage to over $10, certain to smother new jobs; the Justice Department’s $13 billion looting of J.P. Morgan bank; and of course Hurricane ObamaCare.
Barack Obama has the U.S. economy on lockdown. It’s the worst thing this president has done. American resilience, and elections, mean it won’t stay this way forever. But for a lot of poor and middle-class folks, living with mom in the basement is getting old.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Three women attending the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina wear Obama T-shirts stating, “He saved our jobs.” But the vast majority of the jobs created during the Obama presidency have been “t-shirt jobs” for the lower income levels just getting by on the minimum wage, not jobs that contribute to national wealth and prosperity, polls have shown. (Mladen Antonov/AFP)
Facebook removes a video clip of a woman being decapitated and issues new rules about what can be shared on the site, Google launches Project Shield which it says can help protect news organisations and human rights groups from cyber attacks and Apple, Microsoft and Nokia release new devices.
BBC Click’s Dan Simmons reports.
By Barton Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani
The Washington Post
Published: October 14, 2013
During a single day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers, according to an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation. Those figures, described as a typical daily intake in the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250 million a year.
Each day, the presentation said, the NSA collects contacts from an estimated 500,000 buddy lists on live-chat services as well as from the inbox displays of Web-based e-mail accounts.
The collection depends on secret arrangements with foreign telecommunications companies or allied intelligence services in control of facilities that direct traffic along the Internet’s main data routes.
Although the collection takes place overseas, two senior U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged that it sweeps in the contacts of many Americans. They declined to offer an estimate but did not dispute that the number is likely to be in the millions or tens of millions.
A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, said the agency “is focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets like terrorists, human traffickers and drug smugglers. We are not interested in personal information about ordinary Americans.”
The spokesman, Shawn Turner, added that rules approved by the attorney general require the NSA to “minimize the acquisition, use and dissemination” of information that identifies a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
The NSA’s collection of nearly all U.S. call records, under a separate program, has generated significant controversy since it was revealed in June. The NSA’s director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, has defended “bulk” collection as an essential counterterrorism and foreign intelligence tool, saying, “You need the haystack to find the needle.”
Contact lists stored online provide the NSA with far richer sources of data than call records alone. Address books commonly include not only names and e-mail addresses, but also telephone numbers, street addresses, and business and family information. Inbox listings of e-mail accounts stored in the “cloud” sometimes contain content, such as the first few lines of a message.
Taken together, the data would enable the NSA, if permitted, to draw detailed maps of a person’s life, as told by personal, professional, political and religious connections. The picture can also be misleading, creating false “associations” with ex-spouses or people with whom an account holder has had no contact in many years.
The NSA has not been authorized by Congress or the special intelligence court that oversees foreign surveillance to collect contact lists in bulk, and senior intelligence officials said it would be illegal to do so from facilities in the United States. The agency avoids the restrictions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by intercepting contact lists from access points “all over the world,” one official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the classified program. “None of those are on U.S. territory.”
Because of the method employed, the agency is not legally required or technically able to restrict its intake to contact lists belonging to specified foreign intelligence targets, he said.
When information passes through “the overseas collection apparatus,” the official added, “the assumption is you’re not a U.S. person.”
In practice, data from Americans is collected in large volumes — in part because they live and work overseas, but also because data crosses international boundaries even when its American owners stay at home. Large technology companies, including Google and Facebook, maintain data centers around the world to balance loads on their servers and work around outages.
A senior U.S. intelligence official said the privacy of Americans is protected, despite mass collection, because “we have checks and balances built into our tools.”
NSA analysts, he said, may not search within the contacts database or distribute information from it unless they can “make the case that something in there is a valid foreign intelligence target in and of itself.”
In this program, the NSA is obliged to make that case only to itself or others in the executive branch. With few exceptions, intelligence operations overseas fall solely within the president’s legal purview. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, enacted in 1978, imposes restrictions only on electronic surveillance that targets Americans or takes place on U.S. territory.
By contrast, the NSA draws on authority in the Patriot Act for its bulk collection of domestic phone records, and it gathers online records from U.S. Internet companies, in a program known as PRISM, under powers granted by Congress in the FISA Amendments Act. Those operations are overseen by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in August that the committee has less information about, and conducts less oversight of, intelligence gathering that relies solely on presidential authority. She said she planned to ask for more briefings on those programs.
“In general, the committee is far less aware of operations conducted under 12333,” said a senior committee staff member, referring to Executive Order 12333, which defines the basic powers and responsibilities of the intelligence agencies. “I believe the NSA would answer questions if we asked them, and if we knew to ask them, but it would not routinely report these things, and, in general, they would not fall within the focus of the committee.”
Because the agency captures contact lists “on the fly” as they cross major Internet switches, rather than “at rest” on computer servers, the NSA has no need to notify the U.S. companies that host the information or to ask for help from them.
“We have neither knowledge of nor participation in this mass collection of web-mail addresses or chat lists by the government,” said Google spokeswoman Niki Fenwick.
At Microsoft, spokeswoman Nicole Miller said the company “does not provide any government with direct or unfettered access to our customers’ data,” adding that “we would have significant concerns if these allegations about government actions are true.”
Facebook spokeswoman Jodi Seth said that “we did not know and did not assist” in the NSA’s interception of contact lists.
It is unclear why the NSA collects more than twice as many address books from Yahoo than the other big services combined. One possibility is that Yahoo, unlike other service providers, has left connections to its users unencrypted by default.
Suzanne Philion, a Yahoo spokeswoman, said Monday in response to an inquiry from The Washington Post that, beginning in January, Yahoo would begin encrypting all its e-mail connections.
Google was the first to secure all its e-mail connections, turning on “SSL encryption” globally in 2010. People with inside knowledge said the move was intended in part to thwart large-scale collection of its users’ information by the NSA and other intelligence agencies.
The volume of NSA contacts collection is so high that it has occasionally threatened to overwhelm storage repositories, forcing the agency to halt its intake with “emergency detasking” orders. Three NSA documents describe short-term efforts to build an “across-the-board technology throttle for truly heinous data” and longer-term efforts to filter out information that the NSA does not need.
Spam has proven to be a significant problem for the NSA — clogging databases with information that holds no foreign intelligence value. The majority of all e-mails, one NSA document says, “are SPAM from ‘fake’ addresses and never ‘delivered’ to targets.”
In fall 2011, according to an NSA presentation, the Yahoo account of an Iranian target was “hacked by an unknown actor,” who used it to send spam. The Iranian had “a number of Yahoo groups in his/her contact list, some with many hundreds or thousands of members.”
The cascading effects of repeated spam messages, compounded by the automatic addition of the Iranian’s contacts to other people’s address books, led to a massive spike in the volume of traffic collected by the Australian intelligence service on the NSA’s behalf.
After nine days of data-
bombing, the Iranian’s contact book and contact books for several people within it were “emergency detasked.”
In a briefing from the NSA’s Large Access Exploitation working group, that example was used to illustrate the need to narrow the criteria for data interception. It called for a “shifting collection philosophy”: “Memorialize what you need” vs. “Order one of everything off the menu and eat what you want.”
Julie Tate contributed to this report. Soltani is an independent security researcher and consultant.
Read the rest:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Security Agency has been sifting through millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts around the world — including those of Americans — in its effort to find possible links to terrorism or other criminal activity, according to a published report.
The Washington Post reported late Monday that the spy agency intercepts hundreds of thousands of email address books every day from private accounts on Yahoo, Gmail, Facebook and Hotmail that move though global data links. The NSA also collects about a half million buddy lists from live chat services and email accounts.
The Post said it learned about the collection tactics from secret documents provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden and confirmed by senior intelligence officials. It was the latest revelation of the spy agency’s practices to be disclosed by Snowden, the former NSA systems analyst who fled the U.S. and now resides in Russia.
The newspaper said the NSA analyzes the contacts to map relationships and connections among various foreign intelligence targets. During a typical day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected more than 440,000 email address books, the Post said. That would correspond to a rate of more than 250 million a year.
A spokesman for the national intelligence director’s office, which oversees the NSA, told the Post that the agency was seeking intelligence on valid targets and was not interested in personal information from ordinary Americans.
Spokesman Shawn Turner said the NSA was guided by rules that require the agency to “minimize the acquisition, use and dissemination” of information that identifies U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
While the collection was taking place overseas, the Post said it encompassed the contact lists of many American users. The spy agency obtains the contact lists through secret arrangements with foreign telecommunications companies or other services that control Internet traffic, the Post reported.
Earlier this year, Snowden gave documents to the Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper disclosing U.S. surveillance programs that collect vast amounts of phone records and online data in the name of foreign intelligence, often sweeping up information on American citizens.
The collection of contact lists in bulk would be illegal if done in the United States, but the Post said the agency can get around that restriction by intercepting lists from access points around the world.
The newspaper quoted a senior intelligence official as saying NSA analysts may not search or distribute information from the contacts database unless they can “make the case that something in there is a valid foreign intelligence target in and of itself.”
Commenting on the Post story, Alex Abdo, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in an emailed statement: “This revelation further confirms that the NSA has relied on the pretense of ‘foreign intelligence gathering’ to sweep up an extraordinary amount of information about everyday Americans. The NSA’s indiscriminate collection of information about innocent people can’t be justified on security grounds, and it presents a serious threat to civil liberties.”
By James Slack
A massive cache of stolen top-secret documents published in The Guardian has handed a ‘gift’ to terrorists, the head of MI5 warned last night.
In a blistering attack, Andrew Parker said the publication of confidential files leaked by US fugitive Edward Snowden had caused huge ‘harm’ to the capability of Britain’s intelligence services.
Security officials say the exposé amounts to a ‘guide book’, advising terrorists on the best way to avoid detection when plotting an atrocity.
In Whitehall, it is considered to have caused the greatest damage to the Western security apparatus in history. In his first public speech since taking the job earlier this year, Mr Parker said the leaks handed the ‘advantage’ to terrorists and were a ‘gift they need to evade us and strike at will’.
He said there were several thousand Islamist extremists living in the UK who ‘see the British people as a legitimate target’.
The security services were working round the clock to stop the fanatics, but MI5 was now ‘tackling threats on more fronts than ever before’.
Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, fled the US in May with thousands of classified documents about the NSA and GCHQ, which he gave to The Guardian.
The newspaper has since published tens of thousands of words on the secret techniques used by GCHQ to monitor emails, phone records and communications on the internet.
The first Guardian revelations came in early June, when it detailed how the NSA – which supplies intelligence to GCHQ, the organisation which gathers intelligence for MI5 and MI6 – had ‘direct access’ to the computer systems of AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Paltalk, Skype, Yahoo and YouTube.
The newspaper also revealed how GCHQ has access to a network of cables carrying international phone calls and internet traffic and is processing vast amounts of ‘personal information’.
By the time his identity as the source of the leaks emerged, Snowden had fled his home in Hawaii for Hong Kong. After a week in hiding, he travelled to Moscow, where he remains out of the reach of US authorities.
The editor and the leaker: The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger and former NSA employee Edward Snowden
In August, police detained David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for nine hours at Heathrow airport. Mr Miranda had been carrying intelligence files leaked by Snowden.
At the time it emerged David Cameron had authorised the destruction of computers at The Guardian offices. Security concerns were so acute that Mr Cameron sent Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to demand that Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger destroy the files after warning they could fall into the hands of terrorists.
Members of GCHQ supervised the smashing of laptops and hard drives at the newspaper’s offices.
Mr Parker said: ‘What we know about the terrorists, and the detail of the capabilities we use against them, together represent our margin of advantage. That margin gives us the prospect of being able to detect their plots and stop them.
‘But that margin is under attack. Reporting from GCHQ is vital to the safety of this country and its citizens.
‘GCHQ intelligence has played a vital role in stopping many of the terrorist plots that MI5 and the police have tackled in the past decade.
‘It causes enormous damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques. Such information hands the advantage to the terrorists.
‘It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will. Unfashionable as it might seem, that is why we must keep secrets secret, and why not doing so causes such harm.’
In a wide-ranging speech to the Royal United Services Institute think-tank, Mr Parker said the task of MI5 was ‘getting harder’. He pointed to the danger posed by British nationals returning from fighting in Syria.
Mr Parker said: ‘The ability of Al Qaeda to launch the centrally directed large-scale attacks of the last decade has been degraded, though not removed.
‘We have seen the threat shift more to increasing numbers of smaller-scale attacks and a growing proportion of groups and individuals taking it upon themselves to commit acts of terrorism.
‘It remains the case that there are several thousand Islamist extremists here who see the British people as a legitimate target. Overall, I do not believe the terrorist threat is worse now than before. But it is more diffuse. More complicated. More unpredictable.’
Mr Parker also warned that, in some quarters, there could be an ‘alarming degree of complacency’ that MI5 and the police could foil all attacks.
He said: ‘Terrorism, because of its nature and consequences, is the one area of crime where the expectation sometimes seems to be that the stats should be zero. Zero. Imagine applying the same target to murder in general, or major drugs trafficking. That is the stuff of “pre-crime” in the Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report.’
MI5 has attracted criticism for failing to stop individuals – including two of the July 7 bombers – who were on its radar.
But Mr Parker, who replaced Jonathan Evans as director-general of the Security Service earlier this year, said: ‘With greater resources since 7/7 we have worked very hard to identify as many as possible of the people in the country who are active in some way in support of terrorism.
‘The idea that we either can or would want to operate intensive scrutiny of thousands is fanciful. This is not East Germany, or North Korea. Knowing of an individual does not equate to knowing everything about them.’
He also made the case for more powers to monitor emails and the internet. Mr Parker said: ‘Shifts in technology can erode our capabilities.
There are choices to be made, including, for example, about how and whether communications data is retained. It is not, however, an option to disregard such shifts with an unspoken assumption that somehow security will anyway be sustained. It will not. We cannot work without tools.’
A Guardian News & Media spokesman said: ‘A huge number of people – from President Obama to the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper have now conceded that the Snowden revelations have prompted a debate which was both necessary and overdue.
‘The President has even set up a review panel and there have been vigorous discussions in the US Congress and throughout Europe. Such a debate is only worthwhile if it is informed. That is what journalism should do.’
Edward Snowden became one of the world’s most wanted men in early June when he broke cover as the agent who leaked top-secret documents from the US National Security Agency.
His initial revelations detailed how the NSA harvested private information from the computer systems of companies including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Skype and YouTube using a secret US surveillance programme called Prism.
The Guardian then claimed the NSA supplied intelligence to GCHQ – accusing agents at the UK’s listening post of attempting to bypass UK law.
The British spy agency compiled 197 intelligence dossiers from the system in a single year, sidestepping the need to obtain a court order.
On June 18, the newspaper claimed UK intelligence agents hacked into the communications of politicians and senior officials from Turkey, South Africa and Russia during the G20 summit in London in 2009 – prompting a furious backlash ahead of the G8 meeting in Moscow.
Snowden also revealed how GCHQ was able to hoover up vast amounts of personal information, including websites visited, emails sent and received, text messages, calls and passwords, using a state-of-the-art programme called Tempora.
The surveillance operation centres on using probes to access a network of fibre-optic cables coming into and out of the country. Telecoms firms allegedly involved in Tempora include BT, Verizon and Vodafone Cable.
The Guardian then revealed that the NSA was providing millions of pounds of funding each year to GCHQ to allow it to trawl for personal data. One document leaked by Snowden and dating from 2010 suggested GCHQ must ‘pull its weight’ to meet the NSA’s ‘minimum expectations’.
Snowden also made the highly damaging revelation that the US government had hacked computers in mainland China and Hong Kong for years – threatening to consign relations between the super-powers to the deep freeze.
US intelligence chiefs responded to the leaks with fury. NSA director Keith Alexander told the US Senate the top-secret surveillance programmes had disrupted at least 50 terror plots.
The Washington Post reported the NSA had acted illegally on ‘thousands’ of occasions over the harvesting of personal data, and Foreign Secretary William Hague was forced to the Commons to insist any suggestion the British intelligence agencies had colluded with the NSA to act outside the law was ‘fantastical’.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-24