Prev-IndexNL-Next

Nederlog

October 7, 2015
Crisis: Universal Surveillance ILLEGAL (4x), TPP's extreme dangers (2x)
 "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton















Prev- crisis -Next

Sections
Introduction

1. 
Facebook row: US data storage leaves users open to
     surveillance, court rules

2. With Trust Destroyed by Mass Spying, Top EU Court
     Asserts Need for Privacy Reform

3. Groups Issue Warning: Pro-Corporate TPP Could Kill the
     Internet
  
4. Privacy groups hail 'freedom from surveillance' in
     European court's Facebook ruling

5.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Permanently Locking In   
     The Obama Agenda For 40% Of The Global Economy

6. No Safe Harbor: How NSA Spying Undermined U.S. Tech
     and Europeans’ Privacy


This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, October 7, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is - in fact - about the decision of the European Court of Justice that universal surveillance of everyone (as done by the NSA, the GCHQ etc. etc.) is illegal. Item 2, item 4 and item 6 are also about this (and I am not sorry I have several reviews of essentially the same decision: the reviews are rather different). Next, item 3 and item 5 are about the TTP, that has been approved, but is not yet law (or "law": I do not agree to "laws" that are being made in secret: A real law should at least be public and publicly discussed before it is voted into law, or not, and the TTP was and is secret, and is also strongly manipulated by Obama and his pro rich government).

1. Facebook row: US data storage leaves users open to surveillance, court rules

The first item today is an article by Ian Traynor and Owen Bowcott on The Guardian:

This starts as follows (and is a bit of Good News, that is fairly rare in these crisis  pages):

The personal data of Europeans held in America by online tech corporations is not safe from US government snooping, the European court of justice has ruled, in a landmark verdict that hits Facebook, Google, Amazon and many others.

The Luxembourg-based court declared the EU-US “safe harbour” rules regulating firms’ retention of Europeans’ data in the US to be invalid, throwing a spoke into trade relations that will also impact on current negotiations on a far-reaching transatlantic trade pact between Washington and Brussels.

The ECJ, whose findings are binding on all EU member states, ruled on Tuesday that: “The United States … scheme enables interference, by United States public authorities, with the fundamental rights of persons…”

The verdict came as a direct result of Edward Snowden’s revelations, published in the Guardian, of how the US National Security Agency was obtaining mass access to data held by the big internet servers and telecoms companies in the US. As a result, an Austrian lawyer, Maximilian Schrems, took Facebook to court in Ireland, arguing the social media site was violating his privacy by retaining his data in the US, including material he had himself deleted.

The ruling will force the companies involved to rethink their operations and to relocate some of their operations, and also creates great legal uncertainty among the 4,400 European companies that use the safe harbour rules to transfer customers’ data to the US.

Elsewhere Max Schrems (<- Wikipedia) is styled "a graduate student" (not yet a lawyer). I don't know what is correct. But he clearly is quite right - and the European Court of Justice agreed, which is much more important.

As to "the 4,400 European companies that use the safe harbour rules to transfer customers’ data to the US": I don't pity them in the least, because they know and knew that they were behaving illegally, and they did so because it paid them to do so. (See item 6.)

There is more below (see item 2, item 4 and item 6) but here is first Edward Snowden's reaction, whose courage and principled reasoning started it all:

Snowden himself welcomed the judgment, sending out a stream of approving comments on his Twitter feed. “Europe’s high court just struck down a major law routinely abused for surveillance. We are all safer as a result,” he declared.

“Congratulations, @MaxSchrems. You’ve changed the world for the better … Bottom line: the #SafeHarbor ruling indicates the indiscriminate interception of communications is a violation of rights."

Next, there is this on the legalities:

Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green MEP specialising in data privacy, said: “Safe harbour enabled masses of Europeans’ personal data to be transferred by companies like Facebook to the United States over the past 15 years. With today’s verdict it is clear that these transfers were in breach of the fundamental right to data protection … The United States has to deliver adequate, legally binding protection in the private sector as well as to introduce juridical redress for EU citizens with regards to their privacy rights in all sectors including national security.”

Note that this has been illegal for 15 years (at least), incidentally by a ruling whose name - as so often these days - stated the opposite of what it does: "Safe harbour" meant that European private data were simply up for grabs by the USA's NSA.

Next, as to "[t]he United States has to deliver adequate, legally binding protection in the private sector": I very much doubt that the USA will do so,
for five reasons (at least):

First, without a lot more pressure, the NSA willl simply continue to try to get everything they can get from American citizens.

Second, the internet is an international affair, where one generally doesn't know by which servers one's mails (etc.) reach their final end.

Third, all the NSA needs is to have some access to servers in Europe, which it could do simply by installing taps on it - "beamsplitters" - (in secret) as in Mark Klein's Room 641A (and especially the last Wikipedia link is well worth reading: There are supposed to be at least 20 such rooms for diverse servers in the USA.)

Fourth, because the internet is international, these taps may be all inside the USA and even so may cover nearly all that happens on the internet.

Fifth, the NSA and the GCHQ and all other European secret services, and those of Australia, New Zealand and Canada, are still secret, and mostly do as they please, hiding behind "laws" - such as the European Convention of Human Rights - that allow them to do anything they like, without any questions asked. (See September 24, 2015.)

So I am fairly skeptical about how this will work out. But I do agree with the European Court of Justice:

The court found that Facebook and other digital operators do not provide customers with protection from state surveillance. The ECJ ruling said: “The safe harbour decision denies the national supervisory authorities their powers where a person calls into question whether the decision is compatible with the protection of the privacy and of the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals.”

It suggested that the US “does not afford an adequate level of protection of personal data”.

Then again, the last bit is again very minimalistic: Clearly, "the US “does not afford an adequate level of protection of personal data"", for if it had adequate levels of such protections there would not be a problem and no universal surveillance.

2.
With Trust Destroyed by Mass Spying, Top EU Court Asserts Need for Privacy Reform

The next article today is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows (and is another view of the same decision as was relayed by item 1):

Europe's top court on Tuesday delivered a historic blow to mass surveillance with a ruling that found the right to personal privacy trumps government spying.

Incidentally: That is in accordance with Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but goes against Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (which made governmental spies into a sort of supermen, to whom almost anything is allowed on the flimsiest of legal excuses: See September 24, 2015).

I agree with the decision, but there is the problem of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Next, the above continues as follows:

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) found in its decision (pdf) that the so-called "Safe Harbor" agreement, which allowed U.S. companies to "self-certify" that they met strict privacy safeguards while pulling data from European servers, "must be regarded as compromising the essence of the fundamental right to respect for private life" as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case was brought by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, who argued that American surveillance operations such as PRISM—exposed by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013—rendered useless the privacy safeguards in the Safe Harbor agreement, which for years has allowed technology companies to transfer user data across continental boundaries.

But there is that "European Convention on Human Rights" - and see September 24, 2015.

Next, there is first this:

Jens Henrik-Jeppesen, director of European Affairs at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), said the ECJ's decision "shows the need to step up reforms of government surveillance practices."

"The invalidation of the Safe [Harbor] agreement should spur governments on both sides of the Atlantic to ratchet up long-overdue reform efforts," Jeppesen said, adding that it was "undoubtedly a major jolt for companies and will likely adversely impact their operations."

I don't care for the companies who got rich from doing illegal things they could, should and did know to be illegal (and deeply immoral). Then there is this:

But, he said, "There are still a number of alternative options to transfer data from the EU to the U.S. The judgement makes it clear that now national data protection authorities can review data transfers to the U.S. in each individual case—while the 'safe harbor' allowed for a blanket allowance."

Yes - but France just decided that it can get all the private data of all Frenchmen; the Dutch minister Plasterk seems to have the same inclination (all because of "terrorism", you must understand), and there is also this, by Danny O'Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

However, O'Brien added, it will take more than better "reviews" of data transfers to protect Europeans from mass surveillance.

The "geographic siloing of data" by itself, he argues, "is of little practical help against mass surveillance if each and every country feels that ordinary customer data is a legitimate target for signals intelligence. If governments continue to permit intelligence agencies to indiscriminately scoop up data, then they will find a way to do that, wherever that data may be kept. Keep your data in Ireland, and GCHQ may well target it, and pass it onto the Americans. Keep your data in your own country, and you'll find the NSA—or other European states, or even your own government— breaking into those systems to extract it."

I quite agree (and see item 6), also because France and Holland - at least - seem much inclined (on a governmental level, to be sure) to allowing "that ordinary customer data is a legitimate target for signals intelligence".

3. Groups Issue Warning: Pro-Corporate TPP Could Kill the Internet
 
The next article today is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The "disastrous" pro-corporate trade deal finalized Monday could kill the Internet as we know it, campaigners are warning, as they vow to keep up the fight against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations.

"Internet users around the world should be very concerned about this ultra-secret pact," said OpenMedia' WTF ares digital rights specialist Meghan Sali. "What we’re talking about here is global Internet censorship. It will criminalize our online activities, censor the Web, and cost everyday users money. This deal would never pass with the whole world watching—that’s why they’ve negotiated it in total secrecy."

TPP opponents have claimed that under the agreement, "Internet Service Providers could be required to 'police' user activity (i.e. police YOU), take down Internet content, and cut people off from Internet access for common user-generated content."

Among the deal's provisions are rules that could criminalize file-sharing, whistleblowing, and breaking digital locks, even for legitimate purposes. Of course, because the contents of the pact have been negotiated largely in secret, the exact implications of the TPP on user rights is yet to be seen.

I agree in principle - and to be sure, what is threatened is the survival of "the Internet as we know it", not of some "Internet" as such, that will basically advertise everyone with interminable ads that can't be switched off, and will scoop up any user's private data because his or her government loves to know everything they can get on anyone living on "their" territory.

The problem is that the TPP is a deep secret (which completely invalidates its legal status for me). Well, it is partially known, and there is this:

However, Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) Maira Sutton wrote on Monday, "We have no reason to believe that the TPP has improved much at all from the last leaked version released in August, and we won't know until the U.S. Trade Representative releases the text. So as long as it contains a retroactive 20-year copyright term extension, bans on circumventing DRM, massively disproportionate punishments for copyright infringement, and rules that criminalize investigative journalists and whistleblowers, we have to do everything we can to stop this agreement from getting signed, ratified, and put into force." 

I quite agree.

4. Privacy groups hail 'freedom from surveillance' in European court's Facebook ruling

The next article today is by Sam Thielman on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Private industry was in a rage while privacy groups were elated on Tuesday over a new ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) affirming European citizens’ right to privacy from American tech companies.
Why the "private industries" - according to Wikipedia: the part that is non- governmental, and run by private individuals - should be "in a rage", unless
they are moral degenerates who just love giving private details to secret services completely escapes me.

This is a prominent court's ruling, after all: You may disagree, but to claim that Europe's "private industry" is "in a rage" is just baloney.

Then again, I checked out "Sam Thielman" (the name occurs four times in this year's Nederlog), and I don't like his style and I think he is biased.

Transmission of personal data had previously been covered by a “safe harbor” agreement between Europe and the US that allowed tech firms to share the data with explicit consent from their customers. Businesses that operate in Europe must now make sure they are compliant with the EU’s own laws before they subject their customers’ personal information to laxer restrictions in the US, the court said.

Again false bullshit: I was never asked for "explicit consent"; no one I know of was ever asked for "explicit consent"; Max Schermer was never asked for "explicit consent": It all happened - illegally, based on bullshit reasons - because there was no judgement that forbade this, while nearly all prior attempts to force such a judgement were denied legal access because the secret services kept things secret. And it all happened WITHOUT "explicit consent".

The advertising industry was not pleased. “Today’s decision by the  European Court of Justice jeopardizes thousands of businesses across the Atlantic,” said Mike Zaneis, executive vice-president of public policy and general counsel for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, who called the overturned provision “an efficient means to comply with EU privacy law”.

For me, the "advertising industry", which consists of immoral degenerates, liars, frauds and deceivers who sell lies and deceptions for great amounts of money, lies once again, as nearly always. (That is also the way they make money.)

Here is the last bit, which is a quotation, and that is - at last - good:

Evan Greer, campaign director for internet activist group Fight for the Future, said: “The ECJ has confirmed what the vast majority of internet users already know: large US-based tech companies have been deeply complicit in mass government surveillance, and have traded their users’ most basic rights for a cozy relationship with the US government. While the discussion around NSA spying has far too often focused only on the rights of US citizens, the ECJ ruling is a reminder that freedom from indiscriminate surveillance is a basic human right that should be protected for everyone, regardless of where they live.”

Yes indeed - and compare that with the major falsehoods that "the private industry is in a rage" and that all these thefts happened (bolding added) "with explicit consent from their customers".

5. The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Permanently Locking In The Obama Agenda For 40% Of The Global Economy

The next article today is by Washington's Blog on his blog:
This starts as follows:
We have just witnessed one of the most significant steps toward a one world economic system that we have ever seen.  Negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been completed, and if approved it will create the largest trading bloc on the planet.  But this is not just a trade agreement.  In this treaty, Barack Obama has thrown in all sorts of things that he never would have been able to get through Congress otherwise.  And once this treaty is approved, it will be exceedingly difficult to ever make changes to it.  So essentially what is happening is that the Obama agenda is being permanently locked in for 40 percent of the global economy.

The United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam all intend to sign on to this insidious plan.  Collectively, these nations have a total population of about 800 million people and a combined GDP of approximately 28 trillion dollars.

I say - and I agree with Don Quijones (see October 6, 2015) that these countries no longer have citizens but only residents.

Here is one reason why:

Over the past couple of decades, the United States has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities and millions of good paying jobs due to these “free trade agreements”.  As we merge our economy with the economies of nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, it is inevitable that corporations will shift jobs to places where labor is much cheaper.  Our economic infrastructure is being absolutely eviscerated in the process, and very few of our politicians seem to care.

Once upon a time, the city of Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city on the planet and it had the highest per capita income in the entire nation.  But today it is a rotting, decaying hellhole that the rest of the world laughs at.  What has happened to the city of Detroit is happening to the entire nation as a whole, but our politicians just keep pushing us even farther down the road to oblivion.

And why? Because they are nearly all rich men, who mostly don't really care for the 99% (with a few exceptions, to be sure: see the next paragraph), and who also are nearly all in the pay of lobbyists.

Incidentally, there are exceptions, and one is Sir James Goldsmith, who died in 1997. See the Nederlog for April 16, 2015 and also - if you have time, but it is a very good interview of an hour -
the interview of 1994 (by Charlie Rose).

6. No Safe Harbor: How NSA Spying Undermined U.S. Tech and Europeans’ Privacy

The last article today is by Danny O'Brien (<- Wikipedia) from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I found it on Raging Bull-Shit, but it originated on the site of the EFF:

This is well worth reading completely, but I start this review with a quotation from the European Court of Justice. This is from its press release:

The Court [states] that legislation permitting the public authorities to have access on a generalized basis to the content of electronic communications must be regarded as compromising the essence of the fundamental right to respect for private life.

Likewise, the Court observes that legislation not providing for any possibility for an individual to pursue legal remedies in order to have access to personal data relating to him, or to obtain the rectification or erasure of such data, compromises the essence of the fundamental right to effective judicial protection, the existence of such a possibility being inherent in the existence of the rule of law.

I quite agree - and I note that this is about "legislation permitting the public authorities to have access on a generalized basis to the content of electronic communications".

Accordingly, the ECJ's verdict is that such legislation is itself illegal.

Next, here is Danny O'Brien's view of what was and what was not achieved:

It will not, however, protect their customers from mass surveillance. The geographic siloing of data is of little practical help against mass surveillance if each and every country feels that ordinary customer data is a legitimate target for signals intelligence. If governments continue to permit intelligence agencies to indiscriminately scoop up data, then they will find a way to do that, wherever that data may be kept.

Precisely - and to the best of my knowledge, the French have passed a law that permits - at least - French "intelligence agencies to indiscriminately scoop up data" about the French, while the Dutch minister Plasterk (from the Blatcherist PvdA) also seems much to welcome that idea (about the Dutch).

And here is O'Brien's judgement on what is necessary:

There’s only one way forward to end this battle in a way that keeps the Internet open and preserves everyone’s privacy. Countries have to make clear that mass surveillance of innocent citizens is a violation of human rights law, whether it is conducted inside their borders or outside, upon foreigners or residents. They have to bring their surveillance programs, foreign and domestic, back under control.

I agree, but given the very strong authoritarian, anti-democratic, and pro rich present-day politicians and governments I am fairly pessimistic.

---------------------------------------------

       home - index - summaries - mail