2011-01-30 Egyptian government orders Al Jazeera shutdown

According to Al Jazeera and confirmed by CNN the Cairo offices of Al Jazeera have been ordered shut down by Egyptian authorities. A statement from Al Jazeera in part states:

Al Jazeera sees this as an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists," the network said. "In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society it is imperative that voices from all sides be heard; the closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people

The live coverage currently being shown on Al Jazeera live, is feed taken from Egyptian state television.

More coverage can be found here: Al Jazeera

2011-01-30 Al Jazeera no longer welcome in Egypt

Egyptian authorities have revoked Al Jazeera Network's licence to broadcast from Egypt.

The information minister [Anas al-Fikki] ordered ... suspension of operations of Al Jazeera, canceling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today," a statement on the official Mena news agency said on Sunday.

An Al Jazeera spokesman said that the company would continue its strong coverage regardless.

Prior to learning of the license revocation, Al Jazeera English correspondent Dan Nolan announced that there had been a series of threats from an unspecified source; eventually, the office received a visit from "plain clothes government security" officials ordering Al Jazeera out.

Gov’t agents say they’ve been watching our coverage but also listening to our phone calls.

Al Jazeera regards this latest act of censorship

2011-01-26 The Palestine Papers (Part 2 of 2) [UPDATE 1]

Part 1 of the Palestine Papers summary is here. The summary concludes with the last documents released on January 26th, and Al Jazeera's editorials on the documents.

Private exchanges between Palestinian and American negotiators in late 2009, when the Goldstone Report was being discussed at the United Nations.

PA stonewalled the Goldstone voteThe UN Human Rights Council was to vote on a resolution supporting the Goldstone Report, the UN’s probe of war crimes committed during Israel’s war in Gaza, on October 2, 2009. The Palestine Papers document exchanges between the US, Israel and the Palestinian Authority during that period. The Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, looking for an agreement he could politically agree to, was convinced by the US, who were determined that Obama's promises of renewed negotiations would be met, that renewing negotiations was in their best interests.

During a series of meetings, Erekat presses for some guidelines or foundations for the discussion "SE cautioned that if the US announced negotiations and there is no agreement on these issues, there will be a disaster." The US refuses to provide any, making clear that for them, the process is the important object. "Undoubtedly you'’ve perceived the sense of urgency of the President. He attitude was consistent: we need to proceed to negotiations ... Regardless of the package with the Israelis, we are not asking you to agree to it. So there is no risk of acquiescence."

2011-01-26 The Palestine Papers (Part 1 of 2)

On January 23, Al Jazeera announced their possession of 1,684 files of confidential documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and with the release of these documents, they launched their new Transparency Unit. They released the Palestine Papers and reported on their contents between January 23-26th, 2011. The documents include:

  • 275 sets of meeting minutes
  • 690 internal e-mails
  • 153 reports and studies
  • 134 sets of talking points and prep notes for meetings
  • 64 draft agreements
  • 54 maps, charts and graphs
  • 51 “non-papers” (including power point presentations)

These accounts of high level exchanges and strategy papers cover a period from 1999 to 2010. As promised by Al Jazeera, they have revealed new details regarding:

The Palestinian Authority’s willingness to concede illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, and to be “creative” about the status of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.

2011-01-24 PdF presents: A symposium on WikiLeaks and Internet freedom (II)

Tonight at 6 p.m.(23:00 utc) the Personal Democracy Forum, in partnership with New York University's Interactive Technology Program, will present the second symposium on WikiLeaks and Internet Freedom.

The panel will include:

  • Member of the Parliament of Iceland Birgitta Jónsdóttir
  • NYU professor of media, culture, and communication Gabriella Coleman
  • NYU Distinguished Writer in Residence Clay Shirky
  • Distinguished Fellow at the MIT Media Lab John Hockenberry
  • Constitutional lawyer Floyd Abrams

2011-01-24 Whistleblowing: Interview with EU lawyer Guido Strack

In an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau today, Guido Strack, EU lawyer and former official of the EU commission at Luxembourg, outlines some of the pitfalls of whistleblowing.

Responding to the question "Stehen Mitarbeiter, die Rechtsbrüche anprangern, am Ende oft alleine da?"(Current employees who stand up against violations of the law often stand alone; why is that?), Strack says:

Viele geben irgendwann auf. Es ist eine enorme Drucksituation. Man findet gravierende Verstöße und weiß, dass das dem Chef nicht passen wird. Was macht man damit? Entweder man geht in die innere Kündigung, geht weg oder man gibt einen Hinweis auf die Missstände. Oft werden diese Menschen dann als zu widerspenstig angesehen und von der Organisation ausgesiebt.

Some give up at some point. There is tremendous pressure in this situation. One finds serious failures and violations of the law and knows that the boss will not address the issues. What does one do in that situation? Either you resign and have nothing to do with the problem or you report the violation. However, the people who report the violations will be regarded as being insubordinate and blacklisted from other organizations.)

Strack expands on the plight of whistleblowers in reply to the question:"Warum sind die Sanktionen gegen Whistleblower oft so heftig?"(Why are the legal consequences / punishments enacted against whistleblowers often so draconian?)

Tools of the Trade.


I call this blog 'Tools of the Trade'. What I'll attempt to do here is to focus on the technologies behind the Wikileaks story. This could be hardware, software and even just concepts which, when wedded with technology, produce results the makers never conceived of. Let's look at secure networks, encryption, national and corporate censorship... as well as how folks circumvent it, smart phones, thumb drives and other ways of staying connected.

2011-01-14 Tunisia: Ben Ali Out, Mohamed Ghannouchi Out

Today marked the end of a 23 year rule by Tunisian president Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia after police in the country killed at least 23 protesters. “What happened here is going to affect the whole Arab world,” said protester Zied Mhirsi. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announced his intention to serve as interim president, and protesters immediately refused to have him.

Fadhel Bel Taher, whose brother was one of dozens of people killed in protests, said: "Tomorrow we will be back on the streets, in Martyrs Square, to continue this civil disobedience until... the regime is gone.

"The street has spoken."

2011-01-14 Wall Street Journal: Treasury cannot sanction WikiLeaks or Julian Assange

In response to Rep. Peter King, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, who had demanded that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange be placed on a blacklist maintained by the US Treasury Department, a department representative said today, "We do not have evidence at this time as to Julian Assange or Wikileaks meeting criteria under which [Treasury] may designate persons and place them on the [sanctions list]."

Read more

2011-01-13 WikiLeaks editorial: "WikiLeaks condemns U.S. embargo move"

WikiLeaks responded overnight to a call for sanctions against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks from Rep. Peter T. King, chair of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security.

Press release:

WikiLeaks condemns US embargo move

WikiLeaks today condemned calls from the chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security to "strangle the viability" of WikiLeaks by placing the publisher and its editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, on a US "enemies list" normally reserved for terrorists and dictators.

Placement on the US "Specially Designated National and Blocked Persons List" would criminalize US companies who deal with WikiLeaks or its editor. "The U.S. government simply cannot continue its ineffective piecemeal approach of responding in the aftermath of Wikileaks’ damage," King wrote in a letter to the Secretary of the US Treasury, Geithner. "The U.S. government should be making every effort to strangle the viability of Assange’s organization."

’The Homeland Security Committee chair Peter T. King wants to put a Cuban style trade embargo around the truth—forced on US citizens at the point of a gun,’ said Julian Assange.

2011-01-11 TVOntario: The Agenda: Livestream interview with Birgitta Jónsdóttir

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, member of the Icelandic parliament and former WikiLeaks volunteer, in Toronto to speak at the first Samara/Massey journalism seminar, will be interviewed by Steve Paikin of Television Ontario's The Agenda at 2 p.m. EST today. The interview will be livestreamed and will be archived on the program's website.

From Samara:

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, now a member of Iceland’s Parliament, has led a movement in her country to take the most far-reaching steps towards advancing free speech, freedom of the press and transparency in government of any country in the world. This initiative, the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI) aims to bring together transparency laws from multiple jurisdictions to create the strongest media freedom laws in the world, with the goal of improving democracy and Iceland's standing in the international community.

In her talk, Birgitta Jónsdóttir will describe how and why she decided to help transform Iceland into the world’s safe haven for transparency, and what the impact has been to date, including her reflections on WikiLeaks’ ongoing revelations.

2011-01-10 Croatian site joins other whistleblowers

A Croatian group announces its own whistleblowing site, making it time for another updated list.

While looking at this list, please consider the radically varying quality of the sites and the security. The Croatian one is actually found at http://wikileaks.hr/ and calls itself Wikileaks Croatia, without being in any way associated with Wikileaks. ScienceLeaks is asking people to upload material as comments to a blog.

Please don't take the appearance of a site on this list as any kind of a recommendation from WL Central. Buyer beware.

2011-01-06 Censorship in 2011

2010 was the worst year in 14 years for imprisonment of journalists according to statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists. 145 journalists were jailed worldwide, with Iran and China (34 apiece), Eritrea, Burma, and Uzbekistan among most oppressive nations. 14 years ago the number was inflated by Turkey's imprisonment of 78 journalists, and in 2010 the number was decreased by Cuba's release of 17 journalists from jail into Spanish exile. If those numbers were ignored, the 1996 number would be 107 to 2010's 162. Almost half of the jailed journalists worked primarily online. By far the majority were jailed for criticizing the state.

If we look at other censorship initiatives happening now, there is little room for optimism in 2011. Without a significant rise in global activism against censorship, it is poised to become worse in 2011.

The first day of 2011 was the day Hungary took over the presidency of the EU and also the first day of Hungary's new media law. This week has seen multiple media personalities disappear off the air as the effects of that new law are being felt.

The first week of 2011 Tunisia has been fighting to be heard over a mass censorship of protests, triggered by the December 17 self immolation of a 26 year old man who reportedly died on January 5. One of the best known Tunisian bloggers was apparently arrested today, adding to weeks of government crackdown on the use of social media in Tunisia and counter attacks on the Tunisian government by Anonymous (hilariously credited for a picture in the Al Jazeera article).

Three more Tibetan writers were sentenced to jail in China.

Saudi Arabia welcomed the new year by announcing their new internet regulation law which regulates electronic press, forums and blogging. The thirteen forms of internet publishing include websites, electronic ads, mobile phone or other broadcasts, email groups, electronic archives, room dialogues, and "any form of electronic publishing the ministry wishes to add". There are ten terms required to obtain a license, including good conduct and behaviour.

Belarus has at least 20 journalists jailed and have used beatings and raids of journalist homes in their intimidation this week.

The Swedish parliament has passed a law that requires new TV and radio services to be approved by the Swedish government before launching.

The Obama administration announced its fifth prosecution for unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

A regional council in France has suspended an employee for setting up a website called Wikileaks 13 looking to publish evidence of malpractice in the region. After uploading audio of a council commission meeting he was suspended "for having failed to respect his duty of loyalty as an employee".

2011-01-02 Saudi Arabia Regulates internet publishing

The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Culture and Information has adopted regulation for internet publishing, including electronic newspapers, forums, and blogs. aitnews.com outlines the regulations in an article.

Besides the electronic press, forums and blogging, the thirteen forms of internet publishing include websites, electronic ads, mobile phone or other broadcasts, email groups, electronic archives, room dialogues, and "any form of electronic publishing the ministry wishes to add".

There are ten terms required to obtain a license, including good conduct and behaviour.

2011-01-02 Reining in freedom on the web

SFGate has an article about facebook and the internet translated from Philippe Rivière of Le Monde:

The world's most powerful online architects and its political leaders plan to "civilize" the free Internet, which they still see as a lawless zone. If they succeed in domesticating the Internet, stating your real identity will be the price you have to pay in order to enjoy full access. The word "web" was originally an image used to describe a decentralized system of interconnected information networks. Nobody imagined that a spider would actually take up residence at its center and start spying on the activities of all Internet users.

2011-01-01 Censorship of Tunisian Riots

Coverage of the Tunisian riots is being subject to censorship within the country and what some are calling a media blackout internationally. Excerpt from Global Voices coverage follows:

A game of cat and mouse and an actual “cyberwar” is taking place for two weeks now between Tunisian netizens and “Ammar”, the nickname of the very elaborated censorship system deviced by the Tunisian minister of interior. Blogger Astrubal explains its secret techniques.

Tunisian bloggers have long been using circumventing softwares, getting news on facebook and share censored posts, videos, photos or news updates ( like the beating of a journalist) on the main Tunisian blogging platforms and information gateways hosted overseas or via twitter and key words like #sidibouzid.

Still, “Ammar” also seem to want to be rid off social media network: ...

Tunisian netizens- the most connected community on facebook in North Africa- could not upload any photos or videos on facebook on the afternoon of december 30. ...

Demonstrations of support to the #sidibouzid movement took place in Paris, Munich, and Beyrouth. The “media black out” by the main international media outlets and western diplomacy, in addition to the domestic censorship, was a frequent subject of bitterness amongst many Tunisian activists. ...

No internet in Tunis but the media says that the situation is stable yet the protests continue in all regions #sidibouzid ...

The English press seems mostly exempted from the accusations of blackout directed at others.

2010-12-23 AolNews: Feds Seek Computer Firewall to Block WikiLeaks 'Pollution'

AolNews reports that US government agencies have requested a firewall to block Wikileaks' data from entering their systems regardless of its origin.

Fidelis Security, a Boston-based network security company that works with the military and other government agencies, says it's being asked to set up a firewall against WikiLeaks document traffic, regardless of whether it flows from a website, e-mail or other source. ...

The Air Force, for example, has started blocking news media sites such as The New York Times that have re-posted some of the documents.

But Bertone said that the Air Force approach wouldn't prevent someone from being e-mailed a leaked document, or accessing a website that hasn't been specifically blocked by the Air Force.

Look At What Just Happened

I just had to watch Fox News talking about how Wikileaks was promoting anarchy. It’s not my fault, I was looking for ghouls. Anyway, when I went back to twitter everyone I follow had linked the first video below. We had been talking a lot about how the behaviour of the MIC in the last year will radicalize a generation that has been widely regarded as being completely self absorbed, spoiled, etc., etc., all the things old people usually call young people who haven’t done anything yet. But look at this.

Joe Lieberman, Senator, DHS Committee Chair, Terms of Service Policeman

Joe Lieberman, Senator, DHS Committee Chair, Terms of Service Policeman

Monday afternoon I spoke with Leslie Phillips, Press Secretary for Senator Joseph Liebermans' DHS (Department of Homeland Security) Oversight Committee. Ms. Phillips was crisp, professional, and on message, as one might expect.  I would like to Thank her for taking the time to engage my questions, and her patience in the face of my persistent questioning. She generously gave me 15 minutes of her time at a moment when she was headed for a meeting, and I appreciate it.

I had been trying to reach Leslie since Friday...

Speeches for Rallies

Written in response to a specific request but available for use by anyone. Feel free to use, in whole or in part, or publish them on a website, newsletter, store window, office cublicle, etc. If you are organizing a rally, please tell me the details and I’ll post them here and at WLCentral. Thank you all for your support.

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