Tag Archives: internet

Pentagon: The Chinese stole our newest weapons

Pentagon: The Chinese stole our newest weapons

Reuters / Carlos Barria

The designs for more than two dozen major weapons systems used by the United States military have fallen into the hands of the Chinese, US Department of Defense officials say.

Blueprints for the Pentagon’s most advanced weaponry, including the Black Hawk helicopter and the brand new Littoral Combat Ship used by the Navy, have all been compromised, the Defense Science Board claims in a new confidential report.

The Washington Post acknowledged late Monday that they have seen a copy of the report and confirmed that the Chinese now have the know-how to emulate some of the Pentagon’s most sophisticated programs.

“This is billions of dollars of combat advantage for China,” a senior military official not authorized to speak on the record told Post reporters. “They’ve just saved themselves 25 years of research and development.”

“It’s nuts,” the source said of the report.

The Defense Science Board, a civilian advisory committee within the Pentagon, fell short of accusing the Chinese of stealing the designs. However, the Post’s report comes on the heels of formal condemnation courtesy of the DoD issued only earlier this month.

“In 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the US government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military,” the Defense Department alleged in a previous report.

Ellen Nakashima, the Post reporter who detailed the DSB analysis this week, wrote that the computer systems at the Pentagon may not have necessarily been breached. Instead, rather, she suggested that the defense contractors who built these weapons programs have likely been subjected to a security breach. US officials speaking on condition of anonymity, she reported, said that a closed door meeting last year ended with evidence being presented of major defense contractors suffering from intrusions. When reached for comment, the largest defense contractors — Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman — all refused to weigh in.

Chinese hackers have previously been accused of waging cyberattacks on a number of US entities, including billion-dollar corporations and governmental departments. In 2007 it was reported that China accumulated the blueprints for the Pentagon’s F-35 fighter jets, the most expensive weapons program ever created, but the latest news from the DSB decries that much more has been compromised.

According to the Post, the plans for the advanced Patriot missile system, an Army anti-ballistic program and a number of aircraft have all ended up in the hands of the Chinese. The result could mean the People’s Republic is working towards recreating the hallmarks of America’s military might for their own offensive purposes, while also putting China in a position where even the most advanced weaponry in the world won’t be able to withstand complex defensive capabilities once those projects are reverse engineered.

“If they got into the combat systems, it enables them to understand it to be able to jam it or otherwise disable it,” Winslow T. Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight, told the Post. “If they’ve got into the basic algorithms for the missile and how they behave, somebody better get out a clean piece of paper and start to design all over again.”

Mandiant, a US security firm located outside of Washington, reported earlier this year that the China has enlisted an elite squadron of cyber warrior to attack American computer systems and conduct espionage on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army. When the report was released in February, Mandiant said the PLA’s elusive Unit 61398 has successfully compromised the networks of more than 141 companies across 20 major industries, including Coca-Cola and a Canadian utility company. Those hacks reportedly subsided after Mandiant went public with their claims, but earlier this month the firm said those attacks have since been renewed.

“They dialed it back for a little while, though other groups that also wear uniforms didn’t even bother to do that,” CEO Kevin Mandia told the New York Times recently. “I think you have to view this as the new normal.”

On their part, China has adamantly denied all claims that they’ve waged attacks on US networks. Following Mandiant’s initial report, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said the claims were “irresponsible and unprofessional.”

“Hacking attacks are transnational and anonymous,” Hong Lei said. “Determining their origins are extremely difficult. We don’t know how the evidence in this so-called report can be tenable.” SOURCEu

Study: Internet Access More Important Than Sex, Alcohol

Study: Internet Access More Important Than Sex, Alcohol

Posted by: Soren Dreier

Americans are more connected than ever — at least to the Internet.

A new survey by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) attempts to quantify just how much we value access to the World Wide Web and its findings are somewhat surprising.

Asked what they would give up for a year in order to maintain access to the Internet, 77 percent of Americans said they’d forgo chocolate, 73 percent alcohol, 69 percent coffee and 21 percent said they would go a whole year without sex.

BCG also tried to determine in dollar terms the worth of the Internet for most people living in the U.S. As it turns out, U.S. consumers would need to be paid roughly $2500 to live without the Internet for one year.

What do Americans value the most about the Internet? General search, e-mail and access to online banking and investing.

Dominic Field, partner at BCG and author of “The Connected World: The $4.2 Trillion Opportunity,” joined The Daily Ticker to discuss the report, which aims to uncover the impact of the Internet economy on the U.S. and global economies.

As you might imagine, the size and scope of the web and its uses and users are multiplying fast. There are currently 1.6 billion global Internet users today and by 2016 the number is expected to nearly double to 3 billion, or half the world’s population, says Field.

Today the Internet contributes $2.3 trillion to the global economy and is expected to grow to $4.2 trillion in about four years.

The Internet contributed $648 billion to the U.S. economy in 2010, or 4.7% of GDP; more than in any other country. To put that in perspective, the Internet economy is the eighth-largest sector in the U.S. and ahead of the Federal Government. Today, the Internet economy is growing at 6.5% a year in the U.S., one reason BCG believes this sector could eventually help propel the country out of recession.


Tracking the trackers: Mozilla’s anti-Big Brother add-on

Tracking the trackers: Mozilla’s anti-Big Brother add-on

Custom Search

The owner of Firefox, the world’s second most popular browser, is backing an add-on which would allow users to monitor in real-time how their actions are tracked and shared by various websites as they surf the net.

­The tool currently in development visualizes the flow of information as a meshwork of bubbles representing different websites. It tracks the sites which the user visits and also shows their known partners – ad companies, behavior profilers and other third parties. As surfing continues, a pattern emerges revealing that different popular sites are linked to the same data collectors, which are building up their knowledge on the user’s habits and preferences.

The ultimate goal of those companies is to identify what kind of advertising would ring a bell with each user, and then to target them accordingly.

For instance, Google’s controversial new privacy policy aims to share info on users of its various services to build more accurate advertising profiles. The policy came into effect on Thursday amid a chorus of objections from activists and officials that it violates privacy and may be illegal in some jurisdictions. Another example is Facebook, which learns about every visit to a page which has its “Like” button on it.

The amount of data collected by Google, Facebook and other players less-known to the general public is astounding. But the majority of Internet users are oblivious to this fact. Mozilla’s new add-on – called Collusion – aims to change that.

“Collusion will allow us to pull back the curtain and provide users with more information about the growing role of third parties, how data drives most Web experiences, and ultimately how little control we have over that experience and our loss of data,” says Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs in his blog.

Mozilla wants the users of Collusion to submit anonymized data on their surfing habits to build up a database on who tracks them and how it is done. It is intended for researchers, journalists and privacy activists who would monitor data-tracking practices and find possible abuse.

The full version of Collusion will also work together with other tools like TrackerBlock to allow users to selectively hide from some trackers while allowing others to track them.


Get Online Even When Your Government Shuts It Down……..Find out how!

Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts It Down

By Patrick Miller, David Daw

What to do when your government shuts down your Internet access and other useful tools.

These days, no popular movement goes without an Internet presence of some kind, whether it’s organizing on Facebook or spreading the word through Twitter. And as we’ve seen in Egypt, that means that your Internet connection can be the first to go. Whether you’re trying to check in with your family, contact your friends, or simply spread the word, here are a few ways to build some basic network connectivity when you can’t rely on your cellular or landline Internet connections.

Do-It-Yourself Internet With Ad-Hoc Wi-Fi

Even if you’ve managed to find an Internet connection for yourself, it won’t be that helpful in reaching out to your fellow locals if they can’t get online to find you. If you’re trying to coordinate a group of people in your area and can’t rely on an Internet connection, cell phones, or SMS, your best bet could be a wireless mesh network of sorts–essentially, a distributed network of wireless networking devices that can all find each other and communicate with each other. Even if none of those devices have a working Internet connection, they can still find each other, which, if your network covers the city you’re in, might be all you need. At the moment, wireless mesh networking isn’t really anywhere close to market-ready, though we have seen an implementation of the 802.11s draft standard, which extends the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard to include wireless mesh networking, in the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO laptop.

However, a prepared guerrilla networker with a handful of PCs could make good use of Daihinia ($25, 30-day free trial), an app that piggybacks on your Wi-Fi adapter driver to turn your normal ad-hoc Wi-Fi network into a multihop ad-hoc network (disclaimer: we haven’t tried this ourselves yet), meaning that instead of requiring each device on the network to be within range of the original access point, you simply need to be within range of a device on the network that has Daihinia installed, effectively allowing you to add a wireless mesh layer to your ad-hoc network.

Advanced freedom fighters can set up a portal Web page on their network that explains the way the setup works, with Daihinia instructions and a local download link so they can spread the network even further. Lastly, just add a Bonjour-compatible chat client like Pidgin or iChat, and you’ll be able to talk to your neighbors across the city without needing an Internet connection.

Back to Basics

Remember when you stashed your old modems in the closet because you thought you might need them some day? In the event of a total communications blackout–as we’re seeing in Egypt, for example–you’ll be glad you did. Older and simpler tools, like dial-up Internet or even ham radio, could still work, since these “abandoned” tech avenues aren’t being policed nearly as hard.

In order to get around the total shutdown of all of the ISPs within Egypt, several international ISPs are offering dial-up access to the Internet to get protesters online, since phone service is still operational. It’s slow, but it still works–the hard part is getting the access numbers without an Internet connection to find them.

Unfortunately, such dial-up numbers can also be fairly easily shut down by the Egyptian government, so you could also try returning to FidoNet–a distributed networking system for BBSes that was popular in the 1980s. FidoNet is limited to sending only simple text messages, and it’s slow, but it has two virtues: Users connect asynchronously, so the network traffic is harder to track, and any user can act as the server, which means that even if the government shuts down one number in the network, another one can quickly pop up to take its place.

You could also take inspiration from groups that are working to create an ad-hoc communications network into and out of Egypt using Ham Radio, since the signals are rarely tracked and extremely hard to shut down or block. Most of these efforts are still getting off the ground, but hackers are already cobbling together ways to make it a viable form of communication into and out of the country.

Always Be Prepared

In the land of no Internet connection, the man with dial-up is king. Here are a few gadgets that you could use to prepare for the day they cut the lines.

Given enough time and preparation, your ham radio networks could even be adapted into your own ad-hoc network using Packet Radio, a radio communications protocol that you can use to create simple long-distance wireless networks to transfer text and other messages between computers. Packet Radio is rather slow and not particularly popular (don’t try to stream any videos with this, now), but it’s exactly the kind of networking device that would fly under the radar.

In response to the crisis in Egypt, nerds everywhere have risen to call for new and exciting tools for use in the next government-mandated shutdown. Bre Pettis, founder of the hackerspace NYC Resistor and creator of the Makerbot 3D printer, has called for “Apps for the Appocalypse,” including a quick and easy way to set up chats on a local network so you can talk with your friends and neighbors in an emergency even without access to the Internet. If his comments are any indication, Appocalypse apps may be headed your way soon.

Tons of cool tech are also just waiting to be retrofitted for these purposes. David Dart’s Pirate Box is a one-step local network in a box originally conceived for file sharing and local P2P purposes, but it wouldn’t take much work to adapt the Pirate Box as a local networking tool able to communicate with other pirate boxes to form a compact, mobile set of local networks in the event of an Internet shutdown.

Whether you’re in Egypt or Eagle Rock, you rely on your Internet access to stay in touch with friends and family, get your news, and find information you need. (And read PCWorld, of course.) Hopefully with these apps, tools, and techniques, you won’t have to worry about anyone–even your government–keeping you from doing just that.


Confessions of an online porn junkie

Confessions of an online porn junkie

By Ryan Duggins

Young men have been looking at pictures of naked women ever since a giggling Stone Age teenager daubed a crude outline of one of the more shapely females of his tribe on a cave wall, without her bearskin on, and grunted to his mate: ‘Come and have a look at this.’
The medium for these provocative images has, of course, changed over time. A Victorian gentleman might have had a private collection of beautifully drawn erotic sketches hidden in a desk drawer, while my grandfather’s generation would have passed around saucy postcards of statuesque women posing in assorted states of relatively innocent undress.

Compulsion: Ryan Duggins is a self-confessed online porn junkie

It wasn’t until my father’s generation that, if you were brave enough and tall enough, you could walk into a newsagent and buy a magazine from the forbidden top shelf and gain access to a whole new world of the ‘full frontal’ centrefold — those glamorous models spread-eagled across two pages with come-to-bed eyes and staples through their midriffs.
More…Internet pornography destroying men’s ability to perform with real women, finds study

But my experience has been very different. I’m part of the first generation of men to grow up with internet pornography as part and parcel of everyday life. I’ve never had to pay for pornography; I’ve never faced the embarrassment of asking for it and, when I tire of one image, there’s always another?.?.?.?and another?.?.?.?and another.
Type the words ‘free porn’ into an internet search engine and you’ll get more than 25 million hits, with most sites containing hundreds, if not thousands, of pornographic images.

I was aware that most women don’t like porn and that they are not the sort of pneumatic, buffed and waxed sexual athletes I was watching on the internet
Internet porn was part of my life throughout my late teens and into early adulthood. But now, at 23, I’m increasingly aware that I have a problem. I’m not yet ready to describe myself as an addict, but there’s no denying that internet porn has become a deeply ingrained daily habit. Indeed, I struggle to get through a day without at least one visit to one of my favourite sites.
Now, I’m sure many of you will be mouthing a quiet ‘Yuk’ as you read this and I entirely understand your reaction. But what you need to know is that I’m certainly not alone — I’m convinced that virtually every man of my age will access internet porn sites on a reasonably regular basis, as will many men twice or even three times my age.

Ryan says it wasn’t until his father’s generation that you could walk into a newsagent and buy a magazine from the forbidden top shelf
Men, by and large, like porn and enjoy using it; it’s getting caught using it that they don’t like. And like most men, my interest in looking at women with no clothes on began at puberty in my early teens. The internet had not yet kicked in, but some of the terrestrial TV channels, particularly Channel 4 and Channel 5, used to broadcast fairly racy programmes late at night.

I remember sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch shows such as Eurotrash and Real Sex. From there, I graduated to the satellite sex channels. Not, of course, for the programmes you had to pay for with a card (I was still too young to have one) — but for the titillating 10 minutes they broadcast free to attract new subscribers.

When I reached my mid to late teens, the internet came into its own. Early porn sites just provided access to still photographs — the internet equivalent of a top-shelf magazine — and in the days of dial-up connections and noisy modems, it seemed to take an age to download a single picture.

But as connection speeds improved, accessing porn sites became easier and quicker. Stills gave way to video clips, and now you can stream a high-definition porn film just as easily as the last episode of Downton Abbey. However, it’s the content of these porn sites that has changed most dramatically. Thirty or 40 years ago, most pornography was definitely ‘soft core’ — women posing alone and displaying their bodies in a relatively passive way.

Today, soft-core porn barely exists. Internet porn is now almost entirely ‘hard-core’ — which involves female and male models graphically engaged in an extraordinary variety of real sex acts. For years, I thought my internet porn habit was having no effect on my relationships in real life. I was confident I could keep internet sex and real sex separate.
After all, I was aware that most women don’t like porn and that they are not the sort of pneumatic, buffed and waxed sexual athletes I was watching on the internet. But now I’ve realised that I’ve been deluding myself; internet porn is undoubtedly beginning to damage my real-life relationships.

Indeed, it is true to say that it’s why I’m not in a relationship today. My last proper girlfriend dumped me when she found out how keen on pornography I actually was. But it’s causing other problems, too. Although I’ve had sex with dozens of women, I’ve had only four ‘proper’ relationships since I was 16. And they’ve all ended because I’ve cheated on them.
Now you can stream a high-definition porn film just as easily as the last episode of Downton AbbeyI’m convinced this is because using internet porn is a form of cheating — after all, I’m lusting after the body of a stranger rather than my girlfriend — and that once you’ve grown accustomed to this online infidelity, real-life cheating becomes much, much easier.

But it’s also increasingly difficult to keep what I watch online separate from my love life. I seem to have crossed a line without realising it, and I’d have to admit that those experts who talk about porn having a ‘desensitising’ effect — that, over time, regular users of porn require stronger and stronger images — may have a point.

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the buzz I get from using internet porn is diminishing my ability to emotionally invest in a woman. It’s not that I don’t want to fall in love, but I’m beginning to feel like I don’t need to. If the sex life I’m having vicariously online is better than the sex life I might be having in the real world, then I’m not sure what the incentive is.

I don’t want to sound too cynical, but men have always seen relationships as a means to regular sex, while women have always used regular sex to consolidate an emotional relationship. Porn on the net and the ready availability of casual sex with women I meet in bars, clubs and occasionally online (women my age may not like porn but they do seem very keen on no-strings-attached sex) have disturbed that convenient equilibrium; at least for me. At the moment, I simply don’t need a relationship.

As yet, I’ve haven’t sought treatment for what I can see others might describe as an addiction. But like most of my friends, I do try to give up internet porn every now and then — rather like some people give up drinking for January — and, again like most of my friends, I end up not quite succeeding.

Why am I speaking out now? Partly because I think it’s important to be honest. I may be a slightly heavier consumer of porn than some of my peers but I’m not atypical, and I think it’s important that women, parents and society generally are aware of that.

The well-spoken teenager your 16-year-old daughter has just brought home for the first time will have seen things online that you barely knew were legal or physically possible. So, too, will the good-looking hunk from accounts who’s just flashed you a smile across the photocopier, as will the handsome divorcé that you’ve just met through online dating.

Internet porn has become an element of the modern male world. I don’t expect women to understand or approve of that, but it’s important that they know it. Men are changing, and while I don’t know what the answer may be, I do know what the problem is.

Read more: SOURCE

‘Nuclear’ cloud over Saint Petersburg

‘Nuclear’ cloud over Saint Petersburg

People in northern St. Petersburg on Thursday evening witnessed a strange mushroom-like cloud which bore an unnerving resemblance to a nuclear explosion.

Thoughts of a disaster passed through the minds of alarmed citizens, but the Emergencies Ministry gave reassurances that none had been reported.

Meteorologists say the strange-shaped cloud may have formed as a result of rare atmospheric conditions in the area, which had been experiencing alternating sun and rain showers.

Doubt has been cast on the explanation by skeptics who pointed out that clouds are formed high in the sky, while the mushroom cloud appeared to be rising from the ground.

Some St. Petersburg residents say photos of the cloud suggest it must have been produced artificially.

“We had fog yesterday, but it’s a morning event. Of course a mushroom-shaped cloud could appear, because there were many rain clouds. But it happens at great altitude. It’s unlikely to happen near the ground,
” meteorologist Aleksandr Kolesov said.

However, the cloud in question only gives the appearance of touching the ground but is actually as high as it is supposed to be, he added.

“The photo was taken from afar, and that’s why it looks like that,” he said.

Atmospheric phenomena can sometimes be very peculiar. In December 2009, for instance, a Russian missile test resulted in a spiral cloud appearing in Norway’s sky.


……Hello, NSA!

Prepare to Have Your Email Read by the NSA

Adam Clark Estes Jun 17, 2011

With a new major hacking incident seemingly daily, the Department of Defense is scrambling to find the right shield against future for attacks. But why hide behind a shield when you can charge onto the battlefield underneath the invisible but ironclad cloak of the National Security Agency? That’s exactly how the DoD is mounting it’s first strike back at the hackers–a preemptive strike that will increase online surveillance at defense contractors by partnering with internet service providers for privileged access to the rivers of data flowing through their cables. AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink are all on board.

Giving the NSA more access to the same internet tubes that power your Gmail account sounds a little invasive. At least that’s what James X. Dempsey, vice president for public policy at the civil liberties watchdog group the Center for Democracy and Technology. “We wouldn’t want this to become a backdoor form of surveillance,” Dempsey told The Washington Post, referring to the pilot program that DoD insists will remain limited to the contractors working closely with the government.

“The U.S. government will not be monitoring, intercepting or storing any private-sector communications,” Deputy Secretary William J. Lynn III said Thursday at a global security conference in Paris. However, he added, “We hope the … cyber pilot can be the beginning of something bigger. It could serve as a model that can be transported to other critical infrastructure sectors, under the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security.”

Citing recent attacks on government contractors like Lockheed Martin, Lynn is taking a defensive stance on the privacy issue–pun intended. In other words, the NSA program will test out what some would call surveillance techniques on outside parties, and when the program is ready, it’s not out of the question that the government would move it to the private sector. It makes sense that the DoD is being aggressive. As Reuters reports, the government is getting pretty desperate:

Terabytes of data are flying out the door, and billions of dollars are lost in remediation costs and reputational harm, government and private security experts said in interviews. The head of the U.S. military’s Cyber Command, General Keith Alexander, has estimated that Pentagon computer systems are probed by would-be assailants 250,000 times each hour.

Cyber intrusions are now a fact of life, and a widely accepted cost of doing business.

“We don’t treat it as if it’s here today, gone tomorrow,” said Jay Opperman, Comcast Corp.‘s senior director of security and privacy. “It’s like an insect infestation. Once you’ve got it, you never get rid of it.”

We all saw Men in Black. And Hackers. And The Matrix. Sometimes, in the face of an invasion, the government ought to protect itself and its citizens from danger. That’s basically why an institution like the Department of Defense exists–nobody will argue with that.

But another sort of danger is the fact that, in the context of cybercrime, the public understands so very little about the terms of the government’s efforts. Poll Middle America about what “DDoS attack” or “Stuxnet-like weapons” are. Even the term “fingerprints of malicious code” from The Washington Post coverage of the NSA surveillance program leaves lots of leeway for better informed officials to define the rules of engagement. By its very nature a virtual attack is much harder to visualize than a missile heading to Washington DC. Apologies for the Cold War-style reference, but the Pentagon seems as confused now as they did then about how to balance the actual defense against cyber attackers and the propaganda campaign to win the public’s support.

Which brings us to the mixed messages problem. The other line of narrative around the internet and government protecting the people is a presumably more docile one: the struggle for privacy in the age of Facebook. As enterprising Senators go head to head with the social network and the Google and everyone, lambasting them for deceitfully monitoring American citizens with their confusing privacy policies and location tracking programs, news of a clandestine agreement between internet service providers and the NSA, the most secret of the secret agencies, feels kind of icky. Like a hypocritical bed bug invasion or something.


Quieting Dissent: How the Obama administration plans to shut down the flow of information

White House wants new copyright law crackdown

by Declan McCullagh

The White House today proposed sweeping revisions to U.S. copyright law, including making “illegal streaming” of audio or video a federal felony and allowing FBI agents to wiretap suspected infringers.

In a 20-page white paper (PDF), the Obama administration called on the U.S. Congress to fix “deficiencies that could hinder enforcement” of intellectual property laws.

Victoria Espinel, the first Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, with Vice President Joe Biden during an event last year

The report was prepared by Victoria Espinel, the first Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator who received Senate confirmation in December 2009, and represents a broad tightening of many forms of intellectual property law including ones that deal with counterfeit pharmaceuticals and overseas royalties for copyright holders. (See CNET’s report last month previewing today’s white paper.)

Some of the highlights:

• The White House is concerned that “illegal streaming of content” may not be covered by criminal law, saying “questions have arisen about whether streaming constitutes the distribution of copyrighted works.” To resolve that ambiguity, it wants a new law to “clarify that infringement by streaming, or by means of other similar new technology, is a felony in appropriate circumstances.”

• Under federal law, wiretaps may only be conducted in investigations of serious crimes, a list that was expanded by the 2001 Patriot Act to include offenses such as material support of terrorism and use of weapons of mass destruction. The administration is proposing to add copyright and trademark infringement, arguing that move “would assist U.S. law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate those offenses.”

• Under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it’s generally illegal to distribute hardware or software–such as the DVD-decoding software Handbrake available from a server in France–that can “circumvent” copy protection technology. The administration is proposing that if Homeland Security seizes circumvention devices, it be permitted to “inform rightholders,” “provide samples of such devices,” and assist “them in bringing civil actions.”

The term “fair use” does not appear anywhere in the report. But it does mention Web sites like The Pirate Bay, which is hosted in Sweden, when warning that “foreign-based and foreign-controlled Web sites and Web services raise particular concerns for U.S. enforcement efforts.” (See previous coverage of a congressional hearing on overseas sites.)

The usual copyright hawks, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, applauded the paper, which grew out of a so-called joint strategic plan that Vice President Biden and Espinel announced in June 2010.

Rob Calia, a senior director at the Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center, said we “strongly support the white paper’s call for Congress to clarify that criminal copyright infringement through unauthorized streaming, is a felony. We know both the House and Senate are looking at this issue and encourage them to work closely with the administration and other stakeholders to combat this growing threat.”

In October 2008, President Bush signed into law the so-called Pro IP ACT, which created Espinel’s position and increased penalties for infringement, after expressing its opposition to an earlier version.

Unless legislative proposals–like one nearly a decade ago implanting strict copy controls in digital devices–go too far, digital copyright tends not to be a particularly partisan topic. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, near-universally disliked by programmers and engineers for its anti-circumvention section, was approved unanimously in the U.S. Senate.

At the same time, Democratic politicians tend to be a bit more enthusiastic about the topic. Biden was a close Senate ally of copyright holders, and President Obama picked top copyright industry lawyers for Justice Department posts. Last year, Biden warned that “piracy is theft.”

No less than 78 percent of political contributions from Hollywood went to Democrats in 2008, which is broadly consistent with the trend for the last two decades, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20043421-281.html#ixzz1GlxoChNn

The Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act: Free Speech vs National Security?
Mar 9th, 2011 | Category: Articles

Written by: Jamie Dickinson
Researched by: Dave Smith
Edited by: Laura Horton
Managing Editor: Jesus Miguel Palomares

.pdf version of this article here

Take a second to think about how many times each day you use a computer to complete routine tasks. Now, imagine that a government-instituted “Internet blackout” blocked all access to the Internet – no broadband, no Wi-Fi – not even a dial up connection. Without the Internet, you would lose the ability to read news, access Skype, Facebook, or Twitter, chat or email, and purchase products through Amazon or eBay. The recent events in Egypt have generated a lot of buzz about a government’s ability to regulate and potentially shut down the Internet. On January 27, 2011, thousands of Egyptian citizens flooded the streets of Cairo to protest against the Egyptian government. Two days later, Internet access began to dwindle, until service was no longer available in Egypt. This Internet blackout continued for five days. Why would a government order a shut down of the Internet? Put simply, the Egyptian protesters were using social-networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to organize the massive protests. In an attempt to stop the demonstrations, the Egyptian government ordered the country’s four major Internet service providers to shut down service. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act (“CIFA”), aptly nicknamed the “Internet kill switch,” has been introduced in the Senate as a means to combat another kind of cyber threat.

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In January, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other congressional members put forth a placeholder bill named the “Cybersecurity and American Cyber Competitiveness Act of 2011,” and stressed that cybersecurity should be a top priority for the 112th Congress. Senators Lieberman, Collins, and Carper introduced the CIFA on February 17, 2011. The objective of the bill is to give the government the power to limit Internet traffic in the event of a cybersecurity emergency. It would grant the President the power to “authorize emergency measures to protect the nation’s most critical infrastructure, if a cyber vulnerability is being exploited or is about to be exploited.” Any system or resource is considered to be part of the “critical infrastructure” if its destruction or disruption would cause a national or regional catastrophe. The Department of Homeland Security and members of the private sector would work together to create a list of the systems and resources that would be part of the “critical infrastructure.” This list would include both government and private sector facilities, such as banks, power plants, telephone companies, and Internet service providers. In fact, 85% of the nation’s “critical infrastructure” is likely to be operated by the private sector. Also, the President could demand that access to any part of the “critical infrastructure” be shut off in the face of a significant threat. However, the exact meaning and scope of this language is being fiercely debated.

Opponents of the CIFA range from civil liberties groups to owners and operators of the “critical infrastructure.” They oppose the CIFA because they believe that the bill’s language is ambiguous. A letter written by the ACLU to the bill’s sponsors outlined three perceived risks with the CIFA. First, the bill seems to grant the President a broad expansion of power over private companies, especially those deemed a part of the “critical infrastructure.” Although the expansion of power would not authorize the President to take over the “critical infrastructure,” it would give him the authority to take undefined actions, such as limiting the public’s access for 30-day periods that may be renewed indefinitely. The second concern is the ambiguity over which parts of the Internet would qualify as “critical infrastructure,” and to what extent these facilities would be shut down during a “cyber emergency.” The ACLU is worried that the emergency actions taken by the President may shut down or limit Internet communications, which would limit systems that are necessary for the economy to function and for the public to communicate and access information.

Finally, the ACLU claims that the bill lacks an adequate definition for the term “cyber emergency.” The CIFA does not define this term, but authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to “develop and coordinate the emergency measures necessary to preserve the reliable operation of the critical infrastructure.” The underlying fear is that the government could use this bill to declare a cyber emergency in order to silence free speech or censor parts of or the entire Internet. Although the intention behind the CIFA may not be to stifle free speech, the bill will provide the government the ability to limit Internet traffic, and critics like the ACLU caution that this power has the potential to be abused. In summary, the ACLU have asked that the power authorized under the CIFA be properly defined and restricted.

After the ACLU’s letter was sent to the committee, the Senators who authored the bill released a myth vs. reality fact sheet to address the concerns. The fact sheet insists that the CIFA would not give the government the power to shut off all access to the Internet. In support of this claim, it points to a provision in the CIFA which states, “neither the President . . . [n]or any other officer or employee of the United States Government shall have the authority to shut down the Internet.” The Senators rebut the contention that the bill is an “internet kill switch” that will be used to regulate free speech or silence anti-government sentiment. Instead, they view it as legislation intended solely to protect the U.S. from cyber attacks that would wreak havoc on the U.S. network. They also argue that the bill is essential, because a cyber attack on certain areas of the “critical infrastructure” could affect a wide range of crucial components that are required to run the day-to-day activities of the US.

Each year, cyber attacks cost the government and private sector a significant amount of money. So far in 2011, attacks on US government facilities have cost over $1.8 billion per month. In addition, American businesses employing more than 500 people lose an average of $3,8000,000 per year to cyber attacks. The attacks may worsen. A quick Internet search of “hacked government websites” produces numerous articles and the details of the latest government sites that have been compromised. Every government site from the military to NASA has been hacked, and on the black market anyone with $500 can buy access to a hacked government site of their choosing. The fear fueling the bill’s passage is that the next major cyber attack on either government or private sector facilities could prove to be disastrous.

The fact sheet also addressed the opponents’ concerns regarding the expansion of the President’s power over Internet traffic. The Senators point to a provision that requires the President to use the “least disruptive means feasible” to respond to the threat, but does not authorize the government to take over the “critical infrastructure.” In addition, the President would only be able to invoke this authority when a cyber attack results in mass casualties, severe economic consequences, long-term mass evacuations, or the severe degradation of national security capabilities. Lastly, the fact sheet argues that the CIFA is actually a restriction of the President’s power, and they refer back to 1942, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. In response to government fears about future foreign invasions, Congress passed legislation that gave President Franklin Roosevelt the authority to take over the telephone and telegraph networks. After almost 70 years, the law is still on the books. Section 706(d) of the Communications Act grants the President broad authority to shutdown “any facility or station for wire communication,” when there is a war or a threat of war. Although there is no mention of the Internet, this outdated provision would arguably extend the President’s ability to shut down the Internet any time there is a threat of war. Thus, the provision in the CIFA stating that no government official will have the “authority to shut down the Internet” would actually limit the power the President currently has to control Internet traffic. However, the effect that the CIFA would actually have on Section 706(d) is not clear.

The bill’s future is uncertain, and it has been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs before it goes before the full Senate in the coming months. Is the CIFA really an “Internet kill switch”? Although it is unlikely that the President could actually shut down the Internet, there is always potential for abuse. Ultimately, people have a right to speak freely without fear of government suppression, and the Internet is vital to communication.
But is governmental control of a private sector entity, even during a cyber emergency, what the U.S. needs? Would it hurt the economy and stifle the free speech? Or would it preserve the economic infrastructure for the greater good? Regardless of your stance, one thing is for sure: any hint of a government-induced Internet blackout is bound to cause a ruckus.