by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 20th 2016 9:31am
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 11th 2016 9:34am
from the it's-$330,000-by-the-way dept
Yankelevits gets almost everything wrong with this bogus takedown. Let's count the ways:
- This is not a legitimate DMCA notice by any means. He does not specify what copyright is being infringed (because none is).
- "It's not right" is not a claim of infringement.
- His salary info ($320,000 possibly rising to $330,000, by the way) is not copyright covered material.
- His clueless request asks for "https://wikileaks.org/sony/emails" to be removed. That's the front page for Wikileaks' archive of all the leaked Sony emails. That means that the actual email wouldn't even have been removed from Google's Index if Google had complied (which it did not).
- Clearly, Yankelevits does not hold the copyright on the email in question, which was not written by him.
- Yankelevits sent the bogus DMCA takedown on behalf of Sony Pictures, despite there clearly being a personal motive behind it. It makes you wonder if Sony Pictures lets any exec just file DMCA notices in its name.
- Yankelevits lists the actual email URL as the "original URL" which makes no sense. The "original URL" is supposed to be where the content was copied from.
But it does give you some enlightenment into how a top lawyer at Sony Pictures actually recognizes that the DMCA is a tool for censorship, yes? Well, that and the caliber of the legal minds working at Sony Pictures in their "dealmaking" division.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 18th 2016 11:39am
from the slow-down-folks dept
Given all that, I was quite intrigued when Wikileaks tweeted out a story this morning claiming that a recently released Clinton email "reveals that Hillary worked with Google's CEO to keep" the "Innocence of Muslims" video blocked on YouTube. That seemed like a big deal -- especially as I remembered, clearly, Google putting out a statement about all of this and rejecting the White House's request to censor the video. The problem, though, is that Wikileaks' tweet is vastly overstating the reality.
By Friday September 14th, there was widespread discussion about what Google/YouTube should do about this video, when (1) the White House confirmed that it had asked Google to "review whether the clip violated its policies" and (2) Google had announced that it would not block the video in the US, but would restrict access in Libya, Egypt, India and Indonesia. At the time, we argued this was a mistake by YouTube to take the video down at all.
So, by September 14th, it was now publicly known that the White House had asked Google to review the video and that Google had agreed to take it down in some countries, but leave it up in the US.
That brings us to the emails in question. The first is just an email from Denis McDonough, who was then the Deputy National Security Advisor (prior to becoming Obama's Chief of Staff), emailing a few people the phone numbers of both Google CEO Larry Page and then YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar. That email is on September 27th -- or basically two weeks after everything above had been confirmed.
The second email, sent an hour later, is from Nora Toiv, who worked for Clinton, responding and saying that "Sue just called back and the block will stay through Monday. They will not/not be unblocking it before then." It's not entirely clear who "Sue" is, but obviously someone who works at Google/YouTube. As a guess, it may have been Susan Wojcicki who is the current head of YouTube. She wasn't back then, but she was still a high ranking Google exec who had been involved with Google Video and the purchase of YouTube at the beginning, so it's possible she is the person in question.
Still, for all of the hubbub about this email, it doesn't seem to come even remotely close to revealing anything along the lines of what Wikileaks is implying. Again, this email was two weeks after it had already been confirmed that the White House had asked Google to review the video and Google had already publicly discussed its decision. At most, the email just reveals that people in the government were wondering if Google was planning to remove the geoblock in places like Libya and Egypt in order to be ready in case anything happened because of it.
I still think it was wrong for the White House to reach out and ask YouTube to review the video in the first place. And that it was wrong for Google to block the video in some places. But this email doesn't appear to be a smoking gun of Clinton "working with Google CEOs to keep Benghazi video blocked" as Wikileaks claims. It seems to be someone from the State Department reaching out to find out when the block might be lifted -- which, if anything, suggests that Google was making the decision on its own, rather than at the White House's request.
I'm all for revealing officials meddling in internet platforms and trying to get content blocked. That's bad news and we should discuss it and highlight it. But raising false alarms over things that aren't really there just makes you look like a tinfoil hat wearer. It's not worth it.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 1st 2015 11:39am
from the nice-of-them dept
Of course, this is not the first time 60 Minutes has been seen to be extra deferential to the government. You may recall the program's infomercial for the NSA, done by a guy who immediately went to work for law enforcement week's later.
And, while Kroft seems to want to present the supposed legal case against Assange to Assange, it's worth remembering that five years later and the DOJ still has not charged Assange with any crime, though apparently the grand jury investigation is still ongoing.
It also seems noteworthy that Crowley resigned from the State Department just a few weeks after this email, right after he publicly criticized the treatment of Chelsea Manning, who was being held in solitary confinement for leaking the State Department's documents to Wikileaks. Crowley publicly said that such treatment was "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid" -- and within days, he no longer had a job.
None of this is to say that 60 Minutes or any other journalism program shouldn't be asking tough questions of Julian Assange or anyone else they interview. Of course they should. But the very idea that the government is "planting" one-sided or misleading and biased questions with journalists, to pin on a guy they're trying (and failing) to charge with criminal activity for embarrassing those in power, certainly seems pretty sketchy. The media is supposed to be questioning those in power, not to be used as a tool by those in power to question those who are actually exposing corruption.
by Glyn Moody
Fri, Jun 26th 2015 6:18pm
from the reasons-to-be-cheerful dept
There's been quite a lot of excitement in the press about the latest leaks that the NSA has been spying on not just one French President, but (at least) three of them. As Mike pointed out, this isn't such a big deal, because it is precisely the kind of thing that you would expect the NSA to do -- as opposed to spying on the entire US public, which isn't. There is, though, an aspect that most people have overlooked: the fact that these NSA leaks don't appear to originate from Snowden's stash.
Of course, Mr Crypto himself, Bruce Schneier, did spot it, and pointed out it could be one of his "other" US intelligence community leakers, listed a couple of months ago, or even a completely new one. As that post shows, there are now a few people around that are leaking secret documents, and that's a pretty significant trend, since you might expect enhanced security measures taken in the wake of Snowden's leaks would have discouraged or caught anyone who attempted to follow suit.
That's not the only thing that's interesting about the French documents. As Fabio Chiusi points out in a blog post (original in Italian), they are the latest in a recent series of very rich leaks that include the Sony archives; the Saudi cables; the TPP transparency chapter; and -- not mentioned by Chiusi -- 17 chapters from TISA.
What all those collections have in common is the fact that they came from WikiLeaks. As Chiusi rightly emphasizes, after a period when WikiLeaks seemed to have lost its ability to release important material -- and thus its relevance -- the organization is beginning to hit its stride again. Coupled with the fact that there are half-a-dozen or so people who are leaking intelligence materials, that development offers hope that things are really beginning to look up on the transparency front.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 24th 2015 11:34am
from the come-on dept
And, really, what sort of court system do we have when the judges get to have their names redacted:
- WikiLeaks demands Google and Facebook unseal US subpoenas
- Twitter, Wikileaks and the Broken Market for Consumer Privacy
And this even extends to the exhibits of publicly available web pages, which the DOJ still needed redacted. This has to be my favorite:
They even want Wikipedia redacted. I wish I were joking.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 24th 2015 10:29am
from the harassment-all-the-way dept
If you recall, as part of that discussion about the legal fight with Twitter -- in which we gave kudos to Twitter for standing up for its users' privacy -- it also came out that similar demands for information were also sent to Google and Sonic.net in trying to access Appelbaum's details. Sonic.net quickly said that it fought the request -- but Google gave no comment. We found this to be disappointing at the time.
However, late last week, it was finally revealed -- four years later -- that Google not only fought the order, but was gagged from talking about it until just recently. Reading through the full set of released documents (300 pages) is quite incredible -- as are Appelbaum's own comments as he reads through the document himself.
If you don't recall the big legal fight with Twitter, the DOJ refused to get a warrant, but instead got what's known as a 2703(d) order, which has a much lower privacy protection standard. A warrant, as you know, requires probable cause. A 2703(d) order just requires "reasonable grounds to believe that the contents [of the email] are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation."
This whole thing started in late 2010 when the grand jury investigation sent those 2703(d) orders out -- each accompanied by a gag order. Twitter fought the gag order and was able to get a judge to unseal it in early January 2011 for the sake of alerting the users in question, to see if they would protest (which they did, though unsuccessfully). Twitter alerted a few users, including Appelbaum, that the feds had requested information. While many had assumed the feds had used a warrant or a traditional subpoena, it was quickly revealed that it was the 2703(d) process, raising many more concerns. The fact that there were also a number of mistakes in the order raised further concerns. The revelation of this order got a lot of press attention, which the DOJ hated.
In fact, that's what much of the (now revealed) argument between Google and the DOJ is discussing. Google points out that the identical order in the identical investigation was made public concerning Twitter's involvement, and thus, there is no reason not to make it public for Google too. The DOJ responds about just how incredibly harmful the press attention of the Twitter order is... though they fail to explain a single way it is harmful, other than that some online internet commenters were kinda mean to them. First, the DOJ insisted that it was important that Google be gagged, and then said that Twitter's ungagging "seriously jeopardized the investigation."
The Order should remain sealed at this time. The Order satisfies all statutory and constitutional requirements, and the [REDACTED] subscriber would not have a valid basis for challenging it even if Google did provide him with notice. Furthermore, unsealing and permitting disclosure at this time is not in the best interest of the investigation. Unsealing and permitting disclosure of the Twitter Order has already seriously jeopardized the investigation and the government believes that further disclosures at this time will exacerbate this problem.Of course, the DOJ never actually goes into any detail about how revealing that it was digging for information jeopardized the investigation at all. It just makes these baseless claims. Later, it further argues that unsealing the Twitter order (which it had agreed to allow) was a mistake in hindsight:
Indeed, in light of the events that followed the unsealing and disclosure of the Twitter Order, had the government known then what it does now, it would not have voluntarily filed the motion to authorize it.Why is that? Well, the only argument the government seems to make is that once the Twitter Order was public, people got mad and said not nice things about the DOJ. First, it points to this Glenn Greenwald article from 2011, in which he revealed more details of the original Twitter Order, including the name of the magistrate judge who signed off on it. The DOJ presents this as if it's harassment, though read the article and see if that's reasonable. And then it further claims that the US Attorneys were "harassed on the internet." But the only evidence it provides is this:
Even more bizarre, the DOJ includes a long paragraph talking about how all of the praise that Twitter got after the Twitter Order was revealed explains why the Google Order shouldn't be revealed. That is, the DOJ is explicitly saying "man, it would suck if actually protecting the privacy of users became contagious":
In response to this, Google quite reasonably points out that the government's argument cancels out its own argument. At one point, for example, the DOJ pointed to one of the people it was seeking information on Tweeting to followers not to send direct messages, and another saying that it's likely that Google and Facebook received similar orders. As Google points out, given that, the targets already suspect what is going on and thus it couldn't possibly make sense to maintain the gag order. As for the "parade of horribles" above, Google rightly points out that none of them show how revealing the Google Order will exacerbate any of the "problems" it outlined.
The fight was put on hold while the individuals in question (including Appelbaum) fought the Twitter Order. And, when that failed, the case picked up again, with the DOJ saying "look, that failed, so this case is over." Google responded, quite reasonably, that whether or not the individuals succeeded in stopping the information disclosure is a wholly separate issue from whether or not the gag order makes sense. Unfortunately, in the end, the court rejected all of Google's arguments. The court relies heavily on the fact that Appelbaum (though, bizarrely, his name is redacted here) tweeted the following: "Do not send me Direct Messages - My twitter account contents have apparently been invited to the (presumably-Grand Jury) in Alexandria."
Furthermore, the court ridiculously buys into the claims by the DOJ that the "public campaign" supporting Twitter for standing up for the rights of its users is a form of witness intimidation. Really:
If the Google Order were unsealed, future service providers may do precisely what Google has done in this instance, namely resist compliance with a lawful §2703(d) order by bringing baseless legal challenges that have the effect of impeding the government's progress in the Wikileaks investigation.In other words, merely challenging the legitimacy of a gag order with an associated court order to hand over someone's info -- in other words protecting a user's privacy is somehow seen as evidence of impeding an investigation. This is ridiculous.
Finally, as Lauren Weinstein points out in his own analysis of these newly released documents, this does show just how strongly Google fought the government to block the government from getting access to user info. There is this false belief out there that Google, in particular, has given the government free access to its servers (in part because of an incorrect interpretation of a Snowden document early on). Yet, this highlights how Google actually fought quite hard to protect its users' info (and this all happened more than two years before the Snowden leaks). Indeed, in my original post, about the revelation that Google had received a similar order, we were disappointed that unlike Twitter and Sonic, Google refused to comment. We had no way of knowing that the company had been gagged.
Even Appelbaum -- not exactly one to cheer on Google in most settings -- now admits that he's impressed by how strongly Google fought. A few of his tweets explaining this:
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jun 23rd 2015 8:56pm
from the is-that-really-a-big-deal? dept
To be honest, as with the spying on leadership of other allies like Germany, I really don't think this is that big of a deal in reality. This is what intelligence services are supposed to be doing: spying on foreign governments. The revelations may make for some awkward diplomatic conversations, but you can bet that pretty much everyone knew this was going on already.
The top secret documents derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications of French Presidents Francois Hollande (2012–present), Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012), and Jacques Chirac (1995–2007), as well as French cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the United States. The documents also contain the "selectors" from the target list, detailing the cell phone numbers of numerous officials in the Elysee up to and including the direct cell phone of the President.
Prominent within the top secret cache of documents are intelligence summaries of conversations between French government officials concerning some of the most pressing issues facing France and the international community, including the global financial crisis, the Greek debt crisis, the leadership and future of the European Union, the relationship between the Hollande administration and the German government of Angela Merkel, French efforts to determine the make-up of the executive staff of the United Nations, French involvement in the conflict in Palestine and a dispute between the French and US governments over US spying on France.
But, where this has the potential to get interesting is in the public perception. If the public gets angry about it, it can create international tensions, or lead to various other issues. But, on the whole, compared to spying on private citizens, it's difficult to get too outraged over spying on other governments -- even those deemed "friendly." You can bet the French are doing everything they can to spy back on the US as well.
by Glyn Moody
Wed, May 13th 2015 3:57am
from the not-dead-yet dept
Compared to its early days, when releases of material like Collateral Murder dominated public discourse for weeks, Wikileaks is now only a shadow of its former self, eclipsed largely by Snowden's leaks. That's understandable, perhaps: Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for nearly three years, and it has been hard for the organization to raise funds to pay Wikileaks' running costs. However, that reduced visibility and activity doesn't mean it's not still releasing valuable material, particularly in the area of trade agreements. Today, it has published another interesting set of documents, this time from the field of surveillance:
WikiLeaks releases ten months of transcripts from the ongoing German Parliamentary inquiry into NSA activities in Germany. Despite many sessions being technically public, in practice public understanding has been compromised as transcripts have been withheld, recording devices banned and reporters intrusively watched by police.
This underlines an important aspect of Wikileaks' work: the fact that it seeks to make the documents it releases useful by providing commentary, summaries and indexes. Those valuable additions are often overlooked, but can play a crucial role in helping people understand the raw material provided.
WikiLeaks is releasing 1,380 pages of transcripts from the unclassified sessions, covering 34 witnesses – including 13 concealed witnesses from Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). The transcripts cover from the start of the inquiry in May 2014 through to February 2015.
WikiLeaks has also written summaries of each session in German and English as the inquiry, due to its subject matter, is of international significance.
The German parliamentary inquiry has been rumbling on for a year now, but has gained renewed importance with the recent revelations that the German spy service, the BND, has been searching through its databases using "selectors" (keywords) provided by the NSA, with apparently no oversight. Not only were many of the targets for those selectors EU citizens, but they included senior politicians and industry figures, too. Here's Wikileaks' summary:
One of the biggest scandals to emerge from the inquiry so far is the recent "selector" spy target list scandal where a BND official revealed that the agency was expected to spy on thousands of targets at the instruction of the NSA. These targets included members of the French government and European industry. This put into question Germany's suitability in taking a leadership role in the European Union. It also showed that international co-operation on mass surveillance, which has been marketed in public as a counter-terrorism measure, is in practice also used by the United States for the purposes of industrial espionage and geopolitical advantage vis-a-vis members of the European Union. The committee requested the full "selector" list of targets provided to the BND by the NSA. The committee was told that the US would first need to be asked permission for the list to be revealed to the committee (even in confidence). Last Wednesday, 6 May 2015, when the answer was meant to be delivered, stalling tactics were used, leaving the German public, and the Parliamentary inquiry, without any ability to understand what their own secret services are up to.
The "selector" scandal has now reached the highest political echelons in Germany, with Angela Merkel's earlier outrage over NSA spying -- not least against herself -- looking hypocritical at best, or dangerously naive at worst. Wikileaks' latest release therefore comes at just the right moment for those seeking to understand what has been going on in Germany. It's also a timely reminder that Wikileaks is still able to perform an important service in this respect, despite its straitened circumstances.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Apr 22nd 2015 10:39am
from the that-pesky-first-amendment dept
He did condemn WikiLeaks’ decision last week to publish a searchable list of the Sony materials, calling it “terribly wrong” and serving “no public purpose.” Dodd noted that many of the emails are from low-level employees who have a right to privacy.This is the same Chris Dodd who (before he worked for the MPAA) once gave a rousing speech at Google (of all places) in which he urged them to take a stronger stand against censorship and not giving in to government demands to block content.
Dodd said that the U.S. government was in the best position to try to go after the website not the trade organization he runs. In the case of the WikiLeaks situation, he praised Sony officials for being “highly responsive” in communicating with the proper authorities.
Tell the Chinese government that Google.cn will no longer censor information with Google's consent. And should the Chinese government not find that acceptable, then Google.cn would shut down its operations. I understand that you've already moved all of your search records out of China, to prevent them from being turned over to the Chinese government. But what better way to affirm Google's commitment to the free flow of information as a human right, than to send this message to a nation with the largest population in the world?But now, when a site is revealing some rather newsworthy leaked emails from Sony, Chris Dodd (MPAA version) wants the US government to throw the book at them and try to censor them. In that Google speech, Dodd said:
One way we respond to change, in my view, is to stand up, and to stand up for our principles, which do not change.Apparently, your principles do change when the MPAA pays you over $3 million per year. I'm sure Dodd sleeps well at night with that money as a cushion, but I do wonder how he reconciles the fact that he sold out his principles.