Ecuador Using Copyright To Try To Take Down Leaked Documents About Its Surveillance Practices

from the copyright-as-censorship dept

While Ecuador has received plenty of attention for granting asylum to Julian Assange and being one possible landing place for Ed Snowden, it’s no secret that the country is not exactly known as a bastion of civil liberties protection. In fact, last year, just as it was granting Julian Assange asylum, there were reports coming out about highly questionable activities by the Ecuador government in extraditing someone who had exposed corruption. In that post, it was noted that Ecuardor scrapped its own rules requiring a warrant to investigate someone’s IP address and has been known to seize the computers of critical journalists.

So, it should come as little surprise that while so much attention is on Ecuador, it was leaked to Buzzfeed that the country is in the middle of purchasing equipment for widespread surveillance, including a system called “GSM Interceptor” (subtle!) and some unmanned surveillance drones. Basically, the country does not have a great record on protecting civil liberties or freedom of the press.

But, here’s where the story gets even more bizarre. Buzzfeed’s reporters, Rosie Gray and Adrian Carrasquillo, had posted the various documents they got revealing these purchases on Scribd and embedded them beneath the story. Here’s a screenshot:

Could there be a copyright claim? Well, unlike the US, many countries do allow government documents to be covered by a form of copyright, but even so it seems ridiculous that Ecuador is clearly using copyright to try to stifle a free press in discussing its surveillance efforts. It’s yet another example of copyright being used for censorship, made doubly ironic in that it came about while trying to stifle documents about its surveillance program that only came to light because the of possibility that it might offer political asylum to Ed Snowden for revealing US surveillance. Are there any places left on earth that actually do respect basic civil liberties?

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Comments on “Ecuador Using Copyright To Try To Take Down Leaked Documents About Its Surveillance Practices”

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30 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

Aha, throwing rocks at your neighbor when your roof is made of glass. Not surprising in the least but still sad. I’d say no country in the world is a good model right now. The ones in power have gone insane in their megalomania. It’s bound to happen. Just look at your regular workplace. When some peon gets some power they quickly become little tyrants. Human nature that very few can properly control.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There are two major problems with politics.
1) Power seekers are the ones that seek office. They do so so they can use power to advance their own agenda.
2) Legislatures are set up as law making bodies, and so they will make laws. This sets up a trend towards totalitarianism, as more laws mean more ‘control’ over the population.
These two problems form a self reinforcing feedback mechanism, as it is almost impossible to gain power on a platform of doing very little or reducing the governments power, which means the more extreme type of power seekers gain power, as they are the only ones proposing new laws.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Re: Re: Wrong Island (to: Ninja, #6)

Iceland doesn’t have polar bears. That’s Spitzbergen, about a thousand miles to the northeast. Iceland is not in contact with the Arctic ice cap, so the bears can’t come over. Iceland has sheep and ponies.

As Erik the Red said, in naming Greenland, circa 980, you don’t want to give a place a nasty name if you’re trying to sell people on going there.

Anonymous Coward says:

no! and it’s mainly due to the way the USA has allowed the entertainment industries to do exactly as they please, change laws exactly as they please, increase sentences exactly as they please, use copyright exactly how they please, shutting down sites exactly how they please, getting items removed exactly how they please. instead of doing what they should have, US Congress has taken bribes to a new high, whereby a industry dealing in make believe has been allowed to turn that into reality! now everyone, everywhere is suffering the consequences!

out_of_the_blue says:

As you claim for intellectual property, doesn't last in society.

A recurring notion here, as “Captain Kangarooski” tried arguing, is that the only way to keep a work yours is to live alone on a desert island, because once becomes public then you lose control. It’s a false premise: gov’ts properly are to protect rights.

Copyright IS gov’t protecting the civil liberty of its populace: owning one’s work-product.

Now, Mike puts out a similar false premise: “Are there any places left on earth that actually do respect basic civil liberties?” — First, I suppose you intended countries or gov’ts, not “places”. — And the answer is: NEVER WAS. Totally baseless idealism that leads to wrong world view. The nature of gov’ts and The Rich is always to NOT respect civil liberties; they do so only when the populace arms against tyranny. Even ancient Greece, the supposed “birthplace of democracy”, it was only a small portion of the populace who enjoyed liberty: the rest were slaves.

One must judge particular acts, not just jingoistically support any gov’t in its every act. Common law morality is what lends any gov’t legitimacy, not the chance of where one was born. So, Ecuador telling the US that the treaty is dead for leverage so buzz off was most excellent. — Yet already Mike has been overwhelmed by his copyright mania and attacks Ecuador for comparatively small flaw.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: As you cCopyright isn't ownership oo works, it's monopolization of them

You alreay have property rights in your work product without copyright. You already didn’t have the legal right to come into my house and take my work from me and copyright law doesn’t change that.

What copyright does is give you monopoly power so you can stop others from execising their own property right to take their knowledge of the product you masde and produce their own

Anonymous Coward says:

GSM Interceptors and drones are perfectly justified purchases for Ecuador to make. Here in Brazil, we already have them. .

For instance, GSM interceptors are used to watch the phone calls made by inmates at prisions who use smuggled cell phones to command drug rings, while drones are deployed to watch the Amazonic frontiers. The trouble isn’t the tech, the trouble is how little in the way the tech is used by Governamental Agencies is reported to the general public.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, but there are both the inteligence aspects to consider- by listening to those calls, its possible to discover leads in the criminal structure – and the fact that an awfull amount of jails in Brazil are actually very close to urbanized areas, so when you deploy jammers, people get very annoyed – but they don’t really seem to care when you explain to them that their calls are being recorded.

Anonymous Coward says:

even more bizarre

“even more bizarre” is that anyone would have ever thought in the first place that Ecuador was doing this for anything but political gains, why do you think they are considering Snowden and have helped (for now) Assange ??

Because they are righteous freedom fighters ?? I don’t think so, and it’s only a matter of time before even you can work that out Masnick.

Assange and Snowden are pawns, they are being used for the very purposes they were against, and you have been helping the various Governments do that to these people.

You have failed to address the real issues, you appeared to understand for about 5 seconds that the message is lost, and it’s all about the messenger, and who is aiding them.

you lost the plot, and it’s only a matter of time before you work that out.

For now, you will enable this political manipulation of Ecuador, and ensure Assange and Snowden are well and truly used and reamed before they are fed to the hounds.

Mark my words sorry, mark my words.

Anonymous Coward says:

If Snowden had any brains

He would take the first possible flight back to the US, walk into the nearest police station and hand himself in, Hand over ALL documents he ‘acquired’, and give the authorities full details of any copies or encryption keys, accept whatever punishment he is given (probably not that bad if he did this), or even accept a plea, and get on with the rest of his life after prison (if he even goes).. It’s as simple as that, and beats the shit out of being used as a political puppet.

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