Campaign group to challenge UK over surrender of passwords at border control | Politics | The Guardian

The move comes after its international director, Muhammad Rabbani, a UK citizen, was arrested at Heathrow airport in November for refusing to hand over passwords. Rabbani, 35, has been detained at least 20 times over the past decade when entering the UK, under schedule 7 of terrorism legislation that provides broad search powers, but this was the first time he had been arrested.

Fuente: Campaign group to challenge UK over surrender of passwords at border control | Politics | The Guardian

Europe’s Top Human Rights Court Will Consider Legality of Surveillance Exposed by Edward Snowden

Ten organizations – including Privacy International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Amnesty International – are taking up the landmark case against the U.K. government in the European Court of Human Rights (pictured above). In a 115-page complaint released on Thursday, the groups allege that “blanket and indiscriminate” surveillance operations carried out by British spy agencies in collaboration with their U.S. counterparts violate privacy and freedom of expression rights.

Fuente: Europe’s Top Human Rights Court Will Consider Legality of Surveillance Exposed by Edward Snowden

Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions

The decision by U.K. voters to leave the EU is such a glaring repudiation of the wisdom and relevance of elite political and media institutions that — for once — their failures have become a prominent part of the storyline.

Fuente: Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions

Reino Unido espía a los refugiados hackeando sus móviles y ordenadores

Los refugiados no tienen derechos. De ahí se deriva que sus teléfonos pueden ser hackeados y sus ordenadores también. Al parecer, esto es lo que ha hecho -legalmente y según The Observer – los funcionarios de la oficina de inmigración británica. En 2013 recibieron poderes para hackear los dispositivos electrónicos de todos los refugiados y peticionarios de asilo que considerasen necesario. Y lo consideran.

Fuente: Reino Unido espía a los refugiados hackeando sus móviles y ordenadores

Assange supporters condemn UK and Sweden in open letter | Media | The Guardian

Five hundred prominent names, including Ai Weiwei and Mairead Maguire, accuse countries of undermining UN human rights covenants

Fuente: Assange supporters condemn UK and Sweden in open letter | Media | The Guardian

Google loses UK appeal court battle over 'clandestine' tracking | Technology | The Guardian

Google loses UK appeal court battle over ‘clandestine’ tracking | Technology | The Guardian.

 GoogleThe judges ruled that claims for damages can now be brought over allegations of misuse of private information. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA

Google has failed in its attempt in the court of appeal to prevent British consumers having the right to sue the internet firm in the UK.

A group known as Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking wants to take legal action in the English courts over what it says is Google’s tracking of Apple’s Safari internet browser.

It has accused Google of bypassing security settings in order to track users’ online browsing and to target them with personalised advertisements.

Three judges have dismissed Google’s appeal over a high court decision against it and ruled that claims for damages can be brought over allegations of misuse of private information.

Friday’s ruling was a victory for Safari Users, including editor and publisher Judith Vidal-Hall, and Robert Hann and Marc Bradshaw, who are both IT security company directors. They say Google’s “clandestine” tracking and collation of internet usage between summer 2011 and early 2012 led to distress and embarrassment among UK users.

They accuse Google of collecting private information without their knowledge and consent by the use of “cookies” – a small string of text saved on the user’s device.

Why UK politicians could learn a lot from the Pirate party | Comment is free | The Guardian

Why UK politicians could learn a lot from the Pirate party | Comment is free | The Guardian.

 Supporters of the Pirate party in Germany.Supporters of the Pirate party in Germany. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

With just 22 days to go until the election starts, like many social media addicts I am wondering just how much more Official Political Tweeting I can take.

Politics with a small p is, of course, on fire. My social media feeds sizzle with the anger of people from across the globe: over the racism of cops in Ferguson, US, over the destruction of antiquities by Isis, over Jihadi John, over Netanyahu’s 26 standing ovations and, above all, over the alleged criminal behaviour of bankers.

Yet the average mainstream politician runs a Twitter feed sublimely indifferent to the issues that excite the world. “Glad to be on the doorstep in Acme-shire, where we had a good discussion about local nursery provision,” is typical MP’s tweet. It is often accompanied by a photograph of the said meeting, in which nobody at all looks glad, nor indeed involved in any kind of discussion.

The social media output of MPs looks even more unhinged when you see it in the context of the debates raging among their constituents online. In fact, if you look closely at people in a party political hustings these days, you will find many of the punters and all the journalists glued to their phones, discussing almost everything except what the meeting is about.

In this context, the decision by the UK’s newly founded Pirate party to crowdsource its manifesto looks interesting. The Pirate party phenomenon started in Sweden in 2006 and spread to 20 EU countries including Germany, where it secured its one MEP in the 2014 elections.

Up to now, its obsessions have been grouped around the issues of internet freedom, state surveillance and the monopolisation of intellectual property and communications. But a glance at the Reddit page where the crowdsourced UK manifesto is being assembled reveals a much wider agenda. If you discount the pure techie stuff, the top five policies being discussed right now are publication of all government documents; removal of CCTV from public places; exempting small businesses from EU VAT rules; scaling all fines against a convicted person’s wealth; and – as with the Greens – paying everybody a basic income from taxation.

If you interrogate the subtext of these discussions, it is possible to come up with quite an accurate picture of what this part of the UK electorate is worried about. Namely, the size and unaccountable power of the state; criminality and tax evasion among corporations; and the venality and powerlessness of official politics. And though the Pirate party’s membership is small, my online life tells me these are indeed the political worries of a generation.

Cybercriminals ‘often start out with minor thefts in online games’ | Technology | The Guardian

Cybercriminals ‘often start out with minor thefts in online games’ | Technology | The Guardian.

A screengrab from World of Warcraft

 World Of Warcraft is an online role-playing game which can feature thousands of players from around the world interacting with each other in a virtual universe. Photograph: World of Warcraft screenshot

People who go on to commit serious cybercrime often start out with minor thefts in online games such as World Of Warcraft, a leading detective has said.

Looking at how people end up on a particular criminal path could help with early intervention, said Dr Jamie Saunders of the National Crime Agency.

In an interview with the Independent, the director of the National Cyber Crime Unit said cybercriminals can do “a great deal of damage, but not in a traditional criminal way”, and explained that the crimes can start out on a small scale.

How a team of social media experts is able to keep track of the UK jihadis | World news | The Guardian

How a team of social media experts is able to keep track of the UK jihadis | World news | The Guardian.

A Facebook posting by Collin Gordon, one of the 700 or so western fighters for Isis in the database

Another Briton had died in Syria, and back in London investigators were busy “scraping” through his online peer network for clues about fellow Islamic State (Isis) foot soldiers.

It was little surprise that Rhonan Malik knew two Canadian brothers, Gregory and Collin Gordon. After all, Twitter rumours suggested that all three had been killed in the same December air strike. More intriguing was the prodigious Facebookpresence of Collin Gordon which indicated that, shortly before becoming a jihadist, he had been “quite the party boy”.

On a labyrinthine upper floor of King’s College London is the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), the first global initiative of its type, whose offices are frequently contacted by counter-terrorism officers, hungry for information on the continuing flow of Britons to the ranks of Isis.

At 4.30pm on Thursday the centre’s researchers were assiduously examining social media “accounts of value”, noting the ongoing ripples of jubilation following the Charlie Hebdo and Paris attacks. A pseudonymous jihadist from Manchester, Abu QaQa, had said that the shootings had persuaded Isis and al-Qaida supporters to bury their differences.

“He’s saying we should be happy that jihad was made against the crusaders. It doesn’t matter that AQ and IS have been fighting each other – if it brings attacks against the west he’ll support it,” said Joseph Carter, research fellow at the ICSR.

So far the centre’s database has amassed profiles of about 700 western foreign fighters who have joined either Isis or groups such as al-Qaida’s Syrian offshoot, the al-Nusra Front. Each individual is categorised according to 72 data points, such as their birthplace or previous employment. At one point the database held the particulars of up to 90 Britons, a figure that has dwindled to around 50, largely as a consequence of coalition air strikes against Isis positions – Malik is believed to be at least the 35th Briton killed in Syria during 2014 – while a handful have simply vanished without trace from social media.

‘Freedom of expression’ anti-snooping campaign launched over Ripa changes | Politics | The Guardian

‘Freedom of expression’ anti-snooping campaign launched over Ripa changes | Politics | The Guardian.

Campaigners fear draft code of Ripa legislation will allow police sweeping powers to access phone and email records of journalists, lawyers and doctors
Armed police officers Houses of Parliament
Armed police officers inside the grounds of the Houses of Parliament in London. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

An urgent campaign has been launched for a “freedom of expression” law to protect confidential journalists’, MPs’ and lawyers’ phone and communications records being secretly snooped on by the police.

Senior editors and lawyers condemned as “wholly inadequate” safeguards put forward by Theresa May in December to meet concerns over the police use of surveillance powers in a code of practice linked to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa).

The critics of the draft code fear that the police will still have sweeping powers allowing them to authorise themselves to access the phone and email records of professionals such as journalists, lawyers, doctors, MPs and priests who handle privileged, confidential information.

More than 3,000 national and regional editors are being asked to sign a joint letter from the Society of Editors and Press Gazette, the industry’s journal, condemning the Home Office joint code for failing to recognise “the overarching importance of protecting journalists’ sources”.

The campaign comes as the prime minister, David Cameron, called for an extension of the laws that give snooping powers to security services with a plan to ban encrypted messages in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo Paris attacks.

Face-sitting protest outside parliament against new porn rules | Culture | The Guardian

Face-sitting protest outside parliament against new porn rules | Culture | The Guardian.

Sex workers and campaigners have gathered in front of parliament to protest against changes to UK pornography regulations.

Organiser Charlotte Rose called the restrictions “ludicrous” and said they were a threat to freedom of expression.

Protesters say the list of banned activities includes “face-sitting”, and campaigners planned to carry out a mass demonstration of this while singing the Monty Python song Sit On My Face.

“These activities were added to this list without the public being made aware,” Charlotte Rose said. “They’ve done this without public knowledge and without public consent.

“There are activities on that list that may be deemed sexist, but it’s not just about sexism, it’s about censorship. What the government is doing is taking our personal liberties away without our permissions.”

Face-sitting protest


Protesters outside parliament. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

The protest comes after the government said a list of sex acts has been banned from online porn videos filmed in the UK, in a bid to crack down on “harmful” content.

A quiet change in legislation has ruled that paid-for online porn videos must now adhere to the same rules as content produced for sex shop-type videos.

Edward Snowden to speak at Observer Ideas festival | US news |

Edward Snowden to speak at Observer Ideas festival | US news |

NSA whistleblower Snowden will talk via videolink from Moscow this weekend about the future of privacy, surveillance technology and democratic oversight

Edward Snowden in Moscow, filmed by Laura Poitras in her documentary Citizen Four
Edward Snowden in Moscow, filmed by Laura Poitras in her documentary CITIZENFOUR.

Edward Snowden will make his first UK public appearance via satellite link this weekend more than one year since the Guardian published his revelations about mass surveillance and the NSA.

Appearing via video link from Moscow, Snowden will be speaking as part of the Observer Ideas festival on Sunday, being held at London’s Barbican Theatre.

His appearance will come two days after the world premiere of Laura Poitras’s documentary about the whistleblower’s revelations, CITIZENFOUR, at the New York Film Festival.

Snowden is also being tipped as one of the favourites to win the Nobel Peace Prize, which is also being announced tomorrow.

Although he has appeared by video at a small number of public events abroad, the Observer Ideas festival will be the first time he’s appeared in Britain. He will answer questions posed by Observer technology columnist John Naughton.

Naughton, who is also the professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University, has been a keen observer of the impact of Snowden’s revelations said: “I’m tired of people endlessly rehashing the history of Mr Snowden’s revelations, and I’m sure he is too. What matters now is what happens next. He has performed a great service in revealing the astonishing extent and ambition of the national security state.”

“We need to figure out how (and whether) societies can reassert effective democratic control over our security agencies; whether the technology that has enabled comprehensive surveillance can be re-engineered to protect privacy; how our law-making in these areas could be improved, and whether citizens can be persuaded to take an interest in these matters before it’s too late.

Bitcoin could pose threat to financial stability of UK, warns Bank of England | Technology |

Bitcoin could pose threat to financial stability of UK, warns Bank of England | Technology |

Factors such as inherent volatility means digital currency unlikely to win over enough users to supplant existing banking system




Bitcoin, which is the best known digital currency, has come to prominence in recent months after a string of mishaps and scandals. Photograph: Siegfried Layda/Getty Images


Bitcoin could pose a threat to financial stability in the UK should the digital currency’s popularity take off, according to a series of reports by the Bank of England.

But restrictions on the number of coins in circulation, its inherent volatility and the prospect of higher transaction costs means it is unlikely to win over enough users to supplant the existing banking system, the central bank says.

The Bank argues the current centralised banking system, which stores and protects customer funds, will continue to dominate retail and business transactions “over any foreseeable horizon” under the current design of digital currencies.

Bitcoin, which is the best known of several digital currencies in circulation, has come to prominence in recent months after a string of mishaps and scandals. The collapse earlier this year of the largest bitcoin exchange, MtGox, which accounted for around 80% of global trading volume at its peak, left many customers out of pocket.

But it remains popular in the US and China, which account for around two-thirds of transactions combined, and is often championed as a replacement for existing payments systems in emerging economies.

Europe is also seen as market ripe for change. On Wednesday the US bitcoin service firm Coinbase, which has raised $31m in venture capital, said it plans to launch a consumer service across a large part of the eurozone .

The company said it had found a way to link a bitcoin “wallet” service to the euro payments system, making it possible for users to send money to and from their bitcoin account. The service covers 13 of the 18 eurozone countries.

British indie TV producers a victim of own success as foreign owners swoop | Media | The Observer

British indie TV producers a victim of own success as foreign owners swoop | Media | The Observer.

The excellence of UK programme-making, and demand for content, has seen leading independents snapped up by multinationals
Downton Abbey: a British indie television success.

Downton Abbey: a British indie television success. Photograph: Nick Briggs/AP

In a world where media giants are trying to woo viewers with high-class programming, the UK’s flourishing independent TV production companies have become prime bid targets.

It’s boom time for British indies, which made a combined £3bn-plus in revenue from programme-making last year, almost a third of that from selling shows abroad. Yet the majority of the leading production companies are foreign-owned. From the makers of Downton Abbey andThe Voice to The Apprentice and MasterChef, their parents are foreign giants, mostly from the US, including NBC Universal, Warner Bros, Sony and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

The most recent to succumb was the UK’s largest “super indie”, All3Media, maker of shows including Skins and Midsomer Murders, which accepted a £550m offer from John Malone’s Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media, and US entertainment group Discovery.

Underlying the takeover drive is a belief among media groups that in a digital world consumers are taking control of the means of viewing, which means that owning the content viewers want to watch is the key battleground.

“The basic idea is that in a digital world – an on-demand environment when viewers watch what they want, when they want, how they want – the old channel-driven model starts to disintegrate,” says a top executive at one US media group. “The idea of platforms like, say, Sky bundling 125 channels to subscribers starts to disintegrate. You have to own content, copyright: you can’t just rent the rights. You are buying a library of copyright and talent.”

And when it comes to copyright and talent, the UK makes for the most attractive market in the world, says Chris Graves, director at corporate finance firm Ingenious.

Británicos están desactivando el filtro antiporno del gobierno – FayerWayer

Británicos están desactivando el filtro antiporno del gobierno – FayerWayer.

La medida impuesta por el gobierno no ha surtido efecto y apenas uno de cada siete usuarios lo activa

Cuando Reino Unido lanzó su cruzada contra el porno en internet todos sabíamos que esto no iba a terminar bien. La realidad es que hoy apenas uno de cada siete británicos decide instalar el “Control Parental” que ofrecen los proveedores de internet para bloquear contenido para adultos.

De acuerdo a un reporte de OFComtres de los cuatro proveedores más grandes de Reino Unido registran un bajo porcentaje de usuarios con el filtro anti-porno. Debido a que la medida es opcional al momento de instalar el software del router, muchos deciden pasarse de largo. Así pues Sky contabiliza 8% de usuarios. Virgin Media 4% y BT 5%. El único de la lista con un porcentaje significativo que tiene el filtro activado es TalkTalk quien contabiliza un 36%.

Por ley los proveedores de internet deben ofrecer el filtro conocido como “elección inevitable” a sus nuevos usuarios. Curiosamente Virgin Media ha encontrado un truco para pasarse de largo, ya que como la instalación y activación del router requiere la visita de un ingeniero, parece que estos deciden no activarlo por decisión propia. El filtro anti-porno no solo bloquea contenido sexual sino también sitios “potencialmente peligrosos” que incluyan temas como drogas, alcohol, intercambio de archivos.

Edward Snowden condemns Britain's emergency surveillance bill | World news | The Guardian

Edward Snowden condemns Britain’s emergency surveillance bill | World news | The Guardian.

be rushed through after government ignored issue for a year

Link to video: Edward Snowden: rush to pass British surveillance law is extraordinary

The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has condemned the newsurveillance bill being pushed through the UK’s parliament this week, expressing concern about the speed at which it is being done, lack of public debate, fear-mongering and what he described as increased powers of intrusion.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian in Moscow, Snowden said it was very unusual for a public body to pass an emergency law such as this in circumstances other than a time of total war. “I mean we don’t have bombs falling. We don’t have U-boats in the harbour.”

Suddenly it is a priority, he said, after the government had ignored it for an entire year. “It defies belief.”

He found the urgency with which the British government was moving extraordinary and said it mirrored a similar move in the US in 2007 when the Bush administration was forced to introduce legislation, the Protect America Act, citing the same concerns about terrorist threats and theNSA losing cooperation from telecom and internet companies.

“I mean the NSA could have written this draft,” he said. “They passed it under the same sort of emergency justification. They said we would be at risk. They said companies will no longer cooperate with us. We’re losing valuable intelligence that puts the nation at risk.”

His comments chime with British civil liberties groups who, having had time to read the small print, are growing increasingly sceptical about government claims last week that the bill is a stop-gap that will not increase the powers of the surveillance agencies.

David Cameron, searching for cross-party support, assured the Liberal Democrats and Labour that there would be no extension of the powers.

But internal Home Office papers seen by the Guardian appear to confirm that there would be an expansion of powers. Campaigners argue that the bill contains new and unprecedented powers for the UK to require overseas companies to comply with interception warrants and communications data acquisition requests and build interception capabilities into their products and infrastructure.

The interview with Snowden, in a city centre hotel, lasted seven hours. One of only a handful of interviews since he sought asylum in Russia a year ago, it was wide-ranging, from the impact of the global debate he unleashed on surveillance and privacy to fresh insights into life inside theNSA. The full interview will be published later this week.

Cameron announcing emergency surveillance legislation: Politics live blog | Politics |

Cameron announcing emergency surveillance legislation: Politics live blog | Politics |

• Details of the emergency surveillance legislation
• Miliband’s letter to Labour MPs explaining why Labour backs the bill
• Lunchtime summary, including highlights from the Cameron/Clegg press conference



David Cameron and Nick Clegg at a press conference, where they announced emergency surveillance legislation. David Cameron and Nick Clegg at a press conference, where they announced emergency surveillance legislation. Photograph: POOL/REUTER




Human Rights Watch has criticised the government for rushing this bill through parliament. This is from Izza Leghtas, a Human Rights Watch researcher.

Given what we know about the UK’s involvement in mass surveillance, it is outrageous that the government wants to rush through emergency legislation that allows the government to monitor people not suspected of any wrongdoing.

A proper debate about how to reform surveillance powers is long overdue and it has to happen now, not in 2016.

ISPs take GCHQ to court in UK over mass surveillance | World news |

ISPs take GCHQ to court in UK over mass surveillance | World news |

Seven international web providers lodge formal complaint to court alleging breach of privacy and breaking into their networks




ISPs are taking GCHQ to court for alleged breach of privacy. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images


Internet service providers from around the world are lodging formal complaints against the UK government’s monitoring service, GCHQ, alleging that it uses “malicious software” to break into their networks.

The claims from seven organisations based in six countries – the UK, Netherlands, US, South Korea, Germany and Zimbabwe – will add to international pressure on the British government following Edward Snowden‘s revelations about mass surveillance of the internet by UK and US intelligence agencies.

The claims are being filed with the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT), the court in London that assesses complaints about the agencies’ activities and misuse of surveillance by government organisations. Most of its hearings are held at least partially in secret.

The IPT is already considering a number of related submissions. Later this month it will investigate complaints by human rights groups about the way social media sites have been targeted by GCHQ.

The government has defended the security services, pointing out that online searches are often routed overseas and those deemed “external communications” can be monitored without the need for an individual warrant. Critics say that such a legal interpretation sidesteps the need for traditional intercept safeguards.

The latest claim is against both GCHQ, located near Cheltenham, and the Foreign Office. It is based on articles published earlier this year in the German magazine Der Spiegel. That report alleged that GCHQ had carried out an attack, codenamed Operation Socialist, on the Belgian telecoms group, Belgacom, targeting individual employees with “malware (malicious software)”.

One of the techniques was a “man in the middle” attack, which, according to the documents filed at the IPT, bypasses modern encryption software and “operates by interposing the attacker [GCHQ] between two computers that believe that they are securely communicating with each other. In fact, each is communicating with GCHQ, who collect the communications, as well as relaying them in the hope that the interference will be undetected.”

The complaint alleges that the attacks were a breach of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 and an interference with the privacy rights of the employees under the European convention of human rights.

The organisations targeted, the submission states, were all “responsible and professional internet service providers”. The claimants are: GreenNet Ltd, based in the UK, Riseup Networks in Seattle, Mango Email Service in Zimbabwe, Jinbonet in South Korea, Greenhost in the Netherlands, May First/People Link in New York and the Chaos Computer Club in Hamburg.

Privacy call for internet browsing in the wake of Edward Snowden leaks | Technology | The Guardian

Privacy call for internet browsing in the wake of Edward Snowden leaks | Technology | The Guardian.

Survey reveals that more than eight out of 10 internet users believe their search history should be kept private



online privacy

85% of people surveyed in the poll thought it ‘fairly important’, ‘very important’ or ‘essential’ to keep browsing records private. Photograph: Alamy


More than eight out of 10 internet users believe browsing history should be kept private, according to a survey.

The poll, commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust one year after US whistleblower Edward Snowdon leaked top-secret files revealing the activities of UK and US intelligence agencies, showed 85% believe it is “fairly important”, “very important” or “essential” to keep browsing records private.

Only 12% believe it is not important, the survey conducted by Ipsos Mori showed.

In addition, respondents supported a call by the Don’t Spy On Us campaign for senior judges rather than ministers to sign off on warrants for data collection of electronic communications, when asked where oversight of the intelligence agencies should lie.

Emma Carr, acting director of Big Brother Watch, said: “This research clearly highlights that the British public has little faith that politicians are properly monitoring how the security services are using surveillance powers.

British Spies Face Legal Action Over Secret Hacking Programs – The Intercept

British Spies Face Legal Action Over Secret Hacking Programs – The Intercept.

By 175
Featured photo - British Spies Face Legal Action Over Secret Hacking Programs British spy agency GCHQ (pictured above) stands accused of adopting illegal hacking tactics. Barry Batchelor/PA Wire.

The United Kingdom’s top spy agency is facing legal action following revelations published by The Intercept about its involvement in secret efforts to hack into computers on a massive scale.

Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, has been accused of acting unlawfully by helping to develop National Security Agency surveillance systems capable of covertly breaking into potentially millions of computers and networks across the world.

In a legal complaint filed on Tuesday, the London-based civil liberties group Privacy International alleges that the hacking techniques violated European human rights law and are not subject to sufficient safeguards against abuse. The complaint cites a series of details contained in a report published by The Intercept in March, which exposed how GCHQ was closely involved in the NSA’s efforts to rapidly expand its ability to deploy so-called “implants” to infiltrate computers.

GCHQ's spy malware operation faces legal challenge | UK news |

GCHQ’s spy malware operation faces legal challenge | UK news |

Privacy International claims development of programs that remotely hijack computer cameras and microphones is illegal



A webcam

A webcam. Privacy International says GCHQ’s spy programs enable surveillance of stored content and logging of keystrokes. Photograph: Daniel Bockwoldt/DPA/Corbis


GCHQ, the government’s monitoring agency, acted illegally by developing spy programs that remotely hijack computers’ cameras and microphones without the user’s consent, according to privacy campaigners.

A legal challenge lodged on Tuesday at the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) calls for the hacking techniques – alleged to be far more intrusive than interception of communications – to be outlawed. Mobile phones were also targeted, leaked documents reveal.

The claim has been submitted by Privacy International following revelations by the whistleblower Edward Snowden about the mass surveillance operations conducted by GCHQ and its US counterpart, the National Security Agency (NSA).

The 21-page submission details a host of “malware” – software devised to take over or damage another person’s computer – with such esoteric names as Warrior Pride, Gumfish, Dreamy Smurf, Foggybottom and Captivatedaudience.

Details of the programs have been published by the Guardian and the online magazine The Intercept run by the journalist Glenn Greenwald. They are said to allow GCHQ to gain access to “the profile information supplied by a user in registering a device [such as] … his location, age, gender, marital status, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, and family”.

More intrusively, Privacy International alleges, the programs enable surveillance of any stored content, logging of keystrokes and “the covert and unauthorised photography or recording of the user and those around him”. It is, the claim maintains, the equivalent of “entering someone’s house, searching through his filing cabinets, diaries and correspondence, and planting devices to permit constant surveillance in future, and, if mobile devices are involved, obtaining historical information including every location he had visited in the past year”.

Such break-ins also leave devices vulnerable to attack by others “such as credit card fraudsters, thereby risking the user’s personal data more broadly”, Privacy International argues. “It is the modern equivalent of breaking in to a residence, and leaving the locks broken or damaged afterwards.”

Helena Bonham Carter and the case of the failed city crowdfunding experiment | Cities |

Helena Bonham Carter and the case of the failed city crowdfunding experiment | Cities |

Crowdfunding actual urban projects, like bridges (done) or potholes (not yet), is a controversial idea – but one thing is clear: having movie stars on board is no guarantee of success

• In pictures – the smartest urban crowdfunding projects

Luchtsingel crowdfunded bridge
Focused on the crowd, not the funding … the crowdfunded Luchtsingel bridge served a real urban need: to connect a neglected part of Rotterdam to the city centre

Helena Bonham Carter was effusive: “This project is so exciting!” She and her husband, Tim Burton, were celebrity supporters of what they trumpeted as a bold experiment in crowdfunding. Called the Invisible City, it was a plan to create three giant treehouses in Regent’s Park, London, which would act as platforms for culture, performance and debate – a world, as the press release put it, of “collaborative happenings”.

The creation of artists Claudia Moseley and Edward Shuster, the project sounded promising. There were discussions with the council, support from the Royal Parks and consultations with wildlife experts. TheEvening Standard and Time Out covered the story, understandably lured by the glitz of Burton and Bonham Carter and by the idea that the Invisible City was attempting to raise the necessary funds – £500,000 – on Kickstarter. With the project claiming to have the community and “shared ideas” at its heart, surely crowdfunding was the way to go.

When eBay goes wrong, who pays the price? | Money | The Observer

When eBay goes wrong, who pays the price? | Money | The Observer.

Ebay has furnished Vishal Vora home and supplied his cars. But when a sale went wrong the site took the side of a buyer – despite all the evidence – and set the debt collectors on him
Vishal Vora

Vishal Vora has spent £20,000 on eBay but now he is taking the site to court. Photograph: Andy Hall for the Observer

By day Vishal Vora is a college lecturer but, once home, he is that most modern phenomenon: an eBayer. His kitchen units, his last four cars, even his floorboards have been bought via the online auction site and the destinations of his family holidays are dictated by the location of the latest purchase he has to collect. He reckons he has spent £20,000 in the past 10 years, but this amiable relationship is now to end in court over a £160 iPhone. Vora, 32, from London, is the latest Observerreader to have found that eBay protects buyers at the expense of sellers and that a long, unblemished record can count for nothing when a transaction goes wrong.

The problems began in September when Vora sold his wife’s iPhone4 to an online bidder. “The weight on our Post Office receipt confirms that the phone must have been in the box when it was dispatched, yet the buyer insisted it arrived empty,” he says.

Instead of investigating, eBay took £17 from Vora’s PayPal account and used it towards refunding the buyer. The balance came from eBay and Vora has since received regular demands from debt collectors to recoup the entire sum. Both his eBay and PayPal accounts have been blocked, even though he is formally disputing the claim.

Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing receives royal pardon | Science | The Guardian

Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing receives royal pardon | Science | The Guardian.

Mathematician lost his job and was given experimental ‘chemical castration’ after being convicted for homosexual activity in 1952
Alan Turing

Alan Turing, right, with colleagues working on the Ferranti Mark I computer. Photograph: Science & Society Picture Librar/Getty Images

Alan Turing, the second world war codebreaker who took his own life after undergoing chemical castration following a conviction for homosexual activity, has been granted a posthumous royal pardon 59 years after his death.

The brilliant mathematician, who played a major role in breaking the Enigma code – which arguably shortened the war by at least two years – has been granted a pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy by the Queen, following a request from the justice secretary, Chris Grayling.

Turing was considered to be the father of modern computer science and was most famous for his work in helping to create the “bombe” that cracked messages enciphered with the German Enigma machines. He was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 after admitting a sexual relationship with a man.

He was given experimental chemical castration as a “treatment”. His criminal record resulted in the loss of his security clearance and meant he was no longer able to work for Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), where he had been employed following service at Bletchley Park during the war. He died of cyanide poisoning in 1954, aged 41.

Dr Andrew Hodges, tutorial fellow in mathematics at Wadham College, Oxford, and author of the acclaimed biography Alan Turing: The Enigma, said: “Alan Turing suffered appalling treatment 60 years ago and there has been a very well intended and deeply felt campaign to remedy it in some way. Unfortunately, I cannot feel that such a ‘pardon’ embodies any good legal principle. If anything, it suggests that a sufficiently valuable individual should be above the law which applies to everyone else.

“It’s far more important that in the 30 years since I brought the story to public attention, LGBT rights movements have succeeded with a complete change in the law – for all. So, for me, this symbolic action adds nothing.

“A more substantial action would be the release of files on Turing’s secret work for GCHQ in the cold war. Loss of security clearance, state distrust and surveillance may have been crucial factors in the two years leading up to his death in 1954.”

Former whistleblowers: open letter to intelligence employees after Snowden | Thomas Drake, Daniel Ellsberg, Katharine Gun, Peter Kofod, Ray McGovern, Jesselyn Radack, Coleen Rowley | Comment is free |

Former whistleblowers: open letter to intelligence employees after Snowden | Thomas Drake, Daniel Ellsberg, Katharine Gun, Peter Kofod, Ray McGovern, Jesselyn Radack, Coleen Rowley | Comment is free |

Blowing the whistle on powerful factions is not a fun thing to do, but it is the last avenue for truth, balanced debate and democracy



Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden’s revelations have changed the debate on civil liberties. Photograph: Ho/AFP/Getty Images


At least since the aftermath of September 2001, western governments and intelligence agencies have been hard at work expanding the scope of their own power, while eroding privacy, civil liberties and public control of policy. What used to be viewed as paranoid, Orwellian, tin-foil hat fantasies turned out post-Snowden, to be not even the whole story.

What’s really remarkable is that we’ve been warned for years that these things were going on: wholesale surveillance of entire populations, militarization of the internet, the end of privacy. All is done in the name of “national security”, which has more or less become a chant to fence off debate and make sure governments aren’t held to account – that they can’t be held to account – because everything is being done in the dark. Secret laws, secret interpretations of secret laws by secret courts and no effective parliamentary oversight whatsoever.

By and large the media have paid scant attention to this, even as more and more courageous, principled whistleblowers stepped forward. The unprecedented persecution of truth-tellers, initiated by the Bush administration and severely accelerated by the Obama administration, has been mostly ignored, while record numbers of well-meaning people are charged with serious felonies simply for letting their fellow citizens know what’s going on.

Edward Snowden voted Guardian person of the year 2013 | World news |

Edward Snowden voted Guardian person of the year 2013 | World news |

NSA whistleblower’s victory, for exposing the scale of internet surveillance, follows that of Chelsea Manning last year
Edward Snowden

In May Edward Snowden flew to Hong Kong where he gave journalists the material which blew the lid on the extent of US digital spying. Photograph: The Guardian/AFP/Getty Images

For the second year in a row, a young American whistleblower alarmed at the unfettered and at times cynical deployment of power by the world’s foremost superpower has been voted the Guardian’s person of the year.

Edward Snowden, who leaked an estimated 200,000 files that exposed the extensive and intrusive nature of phone and internet surveillance and intelligence gathering by the US and its western allies, was the overwhelming choice of more than 2,000 people who voted.

The NSA whistleblower garnered 1,445 votes. In a distant second, from a list of 10 candidates chosen by Guardian writers and editors, cameMarco Weber and Sini Saarela, the Greenpeace activists who spearheaded the oil rig protest over Russian Arctic drilling. They received 314 votes. Pope Francis gained 153 votes, narrowly ahead of blogger and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe, who received 144. Snowden’s victory was as decisive as Chelsea Manning’s a year earlier.

Charlie Brooker on why video game television is so hard to make | Technology |

Charlie Brooker on why video game television is so hard to make | Technology |

With his documentary, How Video Games Changed the World, screening on Saturday, we talk to the writer, broadcaster and veteran gamer about the challenge of making TV about games



Charlie Brooker
Charlie Brooker, still a gamer at heart. Photograph: Karen Robinson


There are few more visible proponents of game culture in UK media than Charlie Brooker. The presenter, writer and satirist started out as a games writer for PC Zone magazine in the 90s, before setting up his scurrilous TV listings parody site TVGoHome. From there, he took his caustic wit to television, co-writing the sitcom Nathan Barley with Chris Morris, and presenting satirical shows Screenwipe, Newswipe and Ten O’Clock Live.


But at heart he is still a gamer and on Saturday he is hosting a two-hour documentary, How Video Games Changed the World, which looks at the ways gaming has shaped culture and society – even if many people still dismiss computer games as something kids do instead of going out to play or reading.


Here, we speak to Brooker about the documentary and about games culture in general, from the violence of Mortal Kombat to the “con” of free-to-play.


Can you tell us how the documentary came about? It seems that it’s difficult to get programmes about video games commissioned…


Well, in 2009, I did Gameswipe, which was a sort of games-flavoured spin-off of Screenwipe. And it’s bizarre because when it was shown on BBC 4 I think it actually did better than Screenwipe in terms of viewership, but there wasn’t much hunger for a follow up from the channel generally. I think that’s because games are still seen as a niche pursuit; you’re constantly bumping up against the assumption that they’re all for teenage boys.


We did have conversations with the BBC about doing a documentary series about games… but the thing is, games are a strange area. It’s kind of like internet culture, it feels slightly divorced from the real world. So most of the time, you need to have a commissioner who knows about video games, so they understand that they’re interesting to the masses.


And it’s not just about understanding, I suppose, it’s also about knowing how to communicate what these things are?


A language has been built around video games, which is alienating to many people. And lots of people erroneously think that games aren’t for them – even as they’re playing Angry Birds or Words With Friends.


So you’re sort of combating all of that, and any TV commissioner’s job is to make sure that they’re making programmes people are going to want to watch. There’s just a reticence there. So as a result most games programming tends to be either aimed at teenage boys or incredibly defensive. How many times have you seen a mainstream news report that begins, ‘these days video games are big business!’ What? That’s still news? And that’s where you’ll see most games coverage – on the news when you have people queuing for the latest Call of Duty or whatever. We’re fortunate because Tabitha Jackson who commissioned this programme doesn’t know about games but realised their importance; she told us that what we needed to do was keep harking back to wider culture, to place games in context. Which is what we’ve tried to do.


Gamers queuing for Call of Duty
Manadatory Credit: Photo by Michael Bowles / Rex Features (1489516c) Call of Duty soldiers man the midnight launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – the sort of game story that tends to make the TV news. Photograph: Michael Bowles/Rex Features


So the documentary is for a mainstream audience?


Yes, but whether they’ll show up or not I don’t know. Maybe they won’t realise it’s for them. It’s interesting because most of the production team – myself, the producer Dan Tucker, and all the writers we’ve had on the show – we all know a lot about video games. But we’ve also had Annabel Jones, our exec producer, who is sort of the canary down the coal mine. She knows nothing about games and it’s been quite useful. She’d come along to the edit and watch a section, and say something like, ‘what is a platform game?’ You’re trying not to alienate those people. Hopefully we’ve struck the right balance. But there is a lot of explaining to do. That’s why most games programming tends to be explanatory rather than exploratory.

Vigilante paedophile hunters dispense morally dubious justice – video | UK news |

Vigilante paedophile hunters dispense morally dubious justice – video | UK news |

Victims of anti-paedopile vigilantes, who use the internet to snare suspected child groomers, tell how their lives were ruined. Police cleared Sam and Peter of child grooming but their lives were turned upside down when vigilantes posted videos of them purporting to be meeting children

How the internet paved the way for gay marriage

When traditional gay rights organisations like Stonewall proved slow to support gay marriage, the web filled the vacuum

LGBT rally for equal marriage outside Parliament

An LGBT rally for equal marriage outside parliament. Photograph: See Li/Corbis

In 2008, I stood in shame outside the state capitol in California at a candlelit vigil held after the people of the liberal heartland of America voted to ban gay marriage and reinstate civil unions for gay couples. I stood in shame not because of the crushing weight of opposition, but because my own country was itself no closer to introducing full marriage rights for gay couples. I myself had fallen for the Stonewall and New Labour spin that civil partnerships were just as good as a marriage.

It’s astonishing that four-and-a-half years later, with peers having passed the bill, the UK parliament has effectively decided to pass equal marriage into law, bar any last minute hiccoughs. It’s all the more astonishing because it has been achieved largely without the need for candlelit vigils, and was a move backed by leaders of the three main political parties before the largest gay lobbying charity Stonewall said the law should be changed. As recently as 2009 its chief executive, Ben Summerskill, said: “There are quite a lot of gay and lesbian people who wouldn’t want marriage,” and that it was concerned instead with “absolutely practical hard outcomes which make a real difference to people’s lives”, not the mere relabeling of civil partnerships.

Although my publication, PinkNews, could not match the campaigning clout of an organisation with an annual income of £4m, when I heard this I decided that we could still utilise the power of the internet to try to change the legislative agenda. What we did was remarkably simple: Q&A sessions with all party leaders ahead of the election, to further our agenda by allowing our readers to ask them to support ending the ban on gay marriage.