Saturday 4th of February 2023

true urban legends...

black boite

General Michael Hayden, a former director of the NSA and CIA, has maintained that governments cannot circumvent their own surveillance laws, and that any intelligence-swapping “back door” is firmly closed. “I realise you’ve got these urban legends out there, but it does not happen,” he assured Canadians via theToronto Star.

Yet it does. Examples of precisely this abuse are occurring across the Tasman. Kim Dotcom is a wealthy internet entrepreneur and loudmouth who currently resides in New Zealand. He is the founder of Megaupload, an online service notorious for hosting a vast amount of copyright-infringing material. In 2012, indictments were prepared against Dotcom in the US, and he was arrested in a raid carried out by 76 armed New Zealand police. In the subsequent legal fallout, it was discovered that New Zealand’s foreign signals intelligence agency had illegally spied on Dotcom. More worryingly, it had also been unlawfully provided with intercepts of Dotcom’s emails that originated in an FBI surveillance program called TESSA. In other words, the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of New Zealand broke their own laws to collude with a foreign power to spy on, arrest and attempt to extradite one of their own residents, using information from a program not dissimilar to PRISM. And not over terrorism, but in a copyright case. This is not just “sharing” intelligence – it is co-operating with the investigative arm of an alternative legal system that seeks to extend its jurisdiction of interception, detention and execution almost everywhere, contaminating local law in the process.

Could this happen here? Mark Dreyfus, the Attorney-General, assures us that ministerial authority must be sought before intelligence can be collected on Australians, but it’s unclear if receiving data from an overseas agency counts as “collection”. In the UK, some lawyers argue that intelligence from a foreign source isn’t subject to domestic oversight laws. Legal problems are now being addressed simply by changing the law. The Cameron government is trying to introduce secret courts, chiefly to avoid embarrassing US military and intelligence agencies that have conducted potentially illegal activities involving UK citizens.

good spying vs bad spying...

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke on Wednesday for the first time about the NSA spying scandal, telling a major weekly that the work of intelligence agencies is vital to citizens' safety. She also sharply rejected comparisons of the US surveillance program with East German spying methods.

As the debate over National Security Agency spying heated up in recent weeks, Angela Merkel largely remained silent. On Wednesday, though, the German chancellor gave her first personal comments yet on the controversial surveillance by United States intelligence, and allegations that the agency has partnered with its German counterparts on the secret activities.




German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, who is traveling to the US on Thursday to meet with officials in President Barack Obama's administration, also commented on the issue. He told SPIEGEL ONLINE on Wednesday that it "annoys" him when some in Germany immediately criticize the US without having exact knowledge of the situation.

"That is not fair," he said. "Without the information from the US and the good collaboration with the intelligence agencies, we most likely would not have been able to prevent terrorist attacks in Germany."

Friedrich said he has two goals for his trip, which reportedly includes a meeting with US Attorney General Eric Holder. First, he wants to express that the situation is being taken seriously in Germany, and that the shaken trust needs to be built up again. "Second, I want to make very clear what we should expect, and must expect, from each other as partners and friends," he said.

Friedrich said he wants to speak openly during his trip to Washington. "Friends must be able to speak directly with one another," he said. "That includes our view that a comprehensive surveillance of the content of communications is in no way proportionate."

hypocrites decide to trust each others...


The reason Americans and Chinese have become so nostalgic for the great Nixon/Kissinger-Mao Zedong/Zhou Enlai meeting in 1972 is because that was the last time Sino-US relations experienced a dramatic breakthrough. Now, most policy wonks on both sides sense we need another jolt to kick the way we interact into a higher gear, but nobody quite knows how to accomplish that.

When he met US President Barack Obama recently at Sunnylands, Chinese President Xi Jinping lofted the idea of a “new great power relationship”. But then, the cybersecurity issue that the Obama administration had already put on the front burner - especially the cybertheft of private corporate intellectual property - got written even larger by l’affaire Snowden.

This gave Chinese nationalists a nice opportunity to mount a high horse and even the score a bit, as the Ministry of Defence spokesman, Yang Yujun, did when he defiantly proclaimed: “The Prism-gate affair is itself like a prism that reveals the true face and hypocritical conduct regarding internet security of the country concerned”, which by “making baseless accusations against other countries shows double standards and will be no help for peace and security in cyberspace”.

To many, the incident came as a real setback to any hopes for a major new diplomatic breakthrough.

And yet, there could be a bright side to this story. With the world’s only superpower - to which China has long looked with a complex mix of admiration and envy along with resentment and animosity - now unexpectedly forced to eat a super-sized portion of humble pie, and the Chinese enjoying a rare moment of schadenfreude, the playing field may have suddenly levelled a bit.


inside the box.....


So, you wouldn’t need to look inside the box at all to understand how it came to its decision and, therefore, how you could do better next time.

By offering this kind of transparency without opening the black box, Professor Wachter adds, it will be “protecting the privacy of others and with very little risk of revealing trade secrets”.