Cybersecurity Measures Will Mandate Government “ID Tokens” To Use The Internet

Gargantuan move against Internet freedom accelerates into high gear

Cybersecurity Measures Will Mandate Government ID Tokens To Use The Internet internet identity theft

Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones
Monday, June 28, 2010

The move to shut down and regulate the Internet under a new government-controlled system has accelerated into high gear with the announcement that the government’s cybersecurity strategy revolves around issuing Internet users with ID “tokens” without which they will not be able to visit websites, the latest salvo against web freedom which, in combination with Senator Joe Lieberman’s ‘kill switch’ bill, will serve to eviscerate the free Internet as we know it.

Under the guise of “cybersecurity,” the government is moving to discredit and shut down the existing Internet infrastructure in the pursuit of a new, centralized, regulated world wide web.

It is important to stress that “cybersecurity” has nothing to do with protecting the infrastructure of the United States and everything to do with taking over the Internet. Cybersecurity is about attacking non-compliant Internet users, not defending against hackers. Non-compliance equates as using the Internet as a political tool to dissent against the policies of the U.S. government. Having already tried and failed in flooding the web with paid disinformation agents, the government is now turning to its only recourse, exploiting hyped or outright staged cyberattacks as an excuse through which to implement an Internet 2 system controlled and regulated solely by the authorities.

We are constantly told that the Internet needs to be subject to government control because cyberterrorists could hack in and bring down the national power grid. However, the vast majority of the U.S. power infrastructure is not connected to the Internet. It will only be connected to the Internet if the government accelerates the implementation of “smart grid” technology, so in this sense, the government itself is leaving the power grid more vulnerable to hackers by its own programs.

Threats against computer networks in the United States are grossly exaggerated. Dire reports issued by the Defense Science Board and the Center for Strategic and International Studies “are usually richer in vivid metaphor — with fears of ‘digital Pearl Harbors’ and ‘cyber-Katrinas’ — than in factual foundation,” writes Evgeny Morozov, a Belarus-born researcher and blogger who writes on the political effects of the internet.

Morozov notes that much of the data on the supposed cyber threat “are gathered by ultra-secretive government agencies — which need to justify their own existence — and cyber-security companies — which derive commercial benefits from popular anxiety.”

Should the government go ahead and try to exercise the powers it is now on the verge of acquiring, we’d expect to see the Internet shut down for a few days in order to prevent some kind of contrived cyberattack blamed on terrorists. Sure, there will be problems, but large corporations will raise little dissent safe in the knowledge that the Lieberman legislation gives them immunity from civil lawsuits and also ensures they are reimbursed for any costs incurred if the Internet is shut down for a period of time.

After a series of shutdowns, the government will simply demand that every corporation or individual who wants to operate a website first obtain a license and an individual Internet ID. Such licenses will be revoked for anyone who engages in “hate speech,” which is now so broad a term that it encompasses offending anyone on the Internet.

The result will be a sterile and regulated Internet which more closely resembles cable TV than the true open source, outpost of free speech that we have come to know and love.

This exact strategy was outlined in a paper published by Obama’s cybersecurity co-ordinator Howard Schmidt, which was compiled with the aid of the National Security Council.

The strategy revolves around, “The creation of a system for identity management that would allow citizens to use additional authentication techniques, such as physical tokens or modules on mobile phones, to verify who they are before buying things online or accessing such sensitive information as health or banking records,” reports the FInancial Times.

Only with this government-issued “token” will Internet users be allowed to “able to move from website to website,” a system not too far removed from what China proposed and rejected for being too authoritarian.

It is imperative that everyone redouble their efforts to bring attention to this matter because Lieberman’s bill is on the verge of passing the Senate and it will hand the government total control over the Internet unless we can alert enough organizations from across the political spectrum to oppose this monstrosity in unison.

The true nature of the cybersecurity agenda was revealed when Lieberman told CNN’s Candy Crowley that his 197-page Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (PDF) legislation was part of an effort to mimic China’s control of the Internet.

“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” said Lieberman.

The Senator’s reference to China is a telling revelation of what the cybersecurity agenda is really all about. China’s vice-like grip over its Internet systems has very little to do with “war” and everything to do with silencing all dissent against the state.

Chinese Internet censorship is imposed via a centralized government blacklist of any websites that contain criticism of the state, porn, or any other content deemed unsuitable by the authorities. Every time you attempt to visit a website, you are re-routed through the government firewall, often making for long delays and crippling speeds.

China has exercised its power to shut down the Internet, something that Lieberman wants to introduce in the U.S., at politically sensitive times in order to stem the flow of information about government abuse and atrocities. During the anti-government riots which occurred in July 2009, the Chinese government completely shut down the Internet across the entire northwestern region of Xinjiang for days. Similarly, Internet access in parts of Tibet is routinely restricted as part of government efforts to pre-empt and neutralize unrest.

Major websites like Twitter, Google and You Tube have also been shut down either temporarily or permanently by Chinese authorities.

News websites in China now require users to register their true identities in order to leave comments. This abolition of anonymity is used to chill free speech in that it prevents the user from engaging in criticism of the state for fear that they would be tracked down by authorities.

Chinese authorities are now going further than merely maintaining a “blacklist” of banned websites by instituting a “whitelist” of allowed websites, a move that “could potentially place much of the Internet off-limits to Chinese readers”. Websites not pre-registered with the government would be completely blocked to all Internet users, meaning “millions of completely innocuous sites” would be banned. This equates to requiring government approval to set up a website, which would obviously not be granted if the person or organization making the application has a history of or is likely to engage in dissent against the state.

President Obama himself has criticized Chinese Internet censorship as a hindrance to the free flow of information and allowing citizens to hold their governments accountable, and yet Lieberman wants to hand Obama similar powers.

Given the nature of Chinese Internet regulation, with has nothing to do with “war” as Lieberman claims and everything to do with political censorship and covering up information about state oppression, we should be alarmed that the Senator wants to see America move in the same direction.

The real agenda behind government control of the Internet has always been to strangle and suffocate independent media outlets who are now competing with and even displacing establishment press organs, with websites like the Drudge Report now attracting more traffic than many large newspapers combined. As part of this war against independent media, the FTC recently proposing a “Drudge Tax” that would force independent media organizations to pay fees that would be used to fund mainstream newspapers.

In addition, the FCC has rolled a censorship plan into its Net Neutrality scheme in a stealth attempt to impose Internet regulation.

Under the FCC’s regulatory control consumers would be forced to buy an Internet/TV/Phone connectivity box that the government approves. “Everyone will pay rates for service that the government sets. And everything passing through your Internet, TV, or phone would become subject to the FCC’s consistent regulatory whim,” writes Americans for Tax Reform’s Kelly William Cobb.

Similar legislation aimed at imposing Chinese-style censorship of the Internet and giving the state the power to shut down networks has already been passed globally, including in the UK,New Zealand and Australia.

We have extensively covered efforts to scrap the internet as we know it and move toward a greatly restricted “internet 2″ system. Handing government the power to control the Internet would only be the first step towards this system, whereby individual ID’s and government permission would be required simply to operate a website, and this is precisely what the National Security Council has proposed for the new cybersecurity measures that are set to be implemented over the next few years.


Move over, Australia: France taking ‘Net censorship lead

By Nate Anderson | Last updated February 17, 2010 9:14 PM

Critics of government-mandated filtering schemes contend that such programs first focus on "child pornography" because it’s such an unobjectionable target for censorship—but once the program is in place, it’s much easier to extend it to more controversial areas, such as copyright protection. At least the French have the decency to admit that this is what’s happening.

The French lower house, the National Assembly, has just passed a security bill known as LOPPSI2, and it’s expected that the Senate will follow suit in the next few weeks. As we’ve previously reported, LOPPSI2 is a grab bag of security items that includes state-sanctioned computer Trojans, a massive new database of citizen data (dubbed "Pericles"), and a requirement that ISPs start censoring sites on a government blacklist.

The Internet censorship provision has received the most coverage to date, and LOPPI2 has been quite controversial in France; it passed the National Assembly 312-214.

The censorship is ostensibly designed to block child porn sites on the Internet, but French President Nicolas Sarkozy has already made it clear that he would like to see ISPs play a far greater role in clamping down on the Internet. In a January speech (French PDF) in which Sarkozy styled himself a "patron" of the French arts, he praised the new "three strikes" law his administration championed (and passed into law last year).

The HADOPI authority that oversees the system will, he said, need to keep searching for the most "modern" solutions to protecting works. Simply searching out file-swappers and disconnecting or fining them is a reactive approach that doesn’t scale; as Sarkozy put it, "The more we automatically ‘depollute’ networks and servers from all sources of piracy, the less it will be necessary to resort to measures imposed on the ‘Internautes’ [French Internet users]. We must therefore try, without delay, filtering devices."

Under Sarkozy, France is moving to a more proactive enforcement model that removes or blocks content at the source, rather than being content to go after lawbreakers. As a consequence, however, France will now have one of the toughest censorship regimes of any robust democracy in the Western hemisphere—though Australia is giving France a good run for its money on the worldwide stage.

Journalists in neighboring countries have been quick to pounce. Germany’s Der Spiegel wondered if France was becoming the "Big Brother of Europe" and notes that LOPPSI2 will give "the state unprecedented control over the Internet." The paper also suggests that the government is pushing the law because elections are coming up soon, and Sarkozy hopes that "fear of criminals will convince voters to come to the polling booths."

In the UK, feisty tech publication The Register also plays the Orwell card, saying that France "leapfrogs past Australia in Big Brother stakes" and that it’s "becoming the first western country to make even Australia look liberal when it comes to state powers of Internet censorship." (The UK has a non-mandatory child porn block list run by the Internet Watch Foundation.)

As for France, plenty of heated opposition can be found there as well. Jérémie Zimmermann of Internet rights group La Quadrature du Net said last week, "Protection of childhood is shamelessly exploited by Nicolas Sarkozy to implement a measure that will lead to collateral censorship and very dangerous drifts. After the HADOPI comes the LOPPSI: the securitarian machinery of the government is being deployed in an attempt to control the Internet at the expense of freedoms."

Censorship… it’s not just for authoritarian states anymore. Such issues are increasingly part of the discourse in democracies, including Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority democracy. The government there isworking up Internet censorship rules to crack down on sites that offend "public decency," including pornography (child and otherwise).

In a sign that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has rather peculiar views on freedom of speech, he complained at a recent press conference about a protestor who put his picture on a water buffalo and marched it through Jakarta. Yudhoyono didn’t like the implication that he was "big, slow and stupid like a buffalo," and he asked reporters, "Do you think this is an expression of freedom?"


CENTCOM Team Engages ‘Bloggers’

By Capt. Steve Alvarez, USA
American Forces Press Service

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., March 2, 2006 – The widespread use of Web logs, or "blogs," by online writers has proliferated information on topics as varied as the authors.

Blogs, in essence, are online journals or forums for their authors, known as "bloggers."

Public affairs officials here said thousands of blogs are created each day, and they estimate that more than 21 million blogs are posted on the World Wide Web today.

Blogs sometimes include information — accurate and otherwise — about the U.S. military’s global war on terror. U.S. Central Command officials here took notice and created a team to engage these writers and their electronic information forums.

"The main interest is to drive their readers to our site," Army Reserve Maj. Richard J. McNorton said. McNorton is CENTCOM’s chief of engagement operations.

Anyone who wants a virtual voice can create a blog and share information with the online world. The ease with which bloggers spread information is what public affairs officials at CENTCOM saw when they created the blog team.

McNorton said the team contacts bloggers to inform the writers about any given topic that may have been posted on their site. This outreach effort enables the team to offer complete information to bloggers by inviting them to visit CENTCOM’s Web site for news releases, data or imagery.

The team engages bloggers who are posting inaccurate or untrue information, as well as bloggers who are posting incomplete information. They extend a friendly invitation to all bloggers to visit the command’s Web site.

Many bloggers appreciate the team’s contact, blog team officials said, and most post CENTCOM’s Web site as a link on their blog sites. This, McNorton said, has a "viral effect" that drives Internet news consumers to CENTCOM’s Web site.

"Now (online readers) have the opportunity to read positive stories. At least the public can go there and see the whole story. The public wants to hear these good stories," he said, adding that the news stories the military generates are "very factual."

From his desk at CENTCOM headquarters here, Army Reserve Spc. Claude Flowers of the 304th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment from Kent, Wash., fights in the global war on terrorism daily in his own way. It is an effort, officials here said, that is making a big difference in the communications arena in the online world.

The team’s motto is "Engage," and Flowers and others work with more than 250 bloggers to try to disseminate news about the good work being done by U.S. forces in the global war on terror. The effort, officials here said, has reached more than 17 million online readers.

"We were given the mission to do electronic media engagement," Flowers said. "The idea was put forth that so many people are getting their news from online sources that we would be remiss if we neglected that audience."

Flowers is one of three people who read blogs and try to drive Internet readers to the CENTCOM Web site, where readers can learn more about operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

"We needed to do something to make people aware of the fact that we had this clearinghouse of photos and information," Flowers said. "We can get the whole story out there. We let them know we have a Web site."

Flowers said the Web site is filled with informative facts, figures, imagery, data and information that readers can digest before a third party processes and presents the information for them through other media.

"Certainly anyone is welcome to use the material on the Web site," Flowers said. "So far, the reception has been tremendous."

Team members said they have contacted a full spectrum of bloggers. In one instance, a blogger was writing about the opening of a water treatment plant in Iraq. The writer was presenting the information as a positive milestone for the U.S. military in Iraq, but the information was not complete. The team contacted the writer and offered information via the CENTCOM Web site, and more information was added to the blog to make the article more accurate.

In another blog contact, the team wrote a blogger who had written untrue information about U.S. military tactics. The blogger stated that the U.S. military routinely used children in Iraq and Afghanistan as human shields during their operations by using candy to entice and lure kids near them. The team posted a comment on the writer’s blog stating that the U.S. military did not use human shield tactics and explained the full circumstances of the incident where Iraqi children died in 2004 when insurgents attacked U.S. forces in Baghdad.

Most blogs ordinarily have a feature that enables readers to contact the writer or allows readers to post comments. When the team "reaches out" to a blogger, the team members do not conceal their identity. They fully disclose that they are public affairs personnel and identify themselves accordingly. And, McNorton said, they are there to correct information, no more.

"We don’t go in there and get into a debate," he said. And officials here are quick to point out that they are not policing Web sites. They are simply offering bloggers the opportunity to get raw information directly from the source.

Flowers said that many military personnel have also become bloggers during their deployments as a way to keep friends and family informed on their activities in the war. Here too, the team members don’t police content, but if they do discover an operational security violation, they contact the blogger’s command to point out the security violation.

"(Operational security) for a Web site is no different than OPSEC for a letter," Flowers said. "You shouldn’t publish anything you don’t want everyone to read," he said, adding that the enemy uses open sources of information to wage war on coalition forces.

But, he said, "The power of military blogs is that they’re a letter home from servicemen and women that the entire world can read," Flowers said.

All bloggers have their niche audience, Flowers said. Some are faith-based, others are military community members, and yet others are involved in mustering humanitarian aid for people in Iraq or Afghanistan. But while the reasons for their blogs differ, most bloggers consistently offer the same comment to Flowers and his team.

"Repeatedly we hear from people, ‘I never would have heard this story in the mainstream media,’" Flowers said. "People really are interested in what soldiers are doing. Blogs are individual statements. They’re the voice of individuals. They’re a way of understanding this war on a very human level."

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The author wrote a daily blog for hometown online newspaper Orlando Sentinel as part of his official duties during his yearlong deployment to Iraq in 2004-2005. CENTCOM officials said his blog, the first official U.S. military war blog published by a daily newspaper, helped in conceptualizing the blog team.)



The exaggerated fears over digital warfareEvgeny Morozov

The age of cyber-warfare has arrived. That, at any rate, is the message we are now hearing from a broad range of journalists, policy analysts, and government officials. Introducing a comprehensive White House report on cyber-security released at the end of May, President Obama called cyber-security “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.” His words echo a flurry of gloomy think-tank reports. The Defense Science Board, a federal advisory group, recently warned that “cyber-warfare is here to stay,” and that it will “encompass not only military attacks but also civilian commercial systems.” And “Securing Cyberspace for the 44th President,” prepared by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, suggests that cyber-security is as great a concern as “weapons of mass destruction or global jihad.”

Unfortunately, these reports are usually richer in vivid metaphor—with fears of “digital Pearl Harbors” and “cyber-Katrinas”—than in factual foundation.

Consider a frequently quoted CIA claim about using the Internet to cause widespread power outages. It derives from a public presentation by a senior CIA cyber-security analyst in early 2008. Here is what he said:

We have information, from multiple regions outside the United States, of cyber-intrusions into utilities, followed by extortion demands. We suspect, but cannot confirm, that some of these attackers had the benefit of inside knowledge. We have information that cyber-attacks have been used to disrupt power equipment in several regions outside the United States. In at least one case, the disruption caused a power outage affecting multiple cities. We do not know who executed these attacks or why, but all involved intrusions through the Internet.

So “there is information” that cyber-attacks “ have been used.” When? Why? By whom? And have the attacks caused any power outages? The CIA may have some classified information, but very little that is unclassified suggests that such cyber-intrusions have occurred.

Or consider an April 2009 Wall Street Journal article entitled “Electricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated By Spies.” The article quotes no attributable sources for its starkest claims about cyber-spying, names no utility companies as victims of intrusions, and mentions just one real cyber-attack, which occurred in Australia in 2000 and was conducted by a disgruntled employee rather than an external hacker.

It is alarming that so many people have accepted the White House’s assertions about cyber-security as a key national security problem without demanding further evidence. Have we learned nothing from the WMD debacle? The administration’s claims could lead to policies with serious, long-term, troubling consequences for network openness and personal privacy.

Cyber-security fears have had, it should be said, one unambiguous effect: they have fueled a growing cyber-security market, which, according to some projections, will grow twice as fast as the rest of the IT industry. Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, among others, have formed new business units to tap increased spending to protect U.S. government computers from cyber-attacks. Moreover, many former government officials have made smooth transitions from national cyber-security policy to the lucrative worlds of consulting and punditry. Speaking at a recent conference in Washington, D.C., Amit Yoran—a former cyber-security czar in the Bush administration and currently the C.E.O. of NetWitness, a cyber-security start-up—has called hacking a national security threat, adding that “cyber-9/11 has happened over the last ten years, but it’s happened slowly, so we don’t see it.” One way for the government to protect itself from this cyber-9/11 may be to purchase NetWitness’s numerous software applications, aimed at addressing both “state and non-state sponsored cyber threats.”

From a national security perspective, cyber-attacks matter in two ways. First, because the back-end infrastructure underlying our economy (national and global) is now digitized, it is subject to new risks. Fifty years ago it would have been hard—perhaps impossible, short of nuclear attack—to destroy a significant chunk of the U.S. economy in a matter of seconds; today all it takes is figuring out a way to briefly disable the computer systems that run Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Fortunately, such massive disruption is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Of course there is already plenty of petty cyber-crime, some of it involving stolen credit card numbers. Much of it, however, is due to low cyber-security awareness by end-users (you and me), rather than banks or credit card companies.

Second, a great deal of internal government communication flows across computer networks, and hostile and not-so-hostile parties are understandably interested in what is being said. Moreover, data that are just sitting on one’s computer are fair game, too, as long as the computer has a network connection or a USB port. Despite the “cyber” prefix, however, the basic risks are strikingly similar to those of the analog age. Espionage has been around for centuries, and there is very little we can do to protect ourselves beyond using stronger encryption techniques and exercising more caution in our choices of passwords and Wi-Fi connections.

To be sure, there is a war-related caveat here: if the military relies on its own email system or other internal electronic communications, it is essential to preserve this capability in wartime. Once more, however, the concern is not entirely novel; when radio was the primary means of communication, radio-jamming was also a serious military concern; worries about radio go back as far as the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905.


US outlines online security strategy

By Joseph Menn in San Francisco

Published: June 26 2010 00:39 | Last updated: June 26 2010 00:39

The White House set out a sweeping strategy to make online transactions more secure on Friday. The move is the most ambitious initiative to emerge from a cybersecurity policy intended to blunt the growing menace of online crime.

Howard Schmidt, president Barack Obama’s cybersecurity co-ordinator, who took up his duties in early 2010, released the strategy paper after 12 months of discussions led by the National Security Council and involving scores of private sector groups, critical infrastructure owners and privacy advocates.

The strategy seeks the creation of a system foridentity management that would allow citizens to use additional authentication techniques, such as physical tokens or modules on mobile phones, to verify who they are before buying things online or accessing such sensitive information as health or banking records.

A set of standards would let multiple vendors offer authentication services, while people whose identities have been verified would be able to move from website to website without resubmitting information.

Privacy protections would require companies involved to limit their collection and dissemination of personal data, for example confirming that a consumer is over 21 without passing along the person’s birth date.

The government would take the lead by establishing the standards and subscribing to authentication services.

Internet companies and government agencies have long supported the idea of multipurpose identification systems, but adoption has foundered in part because of limited incentives for participation. As a result, a bank will have one set of protocols for establishing a client’s identity, while a state agency and hospital have others.

The matter has taken on increased urgency as more valuable data pours online and malicious software grows more sophisticated. Industry estimates for the theft of intellectual property and online fraud run as high as $1,000bn annually.

Congressional and private sector support will be critical for the new effort.

“This is a vision and you need that, but they’re going to need to work with Congress and get government agencies to test out different pieces of this,” said Aris Schwartz, vice-president of the Center for Democracy and Technology. Congress would need to fund test programmes and, perhaps, approve tax incentives.

It has been hard to formulate legislation because internet security issues intrude into so many political areas. But Harry Reid, Senate majority leader, recently urged committee chairmen to harmonise pending bills for cybersecurity overhauls, making it likely new laws will emerge from Congress this year.

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China tightens Web screws after Xinjiang riot

Mon Jul 6, 2009 5:14am EDT

* For full coverage click [ID:nSP491283]
(Recasts, updates throughout, adds byline, previous BEIJING)
By Ben Blanchard
SHANGHAI, July 6 (Reuters) – China clamped down on the Internet in the capital of China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang on Monday, in the hope of stemming the flow of information about ethnic unrest which left 140 people dead.
The government has blamed Sunday’s riots in Urumqi — the deadliest unrest since the 1989 military crackdown on the Tiananmen pro-democracy demonstrations — on exiled Muslim separatists. [ID:nSP491283]
Some residents in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s regional capital, said they had been told there would be no Internet access for 48 hours.
"Since yesterday evening I haven’t been able to get online," store owner Han Zhenyu told Reuters by telephone.
"No Internet here. Friends said they cannot log on, either," said a mobile phone seller who gave only his surname, Zhang.
The websites of the Urumqi city and Xinjiang regional governments were also down.
But the government appears to have thrown the net even wider, with users in capital Beijing and financial hub Shanghai complaining social networking site Twitter has also been blocked., a domestic competitor of Twitter, was still accessible, though searches for key words such as "Urumqi", "Xinjiang" and "Uighur" gave no results.
China has previously shut down communications in parts of Tibet, where ethnic unrest had erupted or was feared, and ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, as the government seeks to control the release of news through only official state media.
Yet in China, where a computer-savvy youth has embraced the Internet with enthusiasm, the government has not been able to control all the information seeping out of Xinjiang.
"The incident has largely subsided, but armoured cars were still in town this morning," one user, who said he was in Urumqi, wrote on
Several popular sites showed images claiming to be from the riots — including one of a badly-mutilated body whose head had been almost hacked off.
Reuters has not been able to verify the authenticity of the pictures, many of which, like the one of the dead body, were removed after only a short time on the Internet.
Still, other Internet users took to the Web to express their anger over the riots.
"Resolutely smash the splitist forces and terrorists!" wrote on person on, underneath a news report showing pictures of palls of black smoke enveloping Urumqi.
Yet the censor has also been working fast to remove most of the comments about the violence in Xinjiang, apparently to prevent ethnic hatred from spreading or Internet users questioning government policies toward regions populated by ethnic minorities.
By early afternoon, the bulletin board on Shanghai site had numerous comments about the unrest, but they all vanished a few hours later, and replaced with the line: "This posting does not exist". (Additional reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison and Yu Le in Beijing; Editing by Benjamin Kang Lim and Sanjeev Miglani)


China’s website clampdown

News websites in China have begun requiring new users to register their true identities before allowing them to post comments – a move rejected by internet companies and users in the past.

The world’s largest internet population – with about 340 million users – is heavily policed but tends to resist new curbs. A 2006 proposal to introduce real-name registration on blog hosting sites was beaten back, but few appear to have noticed the introduction of the policy on leading Chinese portals including Sina, Netease and Sohu.

The New York Times reported that the shift in policy resulted from secret government orders issued in July, citing unnamed senior editors at two of the leading sites affected. They told the newspaper that one of the bodies overseeing the internet had deemed it a state secret, preventing media from publishing reports on it. One editor said the change was introduced under the radar because "the influence of public opinion on the net is still too big".

Earlier this year officials retreated from attempts to install the "Green Dam" filtering system on every new computer after an online outcry and heavy lobbying by manufacturers.


China to require Internet domain name registration

Lucy Hornby and Yu Le


Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:59am EST

Related News

People use computers at an Internet cafe in Changzhi, north China's Shanxi province June 20, 2007. REUTERS/Stringer

(Reuters) – China has issued new Internet regulations, including what appears to be an effort to create a "whitelist" of approved websites that could potentially place much of the Internet off-limits to Chinese readers.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology ordered domain management institutions and internet service providers to tighten control over domain name registration, in a three-phase plan laid out on its website ( late on Sunday.

"Domain names that have not registered will not be resolved or transferred," MIIT said, in an action plan to "further deepen" an ongoing anti-pornography campaign that has resulted in significant tightening of Chinese Internet controls.

Only allowing Chinese viewers to access sites registered on a whitelist would give Chinese authorities much greater control, but would also block millions of completely innocuous sites.

The rules did not specify whether the new measure applies to overseas websites, but local media reported the risk that foreign sites that have not registered could also be blocked.

"If some legal foreign websites could not be accessed because they haven’t registered with MIIT, it would be a pity for the Internet which is meant to connect the whole world," the Beijing News said on Tuesday.

Chinese Internet controls currently follow a blacklist strategy, whereby censors block sensitive sites as soon as they discover them. Earlier this summer, MIIT tried to require that all new Chinese computers be shipped with the Green Dam filter software, but partially backed off after an international outcry.


The anti-pornography drive since this summer has also netted many sites with politically sensitive or even simply user-generated content, in what many see as an effort by the Chinese government to reassert control over new media and its potential for citizens sharing information and organizing.

"One interpretation is that all foreign websites would need to register in order not to be blocked in China," said Rebecca MacKinnon of the Journalism and Media Studies Center at the University of Hong Kong.

"These are the folks who brought us Green Dam so anything is possible. They are people with a track record of emitting unreasonable schemes."

The registration requirements could constitute a barrier to trade, if Chinese citizens are prevented from accessing legitimate overseas businesses, added MacKinnon.

China banned a number of popular websites and Internet services in 2009, including Google’s Youtube, Twitter, Flickr and Facebook, as well as Chinese content sharing sites, including sites popular for music and film downloads.

Angry Chinese Twitter users flooded a Twitter look-alike service ( launched by the official People’s Daily on Tuesday, causing it to be immediately shut down.

Many virtual private network, or VPN, services used to get around Web restrictions have also become harder to use from China, while 20 million people living in the frontier region of Xinjiang have been cut off from the Internet and international telephone services since deadly ethnic riots in July.

"What usually happens when suddenly compiled rules appear without warning is that they are rarely enforced. My gut reaction is that this is yet another of those cases," said Beijing-based technology commentator Kaiser Kuo.

(Editing by Sugita Katyal.)


Barack Obama criticises internet censorship at meeting in China

US president praises freedom of expression as he speaks to Shanghai students at public meeting

Barack Obama criticised internet censorship as he spoke to students in Shanghai today and praised freedom of expression and political participation.

The US president told the gathering of 400 young people that his country regarded such liberties as universal values. But he stopped short of direct reference to human rights abuses in China, as some activists had urged. Aides have said that Obama, who arrived tonight in the capital, Beijing, last night, will raise them in his meetings with Chinese leaders.

He will hold a joint press conference with President Hu Jintao and visit the Forbidden City on a brief sightseeing break in the bilateral discussions. The two men met for dinner tonight.

Sinologists in the US have long encouraged Washington to reach out to the Chinese public, as well as its leaders. But yesterday’s meeting underlined the difficulties of doing so.

The event had been billed as a town hall-style meeting, but Chinese officials rejected US proposals that 1,000 people should attend and that it should be broadcast live nationwide.

Instead, it was streamed on the White House site, broadcast live on a local Shanghai television channel and transmitted in text form on state news agency Xinhua’s website. Most Chinese citizens will have seen only brief extracts – not including the remarks on censorship.

Although Obama selected questioners from the audience, those in the hall were picked by officials at Shanghai institutions. At least two of those who spoke were thought to be student officers of the Communist Youth League. Other questions were posted by internet users.

One issues raised concerned arms sales to Taiwan – in a question Obama did not directly answer – another about the president’s Nobel Peace Prize.

It was the US ambassador Jon Huntsman who read out the question about China’s "Great Firewall" and the blocking of Twitter, posted on a US government site. "I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable," Obama said. "They can begin to think for themselves."

He described himself as "a big supporter of non-censorship" and said criticism made him a better president.

The comments on web censorship were carried on Xinhua, though bloggers reported that they disappeared from another news site.

One Twitter user wrote: "I will not forget this morning; I heard, on my shaky internet connection, a question about our own freedom which only a foreign leader can discuss."

But influential Chinese blogger Michael Anti wrote: "Except for the internet freedom Q&A, Obama was too soft, carefully avoiding confronting China, so it made his town hall fail."

In brief opening remarks Obama repeated earlier assurances that America welcomed China’s rise, saying co-operation had made both countries more prosperous and secure. He also said that the US did not seek to impose any system of government on other nations.

But he continued: "These freedoms of expression, and worship, of access to information and political participation – we believe they are universal rights. They should be available to all people, including ethnic and religious minorities, whether they are in the United States, China or any nation."

His predecessors Bill Clinton and George Bush were more explicit in highlighting concerns – while praising Chinese advances – when they spoke to students.

Nicholas Bequelin, Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said Obama had framed liberties as a question of political culture rather than international legal norms.

"What’s important is to put a degree of pressure on the Chinese government for its repressive practices," he said. "You cannot do that without a degree of straight talk. That’s not what happened at this meeting … What was needed was to include things relevant to what is happening in the country –as he did in Cairo, for example."

Campaigners reported that dozens of activists, petitioners and dissidents have been detained ahead of Obama’s arrival. Such round-ups are common during major visits.

The US president also suggested the two countries now shared the "burden of leadership".

"There are very few global challenges that can be solved unless the US and China agree," he told a questioner, citing climate change.

"There are very few global challenges that can be solved unless the US and China agree," he told a questioner, citing climate change.

Officials still hope for progress on climate change in the bilateral talks, despite Obama’s acknowledgement this weekend that time had run out to secure a legally binding deal at Copenhagen.

Economic and trade issues will also be a high priority, as will North Korea and Iran’s nuclear programmes and the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan.


FTC Backs Off Drudge Tax

Kurt Nimmo
June 11, 2010

The FTC is running for cover in the wake of reports it plans to tax websites and electronic devices in order to rescue dead tree dinosaur corporate media. FTC head honcho Jon Leibowitz nixed the proposals during testimony before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, reports theWashington Times. “I think that’s a terrible idea,” said Leibowitz when asked about the taxes on Wednesday.


FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

Earlier in the week a Rasmussen Reports poll revealed overwhelming opposition to the scheme. Three out of four of respondents opposed taxing electronic devices and approximately the same amount opposed the so-called Drudge tax on popular alternative news websites.

“The American people have absolutely no interest in taxing new media or consumer electronics to prop up an industry that’s clearly on its way out,” Rasmussen noted. “Just 19% think the government should get actively involved in steps to save the newspaper industry and other forms of traditional journalism. Sixty percent (60%) oppose government involvement in such activities. Twenty-one percent (21%) aren’t sure if it’s a good idea or not.”

The number of Americans opposed to a government “bailout” of the dying newspaper industry has increased since early last year. “Seventy-one percent (71%) oppose a government bailout of the newspaper industry like the ones for the financial sector and the automobile industry, up from 65% in March of last year. Only 14% say a government bailout of the newspaper business is a good idea.”

After the Washington Times reported on the scheme on June 4, the FTC denied it is pushing for new taxes on media. “It’s merely trying to decide if — not when or how — it should ever take regulatory action as part of its mission to protect consumers and competition,” explained Ed O’Keefe writing for the Washington Post.

The FTC claims these ideas were then compiled in a “discussion draft.” The latest Washington Times editorial, however, disputes this. “In fact, the agency’s Federal Register announcement for the proceeding questioned the propriety of news-aggregator websites that ‘do not pay for content’ — this document was filed long before public hearings were held.”

Moreover, Mr. Leibowitz has held such ideas in the past. Before joining the FTC, he was vice president of the Motion Picture Association of America, an organization that defends an extreme view of copyright law in order to prop up Hollywood’s increasingly obsolete business model. At a December workshop, Mr. Leibowitz complained that online news readers get a “free ride instead of paying the full value — or in fact paying anything — for what they’re consuming,” notes the Times.

It is no secret the government wants to control if not eliminate the alternative media and throw support and tax payer money behind an effort to support a corporate media that has faithfully acted as a propaganda outlet.

As the Times notes, Obama has a penchant for ignoring the will of the people and pushing unpopular legislation such as his health care “reform” and other control and tax schemes such as cap and trade (currently in trouble in Congress, mostly due to strong opposition).

The FTC plan will not go away. It will simply morph into another scheme or be shelved until the government feels it has a chance to shove it down the throats of the American people. In the meantime, the old dead tree corporate media will continue to die, as will the corporate media television news networks.


FCC’s Stealth Plan to Censor Internet Content

Kurt Nimmo
June 20, 2010

In order to control the internet and do so without much notice, the FCC has rolled a censorship plan into its Net Neutrality scheme. Under the fallacious rubric of “consumer protection,” the FCC is calling for the regulation of television and internet broadband.

Kelly William Cobb, writing for Americans for Tax Reform, says “the FCC would begin regulating Internet access for the first time under a completely new regulatory scheme (even though they lack the authority to create it). Meanwhile, the FCC would push regulations – cloaked in the heart-warming language of competition and innovation – mandating that your cable box (known as a set-top box) become a ‘broadband gateway device’ controlling access to your Internet, TV, and phone. The FCC has already started looking at set-top box regulations in their National Broadband Plan.”

On top of this, it would open the door for the FCC to begin monitoring or censoring content on the Internet (in addition to your TV), something Free Press and other progressives, as well as the White House regulatory czar advocate. The Songwriters Guild of America has a great op-ed on why government censorship is entirely possible if the Internet becomes regulated. (Emphasis added.)

Under the FCC’s regulatory control consumers would be forced to buy an Internet/TV/Phone connectivity box that the government approves. “Everyone will pay rates for service that the government sets. And everything passing through your Internet, TV, or phone would become subject to the FCC’s consistent regulatory whim,” writes Cobb.

The FCC has controlled television content for decades. If you want to know what the heavy hand of government will do to internet content think of the absurd Janet Jackson nipple incident and the government’s response.

The government wants to make sure the flow of information is safe for consumption by the plebs. Broadcast and cable television do not offer an alternative to news and information provided by the corporate media. The FCC plan and government oversight of content would effectively kill off alternative news, information, and commentary.

If the FCC gets its way Obama will not need a “kill switch” installed in the Oval Office. The internet will ultimately become a pale reflection of corporate-dominated television where there are hundreds of channels and nothing on — that is nothing that challenges the government and offers an alternative to the corporate media.


The FCC’s Grand Plan to Control Your Internet, TV, and Phone?

From Kelly William Cobb on Tuesday, June 15, 2010 1:19 PM

This Thursday, the FCC opens up comments on its proposal regulate the Internet.  While no one is quite sure all that it will contain, Scott Cleland (a long-time telecom policy expert and insider) has pieced together recent FCC filings from Google to outline how Net Neutrality regulations could be part of a grand plan to control how virtually all media enters your home.  Here’s a brief summary:

Under the guise of “Net Neutrality” and “consumer protection” the FCC would begin regulating Internet access for the first time under a completely new regulatory scheme (even though they lack the authority to create it).  Meanwhile, the FCC would push regulations – cloaked in the heart-warming language of competition and innovation – mandating that your cable box (known as a set-top box) become a “broadband gateway device” controlling access to your Internet, TV, and phone.  The FCC has already started looking at set-top box regulations in their National Broadband Plan.

The FCC would then begin setting rates for the total cost of all three services.  Chairman Genachowski said he does not intend to set prices for Internet access.  However, the legal maneuvering is so tenuous and the desire from left-wing groups so strong that a mere promise to “forbear” from rate setting is certainly no guarantee.  On top of this, it would open the door for the FCC to begin monitoring or censoring content on the Internet (in addition to your TV), something Free Press and other progressives, as well as the White House regulatory czar advocate.  The Songwriters Guild of America has a great op-ed on why government censorship is entirely possible if the Internet becomes regulated.

This plan outlines a dark hypothetical world that would effectively destroy any future competition for services and turn our nation’s networks into “dumb pipes” under government centralized control.  Everyone will buy an Internet/TV/Phone connectivity box that the government approves.  Everyone will pay rates for service that the government sets.  And everything passing through your Internet, TV, or phone would become subject to the FCC’s consistent regulatory whim.

Worst of all, this extreme case of political favoritism for Google’s business model (which is developing set-top boxes and carrying all content to users for "free") is not out of the realm of possibility.  Both Google and the socialist organization Free Press have long pushed for such regulations and both are arguably the closest groups to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.  They are also strong supporters of President Obama who are calling for their payoff.  The former head of Google’s policy shop is now Chief Technology Officer at the White House and Free Press’s former press director is the FCC’s spokesperson.

There are a lot of hurdles for the FCC should they choose this horrendously anti-free market route to take over the nation’s Internet networks and control the flow of media.  Already facing severe bipartisan opposition from Congress and the court, the FCC would certainly invite another legal challenge.  But if it works, Internet, phone, and TV service will simply become Google Chrome, Android/Google-Voice, and Google TV.

Read more:


Death Of The Internet: Unprecedented Censorship Bill Passes in UK
"Wash-up" process used to rush through draconian legislation as a pitiful handful of MPs attend debate

Steve Watson
Thursday, April 8th, 2010










A draconian Internet censorship bill that has been long looming on the horizon finally passed the house of commonsin the UK yesterday, legislating for government powers to restrict and filter any website that is deemed to be undesirable for public consumption.

The "Digital Economy Bill" was rushed through parliament in a late night session last night after a third reading.

In the wake of the announcement of a general election on May 6, the government has taken advantage of what is known as the "wash-up process", allowing the legislative process to be speeded up between an election being called and Parliament being dissolved.

Only a pitiful handful of MPs (pictured below) were present to debate the bill, which was fully supported by the "opposition" Conservative party, and passed by 189 votes to 47 keeping the majority of its original clauses intact.

The bill will now go back to the House of Lords, where it originated, for a final formal approval.

The government removed a proposal in clause 18 of the bill, which openly stated that it could block any website, however it was replaced with an amendment to clause 8 of the bill which essentially legislates for the same powers.

The new clause allows the unelected secretary of state for business, currently Lord Mandelson, to order the blocking of "a location on the internet which the court is satisfied has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright".

Opposing MPs argued that the clause was too broad and open ended, arguing that the phrase "likely to be used" could be used to block websites without them ever having been used for "activity that infringes copyright". Other MPs argued that under the bill, whistleblower websites, such as Wikileaks, could be targeted.

The legislation will also allow the Home Secretary to place “a technical obligation on internet service providers” to block whichever sites it wishes.

Under clause 11 of the proposed legislation “technical obligation” is defined as follows:

A “technical obligation”, in relation to an internet service provider, is an obligation for the provider to take a technical measure against particular subscribers to its service.

A “technical measure” is a measure that — (a) limits the speed or other capacity of the service provided to a subscriber; (b) prevents a subscriber from using the service to gain access to particular material, or limits such use; (c) suspends the service provided to a subscriber; or (d) limits the service provided to a subscriber in another way.

In other words, the government will have the power to force ISPs to downgrade and even block your internet access to certain websites or altogether if it wishes.

The legislation is part of an amplified effort by the government to seize more power over the internet and those who use it.

For months now unelected "Secretary of State" Lord Mandelson has overseen government efforts to challenge the independence of the of UK’s internet infrastructure.

The Digital Economy Bill will also see users’ broadband access cut off indefinitely, in addition to a fine of up to £50,000 without evidence or trial, if they download copyrighted music and films. The plan has been identified as "potentially illegal" by experts.

The legislation would impose a duty on ISPs to effectively spy on all their customers by keeping records of the websites they have visited and the material they have downloaded. ISPs who refuse to cooperate could be fined £250,000.

As Journalist and copyright law expert Cory Doctrow has noted, the bill also gives the Secretary of State the power to make up as many new penalties and enforcement systems as he likes, without Parliamentary oversight or debate.

This could include the authority to appoint private militias, who will have the power to kick you off the internet, spy on your use of the network, demand the removal of files in addition to the blocking of websites.

Mandelson and his successors will have the power to invent any penalty, including jail time, for any digital transgression he deems Britons to be guilty of.

Despite being named the Digital Economy Bill, the legislation contains nothing that will actually stimulate the economy and is largely based on shifting control over the internet into government hands, allowing unaccountable bureaucrats to arbitrarily hide information from the public should they wish to do so.

Mandelson began the onslaught on the free internet in the UK after spending a luxury two week holiday at Nat Rothschild’s Corfu mansion with multi-millionaire record company executive David Geffen.

Over 20,000 members of the public have written to their MPs in the last week to lobby against the bill being rushed through, however, their concerns have fallen on deaf ears and the government has been allowed to deal a devastating blow to the last real vestige of free speech in this country.

The Wider Agenda Of Internet Control

The Digital Economy Bill is intrinsically linked to long term plans by the UK government to carry out an unprecedented extension of state powers by claiming the authority to monitor all emails, phone calls and internet activity nationwide.

IN 2008, the government announced its intention to create a massive central database, gathering details on every text sent, e-mail sent, phone call made and website visited by everyone in the UK.

The programme, known as the "Interception Modernisation Programme", would allow spy chiefs at GCHQ, the government’s secret eavesdropping agency, the centre for Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) activities (pictured above), to effectively place a “live tap” on every electronic communication in Britain in the name of preventing terrorism.

Following outcry over the announcement, the government suggested that it was scaling down the plans, with then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith stating that there were "absolutely no plans for a single central store" of communications data.

However, as the "climbdown" was celebrated by civil liberties advocates and the plan was "replaced" by new laws requiring ISPs to store details of emails and internet telephony for just 12 months, fresh details emerged indicating the government was implementing a big brother spy system that far outstrips the original public announcement.

The London Times published leaked details of a secret mass internet surveillanceproject known as "Mastering the Internet" (MTI).

Costing hundreds of millions in public funds, the system is already being implemented by GCHQ with the aid of American defence giant Lockheed Martin and British IT firm Detica, which has close ties to the intelligence agencies.

A group of over 300 internet service providers and telecommunications firms has attempted to fight back over the radical plans, describing the proposals as an unwarranted invasion of people’s privacy.

Currently, any interception of a communication in Britain must be authorised by a warrant signed by the home secretary or a minister of equivalent rank. Only individuals who are the subject of police or security service investigations may be subject to surveillance.

If the GCHQ’s MTI project is completed, black-box probes would be placed at critical traffic junctions with internet service providers and telephone companies, allowing eavesdroppers to instantly monitor the communications of every person in the country without the need for a warrant.

Even if you believe GCHQ’s denial that it has any plans to create a huge monitoring system, the current law under the RIPA (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) allows hundreds of government agencies access to the records of every internet provider in the country.

In publicly announced proposals to extend these powers, firms will be asked to collect and store even more vast amounts of data, including from social networking sites such as Facebook.

If the plans go ahead, every internet user will be given a unique ID code and all their data will be stored in one place. Government agencies such as the police and security services will have access to the data should they request it with respect to criminal or terrorist investigations.

This is clearly the next step in an incremental program to implement an already exposed full scale big brother spy system designed to completely obliterate privacy, a fundamental right under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Death Of The Internet In Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.

Similar efforts to place restrictions on the internet are unfolding in Australia where the government is implementing a mandatory and wide-ranging internet filter modeled on that of the Communist Chinese government.

Australian communication minister Stephen Conroy said the government would be the final arbiter on what sites would be blacklisted under “refused classification.”

The official justification for the filter is to block child pornography, however, as the watchdog group Electronic Frontiers Australia has pointed out, the law will also allow the government to block any website it desires while the pornographers can relatively easily skirt around the filters.

Earlier this year, the Wikileaks website published a leaked secret list of sites slated to be blocked by Australia’s state-sponsored parental filter.

The list revealed that blacklisted sites included "online poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist."

The filter will even block web-based games deemed unsuitable for anyone over the age of fifteen, according to the Australian government.

In neighbouring New Zealand, the government has quietly implemented an internet filterand is urging the leading ISPs in the country to adopt the measure, in a move that would give the authorities the power to restrict whichever websites they see fit.

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) reportedly turned on the internet filter on February 1st without making any announcement, prompting critics to charge that the measure had been activated in stealth.

It was no coincidence that around the same time the government’s Internet filter went live, Infowars began receiving notification from readers in New Zealand that their access to Alex Jones’ flagship websites and had been suddenly blocked.

The broad attack on the free internet is not only restricted to the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

The European Union, Finland, Denmark, Germany and other countries in Europe have all proposed blocking or limiting access to the internet and using filters like those used in Iran, Syria, China, and other repressive regimes.

In 2008 in the U.S., The Motion Picture Association of America asked president Obama to introduce laws that would allow the federal government to effectively spy on the entire Internet, establishing a system where being accused of copyright infringement would result in loss of your Internet connection.

In 2009 the Cybersecurity Act was introduced, proposing to allow the federal government to tap into any digital aspect of every citizen’s information without a warrant. Banking, business and medical records would be wide open to inspection, as well as personal instant message and e mail communications.

The legislation, introduced by Senators John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) in April, gives the president the ability to “declare a cybersecurity emergency” and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any “critical” information network “in the interest of national security.” The bill does not define a critical information network or a cybersecurity emergency. That definition would be left to the president, according to a Mother Jones report.

During a hearing on the bill, Senator John Rockefeller betrayed the true intent behind the legislation when he stated, “Would it have been better if we’d have never invented the Internet,” while fearmongering about cyber attacks on the U.S. government and how the country could be shut down.

Watch the clip below.

The Obama White House has also sought a private contractor to "crawl and archive" data such as comments, tag lines, e-mail, audio and video from any place online where the White House "maintains a presence" – for a period of up to eight years.

Obama has also proposed scaling back a long-standing ban on tracking how people use government Internet sites with "cookies" and other technologies.

Recent disclosures under the Freedom Of Information Act also reveal that the federal government has several contracts with social media outlets such as Youtube (Google), Facebook, Myspace and Flickr (Yahoo) that waive rules on monitoring users and permit companies to track visitors to government web sites for advertising purposes.

The U.S. military also has some $30 Billion invested in it’s own mastering the internet projects.

We have extensively covered efforts to scrap the internet as we know it and move toward a greatly restricted "internet 2" system. All of the above represents stepping stones toward the realisation of that agenda.

The free internet is under attack the world over, only by exposing the true intentions of our governments to restrict the flow of data can we defeat such efforts and preserve what is left of the last vestige of independent information.


Government Internet Censorship Begins In Stealth In New Zealand

Government Internet Censorship Begins In Stealth In New Zealand 120310censorship

Infowars, Prisonplanet websites were mysteriously blocked at the same time as government filter was switched on

Steve Watson
Friday, March 12th, 2010

The government of New Zealand has quietly implemented an internet filter and is urging the leading ISPs in the country to adopt the measure, in a move that would give the authorities the power to restrict whichever websites they see fit.

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) reportedly turned on the internet filter on February 1st without making any announcement, prompting critics to charge that the measure had been activated in stealth.

“It’s a sad day for the New Zealand internet” a spokesperson for online freedom lobby Tech Liberty told the leading New Zealand tech website Computerworld.

“It establishes the principle that the government can choose to arbitrarily set up a new censorship scheme and choose which material to block, with no reference to existing law,” the group states.

The filter is already being used by leading internet providers Maxnet and Watchdog, with the government refusing to comment on which other providers are set to take up the technology similar to that used by the Communist Chinese government and the ruling regime in Iran.

Tech Liberty says that it has received inside information that other companies including Telstra Clear, Telecom and Vodafone plan to implement the filter. Other companies including Orcon, Slingshot and Natcom have reportedly said they will not implement the filter, however, Orcon CEO Scott Bartlett has said it is not accurate to say that Orcon will not be taking part.

A New Zealand government spokesman commented “We anticipate all major ISPs will embrace this development as they have the many other filters they employ on the internet for a range of purposes.”

Around the same time the government’s Internet filter went live, Infowars began receiving notification from readers in New Zealand that their access to Alex Jones’ flagship websites and had been suddenly blocked.

The websites were blocked at the ISP level by all companies using Asia Netcom for their international internet traffic. These companies included Woosh, Telecom, Slingshot and Orcon.

Orcon announced that the loss of access was due to a “technical issue”, yet the block was only removed after five days, following a raft of complaints.

Tech Liberty says that filtered material is being kept secret by the New Zealand government, a policy that contravenes established rules on censorship where the Chief Censor is required to publish decisions banning “offensive” material.

There is therefore no way of knowing whether Alex Jones’ websites were blocked as part of the government’s actions, however the timing of the so called “technical issue” seems an extraordinary coincidence.

The secrecy surrounding the restrictions mirrors government policy in neighbouring Australia where a similar, yet mandatory and wide-ranging, internet filter is being implemented.

Earlier this year, the Wikileaks website published a leaked secret list of sites slated to be blocked by Australia’s state-sponsored parental filter.

The list revealed that blacklisted sites included “online poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist.”

The filter will even block web-based games deemed unsuitable for anyone over the age of fifteen, according to the Australian government.

Australian communication minister Stephen Conroy has said the government would be the final arbiter on what sites would be blacklisted under “refused classification.”

Similar internet filtering is being developed for use in the UK and the U.S. – we have covered in depth moves to regulate the internet in both countries.

The official justification for the filters is to block child pornography, however, as the watchdog group Electronic Frontiers Australia has pointed out, the law will also allow the government to block any website it desires while the pornographers can relatively easily skirt around the filters.

The ominous spectacle of major free speech websites going dark in supposedly democratic countries is a shocking portend of what the establishment wants to impose on a widespread basis. Only by screaming bloody murder in defense of the last true outpost of free speech – the Internet – and threatening boycotts and aggressive public relations campaigns can we counter the insidious move to silence the only remaining open forum of lawful dissent.


First, China. Next: the Great Firewall of… Australia?

By MARINA KAMENEV / SYDNEY Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2010

Customers at an Internet cafe in Sydney, Australia, on March 24, 2010

Rob Griffith / AP

The concept of government-backed web censorship is usually associated with nations where human rights and freedom of speech are routinely curtailed. But if Canberra’s plans for a mandatory Internet filter go ahead, Australia may soon become the first Western democracy to join the ranks of Iran, China and a handful of other nations where access to the Internet is restricted by the state.

Plans for a mandatory Internet filter have been a long-term subject of controversy since they were first announced by Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, in May 2008 as part of an $106 million "cybersafety plan." The plan’s stated purpose is to protect children when they go online by preventing them from stumbling on illegal material like child pornography. To do this, Conroy’s Ministry has recommended blacking out about 10,000 websites deemed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to be so offensive that they are categorized as ‘RC,’ or Refused Classification.(See pictures of Chinese mourning the loss of Google.)

The government won’t reveal an official list of the URLs on the current blacklist, but Conroy’s office says it includes sites containing child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act. "Under Australia’s existing [laws] this material is not available in news agencies, it is not on library shelves, you cannot watch it on a DVD or at the cinema and it is not shown on television," Conroy’s office e-mailed in a statement. But in March 2009, when a 2,395-site blacklist was leaked to Wikileaks, an online clearinghouse for anonymous submissions, it seemed confusingly broad, containing, among others, the websites of a dentist from Queensland, a pet-care facility in Queensland, and a site belonging to a school cafeteria consultant.

At the time, Conroy told the Sydney Morning Herald that any Australians involved in the leak could face criminal charges. "No one interested in cyber safety would condone the leaking of this list," he said.

Since then, criticism of the proposed Internet filter has escalated. "Nobody likes it," says Scott Ludlam, a senator from the Australian Greens Party. "Everyone from the communications industry to child protection rights and online civil liberties groups think this idea is deeply flawed." Throughout 2009 GetUp!, an internet-based political activism organization, launched an advertising campaign to raise public awareness about the government’s proposal. (That July, the advertisement the group made was banned from screenings on Qantas domestic flights into Canberra.) In February, Anonymous, a community of Internet users, which include hackers, shut down the Australian Parliament’s web site in their second attack against the filter, which they called "Operation: Titstorm" — a reference to the sexual content that the filter will be blocking. Save the Children has questioned the efficacy of the filter in protecting children, and in March, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders listed Australia as a country that’s "under surveillance" in its annual "Internet Enemies" report, which rounds up the "worst violators of freedom of expression on the Net."(Comment on this story.)

But the most high-profile criticism of the filter has so far been from net giants Google and Yahoo. In March, Google wrote to the Australian government with concerns that the scope of the filter was too wide. The search engine also warned it may slow down search speed. "Filtering may give a false sense of security to parents, it could damage Australia’s international reputation, and it can be easily circumvented," the California company wrote in a submission to Conroy’s Department of Broadband Communications and Digital Economy.

On June 6, the Australian government launched a police investigation into the activities of Google in Australia, accusing the company of collecting private information while taking photographs for their Street View Service, which offers a panoramic view of any catalogued street. In comments that he has denied were spurred by Google’s complaints about his cybersafety program, Conroy has called Google’s privacy policy "creepy," and described their collecting of unsecured private information as "the biggest single breach of privacy in history." Google has admitted to accidentally collecting fragments of data from unsecured wi-fi networks in its global operations.(See pictures of life at Google.)

Indeed, only a cluster of Christian groups and child safety advocates have come out as supporting the filter. In a June 5 poll conducted on the web site of the Sydney Morning Herald, 99% of the 88,645 people who responded to the survey said they were against the Internet filter. Nevertheless, Conroy told the Sun-Herald in May that the policy "will be going ahead.” He also accused groups like GetUp! of deliberately misleading the public. ‘We are still consulting on the final details of the scheme. But this policy has been approved by 85% of Australian internet service providers, who have said they would welcome the filter, including Telstra, Optus, iPrimus and iinet.” Iinet have since denied that it ever approved the scheme.

Many say the biggest problem with the plan is that it simply won’t work. "I don¹t see the point of blocking a site that no one would have come across, and making the criminals aware of the fact they are being watched. I am much more interested in seeing the Australian Federal Police work with international law enforcement agencies in tracking the site," Ludham of the Greens Party says. Jarrod Trevathan, a technology lecturer and researcher at James Cook University, agrees. "Once people know their site is being blocked they will just open up another URL, and then the filter will have to block that URL. Eventually the blocked list will contain countless URLs which will drastically slow down the speed of the Internet." In May, ABC reported Conroy might consider, as part of his program, allowing child pornography websites to be temporarily left online to catch people maintaining or using them.

Still, it’s hard to see why the government is pressing ahead with a scheme that, in the view of many, will do more harm than good. "It’s like trying to ban burglaries by banning pictures of crowbars," says Geordie Guy, vice chairman of Electronic Frontiers Australia, a non-profit national organization that has been vehemently opposed to the filter since it’s conception. "You stop burglaries the same way you stop pedophilia — by catching the perpetrators. If the government closes these websites than the [Australian Federal Police] will find it harder to track the real criminals."

Read more:,8599,1995615,00.html#ixzz0sCKIlEiF


Federally Funded Boffins Want To Scrap The Internet
Seeking further funding from Congress for "clean slate" projects

Steve Watson

Tuesday, April 16, 2007 

Researchers funded by the federal government want to shut down the internet and start over, citing the fact that at the moment there are loopholes in the system whereby users cannot be tracked and traced all the time.

Time magazine has reported that several foundations and universities including Rutgers, Stanford, Princeton, Carnegie Mellon and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are pursuing individual projects, along with the Defense Department, in order to wipe out the current internet and replace it with a new network which will satisfy big business and government:

One challenge in any reconstruction, though, will be balancing the interests of various constituencies. The first time around, researchers were able to toil away in their labs quietly. Industry is playing a bigger role this time, and law enforcement is bound to make its needs for wiretapping known.

There’s no evidence they are meddling yet, but once any research looks promising, "a number of people (will) want to be in the drawing room," said Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor affiliated with Oxford and Harvard universities. "They’ll be wearing coats and ties and spilling out of the venue."

The projects echo moves we have previously reported on to clamp down on internet neutrality and even to designate a new form of the internet known as Internet 2.

This would be a faster, more streamlined elite equivalent of the internet available to users who were willing to pay more for a much improved service. providers may only allow streaming audio and video on your websites if you were eligible for Internet 2.

Of course, Internet 2 would be greatly regulated and only "appropriate content" would be accepted by an FCC or government bureau. Everything else would be relegated to the "slow lane" internet, the junkyard as it were. Our techie rulers are all too keen to make us believe that the internet as we know it is "already dead".

Google is just one of the major companies preparing for internet 2 by setting up hundreds of "server farms" through which eventually all our personal data – emails, documents, photographs, music, movies – will pass and reside.

However, experts state that the "clean slate" projects currently being undertaken go even further beyond projects like Internet2 and National LambdaRail, both of which focus primarily on next-generation needs for speed.

In tandem with broad data retention legislation currently being introduced worldwide, such "clean slate" projects may represent a considerable threat to the freedom of the internet as we know it. EU directives and US proposals for data retention may mean that any normal website or blog would have to fall into line with such new rules and suddenly total web regulation would become a reality.

In recent months, a chorus of propaganda intended to demonize the Internet and further lead it down a path of strict control has spewed forth from numerous establishment organs:

  • In a display of bi-partisanship, there have recently been calls for all out mandatory ISP snooping on all US citizens by both Democrats and Republicans alike.
  • Republican Senator John McCain recently tabled a proposal to introduce legislation that would fine blogs up to $300,000 for offensive statements, photos and videos posted by visitors on comment boards. It is well known that McCain has a distaste for his blogosphere critics, causing a definite conflict of interest where any proposal to restrict blogs on his part is concerned.
  • During an appearance with his wife Barbara on Fox News last November, George Bush seniorslammed Internet bloggers for creating an "adversarial and ugly climate."

  • The White House’s own recently de-classified strategy for "winning the war on terror" targets Internet conspiracy theories as a recruiting ground for terrorists and threatens to "diminish" their influence.

  • The Pentagon recently announced its effort to infiltrate the Internet and propagandize for the war on terror.

  • In a speech last October, Homeland Security director Michael Chertoff identified the web as a "terror training camp," through which "disaffected people living in the United States" are developing "radical ideologies and potentially violent skills." His solution is "intelligence fusion centers," staffed by Homeland Security personnel which will go into operation next year.

  • The U.S. Government wants to force bloggers and online grassroots activists to register and regularly report their activities to Congress. Criminal charges including a possible jail term of up to one year could be the punishment for non-compliance.

  • A landmark legal case on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America and other global trade organizations seeks to criminalize all Internet file sharing of any kind as copyright infringement, effectively shutting down the world wide web – and their argument is supported by the U.S. government.

  • A landmark legal ruling in Sydney goes further than ever before in setting the trap door for the destruction of the Internet as we know it and the end of alternative news websites and blogs by creating the precedent that simply linking to other websites is breach of copyright and piracy.

  • The European Union, led by former Stalinist and potential future British Prime Minister John Reid, hasalso vowed to shut down "terrorists" who use the Internet to spread propaganda.

  • The EU data retention bill, passed last year after much controversy and with implementation tabled for late 2007, obliges telephone operators and internet service providers to store information on who called who and who emailed who for at least six months. Under this law, investigators in any EU country, and most bizarrely even in the US, can access EU citizens’ data on phone calls, sms’, emails and instant messaging services.

  • The EU also recently proposed legislation that would prevent users from uploading any form of video without a license.

  • The US government is also funding research into social networking sites and how to gather and store personal data published on them, according to the New Scientist magazine. "At the same time, US lawmakers are attempting to force the social networking sites themselves to control the amount and kind of information that people, particularly children, can put on the sites."











We are being led to believe that a vast army of maniac pedophiles or terrorists are on the loose and we must do away with all forms of privacy in order to stop them. This is akin to saying that blanket cctv prevents crime. As if to say "if we film everyone all the time, even innocent people, then no one will ever commit any crimes."

Increasingly we are seeing this in every aspect of our lives. Recording, tracking and retaining our data in the name of keeping us all safe. Everyone is now treated as guilty until proven innocent.

Make no mistake, the internet, one of the greatest outposts of free speech ever created is under constant attack by powerful people who cannot operate within a society where information flows freely and unhindered. Both American and European moves mimic stories we hear every week out of State Controlled Communist China, where the internet is strictly regulated and virtually exists as its own entity away from the rest of the web.

The Internet is freedom’s best friend and the bane of control freaks. Its eradication is one of the short term goals of those that seek to centralize power and subjugate their populations under a surveillance panopticon prison, whether that be in Communist China, Neoconservative America or the Neofascist EU.