In Another Meaningless Gesture, Administration Smacks North Korea With Sanctions Over Sony Hack

from the US-Government-steadies-finger,-points dept

Never doubt the power of motion picture studios. The US government is moving ahead with plans to smack around North Korea for the Sony Pictures hack. That this is seemingly based on nothing more than a strong hunch by the FBI doesn’t seem to matter. The wheels are rolling and the scapegoat will be properly chastised.

Symbolic actions and symbolic words are being handed down by the administration, under the unlikely moniker of “a proportionate response.” Sanctions are being levied against ten North Korean officials, even as other unnamed administration officials admit there’s no evidence those named were behind the attacks in any form. Let’s all enjoy this quote, which shows the US government is willing to defend the honor of Sony Pictures even at the expense of its own reputation.

“It’s a first step,” one of the officials said. “The administration felt that it had to do something to stay on point. This is certainly not the end for them.”

There you have it. There will be more symbolic stupidity in the future, if only for consistency’s sake. The next question is: if the goal is to deliver a knockout blow, how effective are continued head punches when the target has already lost consciousness?

The actions may well turn out to be more symbolic than substantive: North Korea already faces some of the heaviest sanctions of any country.

The North Korean government doesn’t really care if more sanctions are handed down. It hasn’t made many attempts to ingratiate itself with the US. It is resolutely its own evil empire and appears to be happy being one of the world’s villains.

Once you get beyond the futile administrative shouting, there’s the reality of the situation: there’s really not much evidence pointing to North Korea’s involvement in the Sony hack. So, even if the sanctions are effective, they’re likely misguided.

The link between the hacking and the North Korean government’s public damnation of “The Interview” is extremely tenuous. The hackers behind the attack never linked their actions to the film until after the press did. Additional information points in various directions, but nothing directly at the North Korean government. The evidence the FBI was willing to part with only indicates that the malware used resembles malware used in previous NK hackings — which is really just saying malware that works well tends to resemble other malware that works well. It’s not a smoking gun. It’s not even a gun in a safe with the clip removed. It’s a finger in a coat pocket — something that only looks slightly dangerous/damning when hidden, but completely ridiculous when out in the open.

But the US government has decided North Korea is to blame and the North Korean government is only too happy to alternate between evil empire and unfairly besmirched world citizen. The question is: who is the administration scoring points for by pursuing sanctions against an entity that hacked a private corporation? Even if the administration is privy to information that definitively indicates North Korea’s involvement, why is it throwing its weight behind an incident that was more embarrassing than damaging? Countless American businesses have been hacked over the past several years, leaving millions of Americans’ personal information exposed… and little to no response from the US government. But spring loose a few thousand internal emails dealing with celebrity squabbling, MPAA/state AG collusion and other internal issues, and suddenly, it’s time for America to go to (cyber)war.

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Comments on “In Another Meaningless Gesture, Administration Smacks North Korea With Sanctions Over Sony Hack”

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Rikuo (profile) says:

“who is the administration scoring points for by pursuing sanctions against an entity that hacked a private corporation?”

It’s scoring points with those cretins who heard of the hack and demanded that Obama do something about it. Now he can say, with full honestly, that he did.
Just ignore the fact that what he’s doing will have little to no actual effect.

Cryophallion says:

Re: Are you saying the Dems have corporate masters?

It’s a sad truth that these days the only news agencies really doing their job are foreign, really small… Or television satirists. And sadly, we are now losing colbert as one of those, so we just have Jon and John. The other news outlets are far too worries about losing their access and sources for official leaks because they want to scoop. Or, are just too busy playing the ruse of partisanship to distract people from the truth, and give them a nice sideshow while the status quo is maintained.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I think it’s because the US automatically assume that they have to get involved… You know, as dictators/guardians of the world.

Not that the rest of the world thinks so (or wants them to). Or still sees the US as the shining beacon of liberty and freedom they (maybe) once were.
Nope, that image has been thouroughly broken.

Then again, commenting and acting on this is sooo much safer and more black-and-white than dealing with torture reports and racial hatred inside the US itself! After all, everyone wants to take it easy during the holiday season…

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Then again, commenting and acting on this is sooo much safer and more black-and-white than dealing with torture reports and racial hatred inside the US itself! After all, everyone wants to take it easy during the holiday season…

That last bit is likely the main reason the USG is so focused on the hack, and directing so much attention to it. After all, one the best ways to distract from domestic problems is by invoking a foreign enemy, and directing people’s attention to the ‘threat’.

For a good while now the USG has had several domestic issues that they really, really don’t want the US people to start talking about or discussing, so it’s only natural they’d jump on the chance to bring out a boogieman like NK in order to divert attention.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Correct if I wrong, but isn’t Sony a Japanese company?

• Sony Pictures Entertainment is a U.S. corporation.

• The effects of the crime were felt in California.

• California is still part of the United States this year.

Why is the U.S. doing something that should be handled by Japan?

When one of United Fruit Company‘s foreign subsidiaries becomes a crime victim down in some jungle, then the United States Marines get sent in to teach the natives how to play baseball.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:

It all falls into place once you realize that the U.S. government is selected and relevantly financed by international corporations. While the bulk of its funding does come from U.S. citizens, those funds are available unconditionally and thus play no role in decision-making.

Since the U.S. government cannot use coercion on international corporations (which can just move out of U.S. jurisdiction as opposed to the peons) and is dependent on their continued goodwill, it will of course cater to their needs.

Cryophallion says:

More of the same

You would think that they would have realized by now that they need to rethink their playbook. Saying “trust us” but then hiding information that has no really good reason to be private doesn’t work anymore.
Sorry, but we know all too well these days that the reason stuff is withheld is to obscure the incompetence of our leadership. If you were sure that it was South Korea, you would release the info (or at enough of it to prove your methods were legitimate in tracing and investigating it).
They are stuck in the old mindset where people trusted the administration was actually looking out for their best interests. Sadly, it’s been proven time and time again, that’s just not true.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: More of the same

If you read many, many comments on other sites you will in fact find that a large number of people fully support the US government on this action.

So it would seem the ‘point at foreign baddie’ and ‘trust us’ tactic has worked a charm. No one cares about silly old things like US torture sites any more.

David says:

Re: Re:

Well, you certainly would not want to have Whistles of Mask Destruction to the tune of several kilo-Snowdens blown at the core of U.S. government corruption, would you?

Better invade North Korea while we have painted them redhanded. That should teach the bastards a lesson, regardless whichever country they might be hailing from.

That One Guy (profile) says:

I'll give you three guesses...

who is the administration scoring points for by pursuing sanctions against an entity that hacked a private corporation?

Let’s see, who is it again that gives massive amount of bri- I mean ‘campaign contributions’ to those that run the USG?

For Sony alone, OpenSecrets has the following data from 2014:

ranks 605 of 16,495

$1,280,000 (2014)
$2,190,000 (2013)
ranks 253 of 4,252 in 2014

Total Lobbying Expenditures: $1,280,000
Subtotal for Subsidiary Sony Music Entertainment: $620,000
Subtotal for Subsidiary Sony Pictures Entertainment: $420,000
Subtotal for Subsidiary Sony Corp of America: $240,000

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'll give you three guesses...


Google spends more than any other corporation on lobbying.

The majority of their money goes to funding anti-copyright efforts.

It’s how Mike Masnick gets paid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I'll give you three guesses...

Ah, this old canard.

Mike was paid directly by Google once through sponsorship of an event, and has been contributed to as part of the CCIA The Sky is Rising reports.

Moreover, I would consider Google to be less than wise to not outspend the ‘major media’ companies, given the constant efforts of the Stupid Wing of the media companies to vilify Google for all of the world’s ills.

I mean, come on, Al-qa-fucking-eda gets less of a bad rep than Google.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I'll give you three guesses...

“The majority of their money goes to funding anti-copyright efforts.”

Unfortunately those efforts don’t seem to be very effective. Copy protection lengths still last 95+ years effectively destroying our culture for corporate gain, the penalty structure still disproportionately favors privilege holders and those that make bogus takedowns over those that infringe or potentially infringe, those that conduct bogus takedowns still usually go unpunished, government officials have still engaged in secretive back door dealings to pass bills like SOPA and others with only industry interests invited, and the law hasn’t changed at all in the direction of actually making these laws more in the public interest. The current IP laws are not a result of democracy but they are a result of pure corruption. So if Google is really spending a lot of money on fixing IP laws unfortunately their efforts don’t seem to be very effective.

Do you really support the current, undemocratically passed, IP laws? Laws that were passed as a result of corporate lobbying (ie: due to the MPAA and its members). If so that should indicate what kind of evil person you are and how seriously we should take your opinion.

The primary focus when it comes to IP laws should be to ensure they are intended to serve the public interest and that they are democratically passed. No more secretive back door dealings with government where only industry interests are invited. Copy protection lengths should be substantially and retroactively reduced. The penalty for infringement should be more reasonable and the penalty for false takedowns should be much stricter for the IP holder is in a better position to know if they hold the privileges over a piece of work than a third party service provider. That you care more about the fact that Google maybe spending more money on fixing IP laws (or preventing them from getting worse) than on the fact that our existing laws were undemocratically passed and are counterproductive to the public interest shows what kind of selfish person you are. You are the scum of the earth and it’s a wonder how you can even look at yourself in the mirror you evil shill. If you really cared about the public interest and had any moral conscience whatsoever you should focus your attention more on the fact that our IP laws are corporate bought and are a result of undemocratic corruption. I really hope that one day you will stop being morally bankrupt but apparently you care more about yourself than about morality. Unfortunately I doubt you’ll ever change.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I'll give you three guesses...

“The majority of their money goes to funding anti-copyright efforts.”

That chart does not indicate that the majority of their money goes to funding anti-copyright effort. While whoever made that chart is so stupid that they decided to use blue for all the colors, making it more difficult to discern the difference, that chart seems to indicate that they only spend 16 percent of their lobbying efforts on copyright issues (the chart does not indicate that they spend it on ‘anti-copyright efforts’ either. That was a figment of your dishonest imagination). Since when is 16 percent a majority?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I'll give you three guesses...

Reading comprehension fail. The 20% is for “other”; smaller items than all the rest.

You people need to stop arguing this issue. The “secret” is out: Google makes millions off copyright infringement and pays off US politicians for it to stay that way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I'll give you three guesses...

I know what the 20% other is for. I understood it perfectly.

You’re a typical IP extremist, too incompetent to even express yourself properly yet alone understand the chart properly or be able to properly interpret what I typed. It’s like we have to baby your illiterate butt. Typical IP extremist, I don’t expect much from the likes of you.

The chart shows that only 16 percent of their lobbying effort is spent on “copyright, patent, and trademark”. 16 percent is not a majority. 50%+ is a majority (oh, this is a basic algebra comprehension fail on your part. Sorry, I didn’t realize you couldn’t do algebra either. Silly me, I should know better. I hope this helps).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I'll give you three guesses...

“The “secret” is out: Google makes millions off copyright infringement and pays off US politicians for it to stay that way.”

Wow, the extent of your dishonest statements shows what kind of liar you are.

Google doesn’t make money on infringement. Their money is predominantly made off of legitimate search results and advertising. Only a very small percentage of people try to use Google for infringement (as a service provider it’s hard to control) and Google very likely spends a lot more on trying to control infringement than they allegedly make from it. Their business model is predominantly legal but, like any service provider, a small percentage of people may try to use it for illegal means. Google spends a lot of money trying to control that.

and a much bigger issue that you should be much more concerned about, if you had any moral conscience whatsoever (which you clearly don’t) is the fact that our existing copy protection laws are not democratically passed but they are bought and paid for by various corporations. That is unacceptable. Copy protection laws are a privilege, no one is entitled to a government enforced monopoly and no one is entitled to have service providers police their services for infringement. That’s a privilege and Google, who shouldn’t even be required to police their service, wastes a lot of money on policing their service which invariably makes the service more expensive and worse for customers. It creates economic inefficiencies. This sort of nonsense is what’s responsible for unacceptably taking down Megaupload for no good reason.

The real reason you are against Google is for the same reason you were against Megaupload. It has little to do with infringement. The true intent is to block competing services from allowing independent content creators from being able to distribute their content. That you are against Google, a perfectly legitimate company, is evidence of this. Yes, Google must spend money on ensuring that bought politicians, the same bought politicians responsible for retroactively passing 95+ year copy protection extensions and the same corrupt politicians responsible for conducting all sorts of back door dealings, don’t do more to take down any service provider that enables independents from distributing their content. It’s these broken laws that have been responsible for deterring restaurants and other venues from even hosting independent artists without paying a third party parasite a fee under the pretext that someone might infringe. So it’s good to see Google sees the need to participate in the political process to ensure that corruption isn’t responsible for taking them down. Otherwise scumbags like yourself will prevail against the public interest.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: I'll give you three guesses...

Ah good times, it’s practically Pavlovian, how anytime someone lists how much companies spend lobbying, immediately someone else pulls the ‘Look a distraction!’ ploy by trying to shift the focus on to Google.

And, as a matter of fact, while Google does spend a decent amount lobbying, they are not the #1 company on the list.

Here’s Google’s 2014 stats, likewise from OpenSecrets:

ranks 41 of 16,495

$13,680,000 (2014)
ranks 12 of 4,252 in 2014

Pretty huge numbers, right? Well here’s the numbers for Comcast in comparison:

ranks 28 of 16,495

$11,940,000 (2014)
ranks 7 of 4,252 in 2014

Google spent more on lobbying(indirect bribery), Comcast spent more on contributions(direct bribery). Now, here’s where it gets good. Add contributions and lobbying together, and those numbers are relatively similar(17.4M and 16.3M respectively), but the two companies worth aren’t even close. A quick search got me the following numbers on the net worth of the two companies in 2014:

$79.8 Billion

$350 Billion

If those numbers are even remotely correct, then despite being worth over four times as much, Google is still only barely beating a company like Comcast when it comes to buying politicians.

As such, you’ll excuse me if I don’t share your Google-panic, if they were really buying up politicians left and right as you seem to claim, then they would be throwing a lot more money around, rather than just enough to match what other companies are.

Tobias Harms says:

I suddenly got the feeling that the weapon of mass destruction Sadam possessed
Was simply one lonely dvd press
Copying movies and shouting “Arr arr!”
The US response was “Let’s go to war!”
“These accusations are most dire”
“And Sony our army just has hired”
“So down with the despot and freedom for all”
“And another blockbuster in the movie hall!”

Anonymous Coward says:

US throwing around accusations without any evidence made public and “punishing” random officials for no real reason.
Every second week they play this with a different country for various bullshit reasons like “supporting rebels”, while the US officially supports terrorists. Other times because they are “worried about democracy” aka the country in question doesnt bend over to their bullshit. And this time simply because they cant find the real culprint.
So thats how low the US has sunk. Too incompetent to find their little criminals so instead they just blame nk.
Friendly reminder that this shit has been going on for decades, shit even the 9/11 thing was obviously pointing in completly different directions but its always easier to blame some idiot who wants attention.

Anonymous Coward says:

i dont know if the Sony hack was N.Korea or not. what i do think though is that Sony deserves everything it gets! it’s an ass hole company that has no respect or thought for its customers, will use any ploy possible to sell stuff then change said stuff when it feels like it! it even gets a damn judge to say what it does/did is legal, while millions of customers get thrown into touch because of him! i wouldn’t care if the Sony empire just collapsed and blew away! i wont ever buy Sony stuff again and those who have sense would stop also!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I gotta tell ya I agree with you for other reasons than stated. I will no longer purchase anything with the name Sony on it. When push came to a shove they would not honor their warranty and I will never buy another one of their products. Over the years it’s cost them dearly because I do hold a grudge.

For years they have made businesses with floor personal sign statements that they will not talk bad about Sony products. That means you will never get an honest evaluation over their products and known problems.

As a result of a bad experience and the result of actions such as the root kit, I’ll never own another item with the name of Sony on it. Were NK responsible in this case, and I have my doubts, I’d think Sony deserved what it got.

Anonymous Coward says:

North Korean victory ...

… in the SPE proxy skirmish, and they didn’t need to do a thing for it. I suspect the champagne is flowing, and patriotic singing and dancing in Pyongyang can be heard all the way to Havana. Suckers. Wow, did you guys fall for it! Egg on faces, all around.

Meanwhile in Beijing: “Haa, hahahahaha! Can you believe those idiots fell for that?!? That Kim Jong Un did this?!? Haa, hahahahaha!”

Anonymous Coward says:

“if the sanctions are effective”

The sanctions are supposed to be effective at stopping future hacks. If NK did not perform these hacks then the sanctions are not effective because they are punishing the wrong person/entity. The right entity is left unpunished thinking they can continue to get away with it while NK, if they weren’t behind the hacks, is being punished for something it didn’t do which sends it the message that ‘punishment’ isn’t correlated to its actions.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Countless American businesses have been hacked over the past several years, leaving millions of Americans’ personal information exposed”

Because your privacy is not that important to the government. Want proof? Look at the social security system and how messed up and insecure that is.

When something embarrasses the government by leaking corruption the government goes bonkers. Proof? Snowden.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ID Theft [was ]

… fixing identify theft.

Sony Hack: Letter to Studio Employees Details Compromised Personal Data”, by Jonathan Handel, Hollywood Reporter, Dec 15, 2014

In a letter to employees, Sony Pictures Entertainment acknowledged the enormous breadth of personal data that may have been compromised by hackers and offered workers and their dependents 12 months of identity protection services at no charge.

The Dec. 8 missive, now available on the California Attorney General’s website . . .

The letter was sent pursuant to a California law that requires notice of data breaches.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

The government is always looking for reason to take action against naughty countries. Easy to make them the bad guys. Bush was looking for an excuse to finish his daddy’s war. Since we couldn’t link Iraq directly to the 9/11 attacks they made up the weapons of mass destruction bullshit with very little evidence. Too bad a lot of good men had to die for their lies. We probably lost our chance to get Osama bin Laden while he was still in Afghanistan. A few more phony excuses and we will be invading north Korea.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: PR

This is my thought as well. Russia gave the USG a golden egg with their Ukraine shenanigans, which helped to distract from Snowden, but that’s starting to fade away especially in the wake of all the police-related hullabaloo (Ferguson, et al).

Bread being so expensive these days means, I guess we just get circuses now.

Anonymous Coward says:

The FBI Evidence....

The evidence the FBI was willing to part with only indicates that the malware used resembles malware used in previous NK hackings — which is really just saying malware that works well tends to resemble other malware that works well. It’s not a smoking gun. It’s not even a gun in a safe with the clip removed. It’s a finger in a coat pocket — something that only looks slightly dangerous/damning when hidden, but completely ridiculous when out in the open.

That’s simplifying it a bit too much, I think. NK was involved in setting up some of the network the malware took advantage of, and some of the components were developed by people who had access to the source code which had been stronly linked to the NK government. That said, the NSA had the same means, opportunity, access, etc. as the NK government, and the single real tie — the movie — had absolutely nothing to do with the hack until after the US media started making the connection. The NK government even went as far as to say something along the lines of “Hey! We approve; too bad we didn’t do that first.” As they had nothing to lose by saying “Take THAT!” but didn’t, why wouldn’t we take them at their word?

Another theory that holds just as much water is that the US wanted to expose something inside Sony Pictures for some reason, convinced someone to make that comedy film, then set up the attack, ensuring two fingers that could be bent back toward NK to contain third party political damage.

The problem with the FBI’s evidence is that for them to prove it was NK, they’d have to give away knowledge that could be used against the US — so either it WAS NK, and the *Federal* Bureau of Investigations is involved in some shady operations in China and SK, or it WASN’T NK, and the FBI has access to information belonging to another US agency involved in some shady operations in China and SK.

Any way you look at it, the administration and the FBI look bad, and NK look no different than they ever did — and someone involved in the Sony hack gets to breathe a little easier.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

I’m no conspiracy theorist but one thing I’m pretty sure of is that they lied to us about the Kennedy assignation. Not saying I think they were involved but I haven’t really fully believed anything our government has said since. I don’t think North Korea pulled the Sony hack but either they are too stupid to figure this out or they just found blaming them was convenient propaganda. Horses, not zebras: disgruntled Sony employee.

GEMont (profile) says:

Why is the Sony Hack not about Sony's Stolen Emails?

Best guess:

Somewhere in all those emails is a string of communications between the CIA/NSA/FBI, or some other Tri-Letter US Agency and Sony – or others connected to Sony – that details some really nasty and utterly illegal joint shenanigans against the US Public or profiting at the expense of the US Public, and the US Feds want to put in place, an entity that almost every American would believe had both the power and the desire to fake those incriminating emails. North Korea.

In the meantime, swamp the news with stories of the Sony Hack on TV, dealing exclusively with the North Korean Terrorist Hackers and their Evil threats against Sony and US Theaters, (but nothing at all about the incriminating emails already and still to be exposed that show Sony buying up US Attorneys General by the 6 pack), until the public no longer gives a shit about anything relating to Sony or North Korean Terrorist Hacker anti-movie threats.

When the incriminating documents are eventually found and disclosed, the Police State can sweep into action and using the tried and true NSA/CIA/FBI designed anti-free-speech technologies, eliminate any website within hours of its publication of such documents, thus keeping the whole thing at the lowest possible damage level until it all blows over, with the help of various talking heads making the broad claim that such documents are obviously North Korean Fakes, on the US TV and Radio talk-show circuit.

Eet ees der Nu Amerikun Vay, Yah.

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