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ANNOUNCEMENTS PINBOARD

November 11, 2018

Lots of updates applied.

Base website updated to version 27.0.2

thanks. --sysadmin

  notebook-scrapbook

SCRAPBOOK

Please note that items posted to the Scrapbook are not subjected to our strict editorial processes and may contain views and opinions contradictory to that of Freedom Publishers Union. They are simply snippets of information and links which we believe our readers may find interesting.

Political Notes and Other Items

August 4, 2018 - Allegations against SAS troops in report

Members of the elite Special Air Service Regiment have been linked to an armed robbery, the theft of weapons, missing classified documents, unpaid speeding fines and drinking on duty, in an internal report that also found the unit's leadership was at "breaking point". The confidential briefing by then special operations commander Jeff Sengelman reported a litany of failings of leadership and accountability "across the full span of command responsibilities". More...

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August 2, 2018 - Trump pushes Jeff Sessions to end Mueller's Russia investigation 'right now'

Donald Trump appeared to order his attorney general Jeff Sessions to pull the plug "right now" on special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Trump campaign ties to Russia with a tweet on Wednesday morning. Trump frequently rages on Twitter about the Mueller investigation, which the president calls a "witch hunt". More...

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July 20, 2018 - Australian Jews savage Zuckerberg's 'assault on truth'

Australian Jewish leaders have lambasted Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg for allowing Holocaust denial to be a protected form of speech on Facebook. Zuckerberg defended the rights of Facebook users to publish Holocaust denial posts, saying he didn't "think that they're intentionally getting it wrong". More...

Security and Privacy Items

July 31, 2018 - Why US passengers are being secretly tracked by air marshals

Questions are being raised over a new American airport security program where US air marshals shadow the movements of ordinary domestic passengers and report suspicious behaviour, such as repeated trips to the bathroom, to the Transport Security Administration (TSA). The 'Quiet Skies' program, first reported by the Boston Globe, identifies travellers who could pose a threat but have no criminal record and aren't on any terrorist watch list. More...

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July 18, 2018 - Apple transfers Chinese users' iCloud data to state-controlled data denters

There's terrible news for Apple users in China. Apple's Chinese data center partner has transferred iCloud data, belonging to 130 million China-based users, to a cloud storage service managed by a state-owned mobile telecom provider-raising concerns about privacy. More...

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July 16, 2018 - My Health Record [Australia] opt-out period begins, but privacy concerns remain

From Monday, people who do not want their medical records stored on the national electronic database will have three months to opt out. More...

Items Requiring Immediate Public Attention

August 1, 2018 - Assange may finally leave Ecuadorian embassy in London as health worsens

Julian Assange, who has spent more than 2,230 days in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, is expected to leave the building soon with his health deteriorating, sources say. This latest information about the Wikileaks founder, who was already expected to leave the embassy "in the coming weeks," was broken Wednesday by Bloomberg which cited "two people with knowledge of the matter." More...

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July 21, 2018 - Ecuador will imminently withdraw asylum for Julian Assange and hand him over to the UK. What comes next?

Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno traveled to London on Friday for the ostensible purpose of speaking at the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit (Moreno has been using a wheelchair since being shot in a 1998 robbery attempt). The concealed, actual purpose of the President's trip is to meet with British officials to finalize an agreement under which Ecuador will withdraw its asylum protection of Julian Assange, in place since 2012, eject him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and then hand over the WikiLeaks founder to British authorities. More...

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Nothing

Nothing

Moral and Ethical Injustice

October 16, 2018 - World has been slow to wake up to Saudi depravity

It's reassuring to see that the Western world still has the capacity to be outraged at the abuse of human rights. Specifically, a government that appears to have murdered a journalist. More...

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September 15, 2018 - Australia is reported to UN human rights council over illegal detention of asylum seekers

United Nations body has condemned Australia's arbitrary detention of three asylum seekers, one of whom has been held without charge or trial for nearly nine years. The UN working group on arbitrary detention - which reports to the human rights council, on which Australia sits - said in its annual report it was concerned by "the rising prevalence of deprivation of liberty of immigrants and asylum seekers" worldwide and "the growing use of detention in the context of migration". More...

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September 3, 2018 - Myanmar court jails Reuters reporters for seven years in landmark secrets case

A Myanmar judge on Monday found two Reuters journalists guilty of breaching a law on state secrets and jailed them for seven years, in a landmark case seen as a test of progress toward democracy in the Southeast Asian country. More...

RESEARCH

All research is performed by FPUorg. Ocassionally, if relevant, research material and information is shared with Freedom Publishers Union for publication.

Any material and information shared by FPUorg is published with the intention of establishing truthful information based on documentative proof available to us and in the public domain. Where documentative proof is not possible or doubt exists, Freedom Publishers Union will clearly outline the resources and information we have used to limit existing doubt and specify how we have reached our conclusion with confidence.

9/11 - World Trade Center Attacks - Pentagon - "Flight 93"

#research #911 #wtc #pentagon #flight93


Research area of focus 1

Overall dissatisfaction with final conclusion of 9/11 Commission Report and supplementary Reports released by FEMA and NIST. Major concerns over the claimed accuracy of series of events which led to the claimed hijacking and crashing of planes into WTC 1 and 2 and the collapse of WTC buildings 1 and 2. Overall dissatisfaction with final conclusion of cause of collapse, specifically of WTC building 7.

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Research area of focus 2

Overall dissatisfaction with claimed accuracy of series of events which led to claimed hijacking and crashing of a plane into The Pentagon. Major concerns over the claimed accuracy of series of events of "Flight 93".

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Research area of focus 3

General dissatisfaction with intelligence gathering procedures and failure to act on known intelligence prior to event and secrecy surrounding follow up investigations by the CIA and FBI.

Titanic Inquiry

#research #titanic


Research area of focus 1

General dissatisfaction that public never received the conclusive and definitive explanation of the failures of engineering of the Titanic, which led to the sinking of the vessel as a result of damage incurred by iceberg.

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Research area of focus 2

Concerns that all applicable safety requirements were not met and the lack of safety training of the staff members of the vessel.

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Research area of focus 3

Concerns over the lack of appropriate safety procedures and whether they were followed by staff members of the vessel to a satisfactory level.

Raid on Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad Compound

#research #osamabinladen #abbottabad


Research area of focus 1

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Research area of focus 2

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Research area of focus 3

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Death of Osama Bin Laden

#research #osamabinladen


Research area of focus 1

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Research area of focus 2

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Research area of focus 3

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Please use the "Find" function in your web browser to find specific content. The following hashtag search terms may help you find something specific.

Search tag index:

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Freedom Publishers Union (v13.4)

#freedom #transparency #privacy #mass-surveillance #civiliancasualties #civilrights #digitalrights #netneutrality #openinformation #copyright #censorship

ABOUT US

Opening the gates of freedom of information and transparency. Making the internet and open-source software more accessible. We publish articles, documents and files on topics of interest related to, but not limited to:

Politics is everywhere. It influences our lives all over the world, whether intentionally or unintentionally. You can not ignore the influence of politics and the effects that political decision making has on citizens in every country in the world.

At Freedom Publishers Union, our political view is largely libertarian, who believe in fairness and democracy. There's no denying that democracy is by far the best form of governance. But we accept that it is not the only form of governance. Irrespective of the governing model of any country, we advocate fairness, transparency of government and peace.

Politics also play a major part on the stories that we cover and the articles that we publish. We publish information based on real facts, along with the politics that surround the story. This is primarily why we have adopted a basic set of core political values, which we not only declare as being fair, open and democratic, but we will always consider these core values when it is necessary for us to take notice of political influences in a story.

Core political values:

Additional focus:

Australia - Due to our strong operational presence in the country of Australia, we pay specific attention to four political issues:

Additional notes:

The outlined political views of Freedom Publishers Union are based on the data and facts available to us at any given time. If the facts change over time, our political views may change to reflect this. However, regardless of future information, our political views will always support ensuring that people everywhere have the best information and the freedom to understand and act upon it, as individuals working toward the common good of man.

STAFF MEMBERS

Board of Directors:

Paul Snell (Managing Director and Chairman of the Board of Directors)

Roger Hunter

Greg Price

Spencer Jennings

Helen Turner


Senior Management:

Paul Snell (Managing Director and Chairman of the Board of Directors)

Mark J. Evans (COO/Chief Operating Officer)

Sharon Carter (CFO/Chief Financial Officer)

Sara Koch (Editor-in-chief)


Public Representation:

Dinesh Raja (Co-Founder and Public Representative) - draja@fpumail.net

Amit Gautam (Spokesperson) - spokesperson@fpumail.net


Contributors:

Steve Adams (Editor-at-large)

Brett Brennan (Sub-Editor)

William Young (Contributor)

Charles Pittman (International Relations Contributor)


Development and Design:

Jeremy Rodriguez (Creative Director)

Ashley Bailey (Design Consultant)


Advisory Council:

Chris McGimpsey-Jones (Co-Founder and Chairman of the Advisory Council)

Gokul Kannan

Saikat Basak

Enock Seth Nyamador


CONTACT US

Spokesperson, please send to spokesperson@fpumail.net

Public Relations Department, please send to freedompublishersunion@tutanota.com

Communications Department, please send to comms@fpumail.net

Main Office, please send to info@fpumail.net

Virtual Offices:

To associate our publications through appropriate jurisdictions and locales which are most relevant to the information and documents being presented, we distribute through our controlled network of internally directed, national and international virtual offices which are used as publishing portals.

MISSION STATEMENT

With the gradual emergence of frequently used terms of "fake news", "post-truth" and "alternative facts", Freedom Publishers Union wants to make a brief Statement to reiterate our commitment to our readers.

Freedom Publishers Union is absolutely committed to ensuring our writing and publishing strictly adheres to our internal publication principles. We will always ensure we remain non-bias and remain as neutral as possible. We will only present fact based content which we believe to be authentic, genuine, accurate, well-researched and fact checked, against sources we believe to be the best and most reliable and reputable in the media and publishing industry.

The President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, has shaken the traditional media landscape. Some media organizations have succumbed to falling to the same low-level remarks, commentary and views that Trump assumes. Whilst the more respected media organizations have remained true to their publishing principles and continue the practice of true journalism and publishing.

Freedom Publishers Union will not be moved by Donald Trump's erratic and intolerable commentary and behavior. We, along with our US-based media partners, will not be moved by any such media reforms, bans, blockages and/or censorship that he attempts to implement which may potentially impede on freedom of the press in the United States and any after-effects it has in the global circuit. We remain committed to publishing exactly what our moto states - "Publishing what is right and what is important". We will always operate within the boundaries of the law. Yet, as a representative of the free press, we also have an ethical responsibility to publish content that is in the public interest, regardless of whether its legally questionable according to Donald Trump's media reform(s) or own political agenda.

If we see journalism and publishing is under threat, then we will respond accordingly through our publications, regardless.

EDITORIAL PROCESS

Freedom Publishers Union is absolutely adamant that we maintain strict editorial and publishing standards and will always ensure our process remains open to public scrutiny, as much as possible.

The following list of websites are our trusted sources of news, information, facts and research material. We consistently rely upon and use these sources for research, data gathering, comparison, fact checking and to ensure source diversity.

We use all of the information gathered from these sources on a specific story or topic and create a basis for our own publications to ensure fact, accuracy and reliability remains at the forefront of publishing importance.

Despite our 5-tier ranking system which rates our media sources according to fact-based, accurate and reliable information, all of our sources are among the most trusted media sources in the world. If you do not see a specific media source on the list, it does not mean that we believe information from these 'outside sources' to be incorrect. It simply means that we take a cautionary approach to information received from 'outside sources'.

(In alphabetical order)

We specifically rely on our careful selection of media sources as our prime basis, as many of them are among the few outlets that still employ their own reporters, so their stories aren't going to be 'rip-and-read' from a wire service or web aggregate service that simply drops the breaking headlines onto the wire.

These sources are almost always guaranteed to report with an 'eye-witness' point of view, not some third-party being re-quoted repeatedly. Because of their private news teams, they tend to each pick up something different about a story - slightly different details and perspective.

Further, because they aren't in the 'first to print' mode full-time, they tend to publish detailed follow-up stories withing 48 hours that more thoroughly sort the facts and clarify verified information from rumors.

Then we proceed to review all of our other sources on the same story for several days after the initial story goes to press. If all are reporting the same core facts, then those are most probable to be true, or at least perceived to be true from several perspectives.

We use internal editorial categorization techniques of liberal and conservative sources and determine if their publications echo the same core facts as what we consider our master sources. Then we can make an assessment to conclude that everyone saw the same thing. We then look for the starkest differences between the baseline, left and right sources. These are what we call the bias indicators.

On rare occasions, we use source information from media entities and individuals not listed above. We call these 'outside sources'. When we use outside sources, we take the information and will always attempt to back up the information we receive with our trusted sources, in accordance to the standard process.

During the entire process, we also rely on independent media outlets for either document source or source information to accompany our publications.

The entire process is not streamlined in a strict sense, as we allow for much flexibility during the writing and editorial process. But we are always extremely careful to ensure that at the time of publication, all information and material that we publish and release remains as accurate as possible, based on all available information that we have access to, through our media sources.

We are always open to challenge and scrutiny from our readers. If you believe we have made an error or published wrong, incorrect or defamatory information then we recommend that you contact our office so that we can rectify any actual errors or misinformation that is determined to be a legitimate mistake.

pro-truth-pledge

PRO-TRUTH PLEDGE

Share truth

Honor truth

Encourage truth

CHARTER OF EDITORIAL QUALITY AND ACCURACY ASSURANCE (Revision 1.0)

Adopted by Freedom Publishers Union, August 24, 2018

CAMPAIGNS AND INITIATIVES

We consistently exercise our ethical and moral responsibilities to press and advocate on various important international issues:

ACHIEVEMENTS AND SUCCESS

COLLABORATION

We regularly rely on the information and expertise of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Free Software Foundation (FSF) and other key advocacy groups. Additionally, we regularly collaborate with the Council Body of Research and Study, David Institute for Politics and Science and FPUorg. Our relationship with the aforementioned organizations, among others, is limited to the specific purpose of information gathering, fact checking and/or source information verification. The final details published on Freedom Publishers Union are applicable to Freedom Publishers Union only and are not reflective of the views, opinions or positions of the organizations we collaborate with.

FILES ARCHIVE

 

Topics: USA/UK/Australian Government, War, 9/11, Terrorism, Torture, CIA, FBI

Pentagon Papers (offsite)

JFK Assassination Records (offsite)

Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After 9/11

The 9/11 Report

The 9/11 Report (28 Pages)

FEMA World Trade Center_Building_Performance_Study

NIST World Trade Center_Investigations into Buildings 1, 2 and 7

(Bush administration) Executive Order 13440-Interpretation of the Geneva Conventions Common Article 3 as Applied to a Program of Detention and Interrogation Operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

CIA Interrogation Abu Zubaydah 2001-2003

CIA Torture Report

CIA Review CT Detention and Interrogation

CIA Interrogation Guidelines

(UK) Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament Detainee Mistreatment and Rendition Report(s)

Human Rights Watch Report - Getting Away With Torture (The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees)

"Globalizing Torture" Report into CIA Secret Detention

(UNAMA and OHCHR) Treatment of Conflict Related Detainees (Afghanistan)

Human Rights Watch Report - Hiding Behind the Coalition (Failure to Credibly Investigate and Provide Redress for Unlawful Attacks in Yemen)

UN Human Rights Council Report - Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar

Royal Commission Report into Protection and Detention of Children in NT

 

Topics: Mass-surveillance, Dragnet surveillance, Government spying

(Bush administration) Executive Order 13292—Further Amendment to Executive Order 12958, as Amended, Classified National Security Information

Unclassified Report on the President's Surveillance Program

Full Report on the President's Surveillance Program

EFF Report - NSA Mass-Surveillance Programs-Unnecessary and Disproportionate

 

Topics: Trump, Russia

NSA Report into Russia Spearphishing

(Pre-US President) Confidential Document on Trump's Russia Activities

Appointment of Special Counsel to Investigate Russian Interference

GOP Memo (Memo #1)

Democratic Memo (Memo #2)

Investigation into Trump-Russia (Select legal documents up to July 2018)

Intelligence Community Assessment - Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence - Report on Russian Active Measures

Russian Targeting of Election Infrastructure - Summary of Initial Findings and Recommendations

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence - Summary of Initial Findings - Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections

 

Topics: Copyright, Digital Rights, Computer Security, Privacy

Estimating Displacement Rates of Copyrighted Content in the EU

State of Digital Rights Report 2018

Bitcoin technical paper

Meltdown security paper

Spectre security paper

MeltdownPrime and SpectrePrime security paper

 

Topics: Economics, Global Trade, Environment

Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)-Full text

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - Global Warming of 1.5c

 

Topics: Titanic Inquiries

Titanic Inquiries-Combined archive

 

CORRESPONDENCE

October 8, 2018 | Letter to the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton MP

To Peter Dutton MP;

Freedom Publishers Union upholds the principles of civil liberties, which includes the right to privacy. It is this right to privacy which extends to digital rights. Encryption is key to the success of maintaining digital rights and privacy. Freedom Publishers Union will always oppose efforts which seek to undermine encryption and which permit and enable unjustified access to digitally secured information of citizens.

We refer the points of interest in this letter to be applicable to our review of the Australian Government's proposed "Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018" legislation.

While the proposed legislation may sufficiently meet the basic requirements of information access justification principles through the requirement of obtaining a warrant, it falls short of a broader justification of requirements for the legislation to become law in Australia, in its current form. Freedom Publishers Union believes the impacts of the legislation are much too broad in application and extend beyond Australia's jurisdiction to impact the operations of international technology companies.

It is unacceptable for Australian policy makers to be developing any law that has international repercussions, for the purpose of Australian law, and is completely undemocratic.

Freedom Publishers Union can see no immediate requirement or any such urgency for the passing of such legislation which has the potential for such large implications. More industry consultation should ensue and revisions should be made to the current proposal which can meet the concerns that have been expressed from those in the industry that will be affected.

The proposed legislation is misleading. It attempts to portray its primary intention as voluntary. It is actually compelling, and not voluntary. It threatens technology companies with excessive penalties in the form of monetary value if they do not comply with the request(s). It is not voluntary via request and therefore should not be portrayed as such.

Certain digital rights organizations have expressed concern over the potential of "forced backdoors" being implemented by technology companies as one method of complying with requests. If this were to eventuate, it would be a violation of the privacy of citizens which would be of great concern to us. Freedom Publishers Union is satisfied that the legislation is not forcing implementation of backdoors or breaking encryption. However, it fails to clearly define how it is expected technology companies can assist Australian law enforcement authorities and meet the requirements of the legislation without such methods of backdoors or encryption manipulation. It could possibly be this lack of better technical clarification with the proposed legislation which is fueling misinformation and misleading reports being published in the media.

We reiterate that further industry consultation must be carried out, so concerns can be addressed and the legislation be amended to better define what is precisely required from technology companies to meet assistance requirements.

In its current form, Freedom Publishers Union cannot support the proposed legislation. However, we do not directly oppose it and believe although we have questions over its necessity, we believe with significant amendments it can be developed into a fair, balanced and reasonable piece of legislation suitable to be passed as Australian law.

Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations Department

August 30, 2018 | Ms. Chelsea Manning entry to Australia

To David Coleman MP;

Freedom Publishers Union is receiving strong indication that Ms. Chelsea Manning may be refused entry to Australia and have her visa cancelled, under Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958.

We ask you to take serious consideration to the following points of attention, in making your decision, with the intention to permit Ms. Manning entry to Australia.

Freedom Publishers Union have supported Ms. Manning through her acts of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, which we deemed to be in the public interest. We continued to support her cause and defense through her legal case which placed such significant stress on her mental well-being that it resulted in multiple suicide attempts while she was detained in solitary confinement.

Whilst you consider your decision on the entry of Ms. Manning, we ask you to take further consideration into the fact that her sentence was commuted by former US President, Barack Obama.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support Ms. Manning for the principle reason of responsibility of ethics.

The Migration Act 1958-Section 501(1) outlines:

"(1) The Minister may refuse to grant a visa to a person if the person does not satisfy the Minister that the person passes the character test."

The list of subsections and provisions which can affect the decision made by the Minister for Immigration is extensive. We have no precise knowledge of what exact subsection(s) or provision(s) will affect your decision. However, we do wish to outline that former criminals that have committed much more heinous acts than that of Ms. Manning have previously been granted entry into Australia. Additionally, based on our independent advice, we believe there is no reason to draw to the conclusion that Ms. Manning poses any threat to Australia's national security, national interests and/or poses any threat to Australian civilians.

It is on these points of interest that we draw to your attention that we strongly conclude that Ms. Chelsea Manning should be granted entry to Australia.

Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations Department

February 23, 2018 | ABC Management and Editors Must Stand Up Against Government

To ABC Management;

Freedom Publishers Union is an independent publishing organization that operates primarily out of Australia, with co-operation from a limited number of international media groups which assist to extend our media reach and publication locale.

On February 20, 2018, our Asia/Pacific Press Office published quite a strong worded Editorial which made accusations against the ABC network, of giving in to government pressure on stories that it deemed critical against government economic policy.

Our Editorial was mainly directed at the ABC's handling of two recent stories publishing by Emma Alberici - One of which was removed in its entirety and another which was highly edited, critical analysis removed before the highly edited version was re-published.

We now understand that the story that was removed has also since been re-published to the ABC website but has been drastically re-written by Alberici.

We believe this comes as a result of pressure Emma Alberici was put under by the ABC Management, which was unacceptable for a senior journalist of her experience and journalistic integrity. If media reports are to be believed, then we understand Alberici has sought advice from lawyers following bad treatment in this instance, from ABC Management. However, we can not confirm this information which is being reported in the media.

Freedom Publishers Union are staunch advocates against government interference and editorial tampering, with Australia's free and open press. Our same advocacy and free press principles that we protect extend to all countries in the world.

The ABC was once known for its tough nature in dealing with government criticism against its publications. We feel the recent handling of Alberici's stories by the ABC, which saw multiple government complaints and resulting in the ABC making drastic editing of the stories in question, has tarnished the reputation for the ABC and has given the network a new alternate reputation that it will act upon government requests through official complaints made to the network.

The ABC has publicly claimed that the specific reasons for the changes that were made on Alberici's stories was for editorial reasons, and not the direct result of political interference through the complaints that were lodged. Freedom Publishers Union disputes this official explanation. Our dispute is echoed throughout the media industry.

This is a concern for us, as Freedom Publishers Union has always been committed to supporting public broadcasting in Australia, including directly campaigning for protection of the ABC and SBS networks.

We remain committed to supporting Australia's public broadcasting sector. But we would like to urge the ABC to stand up against governmental attempts at editorial interference and tampering.

Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations Department

August 15, 2016 | Changes to ABC Transcription Service

To Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC);

As the Director of a small independent publishing business, I write to you today expressing my genuine concern over media reports, published today at The Guardian, which outlines future changes to ABC and its transcription service.

I can not possibly explain how disappointed I am that the ABC has made the decision to either reduce the service of providing timely transcripts of important news and current affairs programming, whilst abruptly proceeding with the discontinuation of others.

Transcripts provided by the ABC are a crucial source of reference and citation for publishers and journalists. Through my work with GC Media Publishing Management and other associated roles within the publishing business, I personally will be affected by this latest decision, by the ABC.

I use the transcripts on a weekly basis from a range of different ABC programs. They are used for a variety of roles within our business and their discontinuation will place a major hurdle in our publishing operations as our staff would be forced to source other references of source media, which we believe to be more biased, less accurate, less reliable and less reputable than what is currently provided by the ABC.

It would be a massive loss for so many Editors and Journalists and the industry as a whole, which already fights many challenges in the digital era of media - a sector GC Media Publishing Management understands very well. The decision by the ABC is unjustified and will be devastating for the public broadcasting sector.

I would like to see the ABC review its decision, without further delay. I believe the consequences will be devastating for the accuracy of information in the publishing and media landscape of Australia, if this decision is to be implemented as described to the best of our understanding.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones - Director

LIVE/BREAKING (experimental)

EDITORIALS

[Filed from MUMBAI] November 9, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] China's Supression of Human Rights Continues in Secret Xinjiang Concentration Camps

'CONCENTRATION CAMPS' ARE USUALLY SOMETHING we associate with Nazi repression during World War II. Yet in 2018, a defiant communist China is pressing ahead with expansion of their own version of concentration camps. The international community has increasingly become aware of the camps and their purpose, largely thanks to widespread global media coverage, followed by international condemnation from most world leaders.

The camps are spread through remote parts of China which can be seen using satellite imaging and operate like concentration camps of the Nazi-era by detaining prisoners who have never committed a crime and against their will. It must be clear that Mumbai Press Center does not directly accuse China of abuse, nor do our researchers have any evidence of serious physical abuse occurring inside the camps, which China calls "re-education camps". But we note they do operate in complete secrecy and are in-effect concentration camps that serve one purpose and one purpose alone - force the communist China ideology and to completely change the way of thinking and living of those that are at difference to the communist view, either by religious or philosophical belief, or by pure determination to promote independent thinking through disagreement with the communist agenda.

Mumbai Press Center has been shown information and satellite images from a recent publication by Australian public broadcaster, ABC News. While ABC News is not the first to publicize the existence and operations of the camps, they are an extremely reputable news source. A recent investigation it published illustrated just how expansive these centers are and how fast the expansion has occurred. Joint analysis of satellite images by ABC News and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) shows that from early 2017, 28 facilities have expanded more than 2 million square meters. And in the past three months, expanded a further 700,000 square meters. While recent published information claims that 28 camps have been detected using satellite imaging, Shawn Zhang who is a student from University of British Columbia, performed his own research. In addition to advanced satellite images using Google Earth Pro, Zhang also accessed Chinese Government reports and other official documents which included travel reports from some top officials and budgetary reports that outline expenditures for the camps. Zhang's research suggests that there are possibly 31 camps operational.

Xinjiang is in the North-West vicinity of China and a busy geographical zone which shares the border with eight other countries - Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The remote province is where we understand 28-31 of the camps make up what could be part of a much larger program. They have been operated by the local government since 2014, outside of the general rules of legality. Detailed in a media report during October 2018, CNN reported that the local government of Xinjiang with obvious approval and cooperation with the Chinese Government, had officially legalized "re-education camps" for people accused of religious extremism. It was done through revision of an existing local law to encourage "vocational skill education training centers" to "carry out anti-extremist ideological education". This has been questioned by Human Rights Watch, with representatives stating on the record that legalizing detention inside the camps cannot be actually properly legalized under the Chinese Constitution. In fact, Mumbai Press Center believes this throws a direct question mark over the actual legal validity of the entire Chinese regime's political structure, which appears to be able to be manipulated at will to accommodate specific elements of political interests when they deem it necessary. It's not exactly what is considered a fair and stable political system by Western standards and is certainly not anything close to democratic.

It was during 2016 the program and camps began to expand and operate in greater secrecy. The Chinese regime claims the necessity of the camps' existence and secrecy of operations is to ensure the camps are able to counter the spawning and breeding of extremism and terrorism. Mumbai Press Center understands that the camps detain potentially hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, Muslims and even Christians. As recently as August 2018, the United Nations (UN) claimed it had "credible reports" that suggested numbers of those detained in the camps were possibly 2 million. When member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Gay McDougall, questioned a Chinese delegation on the matter in Geneva and the Chinese fell silent.

Inside, information suggests detainees are treated like criminals and are locked up without any charge of a crime or suspected of committing a crime. If suspected criminals are captured and detained at the camps, there's no legal procedure which ensures a fair trial can take place as the camps are completely permitted to operate outside of the traditional legal norms, apparently without any negative consequences.

According to German publication Der Spiegel, 90,000 police officers were recruited in 2016 and 2017 along with 7,300 heavily guarded checkpoints being set up in the region. Der Spiegel describes the region as "one of the most heavily policed regions of the world" and something that resembled post-war Baghdad. Information collected and collated from a wide range of sources show that the camps are guarded by a combination of armed military forces and special police. The camps are equipped with prison-grade security consisting of multiple layers of fences and walls, watchtowers, guard rooms and all monitored with advanced surveillance systems.

It is only through camps like these and the ideological brainwashing programs that are forced onto detainees, combined with China's extensive and increasingly advanced mass-surveillance network and internet censorship, it is able to maintain civilian order of the majority. It is forcing the government agenda onto the citizens. For those that oppose, they will get subjected to specialized camps and programs. We see the very real potential for this human rights abuse of Chinese citizens getting much more expansive in the future and we cannot ignore the fact that it could open up the potential for military engagement against China from the international community if China continues to ignore the pleas of the UN and other nations. Our publisher, Freedom Publishers Union, echoes the calls of the Human Rights Watch, which concluded in a 2017 Report that detainees should be freed from unlawful and involuntary detainment and the entire program should cease immediately and be shut down.

Initially, contributors to this story somewhat hesitated to call the camps "concentration camps". But we need to accept the dictionary definition of "concentration camp". Merriam-Webster dictionary describes it as:

"Definition of concentration camp

: a camp where persons (such as prisoners of war, political prisoners, or refugees) are detained or confined"

It's a fitting description of the secret camps that the Chinese are calling "re-education centers". The message coming from Chinese officials is slightly confused, mixed and often contradictory. In some cases, officials ignore the satellite image proof of the camps which illustrate the continued expansion and instead deny their existence. And in other cases, they have directly accused the UN and the international community who have expressed genuine and justified human rights concerns to respect China's sovereignty and that China has a right to carry out its duties as a nation. To anyone who supports freedom and democracy, the comments from China serve as a direct insult to political freedom - Democracy, being a political system which China seems absolutely intent on denying and stamping out any chance of any remnants of it creeping into its own foreseen national agenda.

Much less is known of the actual quality of the conditions inside the camps as there is absolutely no chance of international media entry or assessment. Based solely on the words of experiences of past detainees who are now free, we have learned that there is no free will inside the camps and that both mental and physical abuse is permitted and encouraged.

Previous detainees describe horrific physical torture and actions that are performed can only be described as inhumane. Mental abuse includes extensive use of brainwashing techniques and forced behavior which is purposely developed for maximum humiliation of detainees. For those that still resist, they are subjected to actions which resemble the horrific era of torture which was carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) under the former George W. Bush administration, under the guise of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques". It would later be identified as "torture". Those remaining defiant inside the camps face being handcuffed for extended periods, waterboarded and being strapped to metal platforms for extended periods, with the aim of breaking the detainees will to resist and to force them to comply with the teachings. Detainees who are loyal to the Islamic faith are subjected to forced feeding of pork and also forced to consume alcohol. Both of which are prohibited in Islam. Suicide and other unexplained forms of death are common inside the camps too.

What precisely goes on in the region of Xinjiang appears to be a secret that China intends to keep secret. Even the revised local law that permits it has been made inaccessible to the public. Mumbai Press Center and our research partners on this story, FPUorg, made multiple attempts to source official Chinese Government documents which outlined the law for Xinjiang. All attempts failed to find anything in English. What information we were able to obtain was non-English. As we do not have in-house translation, we had to use online translation tools which proved somewhat inaccurate. Therefore, we could not rely on the information we translated as it was too limited and full of what we believed to be many inaccuracies in the translation.

While online information on "Xinjiang re-education centers" may initially seem a little more relaxed from inside China, it can be slightly deceiving. We consulted directly with CCTA, an international cyber-threat analysis firm and subsidiary of Brazilian cyber-security firm Cellnic. We experienced some strange network behavior when we were searching for information related to "Xinjiang". When we were accessing information that resided on Chinese servers, from our own server, traffic was slowed and appeared to take an extremely complex route. Internet access through Chinese servers is usually complex, but this appeared more complex than what we would consider normal. Hence why we turned to experts who we believed could help us understand how it all works. We attempted to gather as much information as possible from two networks, for comparison. When accessing information from inside China from Western servers, it was completely accessible. Albeit, it did appear the slowing of traffic was deliberate. There was an eerie feeling that we were being watched on the network. Whether this is by human or automated firewall technology from China we do not know. It was eerie nevertheless. But when we accessed the same information from inside China on a Chinese server, that is when the complete strength of China's censorship was put on display with its firewall blocking us from accessing the information. Further tests were performed and we were quick to discover that our publisher's domain name has once again been censored from inside China. Mumbai Press Center understand this has been a recurring pattern since the establishment of Freedom Publishers Union, so it is to no great surprise. What is a surprise is the frequency of which Freedom Publishers Union is added/removed from China's censorship machine. In a recent editorial published on Freedom Publishers Union on September 29, 2018, it was noted that the Freedom Publishers Union domain name was not blocked. As we go to press, we have confirmation that it is again blocked. But, it was also noticed that if you are to access our web server using its IP address and not the domain name, then it is accessible from inside China. So although China's censorship technology is strong and effective, it's not perfect.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by William Young and Charles Pittman. Edited by Sara Koch.

[Filed from CAPE TOWN] November 1, 2018 | [OPINION] Drawing a Definitive Conclusion on the Case of Jamal Khashoggi Without Evidence

I AM THE LATEST IN a series of new appointments to Freedom Publishers Union. I am carrying the responsibility that comes with holding the title of Editor-at-large. To get started in my role, I wanted to grab the attention of the readers of this fine digital publication by clarifying the position, or lack thereof, that this publication has taken on the curious case of the alleged murder of journalist and outspoken critic of the Saudi regime, Jamal Khashoggi.

On October 18, Freedom Publishers Union did release an official statement which did actually express a reasonable amount of concern surrounding the case of Khashoggi. The main element of focus of the statement at the time it was released was "press freedom". I feel the position that this publication takes on the case was not made entirely clear through this statement and has drawn me to publish this editorial today.

It is widely accepted, yet unproven, that Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in the city of Istanbul, Turkey. The story has never been the problem. The accuracy of details is the problem. What is "widely accepted" can not necessarily be concluded as the truth. But that does not make it untrue.

Freedom Publishers Union has an extremely tight editorial policy. It does limit the flexibility of the publications that we can push out to the public, but it goes to ensure that publications are almost guaranteed in their accuracy. The general consensus from the majority of staff involved with Freedom Publishers Union on the case of Khashoggi is that he was murdered inside the embassy, his body then dismembered and disposed of by the orders of senior members of the Saudi regime. But I must stress that this is by no means conclusive and cannot be assumed as a final position taken by this publication. It is simply informed opinion. Even the term "informed" must be used quite loosely.

We are open to the core problem of lack of evidence released to the public which can lead anyone to make a final conclusion. Whether evidence exists, is unknown. Some are becoming skeptical. We do not make judgment as to its existence. But until evidence does present itself and is verifiable, we can only speculate. And speculation is not a popular term commonly associated with Freedom Publishers Union and is somewhat frowned upon by the editors. However, I felt that the continued silence by Freedom Publishers Union on the case of Jamal Khashoggi was deafening. Although the accepted consensus remains purely based on speculation, as Editor-at-large, it was important I inform the readers of this publication that this is a case that we are all paying attention to and like most credible media organizations, seek the truth through evidence and facts that can be independently verified. Because that is what we do.

South African Press Office - The South Rover

Written by Steve Adams.

[Filed from MOSCOW] October 28, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] Bruce Schneier Warns Against Allowing Bypassing of Encryption

FREEDOM PUBLISHERS UNION HAS ALREADY expressed our position on Australia's proposed legislation which attempts to make legal the seeking of technical assistance from technology companies, in a bid to gain access to encrypted information. Last month, the issue grabbed the attention of computer security expert, Bruce Schneier.

In an email, brought to the attention of Freedom Publishers Union, Schneier targets his criticism specifically towards the Statement released by Australia's Department of Home Affairs, on behalf of the 'Five Eyes' nations, titled "Statement of Principles on Access to Evidence and Encryption". He criticizes its focus on the purported needs for surveillance and the Five Eyes' claim of how it outweighs everyone's needs for security and privacy. In the email, Schneier says the focus of the 'Five Eyes' is "reckless and shortsighted". Schneier reminds that he has previously outlined why the measures proposed in the Australian example are not good, by using the FBI as his example. Back in 2016, Schneier said, "If the FBI can eavesdrop on your text messages or get at your computer's hard drive [data], so can other governments. So can criminals. So can terrorists. This is not theoretical. Again and again, backdoor accesses built for one purpose have been surreptitiously used for another.". Schneier indicates that is what the Australian Government is attempting to do, by trying to work with Silicon Valley by persuasion to gain access to encrypted information, which he says always "results in insecurity".

Schneier believes that a focus on "defense" would be much more effective. He says that "we need to decide, as nations and as society, to put defense first. We need a defense dominant strategy for securing the internet and everything attached to it. This is important. Our national security depends on the security of our technologies. Demanding that technology companies add backdoors to computers and communications systems puts us all at risk.". This is a common argument made by many computer security experts and can be simplified in just a few words - Enabling the bypassing of security for a few is compromising security for all.

Bruce Schneier provides an extract from his latest book, "Click Here to Kill Everybody", which he believes explains it well:

"There is simply no way to secure US networks while at the same time leaving foreign networks open to eavesdropping and attack. There's no way to secure our phones and computers from criminals and terrorists without also securing the phones and computers of those criminals and terrorists. On the generalized worldwide network that is the Internet, anything we do to secure its hardware and software secures it everywhere in the world. And everything we do to keep it insecure similarly affects the entire world.

This leaves us with a choice: either we secure our stuff, and as a side effect also secure their stuff; or we keep their stuff vulnerable, and as a side effect keep our own stuff vulnerable. It's actually not a hard choice. An analogy might bring this point home. Imagine that every house could be opened with a master key, and this was known to the criminals. Fixing those locks would also mean that criminals' safe houses would be more secure, but it's pretty clear that this downside would be worth the trade-off of protecting everyone's house. With the Internet+ increasing the risks from insecurity dramatically, the choice is even more obvious. We must secure the information systems used by our elected officials, our critical infrastructure providers, and our businesses.

Yes, increasing our security will make it harder for us to eavesdrop, and attack, our enemies in cyberspace. (It won't make it impossible for law enforcement to solve crimes; I'll get to that later in this chapter.) Regardless, it's worth it. If we are ever going to secure the Internet+, we need to prioritize defense over offense in all of its aspects. We've got more to lose through our Internet+ vulnerabilities than our adversaries do, and more to gain through Internet+ security. We need to recognize that the security benefits of a secure Internet+ greatly outweigh the security benefits of a vulnerable one."

Those in the camps at Silicon Valley have expressed varying levels of concern of the proposed legislation from Australia. Apple revisited the aforementioned argument that the overall security of "millions of law-abiding customers" is compromised "in order to investigate the very few who pose a threat". And one of the most recent to speak out is networking giant Cisco, who said that if the legislation is passed in its current form without appropriate amendments, it could "harm the security interests of Australia by setting a precedent that could be adopted by less liberal regimes". But it is not only less liberal regimes that could follow the Australian example. There is genuine valid concern that the Australian push for such invasive power is setting a precedent which will undoubtedly see the other 'Five Eyes' partner nations follow suit and further enhancing the already invasive mass-surveillance mechanisms which are already much too big and complex, and operate with very deliberate little effective oversight.

Moscow Press decided to question the official position taken by Freedom Publishers Union and sought comment from the Public Relations Department. They referred Moscow Press to a letter written by them on October 8, 2018, addressed to the Minister of Home Affairs. "Freedom Publishers Union is satisfied that the legislation is not forcing implementation of backdoors or breaking encryption. However, it fails to clearly define how it is expected technology companies can assist Australian law enforcement authorities and meet the requirements of the legislation without such methods of backdoors or encryption manipulation.". However, they state, "In its current form, Freedom Publishers Union cannot support the proposed legislation." This is suggestive that the legislation could possibly be supported by Freedom Publishers Union if it were amended to better clarify the finer details which they deem are much too broad.

Collectively taking into consideration all of the concerns raised, there are some outstanding which should be addressed before the Australian Government attempts to force the legislation through its Parliament. But this might now prove more difficult because as we go to press, we understand that the Liberal Government will lose its majority in the House of Representatives. This was the result of a recent by-election which came about when the former ousted Prime Minister quit the Parliament, which triggered the crucial by-election. At the polls, the Liberal Party was effectively punished and an Independent Candidate looks set to be formally elected into the seat, which will see the Liberal Party lose its majority in the House. Therefore, getting the aforementioned legislation through in its current form may now prove more difficult. However, Moscow Press do not completely understand to what degree the opposition Labor Party supports or opposes the proposed legislation. Our political sources tell us that the opposition has become notorious for supporting any legislation that is marketed as being drafted for reasons of national security. Even if the legislation is bad.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

Written by William Young and Charles Pittman.

[THE CONVERSATION] October 17, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] The War in Syria May Be Ending, But is Likely to Bring a Fresh Wave of Suffering

AS THE WAR IN SYRIA comes to its final stages, the future of the country and the whole region hangs in the balance. As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad consolidates his power by defeating all opposition, resistance runs the risk of transforming into a new wave of organised terrorism.

My analysis at the beginning of 2018 predicted an imminent end to the conflict, with Assad victorious over the rebels. The final stage of the war was foreseen to be fought over the critical city and province of Idlib, the stronghold of the rebel groups. The capture of Idlib would cement Assad's control of Western Syria demarcated by the Euphrates River.

Idlib and Daraa were the first places where the civil war broke out back in 2011. Daraa fell to Assad's forces in July 2018. Inevitably, Idlib was next in line.

Since 2015, Idlib has served as a repository of insurgents escaping Assad's forces. The strategy of Assad was clear: to overwhelm opposition forces in every city with Russian air support; destroy as many of the armed rebels as possible; allow remaining armed rebels to move to Idlib as a temporary safe haven and then launch a final attack on Idlib to wipe out all armed opposition. The plan followed exactly this path, and worked.

Millions of displaced civilians have also moved to Idlib, escaping the war elsewhere. The United Nations has warned an attack on Idlib could be "the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century".

In July 2018, the world and the US administration waited nervously to see what the Trump-Putin Helsinki summit would bring for Syria. But the Syria issue was overshadowed by the issue of Russian meddling with the 2016 US elections and Trump astonishingly choosing to believe Putin rather than his own intelligence aides over the matter.

The relative insignificance of Syria during the summit, coupled with Trump's lack of strategic insight, must have reconfirmed with Putin that the US was continuing to take a back seat in Syria. Soon after the summit, Assad and Russia intensified their preparations to attack Idlib.

Other key people in the US administration were not as uninterested as Trump. Security adviser John Bolton, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis as well as other European powers issued repeated warnings against the use of chemical weapons.

In response, Russia has launched a PR campaign claiming that the US and Western bloc countries used a staged chemical attack as a pretext to strike Assad. At the same time, Russia was busy reinforcing its naval forces in the Mediterranean by adding 10 more battleships to its sizeable fleet.

Having pacified the US and its Western allies, Russia, Iran and Turkey met in Tehran in early September to decide the fate of Idlib and its inhabitants. Putin publicly rejected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's call for a ceasefire.

About a week later, Putin and Erdogan met. Putin announced an agreement between Russia and Turkey to create "a demilitarised zone of a depth of 15-20km, with the withdrawal from there of radically minded rebels, including al-Nusra".

No-one is sure who the "radically minded rebels" are, but Turkey will act as a guarantor in the demilitarisation process, relying on its significant influence over the rebel groups.

Turkey had no choice. It was facing the real possibility of another wave of hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians adding to the 3.5 million Syrians seeking refuge in Turkey. More importantly, escaped jihadist operatives were likely to regroup in Turkey, creating a massive internal security threat to that country.

As the first group started to leave the demilitarised zone on September 30, a small group of refugees returned to Syria from Lebanon. These are certainly good signs, but they don't mean the war has ended. There is not even an official ceasefire in place, and the UN continues to issue warnings that Syria is still too dangerous a place to live and operate.

What is certain is that all parties, including Turkey, the US and some opposition groups, have now accepted the inevitability of Assad staying in power as the only legitimate government in Syria. This reality will have two main ramifications.

Firstly, once totally free from armed opposition, Russia through the Assad regime is likely to challenge the US presence in Syria. Russia is not in Syria for a benevolent reason, but chiefly to ensure the permanence of its access to the Mediterranean Sea. A permanent US presence in Syria clashes with this objective.

By the end of 2018, and certainly in 2019, demands for the US to leave Syria will intensify - an eventuality that Trump clearly articulated back in April 2018. The US is likely to withdraw from Syria on the condition that Iran's influence in the country is contained. Russia and Assad will make promises, but once the US is out, Iran will come back in.

Secondly, the biggest issue facing Syria is the deep feeling of resentment within a large segment of the population. They will question why the war was fought, creating 5 million refugees, displacing 6 million and killing more than 400,000, given that Assad is still in power in the end and Syria is no closer to being a democratic country advancing human rights and progress.

For some, the resentment will remain inward. But for a significant minority, the resentment will brew and turn into an unstoppable rage, perhaps manifesting in the familiar form of suicide bombing squads. They will reorganise themselves and launch a campaign of terrorism focusing mainly on easy civilian targets. This will only serve Assad's narrative that fighting terrorism has reinforced his claims to legitimacy in the eyes of Syrians and increasingly within the international community.

The campaign of terrorism may inevitably spill over to Russia for staunchly supporting Assad, and to the US and its Western allies for allowing Russia to take the upper hand in Syria, subverting all attempts to get rid of Assad.

Civil war in Syria may be coming to an end with Assad firmly in power, but the resentment it generates is likely to evolve into a new wave of terrorism.

Mehmet Ozalp, Associate Professor in Islamic Studies, Charles Sturt University

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Additional comments by William Young.

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

[Filed from MOSCOW] October 16, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] Communications Ban Lifted for Julian Assange, New Editor for Wikileaks and the Future of the Organization

YESTERDAY, FREEDOM PUBLISHERS UNION WAS contacted by representatives of the activist group, WikiLeaks Connected, which is under the operations of the Allied Advocacy Alliance, advising us that Julian Assange has had his communications and visitation rights restored inside the Ecuadorian Embassy. It is important to make the clarification that WikiLeaks Connected is not officially associated with or endorsed by Wikileaks.

WikiLeaks Connected has confirmed to Freedom Publishers Union that Mr. Assange has internet and cell phone access. Additionally, visits to Mr. Assange at the Embassy have also been restored. Whereas previously, under the restriction he had been placed under, visits were limited to those who are Mr. Assange's legal representatives.

Also, Mr. Assange has appointed Kristinn Hrafnsson as the organization's Editor-in-Chief. On its Twitter profile, Wikileaks states, "ANNOUNCEMENT: Assange appoints Hrafnsson Editor-in-Chief after six months of effective incommunicado detention, remains publisher.". The primary responsibility of Editor has previously been held by Mr. Assange himself. Mr. Hrafnsson is a long-time supported and member of Wikileaks and has previously held the position of Spokesperson following the ugly suspension and departure of Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Mr. Hrafnsson commended the decision to lift Mr. Assange's communications restrictions, however he still expressed some reservations. He says, "It is positive that through UN intervention Ecuador has partly ended the isolation of Mr. Assange although it is of grave concern that his freedom to express his opinions is still limited.".

Although the latest news of Mr. Assange's communications being restored is welcome, it does not resolve the ongoing political stalemate which sees Mr. Assange still holed up and effectively detained to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, by UK authorities who have explicitly and definitively stated he will be arrested if he exits the premises. But at the very least, it does restore one very small aspect of the civil liberties of Mr. Assange and allowing him to re-establish previous connections that may have been lost as a result of the communications cut-off. Mr. Hrafnsson continues, "The UN has already declared Mr. Assange a victim of arbitrary detention. This unacceptable situation must end.".

We asked WikiLeaks Connected for their views of the latest news and what it means for the organization and the situation of Mr. Assange. A representative from WikiLeaks Connected responded with the following statement, "The latest developments are positive news, which does not happen much, unfortunately. However, it must remain in perspective. It does not at all change the fact that the UK continue to detain Julian Assange, despite the verdict that the arbitrary detention is declared illegal by the United Nations. It continues to disturb everyone involved with WikiLeaks Connected that the international community sit back and continue to allow this to happen to a man that has never been charged with a crime. It's quite astonishing.". Mr. Hrafnsson concludes by elaborating that the "UK Government must abide by the UN's ruling and guarantee that he can leave the Ecuadorian Embassy without the threat of extradition to the United States.".

The comments of WikiLeaks Connected and Kristinn Hrafnsson are echoed by others too. Long time supporter, advocate and campaigner for Wikileaks and Julian Assange, and former Editor of Freedom Publishers Union who is now a Member of The Greens political party in Australia, Chris McGimpsey-Jones, says, "It is an interesting development. To be honest, I only became aware of the news this morning [October 15, 2018] and am still trying to make sense of it all. For starters, the restoring of Julian's communications is way overdue. Access to communications is a core pillar of civil liberties and in the digital era, basically a human right. The situation which sees Julian detained inside an international embassy is bad enough. But stripping him of further rights to access to communications was outrageous.". And when we pressed Chris on his opinion of the appointment of Kristinn Hrafnsson as new Editor of Wikileaks he said, "That is equally interesting in a sense that it he was the previous Spokesperson. When he left, it was thought his relationship with Julian and Wikileaks had deteriorated significantly. However, this changes that belief and tells me that the relationship did not deteriorate as many first thought. In fact, it seems quite the opposite. It is very likely that the working relationship between Julian and Kristinn never changed. Perhaps he was working in the background for Wikileaks but never publicly spoke about it. I have no idea. But I hold the personal belief that more is yet to unfold.".

Sub-Editor of Freedom Publishers Union, Brett Brennan, took a distinctively different perspective on the situation, "This may be the best thing for Julian, as it removes him from the direct spotlight. Maybe he really is going to hammer out a deal to get out but avoid American extradition.". Brett continues, "I'm still keeping my long-shot bet that if he [Julian] gets to America, Trump will pardon him for his role in undercutting Clinton.". Then, interestingly, Brett continues to analyze and, to some degree, scrutinize the current relevance of Wikileaks in the current media landscape. He assesses, "Wikileaks has become a footnote to contemporary history. They were an important idea for a while, but the partisan bias [of Julian Assange] over Clinton has tainted them. That, and Wikileaks hasn't had any great reveals in quite a while. I think that the drama has spooked sources. Or, with all the alt-news and blogs, Wikileaks is just irrelevant.". Brett concludes by posing the rhetorical question, "Why should we trust Wikileaks any more than Alex Jones?". And then ends with a rather disturbing statement, "I think the time of Wikileaks is over.". A chilling proposition.

On the point of the relevance of Wikileaks, Chris offers his own perspective on this and suggests this could be a temporary set-back for the organization. He offers the following additional comments and somewhat concurs with the latter views expressed by Brett, "I agree, Wikileaks has not really published anything substantial for a long time. That's not to suggest the publications Wikileaks have released while Julian has been detained have had no impact at all. Because that is simply incorrect. I just think it has all been hampered by Julian's limitations [of access] to technology as a result of his detention to the Embassy. I understand that Julian had sole access to the Wikileaks submission system for some duration. So there could very well be something sitting on their servers that is of significance but has simply not been processed yet. Maybe, just maybe, that is what is behind the appointment of Kristinn as Editor. Sarah Harrison was deeply involved in the background but her involvement is quite mysterious and not much is known about how deep she is still involved. But to the best of my understanding, I know Julian has 100% trust in Kristinn and it is very likely that the submission system and all server access will be handed to Kristinn for control. Whether we will see bigger, better and more effective document dumps in the future is anyone's guess. I hope so.". Freedom Publishers Union certainly hopes so too.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

Written by Sara Koch.

Konomark.org | Permission to republish | Donate

[Filed from GOLD COAST] October 16, 2018 | [PUBLIC RELATIONS] Tribute to Microsoft Co-Founder, Paul Allen

paul-allen-tribute

FREEDOM PUBLISHERS UNION HAS DEEP roots to the technology industry, as we were founded on the backbone of a technology news platform. Although most of our technology reporting is now published by our sister publication, Tecseek Technology, we never forget the exciting world of technology of what we originated. It is remembering our very roots of origin which also brings us to present the sad news of the passing of one of the Co-Founders of Microsoft, businessman and philanthropist, Paul Allen.

Paul Allen is often the forgotten partner of the original establishment of one of the industry's most recognized and sometimes controversial companies. Paul Allen created Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975. The company found success in 1980 when it secured a deal with IBM to supply its future PCs with the DOS operating system, that would be developed and supplied by Microsoft.

Paul Allen left the company he founded with Bill Gates in 1982, as a result of health problems.

Following his early success with Microsoft, Paul Allen went on to invest his wealth and time in a host of different business ventures, spreading across multiple sectors of interest including technology, science, aerospace, real estate and even purchasing sports teams.

Paul Allen was an incredibly successful businessman. He passed away yesterday, October 15, 2018 at the age of 65 after complications with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations Department

Written by Sara Koch.

[THE CONVERSATION] October 12, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] New UN Report Outlines 'urgent, transformational' Change Needed to Hold Global Warming to 1.5c

A LANDMARK REPORT FROM THE Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, commissioned at the breakthrough 2015 summit that brokered the Paris climate agreement, outlines what's at stake in the world's bid to limit global temperature rise to 1.5c

The report, released today [October 8, 2018], sets out the key practical differences between the Paris agreement's two contrasting goals: to limit the increase of human-induced global warming to well below 2c and to "pursue efforts" to limit warming to 1.5c

Two and a half years in the making, the report provides vital information about whether the Paris Agreement's more ambitious goal is indeed achievable, what the future may look like under it, and the risks and rewards of hitting the target.

Here are five key questions to which the report provides answers.

Can we limit warming to 1.5c?

There is no clear yes or no answer to this question.

Put simply, it is not impossible that global warming could be limited to 1.5c But achieving this will be profoundly challenging.

If we are to limit warming to 1.5c we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030, reaching near-zero by around 2050.

Whether we are successful primarily depends on the rate at which government and non-state bodies take action to reduce emissions. Yet despite the urgency, current national pledges under the Paris Agreement are not enough to remain within a 3c temperature limit, let alone 1.5c

Global warming is not just a problem for the future. The impacts are already being felt around the world, with declines in crop yields, biodiversity, coral reefs, and Arctic sea ice, and increases in heatwaves and heavy rainfall. Sea levels have risen by 40.5mm in the past decade and are predicted to continue rising for decades, even if all greenhouse emissions were reduced to zero immediately. Climate adaptation is already needed and will be increasingly so at 1.5c and 2c of warming.

Rapid action is essential and the next ten years will be crucial. In 2017, global warming breached 1c. If the planet continues to warm at the current rate of 0.2c per decade, we will reach 1.5c of warming around 2040. At current emissions rates, within the next 10 to 14 years there is a 2/3 chance we will have used up our entire carbon budget for keeping to 1.5.

How can we limit warming to 1.5c?

The report says "transformational" change will be needed to limit warming to 1.5℃. Business as usual will not get us there.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases need to reach net zero globally by around 2050. Most economists say putting a price on emissions is the most efficient way to do this.

By 2050, 70-85% of electricity globally will need to be supplied by renewables. Investment in low-carbon and energy-efficient technologies will need to double, whereas investment in fossil-fuel extraction will need to decrease by around a quarter.

Carbon dioxide removal technology will also be needed to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. But the IPCC's report warns that relying too heavily on this technology would be a major risk as it has not been used on such a large scale before. Carbon dioxide removal is an extra step that may be needed to keep warming to 1.5c, not an excuse to keep emitting greenhouse gases.

Production, consumption and lifestyle choices also play a role. Reducing energy demand and food waste, improving the efficiency of food production, and choosing foods and goods with lower emissions and land use requirements will contribute significantly.

Taking such action as soon as possible will be hugely beneficial. The earlier we start, the more time we have to reach net zero emissions. Acting early will mean a smoother transition and less net cost overall. Delay will lead to more haste, higher costs, and a harder landing.

Reducing emissions quickly will also ensure warming is capped as soon as possible, reducing the number and severity of impacts.

Yet severe impacts will still be experienced even if warming is successfully capped at 1.5c.

What is the cost of 1.5c of warming?

Although the Paris Agreement aims to hold global warming as close to 1.5c as possible, that doesn't mean it is a "safe" level. Communities and ecosystems around the world have already suffered significant impacts from the 1c of warming so far, and the effects at 1.5c will be harsher still.

Poverty and disadvantages will increase as temperatures rise to 1.5c. Small island states, deltas and low-lying coasts are particularly vulnerable, with increased risk of flooding, and threats to freshwater supplies, infrastructure, and livelihoods.

Warming to 1.5c also poses a risk to global economic growth, with the tropics and southern subtropics potentially being hit hardest. Extreme weather events such as floods, heatwaves, and droughts will become more frequent, severe, and widespread, with attendant costs in terms of health care, infrastructure, and disaster response.

The oceans will also suffer in a 1.5c warmer world. Ocean warming and acidification are expected to impact fisheries and aquaculture, as well as many marine species and ecosystems.

Up to 90% of warm water coral reefs are predicted to disappear when global warming reaches 1.5c. That would be a dire situation, but far less serious than at 2c, when the destruction of coral reefs would be almost total (greater than 99% destruction).

How do 1.5c and 2c compare?

Impacts on both human and natural systems would be very different at 1.5c rather than 2c of warming. For example, limiting warming to 1.5c would roughly halve the number of people globally who are expected to suffer from water scarcity.

Seas would rise by an extra 10cm this century at 2c compared with 1.5c. This means limiting global warming to 1.5c would save up to 10.4 million people from the impacts of rising seas.

At 1.5c rather than 2c:

How does the 1.5c target fit with the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals aim for a world in which people can be healthy, financially stable, well fed, have clean air and water, and live in a secure and pleasant environment. Much of this is consistent with the goal of capping global warming at 1.5c, which is why the IPCC notes there are synergies if the SDG initiatives and climate action should be explicitly linked.

But some climate strategies may make it harder to achieve particular SDGs. Countries that are highly dependent on fossil fuels for employment and revenue may suffer economically in the transition towards low-carbon energy.

Carefully managing this transition by simultaneously focusing on reducing poverty and promoting equity in decision-making may help avoid the worst effects of such trade-offs. What works in one place may not work in another, so strategies should always be locally appropriate.

Where next?

Limiting global warming to 1.5c will require a social transformation, as the world takes rapid action to reduce greenhouse gases. The effects of climate change will continue to shape the world we live in, but there is no doubt we will be far better off under 1.5c than 2c of global warming.

The choices we make today are shaping the future for coming generations. As the new report makes clear, if we are serious about the 1.5c target, we need to act now.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the substantial contribution to authorship of this article by of Lamis Kazak, an Australian National University Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (Sustainability) student, as part of a Science Communication Internship with the Climate Change Institute.

Mark Howden and Rebecca Colvin, Climate Change Institute, Australian National University

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Edited by Sara Koch, for reasons of formatting. Edits by Freedom Publishers Union are not textual and do not change the article's original context.

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

[Filed from MOSCOW] October 11, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] Orca Whale Population Suffers, From Decades Old PCB Waste

POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYL IS PROBABLY MORE commonly known as 'PCB'. It is a particularly toxic compound (classified as a carcinogenic) which was once used in manufacturing in a large range of products, most notably electrical equipment. Citing estimates from recent research, between 1930-1993, 1-1.5 million metric tons of PCB was produced. The USA was notorious for being the world's biggest user of PCBs, with its share at an estimated 50% of the total global use. During the 1960s, science identified its toxicity to humans, animals and the environment. Tougher regulations and restrictions followed the science into the 1970s and by the end of the decade, PCBs experienced widespread bans.

The very nature of its toxicity unfortunately enables it to still pose contamination problems to the environment, the ocean and marine life. Whales are at risk as PCBs are particularly known to affect their fertility. A new science paper which was released last month by Science Magazine, sent to Freedom Publishers Union, highlights that Orca whales are among the most "contaminated mammals in the world", as a result of PCBs. According to the paper, Orca whales show direct effects from PCB contamination, damaging their immune system and affecting reproduction, potentially lowering the quality of health in their calves. This is threatening the long term population viability of more than half of the Orca whale populations around the globe. In the paper's opening summary, it predicts that Orca populations over the next 100 years are at significant risk of a "population collapse".

The paper outlines that studies of the effects of PCB contamination of Orca whales and its populations in the past, have been limited. It has been suggested that expense is one major factor, as the methods of studying the mammals is complicated by their size, natural behaviors and obvious environmental barriers. Also, studies usually require blubber samples of a deceased Orca, creating further study complications. Therefore, scientific modeling is the most efficient form of study of this type. Albeit, results are limited. The paper claims that more studies of the effects on Orca whale populations as a result of PCB contamination needs to be done.

The paper states that despite more than 35 years after global PCB bans took effect, Orca whales still have PCB contamination levels which are much too high and unacceptable. It points out where populations once thrived everywhere around the globe Orca whales are found, only in areas around the Arctic and Antarctica are now seeing sustained population growth which is suggestive of much better health of the mammals in these areas.

Freedom Publishers Union sought comment from the Chamber for Biological, Environmental and Marine Studies, an independent broad focused study center which operates out of New Zealand, to consider their assessment of the research into Orca whale PCB contamination. Representatives told us that according to their assessment of the research, they believe, "The research is alarming and indicative of greater and more wide-spread environmental impacts as a result of ongoing PCB contamination and certainly is not limited to just Orca whales.". This is also noted in the closing findings, with the research recommending greater efforts be made, beyond what is required under the Stockholm Convention on persistent Organic Pollutants, to clean up PCB contamination and reduce potentially destructive increases in the levels of contamination. At current clean-up rates, it is predicted that the Convention's targets for 2025 and 2028 will not be met, as researchers state, "It is estimated that more than 80% of global PCB stocks are yet to be destroyed", as required.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

Written by Charles Pittman. Edited by Sara Koch.

[Filed from GOLD COAST] October 4, 2018 | [PUBLIC RELATIONS] Clarification of Points from Editorial Published September 5, 2018

SOME CONFUSION AND A SENSE of frustration has been expressed directly to Freedom Publishers Union by some of our supporters as to the position we have taken following a previous Editorial published on September 5, 2018, by our Asia/Pacific Press Office in Mumbai, when we described the Australian Government's proposed "Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018" as "modest".

On behalf of Freedom Publishers Union, I want to take a brief moment to reiterate that the broader position we take on privacy, security and specifically, encryption, has not changed and we have no intention of backing down on our strong opposition to any attempt by anyone in any country which attempts to implement any measures which could potentially see the weakening or tampering of security and encryption of technology, which could potentially impede on the effectiveness of the entitlement to privacy.

In reference to our original aforementioned article which has been the primary cause for concern by some of our supporters, I as Editor, would like to run through a few clarifications and citations from our September 5 article, with the intention of restating our position as published previously and regaining the confidence of those that have expressed a certain amount of confusion.

I begin with the acknowledgment of the potential for misleading our readers with the Editorial's title. Although Freedom Publishers Union does acknowledge that it may be misleading, we also stand by the title as it is published, and believe it is correct in context in relation to its accompanied article.

It should be noted that we pointed out in the September 2018 article that Freedom Publishers Union had initially raised concerns on the issues present, in previous articles. As noted already, we have raised previous concerns in September 2016 and again, in June 2017. This was then followed up with the most recent article, which is the source of some confusion and leading some to accuse us that we have weakened our position. Freedom Publishers Union have not. I personally would like to point out previous articles published on the issues before my tenure as Editor, to simply point out that under the leadership of my predecessors, Freedom Publishers Union have been paying a lot of attention to it and in great detail for over two years. Under my leadership as Editor, with the guidance and support of my superiors, we, as an independent media organization will continue to do so.

The original conclusion of the proposed legislation being declared "modest" was actually an independent conclusion which was reached by a third-party consultancy firm, David Institute for Politics and Science. We have complete confidence in their high standards of professional work ethic and therefore had no reason to question their expert advice on this issue. Therefore, we adopted their advice and conclusion that the proposed legislation was "modest". The independence of this conclusion was actually published in the original article and was never made to portray that it was the conclusion originally reached by Freedom Publishers Union.

Despite David Institute for Politics and Science reaching a "modest" conclusion, they were also critical of specifics of the legislation proposal. We specifically pointed out that they believed it to be "much too broad" in the range of agencies that the legislation is applicable to. They also pointed out that the warrant obtaining process must remain a "reasonable due process". Then, Freedom Publishers Union raised our own concerns, which were not specifically the concerns of David Institute for Politics and Science, that the recommended penalty of 5 years was "extreme and disproportionate" to the crime of specifically "unauthorized disclosure" of information in relation to a technical assistance request.

Upon reviewing the original Editorial published on September 5, 2018, by the Mumbai Press Center, Freedom Publishers Union stands by it 100% and believe the information published, based on the information available to us at the time of press, was accurate in its nature, not misleading and fair. However, we always take feedback serious and always follow up where possible to review where we possibly went wrong which provided enough substance to initiate complaints, and to examine where we can do better in the future to eliminate confusion and all possibility of misleading our audience.

On behalf of Freedom Publishers Union, I sincerely apologize if our position was not made specific and clear enough. Our audience should always remain confident in our immovable position on issues related to privacy, security and encryption.

I close by pointing out that Freedom Publishers Union was one of the first independent media organizations to report and publish on this issue, taking into account our publications as far back as 2016. I take on the personal view and believe Freedom Publishers Union has been ahead of the rest of the industry. We previously also expressed disappointment that more Australian digital rights organizations were not expressing their position on the legislation. It is not a matter for us to agree or disagree with their position, but we appreciate the attention paid to the matter at hand, irrespective of their position. Since we expressed this disappointment, more organizations - Australian and international - have put forward their views. As much as we appreciate their views, we again point out that we were very much ahead of the rest of the independent media industry.

We are continuing to pay attention to the legislative path of the proposed legislation and Freedom Publishers Union is currently engaging in internal discussion as to whether we will pursue the matter further by making a political Submission to the Australian Parliament.

Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations Department

Written by Sara Koch.

[Filed from MUMBAI] September 29, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] China's Grip on Freedom of Information Continues to Close, With Blocking of International News Sites

CHINA HAS INFAMOUSLY CLAIMED THE title as the world's biggest censorship machine. And it's effective too. Australia's lead public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), has now been censored from inside the borders of China. China's nation-sponsored and regime operated 'Great Firewall' has reportedly been blocking access to the ABC website since August 22, 2018.

The ABC made official enquiries with Chinese authorities, which saw delay before an official response was provided. It was a vague response at that, with little more than a confirmation that China was blocking access to the ABC website and its app, yet no specific reason was provided with the response.

It is interesting to note that the date the ABC block took effect was just one day after the announcement from the Australian Government that they had banned Chinese technology giant Huawei from contributing to the construction of Australia's 5G wireless network. The ban would also include ZTE. While it is easy to assume there may be a link between the Huawei/ZTE ban and the effective blocking of the ABC, Freedom Publishers Union is not convinced there is enough evidence to suggest there is any conclusive link between the two events. Instead, we suggest it to be a timing coincidence and would refrain from suggesting anything other than that without any indication that points to the contrary.

While the ABC website remains blocked at the time of going to press, we understand that Australian commercial news media websites remain available and uninterrupted. Australia's second public broadcaster, Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), also remains available according to sources at the ABC.

We independently verified the censorship claims made by the ABC through FPUorg, who carried out their own tests and shared the results with Freedom Publishers Union. At the time of going to press, we can actually verify that the ABC is indeed blocked from inside China from multiple locations that were tested. Locations verified to be blocking access to the ABC website and app were Beijing and Shanghai. Additional access testing was carried out from inside Hong Kong, a location effectively under the control of China's influence, but its internet infrastructure not being subjected to the 'Great Firewall'. Results returned from inside Hong Kong were more encouraging and showed that the ABC was still accessible. The same tests were performed on The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald websites, News Corp and Fairfax's leading mastheads, respectively, and it demonstrated that uninterrupted access remained open to these sites. The same testing was also performed for the SBS website, which also returned positive results showing there was no restrictions placed upon Australia's second public broadcaster.

The censorship that has been applied to the ABC, by China, appears to be solely aimed specifically at just the ABC. At least that appears to be the case for Australia. We understand that the BBC was reporting that BBC News and New York Time websites were being blocked also. FPUorg did not test access to these two websites, so Freedom Publishers Union is unable to verify these claims. But we have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the claims reported by the BBC.

When Chinese officials were probed on the specific reasons as to why the ABC was being censored, the response was vague, an expression of arrogance and open to interpretation. China claims that the ABC has violated the country's internet rules and regulations, which led to the Office of the Cyberspace Affairs Commission to take action. It is also claimed the ABC is a danger to China's national security and is damaging the nation's pride. When probed further, specifically, of what the ABC had contributed to prompt the Office of the Cyberspace Affairs Commission to act, no specifics were stated.

Freedom Publishers Union are staunch advocates for an open internet which remains neutral and free from censorship. This includes advocating China relax its applied censorship and open up its internet. However, despite global pressure, the reverse is happening and China's grip on information access continues to close even further.

Freedom Publishers Union's own servers have previously been exposed to China's heavy handed approach to censorship. The freedompublishersunion.com domain has previously experienced being blocked from inside China. Recent external security auditing - unrelated to the subject of this story - can verify that we are current not blocked. It adds to the mystery of what protocols are followed which actually lead to a website or a domain being censored by the 'Great Firewall'. To date, it remains unclear to us as to why we were blocked. At the time, we considered making enquiries to Chinese authorities but were not confident that we would successfully get a response. Contacting Chinese authorities on specific matters of politics is not exactly a streamlined process. We could only make the general assumption that China did not respond kindly to our position of promoting a free and open internet without censorship. Some of our advocacy has included critical mention of China's efforts of implementing maximum censorship on the people of China. Therefore, it could possibly be a simple case that advocacy for an open internet accompanied by criticism of the Chinese regime's totalitarian control of its internet access may be what leads to being censored from inside the borders of China. However, this does not completely explain how China censors websites or domains for unspecified and sometimes odd periods of time, then appear to drop off the censorship radar, without warning and once again become accessible, as has occurred to Freedom Publishers Union.

The precise protocols and processes of how the 'Great Firewall' functions is unclear. But we do understand that ultimate decision making can flow right through the channels of the Chinese regime and to the President himself.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by William Young and Charles Pittman.

Konomark.org | Permission to republish | Donate

[Filed from MOSCOW] September 29, 2018 | [CAMPAIGN] Ecuador Must Act Now, to Ensure Freedom of Julian Assange

THE WORLD SHOULD BE OUTRAGED by the continued treatment and detainment of Wikileaks Editor, Julian Assange.

Mr. Assange has been detained to the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012 and remains trapped inside, without natural light, without fresh air, without access to the most basic of human services and healthcare and without communications.

The ongoing situation has become frustrated and entered the realm of ridiculous. It has gone beyond laying the blame on party A, B or C. There are multiple factors at play and multiple parties to blame which must accept responsibility of Mr. Assange being arbitrarily detained, deemed illegal by the United Nations, and being denied many basic human rights.

The situation is now critical and an appropriate and responsible political solution must be sought by Ecuador and the UK, along with the US, which also shares great interest in Mr. Assange's detainment. We must see the freedom of Mr. Assange granted without any further unnecessary delay and to take immediate effect.

Ecuador must take a strong stand and act.

The UK must end its threat of immediate arrest and cease its around-the-clock surveillance of a political refugee, publisher and editor who has not been charged with any crime.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

Written by Charles Pittman.

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] September 15, 2018 | [OPINION] Can Obama Influence the American People and Change the Course of American Democracy?

LAST WEEK, FORMER US PRESIDENT Barack Obama, presented the usual encouraging and inspiring speech. He reflected on the Donald Trump Administration and also touched on the Op-Ed which was published by the New York Times, effectively creating a firestorm of ripple effects through US politics. The former president took quite an aggressive tone towards Trump's leadership style and pointed out the obvious on the current state of US politics. Aside from a healthy economy, which is beginning to show cracks, there's not much to praise of President Trump's tenure. Obama pointed out the obvious and publicly thrashed Trump with views which to be frank, most of us probably share.

Trump responded to Obama's comments in the usual predictable tone that Trump observers have come to expect, by claiming that his speech was so "boring" that he "fell asleep". We're sure he didn't. What is interesting to note though is how inspirational and powerful Obama still appears to be, if one is to use the public's reaction as a key indicator. This comes even though he no longer has any political force other than his voice of opinion. Because that's what it is, really. However, people seem to be very drawn to Obama and pay great attention when he speaks. He could stand up on a stage with a microphone and talk about anything at all and people would still listen with absolute focus and attention, and come away feeling inspired. Then, many would probably refer to it as the best speech they've heard on the topic - whatever the topic may be.

Take for example Obama's presidential inauguration speech. We all remember it. It was inspirational and offered a lot of hope to many who felt there was not much hope left. It's a shame that his own tenure as US President did not quite live up to the hope of many Americans and didn't really deliver to the same standard as his inauguration speech. Well, that could be up for debate and is a matter of political opinion. But we come back to saying - Obama spoke, people listened. The question now remains, will Obama dish out any further public speeches and will they have the same influence on the American people when it comes to voting day at the upcoming mid-terms? We will soon see. But when polls suggest that voter confidence is down, people will look for alternative sources for inspiration. Obama has the skills to tap into this source. If the Democrats can rely on Obama to draw attention back to their side of politics, then we may see a very different functioning of the Trump Administration after the mid-terms if they are to sway in favor of the Democrats.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

Written by Charles Pittman. Edited by Sara Koch.

[Filed from MUMBAI] September 5, 2018 | Proposed Australian Legislation Which Seeks Technical Assistance on Encryption from Silicon Valley, Actually Quite Modest

The Australian proposed legislation titled "Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018" has been provided to Freedom Publishers Union following the Government releasing an Exposure Draft to the public domain.

Our concerns were initially placed on our radar on September 1, 2016, when Salt Lake City News published an Editorial warning France was in the midst of leading a global push for anti-encryption legislation.

Then Freedom Publishers Union warned of increasing government attacks on encryption on June 12, 2017. Concluding our warning then, we said that "We oppose any measures which seek to impede, alter, challenge or block the use, development or implementation of encryption or any other measure of computer security.".

The warning signs continued to grow louder when we warned again on July 19, 2017, of the ongoing government attacks against encryption. This was amplified when the Australian Government created the super ministry known as the Department of Home Affairs. We said that the creation of the super ministry "will give absolutely no operational improvements or benefit to the current system of intelligence and law enforcement capabilities.". And then we said that we viewed it as an opportunity for the Government to take advantage of the super ministry and "to abuse the platform as a new breeding ground for increased mass-surveillance and as a means of justification for its increasing attacks on encryption and privacy encroachment.".

Despite Freedom Publishers Union facing minor external criticism and being dubbed as delving in the realm of conspiracy theory stuff, it appears our warnings were correct, justified and our claims are always backed by credible source information.

Just last week, Australia saw a change in its Government leader. The Home Affairs super ministry has been stripped of its immigration portfolio, effectively reversing a bad decision made by the former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who was responsible for creating the super ministry and handed ultimate power to one minister. The current legislation proposal before us has grown from the previous ministry and is guarantee to be still on the agenda to be debated in the country's Parliament towards the later months of the year.

The original concerns we outlined were strong and valid. As was our declaration to protect and oppose any attacks on encryption or any other means which threaten the right to privacy.

The [Exposure Draft] bill proposes three key ways for technology companies, software developers and others to assist spy agencies and police:

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

On digital security, the Department of Home Affairs says, "Encryption and other forms of electronic protection are vital security measures that protect private, commercial and Government data and make the communications and devices of all people more secure.". Then it attempts to justify the proposed legislation by saying, "However, these security measures are also being employed by terrorists, child sex offenders and criminal organizations to mask illegal conduct.". The Government believes the developed proposal to be a "reasonable and proportionate response to the problems associated with the increasing use of encrypted communications".

According to the Australian Government's own statistics, encryption impacts at least 90% of priority cases handled by the nation's elite intelligence agency, Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), and over 90% of legally intercepted communications by the Australia Federal Police (AFP). Additionally, they believe that all illicit activity by "organized crime and terrorists" will be encrypted by 2020, which continues to be a cause a lot of concern within intelligence communities not only in Australia, but also within the ranks of its intelligence sharing partners of the 'Five Eyes'. Concern continues to mount because of continued difficulties in accessing and extracting usable content from encrypted data, at least through a streamlined arrangement with complete cooperation of Silicon Valley. Furthermore, Australia's Department of Home Affairs reiterate that State-level law enforcement agencies are facing their own set of challenges in relation to encryption.

Ironically, the challenges faced from intelligence communities and law enforcement agencies equates to good news for consumers in the sense that strong encryption works. And this is great news for privacy and those who wish to uphold their right to privacy through use of encryption.

In a Press Statement released by Member of The Greens, Chris McGimpsey-Jones, he states that he views the "draft bill to be quite moderate in its intent and perhaps not as invasive as much of the public had expected.". We clarify this view expressed by Mr. McGimpsey-Jones was taken prior to the release of the Exposure Draft. However, he has since contacted our office and confirmed that after reading the Exposure Draft in its entirety, his view remains unchanged.

We tasked David Institute for Politics and Science to analyze the legislation proposal in closer detail to see just how concerned we should be and to what effect the Australian Government seeks to push on its legislative attempts of dealing with its challenges of encryption.

The conclusion made by David Institute for Politics and Science very much reflects the moderate nature of the legislation and they told us that it was not anywhere near as aggressive as they were expecting. They specifically point out that the proposal permits no systemic breaking of encryption and no systemic forced backdoors are permitted. This is important to highlight, as there has been misinformed claims made by publications, notably AppleInsider, in their August 13, 2018, publication which starts with the following claim, "Australia's government will debate proposed legislation before the end of this year that could force Apple and other companies to introduce backdoors into their products and services, such as the iPhone or iMessage, under the guise of assisting with national security and law enforcement investigations.". This claim is wrong. Freedom Publishers Union Communications Department has contacted AppleInsider to draw their attention to this incorrect claim and have provided them with an advanced edition of this Editorial. At the time of going to press, our office has received no response.

The legislation is applicable to a very wide array of government intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Of most importance, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and Australian Federal Police (AFP). Though the legislation extends further, to State-level law enforcement agencies through to government watchdog commissions that are tasked with investigating sometimes minor crime. According to David Institute for Politics and Science, they assess that it serves a very broad range of agencies - much too broad - many of them most likely to be unnecessary and unlikely to exercise their powers. Yet they reassure us that this is compensated somewhat by the moderate nature of the legislation's content.

David Institute for Politics and Science also specifically draws attention to the fact that the technical assistance sought through exercising the powers of the legislation must be warranted, through what they describe a reasonable due process of warrant obtaining mechanism.

According to details outlined in additional documents provided by the Australian Government and the Department of Home Affairs, the legislation is applicable to communications services and devices in Australia, irrespective of where they base their corporation, servers or manufacturing hubs. Therefore, there will be no exclusion for international companies if the device is within the borders of Australia and the device is the target of a qualified investigation, as specified. The Department of Home Affairs point out that although law enforcement agencies already receive technical assistance from technology and communications companies on a voluntary basis, they believe this to be an unfair playing field and is creating an unequal level of compliance from the industry. The implementation of the legislation is one measure aimed at establishing a more balanced and equal playing field for compliance.

Freedom Publishers Union understands from previous information supplied to us from earlier publications, that Australian law enforcement agencies regularly engage and seek assistance from Facebook and other social media companies with pending and ongoing investigations. We are unable to definitively confirm it in relation to the latest proposed legislation as the information provided to us by the Australian Government falls short of specifically naming any individual or group of companies which it already receives voluntary assistance from.

We also have clarification that there are no provisions which prevent communications providers from fixing or patching existing security flaws in devices. In fact, it is both encouraged and supported by the Department of Home Affairs.

The remaining concerns that we have are minor, but worthy of acknowledgement. Freedom Publishers Union are concerned of the overuse of penalties in relation to unauthorized disclosure of information detailing the receiving of a request or notice. It recommends a penalty of 5 years, which we believe to be quite extreme and disproportionate to the crime of unauthorized disclosure.

Additionally, we draw specific attention to text on page 76 of the Exposure Draft, where it is specified that the [proposed] legislation is applicable to investigations that qualify for the "death penalty". We believe this to be a rather extreme clause to be placed into legislation of this nature. Freedom Publishers Union are notable advocates against the death penalty and believe this specific wording should be removed prior to any further drafts being placed before the Australian Parliament for debate.

Based on the independent analysis and information we have been provided and compared against the prior expectations from Freedom Publishers Union of this legislation, we accept the conclusion put forward by David Institute for Politics and Science that it remains a modest and acceptable legislative proposal.

The quirks are minor and could be resolved with minimal political intervention and amendments where required.

Freedom Publishers Union's position on protecting encryption and the civil liberties of citizens stands as strong as ever. Thankfully, we feel that we do not have to stand firm in opposition to this proposed legislation and at its face value, can see no realistic scenario of where it could be abused to knowingly undermine encryption or the right to privacy, under actions described to be in the interest of national security - a term which is regularly abused as a means to hide illicit governmental activity which is knowingly questionable.

Freedom Publishers Union Communications Department contacted Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) asking for comment on the Exposure Draft of the proposed legislation. We also asked whether EFA had any further plans and how they would respond on the issue of encryption and privacy in response. No reply was received. This is disappointing considering EFA was once Australia's most reputable organization for standing up for digital rights in Australia. It appears to be a cause which has gradually lost the attention of the organization.

We do acknowledge that EFA have been a supporter of the Secure Australia campaign which they are a signatory. However, we believe this is slightly odd considering that is a campaign launched by Access Now, which is actually an American organization.

Freedom Publishers Union believes that Australian organizations are placed in the best position to fight and support digital rights of and for Australian citizens.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

August 28, 2018 | How the Right-Wing Media Have Given a Megaphone to Reactionary Forces in the Liberal Party

The polarisation that is devouring Australia's politics is reflected in the increasingly stark polarisation of the country's professional mass media.

In the midst of the leadership crisis engulfing the prime ministership, some journalists have found time to start fighting each other over allegations of partisan political activism. Astonishing.

On Channel Nine's Today show, the network's political editor Chris Uhlmann accused elements of the media of "waging a war against the prime minister of Australia".

For this, he singled out the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corporation newspapers such as The Australian and The Daily Telegraph, the Murdoch-owned pay TV channel Sky News, and the Fairfax-owned Sydney radio station 2GB.

On the same show, the Telegraph's national political editor, Sharri Markson, hit back, calling Uhlmann's remarks "disgusting and outrageous".

Later, The Australian's Chris Kenny weighed in, saying Uhlmann was airing gripes from within Malcolm Turnbull's camp. The clear implication was that Uhlmann was just as much a player in the political game as any other political journalist.

Kenny argued that the media and politicians have always been locked into a symbiotic relationship, requoting a line from British politics that a politician complaining about the media is like a sailor complaining about the sea.

That's true, but in assessing the media's role in the current crisis, it is helpful to think about it in two phases.

The 'Foxification' of Australian politics

Phase one, which is what Uhlmann was referring to, is the coverage of national politics over the life of the Turnbull government.

There is overwhelming evidence that the News Corp newspapers, Sky News and the 2GB shock-jocks have given encouragement, legitimacy and a megaphone to the most reactionary elements in the Liberal and National parties.

This coverage has been characterised by climate-change denial, the prominence given to racist sentiments such as Andrew Bolt's recent assertions that Australia was disintegrating into tribes, and alarmist warnings about immigration, typified by references to African gangs.

These all play to the audiences of the conservative element of the Liberal Party whose figurehead has been the government's destabiliser-in-chief, Tony Abbott, and whose frontbench champion has been Peter Dutton.

Sky News, in its night-time panels, is dominated by people promoting extreme views. Earlier this month, it went so far as to invite a neo-Nazi on air, only to apologize when the heat came on the next day.

Also in its evening line-up is Abbott's former chief of staff, Peta Credlin, who has used her program to promote Abbott's brand of reactionary politics and attack Turnbull, especially over energy policy.

On 2GB, meanwhile, the likes of Alan Jones and Ray Hadley have given the Abbott camp not just free kicks - Hadley has Abbott on his show regularly - but have created an on-air culture where outrage is encouraged.

Even this week, in covering the political crisis, Jones referred to key Turnbull backer, Mathias Cormann, as a "nigger in the woodpile", a highly offensive, racist term of abuse. He later apologised for the word, but it's not the first time he's used it.

All this amounts to a Foxification of Australian politics.

It follows the template devised by Murdoch and his late lieutenant, Roger Ailes, in creating a highly partisan television channel, Fox News, which has prosecuted a similar ideological agenda to what the extreme right stands for in Australia.

Fox used to promote itself as "fair and balanced", as gross an example of perverted meaning as anything Donald Trump has devised.

So much for phase one of the media's coverage of the Turnbull government.

Responsible, up-to-the-minute coverage

Phase two is the coverage of the crisis that has unfolded this week.

In this, the professional mass media have, for the most part, provided a sustained, informative and reliable coverage of the kind that the public is entitled to expect.

The fast-moving developments have been relayed swiftly - often in real time - thanks to the speed and on-the-spot access to events that digital technology provides.

The stories are piled up in chronological sequence: not just the basic facts but context, explanation and insights into background events, such as the lead-up to Scott Morrison's decision to stand for party leader if there is a spill.

There is also minute-by-minute Twitter coverage of the uproar and circus in parliament.

So much is happening that for a blessed moment the media are focusing on reporting rather than fighting among themselves.

Denis Muller, Center for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

[Filed from MUMBAI] August 18, 2018 | Former SAS Soldier, Ben Roberts-Smith, Now a Core Focus of Military Inquiries into "Misconduct" and Possible "War Crimes" in Afghanistan

What started as indirect allegations of possible human rights violations and war crimes in Afghanistan, by the Australian SAS, has exploded [no pun intended] into what appears to be direct allegations focusing on one of Australia's most recognized SAS soldiers, Ben Roberts-Smith.

The extensive, exhaustive and extremely in-depth investigation published by Fairfax Media was compiled over a period extending more than one year, which included research and interviews with government officials, military veterans and people which Fairfax simply describes as having "knowledge of Roberts-Smith's personal conduct".

The report uncovers details that appear to have merit and can be validated by several sources. Freedom Publishers Union has also learned that Roberts-Smith has launched legal action against Fairfax Media following the publication. While some unspecified elements of the legal action were knocked back without serious consideration, we are led to believe that some still remain outstanding and unresolved.

The report claims that Roberts-Smith was a bully and regularly used his large physical structure to engage in intimidation of his younger and smaller colleagues. It is said that Roberts-Smith bullied younger and less experienced soldiers, supposedly under his command. Accusations extend from bullying during training and also while carrying out operations on the battlefield. Accusations also lay claim that Roberts-Smith was involved in teams that are suspected of carrying out abuse of unarmed civilians by using what is described as "force that goes well beyond what is acceptable in the theater of war". This would suggest that Roberts-Smith had direct knowledge of human rights violations as a result of SAS operations in Afghanistan - violations which could amount to war crimes.

Ben Roberts-Smith remains one of Australia's most recognized and celebrated SAS soldiers, often described as a respectable member of the Australian business community, an advocate for mental health and more notably, a recipient of the prestigious Victoria Cross (VC). If the accusations presented in the Fairfax Media investigation are proven to be correct, then it would raise serious questions of how much scrutiny, present and former, military soldiers are placed under prior to receiving such prestigious recognition for their actions in the battlefield. It is suggestive that there is no scrutiny. We ask, how can the Australian Government award such a distinct and respected award like the VC to a [former] soldier which has so many accusations placed against him and so many unanswered questions that remain present? These are questions that must be answered and have legitimacy to their substance.

Freedom Publishers Union has brought forward to the attention of our readers the culture of absolute secrecy which seems enshrined deep into the brotherhood of the SAS. The SAS have admitted they operate under secrecy. It is that secrecy which is enabling the possibility of breaching the rules of engagement and violating human rights of foreign civilians in a war zone which could amount to war crimes.

Roberts-Smith is already under investigation for possible "misconduct" in Afghanistan as part of the ongoing inquiry which is currently being carried out by Army Reserve officer, Paul Brereton. The stories of the accusations placed against the SAS and specifically, Roberts-Smith, can be verified through multiple corresponding versions by former and current serving SAS members. While this may not be enough confirmation or verification to pursue any form of legal action, Freedom Publishers Union believes that enough information has been uncovered and the allegations are serious enough to justify the latest inquiry.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the latest inquiry will be headed by David Irvine, a former member of the intelligence community through ASIO. The latest inquiry will focus on the possibility of war crimes being committed by SAS soldiers in Afghanistan and is the third special forces inquiry in just two years.

Freedom Publishers Union commends what has resulted in the establishment of the latest inquiry.

We remain very disappointed that the previous inquiries have not been made public and remain sealed under secrecy. We urge much better transparency for the latest inquiry, but remain not very confident that the latest inquiry will be wrapped with any less secrecy than the aforementioned inquiries.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Further reading 1: Beneath the Bravery of Our Most Decorated Soldier

Further reading 2: Embattled VC Winner Asks Attorney-General to Refer Fairfax Media to [Federal] Police

[Filed from REYKJAVIC | International Media Group] August 11, 2018 | Unconfirmed Number of Civilians Killed in Yemen Attack, Indicative of a Saudi-led Massacre

It is now widely accepted by the political world for Yemen to be recognized as the world's worst ongoing humanitarian disaster, which unfortunately has no end in sight, nor does the war that is the cause of so much human pain and suffering.

Thursday this week, a school bus which was travelling through a marketplace in Yemen which had many children onboard was bombed. Saudi-led coalition forces claim that their military response was a reaction to a previous attack by Houthi rebels. The Saudi's claim their attack was targeting a legitimate military (yet unspecified) asset and maintain it was completely legal.

Nasser Arrabyee, a Yemen journalist currently in Sanaa, said there were no Houthi fighters in the vicinity of the market where the attack was carried out. Arrabyee also claims that the area is well known to be a marketplace and equally well known for having no military installations. He directly accuses the Saudi's of regularly targeting schools, weddings, markets and other innocent civilian targets. We can verify those claims, however we note that the claims have been echoed by Al Jazeera journalist, Mohammed Adow, who says, "The Saudi's tend to deny these kinds of actions which have sadly become all too common.". Others critical of the Saudi-led operations in Yemen have displayed the same concerns expressed by the journalists. Adow reminds us though, that it's not just the Saudi's failing to take responsibility for their actions. He says the Houthi's are also failing to acknowledge their own reckless military actions too - making it a balanced argument.

Despite the claims by the Saudi's that their target was legitimate, it remains unclear what exactly that target was or how it resulted in the deaths of more civilians.

The exact numbers of confirmed dead remain unverified at present due to limited resources on the ground. Quality Publishing Works' sources have been able to determine the most likely probable number of deaths, according to available information which has been made public, is 50 civilians killed. This same number is also reported by Turkish news outlet TRT World. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reports that 29 of the casualties are children at the age of 15 or below.

Unverified details released from the Yemen television network, Al Masirah TV, suggest 39 people were killed and 51 wounded. While it remains no more specific about how many killed or wounded were children, it did report initially that many were children.

According to details reported by CNN, the Houti-controlled Health Ministry is claiming that 50 people were killed and 77 wounded. These numbers are slightly inflated compared to figures provided by more reputable sources. These numbers remain unverified by Quality Publishing Works.

CNN also reports that Saudi-state media has acknowledged the incident, but states that according to their figures, only 1 person was killed.

On those killed, CNN makes reference to the numbers provided by ICRC. Al Jazeera also reports the same figure, but falls short of revealing combined numbers for those killed and wounded.

In a report from the Israeli news outlet, Haaretz, Abdul-Ghani Nyeb, who is the Head of the Health Department in Saada, reportedly told Reuters that updated numbers had increased the death toll to 43, with 61 wounded. More alarmingly, he claims that most of the children that were killed were under the age of 10. If confirmed, this would be a significant reduction from the previous reports by ICRC, that children were age 15 and below. However, he did not reveal how many children were included in the updated death toll. Quality Publishing Works could not verify the updated numbers.

SBS News reported numbers of those killed and wounded which also reflect those of CNN and Al Jazeera. The Council Body of Research and Study declared to Quality Publishing Works that this is suggestive that these numbers are most probable to be the most accurate at the time we go to press.

Following the attack, the United Nations (UN) called for an immediate investigation into the incident.

The United States of America (US) and other Western nations provide military equipment, arms and intelligence assistance to Saudi Arabia. While the Saudi-led coalition claim to have a functioning committee which investigates military incidents which result in mass casualties (including civilian casualties), all indications suggest that the committee has mostly cleared the Saudi's of any blame from the incidents it has previously investigated. Admittedly, we have no documentative evidence to confirm our conclusion. But we see no obvious indication that the committee will hold the Saudi Government/Military to account for this attack.

There was some initial confusion surrounding the official responses provided by The White House and US State Department. The National Security Council referred to the incident by claiming there was "conflicting reports in global media". While the State Department was busy claiming to have urged the Saudi-led coalition to "conduct a thorough and transparent investigation". When questioned on why there was differing views on the incident between the departments, it was claimed by the State Department that there was no differing views and that they shared the same view. We believe their responses to be open to interpretation.

Russian news outlet, Russia Today (RT), took the opportunity to accuse Western nations of ignoring the severity of the humanitarian disaster which has unfolded in Yemen over the course of the war since it started in 2015. RT has claimed that the US and the UK prioritize their support for the war in Syria, as they have extremely lucrative weapons business interests with supplying arms to Saudi Arabia. These weapons supplied by the US and the UK are used to boost the military capabilities of Saudi Arabia in its war in Yemen and effectively allows it to continue. While the war in Yemen continues, so does the arms trade which is sure to work in favor of the US in terms in military economics, at the expense of disposing human life for political gain.

US military support to Saudi Arabia has been verified and has been well documented. However, Quality Publishing Works could not verify the claims made by RT that the UK also supports the Saudi operation through military equipment support or trade. But the claims by RT do echo similar reports by The Guardian published several months earlier, which also claimed the UK supports the Saudi's in addition to support provided from France, Spain and Italy.

Quality Publishing Works is extremely concerned, as is the entire world, of the duration of the war in Yemen. To the outside world, it appears no progress has been made and it can not be entirely sure of what progress is being sought. Too many civilians are being killed in a war that does not appear to have an end goal, along with no side willing to take responsibility for the civilians that are continuously getting caught up in reckless and irresponsible military operations.

Rockets are still being launched, bombs continue to drop and the air strikes are set to continue.

Quality Publishing Works continues to urge all fighting parties to seek avenues to an immediate cease fire, commence peace talks under the advice and cooperation of the UN with a view to finally draw the war in Yemen to a close and stop the killing of innocent civilians - men, woman and children. The world deserves better.

As we go to press with this story, we learn of early unconfirmed reports which indicate more attacks involving civilian casualties have occurred. It is likely as a result of military operations in Idlib and Aleppo (Syria), allegedly from air strikes from Syria and Russian forces. More precise details remain unavailable at this time.

Quality Publishing Works - International Media Group - Reykjavic Press

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] August 8, 2018 | [1] Alex Jones and Infowars Social Media Bans Fuel Wider Debate Over Free Speech

Freedom Publishers Union has learned that some of world's biggest technology companies have banned from their platforms, broadcaster Alex Jones. Some content produced from his website, Infowars, has also been subjected to the ban.

Alex Jones is a controversial broadcaster and his news website is largely considered conspiracy theory, rather than respected journalism. This is very much reflected in the ratings illustrated by the MEDIA BIAS/FACT CHECK website which rates Infowars as "Conspiracy-Pseudoscience". At the time of going to press, the Conspiracy Level for Infowars remains at the highest rating of "Tin Foil Hat". The Pseudoscience Level remains at second highest rating of "Strong". And the Factual Reporting rating sits at "Very Low".

Irrespective of all negative ratings, community opinion or perception, Alex Jones and Infowars shares the same (US) First Amendment guarantee to freedom of speech as others enjoy. Since its founding in 1999, Infowars have consistently been accused of spreading misleading and false information. Recently, some of the information (unspecified by Freedom Publishers Union) and views expressed from Alex Jones have been claimed to be an attempt to create civil unrest and incite community anger through spreading what some claim to be purely hate speech. It is stated on this basis, that Silicon Valley has banned Alex Jones and Infowars from their platforms.

At the time of going to press, Freedom Publishers Union can verify that Facebook, YouTube, Apple and Spotify have all taken various degrees of action to ban Alex Jones from using their services to spread his information. So far, Twitter has not taken any action against Alex Jones' account and he retains control over his active verified account.

Twitter has previously demonstrated strange and unpredictable behavior by taking action on accounts for reasons that are contradictory to its claims of platform policy, with often confusing responses being provided as to why accounts are suspended. Taking action on Twitter accounts appears to be very selective and not driven by any kind of platform policy. It is common to see accounts suspended and then reinstated, without justification for the original suspension being provided. [2] In an article published on CNBC on August 6, Twitter stated that no action will be taken against the accounts of Alex Jones or Infowars as the accounts do not violate the company's policies. Then just today, the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, acknowledged in an article published again to CNBC, that the company has "been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past" and urges that they are working to make improvements in this area.

On the bans, Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars said that it sets "a chilling precedent for free speech.". [3] Freedom Publishers Union disagrees with the summary expressed from Watson as his comments are suggestive that the action taken against them from selected social media platforms are a form of censorship. This is not true censorship. It is actually an implementation of editorial bias, which demonstrates that the social media platforms can (and most likely do) have a tendency to influence the direction of the content on their platforms. Infowars is only excluded from selected social media platforms. Not all of them. The Infowars website is still very much accessible on the visible and open internet. Rather than being a harbinger of censorship, the Infowars conflict demonstrates the true meaning of free speech. Editorial bias is the expression of specific opinions and filtering of information to support a political or social agenda. It is also a key part of free speech, as a way of establishing context for interpreting information. Infowars has a specific bias and filter for presenting information, as do newspapers, television and most social media. Editorial bias is as much a part of free speech as the words themselves and needs preservation as much as reporting and opinion do.

In the US, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech. This is not subject to qualified freedom. Any speech is allowed to be stated. If that speech is considered harmful, damaging or offensive, then appropriate legal action may be taken against it. But free speech cannot be banned or censored until the specific instance causes that harm. Exercising free speech outside of an open forum - on private services such as social media, printed in a newspaper or presented on television program - is left to the discretion of the owners of the service. Unless the property is a guaranteed open forum which enables any form of speech, the owners have every right to control the content allowed, on what can be effectively considered their property. The internet backbone, as a common carrier, is prohibited from discriminating against any communication so long as it causes no direct harm. Any internet content or activity considered illegal or harmful must be prevented in the location of the origin of the activity. Therefore, the laws of the location of the data and server determine the legal action that can be taken.

In summary, Alex Jones' content can be banned on private servers of social media services, as these are not considered common carrier utilities and are under no obligation to provide open access. However, the Infowars website cannot be blocked in the US, as this would violate the First Amendment.

Despite reservations expressed internally from Freedom Publishers Union, it was agreed that just as the American Civil Liberties Union defends Nazi's rights to free speech, Freedom Publishers Union must also defend the rights of the voices that we may disagree with. We feel it is very important to have open access to public media and we equally feel Freedom Publishers Union has an ethical and moral responsibility to protect it. If we do not, we could be faced with only a short slide from freedom-to-censorship. Once one topic of expression and discussion is banned, it opens up the potential for any topic to also be banned arbitrarily. We fear that in our journey in the defence of freedom and the pursuit of fairness and justice on arbitrary restrictions to prevent perceived unacceptable ideas, a 'controlling body' may be established. From that, it is only semantics that will separate banned ideas from approved ideas. Those running this 'controlling body' will be the ones deciding on what is socially acceptable and what is not. Ultimately, it is the establishment of such a system that we must defend against, no matter how hateful or distressing a message might be to us.

Finally, it's very important to understand that Alex Jones' claim of blanket censorship is incorrect. Being banned by social media is not censorship in the same way we think about censorship applied against Chinese or Russian news. The ban placed upon Alex Jones and Infowars is literally reflective of the editorial policy of those services, which is legal and defendable. If Infowars is blocked by internet service providers' firewalls or removed from DNS servers, then that would be censorship. The clarification surrounding the difference between "banned" and "censored" should be clear and applied.

As advocates of true free speech, Freedom Publishers Union must ensure that public networks provide carriage to all content, while only placing limits or blocking to networks that are causing technical or security problems and not because of the content or the message it contains. Even if we personally or collectively feel that a site is spreading hatred or outright offends us to any degree, we must still fight to defend their rights to use the public networks, as anything less is censorship.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

Notes on amendments:

[1] The title of the article has been amended from the original, to better clarify the main point of the editorial.

[2] The original article claimed that Twitter had failed to provide any indication that Twitter would or would not suspend the accounts of Alex Jones or Infowars. This was incorrect and brought to our attention after the article had gone to press. The article has been amended to reflect the correct information that was provided by Twitter, as early as August 6, 2018. Our apologies for this oversight.

[3] The original article stated that we agreed with the initial views expressed from Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars, that the bans placed on Alex Jones and Infowars set "a chilling precedent for free speech.". This was incorrect and not a true reflection on our position. Instead, we aim to make the stronger point that the social media bans are actually an implementation of editorial bias. The article has been amended to make this clarification.

[Filed from MUMBAI] August 4, 2018 | Peter Dutton and Australia's Immigration Program Continues to Violate Human Rights and Still Detain Children on Nauru

Freedom Publishers Union have been long-term outspoken public opponents of Australia's abusive and unjust offshore immigration program which detains asylum seekers and refugees in offshore centers isolated on the remote locations of Nauru and Manus Island. The Australian Government operates the facilities under the deceiving official titles of "Processing Centers", in effort to disguise their true operations and purpose - detaining asylum seekers and refugees that arrive illegally on its borders.

The centers continue to operate in secrecy, continue to block media access and continue to violate even the most basic of human rights of those detained.

The immigration policy of Australia has again been re-exposed to public scrutiny, along with raising a large question mark over the decisions and actions of the controversial Head of the Department of Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, who has more political power and responsibility than any other Minister in the Liberal Party Cabinet.

Mr. Dutton has constantly been criticized for his hard-line, uncompromising approach and unmoved opposition to immigration. On Thursday, an Australian Federal Court judge ordered that Mr. Dutton reverse his prior decision and transfer a seriously ill young female from Nauru to mainland Australia. Although no specific location was specified, it is understood that she is now in Sydney with family and receiving medical treatment.

The medical details surrounding her situation are detailed inside public Federal Court documents, which have been accessed by Freedom Publishers Union. It is documented the female has engaged in self-harm, suffers severe psychiatric failures and is in a constant severe depressive state. Although it is not specified explicitly in the documents we had access to, there is absolutely no room for doubt to conclude that her severely depleted medical state is the result from extended detention on Nauru.

Mr. Dutton rejected the original request for the female to be transferred off the remote nation of Nauru so that appropriate medical treatment could be sought. Instead, he attempted to claim that the her condition failed to qualify as the required evidence of proof of her alleged serious medical condition. Mr. Dutton outright ignored the advice and reports from several medical personnel on Nauru which assessed the female's condition. Mr. Dutton's decision was rightly rejected by the Federal Court judge and he was ordered to allow for the transfer of the female to the mainland.

Mr. Dutton has engaged in multiple attempts, possibly up to 12 times, at blocking transfers of detainees - adults and children. However these attempts are consistently overruled by the Federal Court which force Mr. Dutton to reverse his decision.

Mr. Dutton's actions are placing detainee's health and lives at risk and stripping many of the detainees on the islands of their human rights.

Freedom Publishers Union reached out to a member of a major political party inside Australia. We were able to get the following comments from a person who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity. "It is very clear, and has been clear for a long time, Minister Dutton is giving absolutely no indication of attempting to manage the welfare of those detained in centers on Nauru and Manus Island. He never has had the welfare of them in his interest. What interest has been shown is not even close to the acceptable standard required under international law and he continues to initiate Australia's violation of human rights.".

Citing Federal Court documents, Freedom Publishers Union reveals that the female has been detained on Nauru since 2013, along with her Mother, two sisters and one brother. There are also some extended family which are also detained on Nauru. It is not specified how long her family members have been in detention for or how she and her family members arrived. However, it does specify that the female is classified as a "refugee", yet she still remains detained.

Reports from medical personnel on Nauru who assessed the female concluded that her declining medical condition was so severe that she should be transferred off Nauru within 24 hours (of one of the [undated] assessments) as there was no appropriate medical facility on Nauru that could see that she would receive the required treatment. It is unknown and not specified in the court documents accessed by Freedom Publishers Union when this assessment was made. Furthermore, it remains unclear of just how much time had passed since the assessment and the recommendation was made to the time the female was actually transferred off the island. Despite attempts, Freedom Publishers Union has been unable to confirm this information.

Despite repeated claims made from the Liberal Government of Australia and its immigration department that no children are detained inside the centers, this case proves contradictory to these claims. For legal reasons the female's age is not revealed. This is suggestive that the female is a minor and qualifies as a child.

It remains extremely concerning that mainstream media has not been able to make this determination that children are still being detained on the center. In this specific case, she has been detained since 2013 - 5 years to date.

Freedom Publishers Union continues to advocate that Australia immediately shut down its offshore immigration detention program and proceed, without any unnecessary delay, to develop a local program which sees processing of those seeking asylum, on the mainland.

Additionally, we stress that this must be accompanied by appropriate operations transparency and media access rights to the center. Furthermore, an independent oversight body must be established to ensure that Australia upholds its obligations for human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights charter, to which Australia is a signatory to.

At the moment, Australia is engaging in continued human rights abuse with both the Liberal and Labor Parties supporting the nation's abusive immigration regime which strips these humans of their basic rights, dignity and access to suitable medical facilities.

It is only through a complete reformed immigration policy that Australia can begin to restore its reputation on the international stage for treating asylum seekers as humans, upholding their natural rights and setting an example to other nations that also engage in continued human rights abuse. Because at the moment, Australia's international reputation in this area is absolutely shattered.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

August 3, 2018 | Why Australia Needs its Own Torture Report

Recent reports on Britain's complicity in torture of detainees by the US during the "war on terror" were alarming. Even more alarming is that no questions have been asked about whether Australia should launch an independent inquiry into what our government knew about the torture committed by our main security ally, the US.

The 1984 UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is the main convention that prohibits torture under international law. No nation is ever permitted to use torture or support the torture used by others.

Despite this global ban, torture is still used by states around the world to inflict physical or mental pain and suffering on individuals. It is often used to gain information and confessions and to intimidate and punish individuals.

Australia has a legal and moral obligation to prevent torture. Without an independent Iraq torture investigation, however, questions will remain over what Australia knew, and how it responded to the abuse of detainees by the US.

The UK torture report

On June 28, the UK Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) handed down two damning reports outlining Britain's complicity in the US' torture of detainees during the "war on terror".

The reports found UK intelligence officers knew about the ill-treatment of detainees by foreign agencies. It also found that Britain supported, or failed to prevent, the rendition of detainees to countries known to use torture and said the UK's policies on detainee treatment overseas needed to be reformed so the country does not become complicit in torture again.

These reports received significant media attention in the UK. The reports are currently being examined by Scotland Yard to determine whether a police investigation should be launched, and have led to calls for a further independent inquiry into the UK's complicity in torture.

Australia's knowledge of US torture

Although investigations have been carried out into Australia's knowledge of and role in the US torture program, they have been inadequate and leave many questions unanswered.

In 2004, the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee investigated what the Australian Defence Force and Australian government knew about the mistreatment of prisoners being held by the US in Iraq.

Completed in 2005, the report found no Australians were involved in the abuse or ill-treatment of detainees. However, it said better communication was needed within the Australian Defence Force on Australia's obligations towards Iraqi detainees. It also noted that investigators did not have access to key personnel or information to provide an overall picture of Australia's knowledge of detainee abuse in Iraq.

The shortcomings of this report soon became clear. In 2013, the Public Interest and Advocacy Centre got hold of internal government documents and wrote reports that showed the Australian Government knew much more about prisoner torture and mistreatment than it was letting on.

In some cases, Australia failed to abide by the Geneva Conventions and did not raise issues of prisoner treatment with the US. In one case, an Australian military lawyer did not take seriously an International Committee of the Red Cross report that showed evidence of detainee abuse by US personnel in Iraq.

It is not only the Australian Defence Force that has questions to answer, but also Australia's foreign affairs and intelligence agencies.

For example, there is evidence that Australian intelligence agencies knew about the "extraordinary rendition" of Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib by the US.

Habib was detained and questioned in Pakistan by Pakistani and Australian officials in 2001. He was then handed over to the US who sent him to Egypt. There, Habib was allegedly subjected to beatings, electric torture and water torture.

In a Four Corners investigation into Habib's rendition, a former CIA official involved in "extraordinary renditions", Michael Scheuer, said, "It would seem to me very unlikely given the close relationship between us and the Australians that they would not have been informed [about Habib's rendition]".

A 2011 investigation by the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security found that no Australian official was complicit in Habib's ill-treatment. However, the Inspector General criticised Australian officials for not properly following up on Habib's welfare and for not strongly protesting Habib's transfer to Egypt.

The need for an Australian torture report

Australia's previous investigations failed to get to the bottom of what Australian defence and intelligence agencies knew about US torture.

Torture is absolutely prohibited under international law. Australia cannot engage in torture or be complicit in the torture of others. Yet, it remains unclear if Australia's current policies against torture are working or whether Australia has been complicit in torture since the "war on terror" began.

This is concerning because Australia works with countries known to use torture, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Philippines. If poor safeguards against torture are in place, it could expose the risk of Australian officials being complicit in torture. It would also undermine Australia's legal and moral obligations to prevent torture.

As a liberal democracy, Australia must embody the values of accountability and respect for human dignity, and follow the example of its allies, such as Britain and Canada, and produce its own torture report.

The Inspector General's report also did not explore an aspect of Habib's account, supported by an Egyptian official, that an Australian named "George" was present during Habib's torture in Egypt, leaving unanswered questions about the exact role Australia played in his "extraordinary rendition".

Jamal Barnes, Centre for Global Issues, Edith Cowan University

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

[Filed from REYKJAVIC | International Media Group] July 30, 2018 | CIA, Torture, Denial and "The Panetta Review"

Leon Panetta was the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, more commonly known as the CIA, for the duration of February 13, 2009 through until June 30, 2011.

At the time he was appointed Director by then President Barack Obama, there was expressions of concern over Panetta's lack of experience in the field of intelligence. The only noted experience was two years in limited intelligence as a military officer in the 1960s.

Some inside the US political scene at the time argued it was Panetta's lack of intelligence experience, especially with the CIA, which made him a good candidate for the role. Others continued to oppose. Despite some reservations and conflict, Panetta was confirmed the appointment on February 12, 2009, by the Senate and sworn in one week later, on February 19.

During the tenure of Panetta's appointment inside the CIA, he authorized a secret internal review of the agency's role in the torture of suspected terrorist detainees, during the George W. Bush administration.

Torture, disguised under the official legislative term of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques".

Following the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks of 9/11, George W. Bush launched a massive campaign like the US had never seen and one which would change the world's perception of terrorism and bring on the generational media buzz term of the "War on Terror". The media, especially those inside the US, grabbed hold of the buzz term and exploited it to maximum commercial effect.

In 2018, the world's media are still attempting to force the "War on Terror" facade in our faces at every opportunity. However, it now has much less effect than what it did in the early to mid 2000s when the visual images of passenger airliners flying into the WTC towers was still fresh in people's minds.

There was lots of controversy surrounding the politics and reaction by the Bush administration, following the 9/11 attacks. Controversy which is completely justified by questions that still remain unanswered to this day. But we understand one definitive event that did occur - the torture of suspected terrorists being detained at Guantanamo Bay between 2001-2006.

It was not until 2006 that Bush publicly admitted that the CIA had been using secret prisons, known as "Black Sites" to detain suspected terrorists prior to being transferred to Guantanamo Bay. It is now understood that Bush had ordered the directive which permitted the CIA to detain and secretly interrogate detainees at these secret black sites and permitting them to use the new Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.

Quality Publishing Works understands through research provided to us by the Council Body of Research and Study, that nine CIA black sites existed. It is unclear how many still secretly exist today and remain under the control of the CIA. It is also understood from documents shown to us by the Council Body of Research and Study that President Donald Trump is in the process of reviewing and drafting an Executive Order that could see the reinstatement of secret CIA black sites and some form of extreme interrogation processes, by the CIA. This, combined with the appointment of new CIA Director, Gina Haspel, who was Chief of Base for a CIA black site located in Thailand, is a cause for extreme concern that a Trump administration may be returning the CIA to the dark torturous era of the Bush administration.

Precise and accurate details are difficult to verify of just how much knowledge or involvement Haspel played in the operations of black site she was Chief. The Thailand located black site is where the suspected al Qaeda terrorists Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah were detained and tortured, using the enhanced interrogation techniques. US Officials claim that Haspel did not become Chief of the site until after Zubaydah was tortured.

Haspel also played a limited role in the destruction of CIA interrogation videos that were reported to have footage that demonstrated the enhanced interrogation methods. A recent released (redacted) document aims to draw proof that Haspel was not held directly accountable for the destruction of the videos and her involvement of the videos destruction was limited.

Terror suspects were being detained at black sites in various secret locations around the world and operated under complete secrecy by the CIA with the knowledge of and by order of the Bush administration. Detainees were never put to any kind of military or legal trial or offered any avenue to prove their innocence. Instead, they were interrogated and tortured, which was shrouded under the term "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" in an effort to persuade critics that it was not torture and the CIA's means of interrogation were justifiable and legal. They were not.

It was confirmed by the release in December 2014 of what was to be referred to as "The Torture Report", officially titled "Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program", that these so-called "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" used were in fact regarded as torture.

The Report that was released to the public was scathing and raw. It painted an ugly picture of the handing of detainees and abuse of power of the CIA, under the direction of George W. Bush. Countless associates were also closely linked to being the architects of and having direct knowledge of the development of the enhanced interrogation program, including the Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Albeit, they were not the subject of The Torture Report. There was suspicion that the CIA was carrying out torture to some extent on terror suspects. The details presented in The Torture Report confirmed lots. But it was still hiding many more secrets. Secrets that remain hidden and classified today.

What was even more disturbing than the interrogation procedures outlined in the report, was the public version of the report that was eventually released took eight months to get approval for what was to be released as only a small portion of the final report. And the details that were included in this portion report still remained heavily redacted. To put it into perspective of just how selective The Torture Report that was released to the public is, it is compiled of just 525 pages. The complete and full report contains more than 6,000 pages. What remains hidden in the remaining five and a half thousand pages still remains classified.

Effectively, there is a lot of secrets in the final report that still remain secret and kept out of the public domain. Even those in Congress can not get access to the full report, which remains secretly held by the CIA. The raw details that were included in the version released to the public were disturbing and difficult to read, in detail. The final and full unredacted report we can only assume is absolutely shocking.

Quality Publishing Works has consistently supported calls for the public release of the full 6,000+ page report. However, four years after the release of the redacted version released to the public, we are still no closer to getting the final report released - redacted or unredacted.

Legal action has been launched and the release of the full report has been sought, notably by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), but to date all requests and attempts have been rejected.

During May 2016, it was revealed that CIA had destroyed an electronic copy of the full report, along with the hard disk that it resided. A claim that the CIA insists was "accidental". Due to the secrecy surrounding the full report, it remains unclear where the full report was/is held and how secure it remains from the CIA destroying its very existence in an effort to cover up the full details of the torture the agency carried out. The CIA appears afraid of the reaction shall the full details be revealed.

It would not be the first time that the agency has gone to extreme lengths to cover up its torture. The CIA had possession of the video footage of their interrogations in 2002 at the black site in Thailand, and most likely other black sites too. If leaked to the public, the videos would have provided further disturbing proof that the CIA did in fact torture detainees, despite the agency playing down the claims.

The CIA has been in a constant state of denial that their methods of information gathering is torture. Instead, they continue to believe that it was simply carrying out enhanced interrogation methods.

It has been confirmed inside details of a memo, provided to us by the Council Body of Research and Study, originally sent to the black site in Thailand by then CIA officer, Jose Rodriguez, that the videos depicting torture were destroyed on November 9, 2005. Interestingly, the names of the CIA lawyers who authorized the destruction were ommitted from the memo. It is considered normal practice to include lawyers names on such memos as a means of legal protection of the person making the order. In this case, it would appear no lawyers authorized the destruction of the videos.

It remains unclear how many videos in total contained footage of CIA torture as the numbers that have been made public are conflicting among media reports and cannot be verified accurately. But one thing is certain, the CIA went to extreme lengths to destroy the video evidence of its activities. Knowledge of the videos and their destruction only became public knowledge in December 2007, two years after the destruction order was given.

Combined with a long and ongoing campaign to call for the release of the full report, our publishing partners, Freedom Publishers Union, has also been calling for the release of all documents associated with "The Panetta Review".

The Panetta Review was a secret internal review that was conducted by Leon Panetta. The dates surrounding when the review was carried out remain vague and again, cannot be accurately verified.

It was reported that Panetta ordered the review with the aim of finding out how they ethics of the CIA officers was broken and how they could be brought into line. The review was never released to the public and to date, also remains classified.

The very existence of The Panetta Review was made public by Senator Mark Udall, on December 17, 2013. Udall claims to have accessed and viewed portions of The Panetta Review and its details provide consistency with those detailed in The Torture Report which was released by the Intelligence Committee. However, the Intelligence Committee's report was in conflict with the CIA's official response.

It is long believed that the conclusive and matching findings of The Panetta Review and Intelligence Committee's The Torture Report are in direct conflict with the official response by the CIA, suggesting this is the reason that The Panetta Review was never released and possibly even suspended before it was completed. If The Panetta Review was shut down before completion because its final findings were deemed to be contradictory to the CIA's official response given to the public, then that equates to an internal cover-up by Leon Panetta.

It was claimed by the CIA that the Intelligence Committee had accessed and taken portions of The Panetta Review from CIA facilities, without the authorization of the agency. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was Chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, confirmed that the Committee had accessed and obtained portions of The Panetta Review. She claimed that they were transferred to a secure safe, reportedly inside the Senate's Hart Office Building. Feinstein maintains that the actions they took were absolutely required to protect the documents from potential destruction by the CIA, which had already previously destroyed evidence of torture through the destruction of the black site videos, under the direction of Jose Rodriguez.

The dispute over access to The Panetta Review continued when Feinstein accused the CIA of unlawfully accessing the computer systems of the Intelligence Committee, in what is believed to be in an attempt to discover how the Committee got access to the documents of The Panetta Review in the first place. It was also requested by the acting general council of the CIA, that the FBI launch an investigation into the actions of the Intelligence Committee. There is no confirmation that any investigation actually took place by the FBI. It was identified later on that the acting general council for the CIA was Robert Eatinger. Interestingly, Eatinger was also later confirmed as one of the lawyers that authorized the destruction of the CIA torture videos, but who's name was omitted from the memo.

The entire saga even grabbed the attention of former NSA Contractor turned mass-surveillance whistleblower, Edward Snowden. He claimed that it was obvious that the FBI was playing a game of "keep away" from The Panetta Review. However, Snowden's position on the matter appears neutral when he extended his observations to Feinstein's behavior and stated her hypocrisy when complaints were made of CIA spying on the Intelligence Committee, when Feinstein is supporting the global mass-surveillance networks primary led by the NSA.

Everything appeared to come to a screaming halt in the month of July 2014 when the Justice Department confirmed it would not pursue legal action against the CIA for its hacking into the Intelligence Committee's computer system. The actual hacking was confirmed by the CIA in the same month. A claim that it had previously denied up until that time.

In December 2014, Senator Udall continued his pursuit for the release of The Panetta Review. He continued to denounce the torture program of the former Bush administration and also criticized the Obama administration on its actions that were effectively protecting the CIA of its past activities.

Udall declared The Panetta Review to be "a smoking gun". He directly the accused the CIA of lying by saying, "One disturbing finding," is "the CIA are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture. In other words, the CIA is lying.".

In what appears to be the most revealing details of just what is inside The Panetta Review, Udall says, "The Panetta Review found that the CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Congress, the President and the public on the efficacy of its coercive techniques.". Furthermore, the CIA "continues to insist the CIA's interrogations produced unique intelligence to save lives, yet The Panetta Review identifies dozens of documents that include inaccurate information used to justify the use of torture and indicates that the inaccuracies it identifies do not represent an exhaustive list. The Panetta Review further describes how detainees provided intelligence prior to the use of torture against them. It describes how the CIA, contrary to its own representations, often tortured detainees before trying an other approach. It describes how the CIA tortured detainees even when less coercive methods were yielding intelligence. The Panetta Review further identified cases in which the CIA used coercive techniques when it had no basis for determining whether a detainee had critical intelligence at all. In other words, CIA personnel tortured detainees to confirm they didn't have intelligence, not because they thought they did.".

Senator Udall was defeated in the election that followed this speech.

The revelations by Udall were scathing and confirmed that the interest and motivation to have The Panetta Review released to the public, should remain a priority.

As late as January 2018, Investigative Reporter, Joshua Eaton from ThinkProgress, received access to a small set of emails. The email set which also included a legal declaration from the Chief of the Litigation Support Unit of the CIA, Martha M. Lutz. The emails which have also been viewed by the Council Body of Research and Study and relevant details provided to Quality Publishing Works, include a letter sent to the President of the United States at the time, Barack Obama. In the letter, Senator Udall states his reasons for the request to have The Panetta Review released. Udall argues that its release was crucial to understanding the accuracy of the torture details in their entirety. From learning from the details, Udall says future decisions on policy can be developed to ensure that this kind of unacceptable behavior from the CIA is never repeated again from any US administration. He also presses the President to ensure the CIA complies with any requests made to have The Panetta Review shared with the Committee and to declassify The Torture Report and release the entire full report, in redacted form if necessary.

In follow up emails, it becomes clear that the CIA Director at the time, John Brennan, had no intention of releasing any information, details or documents related to any internal review of the enhanced interrogation program - The Panetta Review. Brennan argues that the material that make up the internal review were incomplete and are made up of a series of drafts that still required heavy editing.

In the declaration by Martha M. Lutz, there is better clarification made as to the official legal position and reasoning of why The Panetta Review has not been released. The declaration also makes it clear that the CIA never has any intention of ever releasing the material, which they again argue remains nothing more than a set of incomplete drafts that do not provide any further relevant details necessary to be released. Instead, the declaration makes it clear of the intended continuation of secrecy surrounding the CIA's operations and attempts to justify their necessity of operating in complete secrecy.

Lutz also claims that the "documents remain in draft form, were never completed, and were not presented as final products to the Director or other senior CIA leaders". In an attempt to stop any further enquiries into a potential release of The Panetta Review, Lutz's claims somewhat echo that of Brennan, stating that the internal review was suspended and no documents beyond the drafts were produced. Lutz claims in the declaration that it was determined that continuing with the internal review might complicate any Department of Justice investigation. This alone is a very interesting comment which appears to be overlooked, as no investigation even took place. Perhaps Lutz was exercising her sense of duty to continue the trend of diverting attention away from The Panetta Review.

One can not ignore the sense of urgency which can be determined from the tone of the language used by Senator Udall, at the time. After having partially viewed portions of The Panetta Review, he said "I will tell you that the review is much more than a 'summary' and 'incomplete drafts', which is the way Mr. Brennan and former CIA officials have characterized it in order to minimize its significance". Udall makes the bold statement, "I have reviewed this document, and it is as significant and relevant as it gets.".

Almost five years on from the public learning of the existence of The Panetta Review, the sense of urgency remains the same. The calls to have the review released are still active. Those who make the call have an equal sense of urgency and worry that some day, the CIA will 'conveniently' destroy The Panetta Review, along with the full complete version of The Torture Report which includes over 6,000 pages of details which are almost certainly guaranteed to scar the US Government, the Bush administration era and the CIA for many years to come.

Still, the longer the CIA denies, lies and hides from the issue of torture, the louder the calls for increased transparency become.

When asked if the CIA would place on the public record their response to claims that The Panetta Review contradicts the official public response given by CIA representatives and that is the reason it was never released, the CIA falls silent and refused to comment. Instead, they keep The Panetta Review locked away, barring all access by Congress and the public.

Former Senator Mark Udall may no longer be a Senator, but sources close to him state that his position on the matter has not changed and he still calls for the release of The Panetta Review.

Despite repeated claims from George W. Bush, former CIA Directors and Leon Panetta himself that the use of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" were crucial to extract valuable source information from detainees, on terrorists and potential future attacks, these claims have been proven to be wrong and documentative evidence has been produced as proof. Including revelations from the FBI and other sources that the crucial information that was received was not provided as a result of torture of the detainee. Instead, the crucial information was provided before torture techniques were initiated.

This is also confirmed in the opening pages of the Senate's report, under "Finding and Conclusions". The report concluded, "The Committee finds, based on a review of CIA interrogation records, that the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation.". Effectively, when accurate information was received it was "prior to, or without having been subjected to these techniques.". And, "Detainees provided fabricated information on critical intelligence issues, including the terrorist threats which the CIA identified as its highest priorities.". Crucially, the report found that "CIA officers regularly called into question whether the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were effective, assessing that the use of the techniques failed to elicit detainee cooperation or produce accurate intelligence.".

These key findings have consistently been disputed and rejected by CIA Directors and representatives, who still believe that their harsh techniques worked and were completely acceptable and legal.

The CIA is an agency in disgrace. They know it. It is this very reason that they continue to deny and fight so hard to keep their secrets in the dark, in effort to hide their illegal and disgraceful actions of torture at the hands of the former Bush administration.

Quality Publishing Works will continue to support the call for the release of the complete The Torture Report and The Panetta Review and will not be satisfied until all associated documents are placed in the public domain - in redacted form if necessary.

Quality Publishing Works - International Media Group - Reykjavic Press

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[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] July 24, 2018 | USA and Australia. Russia and China - How Does Trump Deal With Such Complex and Problematic International Relations?

There is a problem with today's mainstream press - Regardless of the political persuasion, all of them want to report a controversy. Consequently, whatever President Donald Trump does, there is some part of the press that sees a controversy in the action and stops the story at that point. What they do not explore is the result of the action that Trump has taken. That result may actually be a positive change.

So far, the meeting with North Korea has produced real action in a sense that it has made the North approachable, which was the result actually needed before any other potential outcome could follow. It is now far too late to put the nuclear weapons genie back in its bottle. North Korea needed to be invaded and occupied the first time sanctions failed for any possibility of controlling the nation's nuclear weapons program. Instead, we saw the world toying around with the United Nations (UN) for two decades and now it's too late. Western countries have only focused on their needs, with the consequence of losing the third or fourth largest economy overnight. And that was the sword the Kim family held ever since the Korean War.

Trump, being a transactional negotiator, recognized that things weren't going back to the 1980s anymore. The best we could hope for is to draw a line under the past and move forward, bring the North into world trade, where the free market would end the Kim dynasty just as it ended Russia and China.

Now Trump is doing the same thing with 'the Soviet Union' - which is how most politicians in the US view Russia, even today. He sees them as a corrupt country that needs an autocrat to keep it from breaking apart further. He sees the Crimean invasion and subsequent actions in the context of Russia taking advantage of the lack of response and action from the rest of the world to look after its needs. Perhaps that might be over-reach. But the time to deal with it came and went before the UN could even hold a meeting, which probably would have resulted in nothing more than vague discussion leading to no results.

When events get ahead of responses, all leaders can realistically do is condemn the action and move on. This notion is widely accepted in politics as a legitimate response, but not with the public and most certainly not with the press. The Europeans certainly did that, because they need energy from Russia more than they need an embargo or a war on their borders with the very real potential to flow into their pride land. Besides, Russia is a country that really should be an ally. We share a lot of heritage in our people and they are another technology leader that can, if we get the political diplomacy right, help balance China with Europe. So Trump does the transactional act - skip over the bad behavior and go straight to a stand-up normalization of relations.

If Russia meddled in US elections, which the many substantive reports that have been released and published here on Freedom Publishers Union suggest they did, well, it's too late to act on it now. We need to move on. But we must also take the notion of Russian election meddling serious and ensure the right precautions are put in place for future elections to prevent foreign interference from any nation seeking to undermine American democracy.

Australia is taking action in this area by recently introducing legislation which aims to prevent foreign interference of its delicate democracy. However, there is much caution around the legislation. The NY Times says, "The new laws are similar to but more far-reaching than those passed in Britain and the United States after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They prioritize an approach favored by security officials and give great discretion to the Australian Attorney General, with limited checks and balances.". Freedom Publishers Union has also expressed concern over the legislation, focusing on the potential effects it may have on journalism, publishers and the free press. Whilst the legislation has been amended somewhat from the original draft, Freedom Publishers Union maintains the position that the changes do not go far enough. As pointed out, again by the NY Times, "Journalists accused of violating the restrictions on sharing government information can also now claim a "public interest" defense, arguing that the information they disclose has value for democracy.". However, it remains unclear as to how effective a "public interest" claim would be in a court of law. Especially in a hypothetical case where secret government information may have been published which embarrasses the government and exposes unethical (and most likely illegal) behavior. Journalists would explicitly deem this to be in the public's interest. But this may not be the view of the country's Attorney General which would undoubtedly act to initiate legal proceedings with a firm view to prosecute the journalist, publisher and their source(s). The balance is all wrong. The NY Times concludes by saying, "Beyond journalists and secrecy, though, the laws have few exceptions.".

Putting focus on a specific country, the Australian example of foreign interference laws are largely believed to be focusing on China. Although the text of the legislation does not specifically mention China, understandably. It has long been suspected that Australia has been the target of Chinese attempts to undermine its democracy. It is unclear whether it is these suspicions which prompted the legislation to be drafted. China is adamant that it has no intention and never had intention of interfering with Australia's political framework or democratic values. SBS News reports the Chinese Embassy in Australia as saying Australia is "exhibiting a Cold War mentality". And directly accused Australian media of "fabricating stories about Chinese Government influence".

The Australian example of its attempts of dealing with the potential for election interference by a foreign power are slightly contradictory to Australia's lazy attitude towards suspected Chinese interference, in a sense that no investigations or reports have been released (to the public) which investigate, analyze and assess for any Chinese interference. Freedom Publishers Union is unaware if any reports even exist. We do not believe so.

Although Australia's attempts at dealing with potential election interference should be commended, Freedom Publishers Union believes that the Australian Government have just got the complete wrong balance of the law. It attempts to do too much, is far too broad in its scope and introduces too many new laws for problems that do not exist. Instead, the law itself is the guilty party in creating problems. The Government claims that although the law could be used for prosecution of journalists and publishers, extending to their sources in some cases, it will not be used for that purpose. Well Freedom Publishers Union argues that if it has no intention of using the law for this purpose, then why was such a law introduced in the first place. Let's be blunt here - You do not introduce a law you have no intention of using. That is at the core of our concern and should act as a wakeup call for America.

So where does this leave the US Government and what are its options for taking precautionary measures to help eliminate the potential for Russian interference with its elections? Well, it could follow Australia's lead. But it must be extremely careful and must remain focused on the core problem of election meddling and not broaden the scope too far, which is the biggest mistake made by the Australians.

Despite what appears to be the majority public perception, President Donald Trump is not an idiot. What he sees is a manner of negotiation that, were real estate to use it, would never get a building constructed and occupied in under a century. People have been asking for decades why don't we just negotiate our international commitments the way we negotiate other contracts. Well, Trump has responded with a 'let's do it' mentality.

Speaking generally, Freedom Publishers Union disagrees with much of Trump's actions and statements. And perhaps his methods of governance could be described as unorthodox and unusual. Using Twitter as a main platform to communicate your message is definitely unusual for such a person holding arguably the most powerful position in the free world. But bringing diplomacy into the 21st century is definitely worth a try. After all, we aren't sending diplomatic correspondence back and forth from negotiations via sailing ships anymore. Realistically, a couple of emails, faxes and conference calls should be able to do what takes months of traditional face-to-face negotiation between nation's representatives. Unfortunately, it also eliminates about 50% of the State Department and reduces the Secretary of State from one of the most powerful politicians to simply a department head which resembles that of a loans manager in a financial institution. Given that the State is where the wealthy scions of America's richest and powerful families end up (the ones not running Wall Street), disrupting the careers of these politically connected diplomats is not something you do if you want their soft money and back-room dealing. Trump, coming from the 'working class' of business executives, isn't part of the 'old money elite', and doesn't need their support if he controls the mob in the streets of populism. That's why the he panders to the white, racist, blue-collar, ignorant masses. As long as he can win the electoral votes on the backs of these constituents, he isn't beholden to the old power brokers. Which effectively trades one form of corrupt leadership for another.

President Trump's seemingly bat-shit [sic] statements and ongoing stream of reversals on policy position are a tool for keeping everyone off balance in negotiations. When he starts out daring North Korea to start a nuclear war, he calls their bluff - at which point they will take the action that saves face and lets them act as though they're being humble and leading to an ultimate path to peace. Which is where Trump wants to be.

Give them the choice between certain death and a comfortable life and they'll take the life offer every time.

Of course, this strategy only works when the other party decides to act rational. If they decide to go to nuclear war, now you obviously have a very different problem. So far, President Donald Trump has won these challenges. However, the big kahoona [sic] is the trade war with China. The expectation is that China will negotiate a settlement rather than lose access to American trade. However, the numbers for the cost of the trade war are such that China may be able to wait America out, while building leadership in other areas of the world (Africa and South America). This could actually be a challenge that doesn't work out.

Is Trump crazy and mentally unstable? No. He's using shock and uncertainty to achieve the lesser goals, which were his target all along.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

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[Filed from MUMBAI] July 22, 2018 | Unverified Reports Ecuador Ready to Hand Over Julian Assange to British Authorities

It is quickly becoming increasingly clear that the Editor of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has lost the support from the host country that has allowed him to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy, in London.

Assange sought and was granted political asylum by Ecuador and has remained detained to the Embassy by threat of immediate arrest by British authorities, since 2012.

In the past 24-48 hours, the world's media has begun to report that the Ecuadorian President is close to reaching an agreement (or perhaps has already reached an agreement) with the British Government to force Assange from the Embassy.

A forced removal, by physical means or a voluntary exit by Assange as a result of any agreement, would ultimately hand him to British authorities outside the premises.

The media reports are unverified at the time Freedom Publishers Union goes to press. We seek further validation of the facts and we seek clarification whether Assange or anyone from his legal team has been notified of any further details.

We rely on the story published by Glenn Greenwald through The Intercept, which he cites his anonymous source as someone with ties to the Embassy where Assange is effectively detained.

Also, Russian media outlet RT also make similar reports which reflect on the same noted facts as published by The Intercept. The Editor-in-Chief of RT claims her source says that Ecuador is ready to hand over Assange to British authorities within weeks, possibly days.

Weeks, days? As this is unverified developing news which is yet to be confirmed by anyone with official ties to the ongoing political stalemate, it is absolutely unclear how things will unfold when (and if) Ecuador does follow through with the reported claims and forcefully remove Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy.

It must be duly noted that in 2016 his detainment to the Embassy was validated as illegal by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Assange has never been charged with a crime.

Freedom Publishers Union has been at the absolute forefront of support for the wider cause of Julian Assange and his publishing organization, Wikileaks. Our support remains unchanged by these recent developments.

We continue to monitor the situation surrounding the latest, unverified, reports and will release information as we can validate the facts.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] July 16, 2018 | America Not Leading by Good Example. Should Australia Follow?

Chinese technology giant Huawei looks more likely to be facing a complete ban from contributing to the construction of Australia's national 5G network, for what the Government describes as "national security reasons".

The Australians claim they have serious security concerns, backed by their intelligence agencies, that Huawei will use their technology to collect network data and share it with the Chinese Government.

We must reflect back to a decade or so ago when America was 'bitch-slapped' for Cisco and other US suppliers leaving NSA backdoors in commercial switches, routers and other networking equipment. While it's difficult to plot the timeline of Cisco's history of NSA backdoors being planted into their equipment, nobody can ignore the fact that American equipment has been proven to be more susceptible to government-sponsored security compromises than Chinese equipment - based on evidence released to the public.

In America, there's growing concern towards Huawei too, with the FBI, CIA and NSA all accusing the company of spying on American citizens through its cell phones. The situation here in America is a mirror image of the Australia-Huawei situation. Raymond Wong from Mashable says, "If you're Huawei, you'd be upset" [at the spying allegations]. "Especially since there's been no evidence that Huawei's phones are really spying on anyone.". Wong reiterates on the concerns of lack of evidence against Huawei that Freedom Publishers Union has by stating, "that's really the issue here. There isn't any hard evidence at this time to back up any claims that Huawei phones are a threat to personal or national security. It's just a lot of smoke from Washington.". Smoke which now appears to be bellowing from Australia's shores too.

Wong takes another swipe, "Ironically, the only known hacking we know of that's closely related to Huawei wasn't done by the company or the Chinese Government, but by the NSA. In 2012, it was revealed the NSA had made a program called "Shotgiant" that created backdoors into Huawei-made networking equipment in order to monitor communications around the world and find ties between the Chinese company and China's People's Liberation Army.".

Freedom Publishers Union suggests that domestic-made networking equipment is no more secure than Chinese-made equipment. And the American [and Australian] intelligence agencies aren't doing the citizens any favors by placing backdoors into domestic-made devices. The evidence we do see is absolutely contradictory to the claims that Chinese networking equipment is not secure and is doing the spying.

The evidence is clear and no evidence has been presented that reverses the security trend.

Any decision made by the Australian Government that results in Chinese technology companies being banned because of any potential security risk(s) should be largely based on whether there is proof of spyware, backdoors and/or hardware inclusions that compromise network security. If there is evidence present, then sure, ban them. However, this should be accompanied by honesty with the Australian public from its intelligence sources who have the evidence. At the moment, all we see is political rhetoric which portrays as nothing more than a formed political opinion which is increasingly bias against China, rather than evidence based decision making.

This is also noted by communications construction business Transseed, who just last week point out, "Other countries such as the UK, New Zealand, Canada and Germany are also very wary about using Huawei equipment in their network infrastructure but have enacted stringent cyber-security checks to ensure there are no backdoors to the Chinese government. Australia has taken a different approach by opting for an outright ban despite the fact there has never been any public evidence to support the suspicions.".

If, on the other hand, the Chinese spying card is being played as a means to manipulate competition and spook the market interests into concluding that Chinese technology companies are the evil nemesis, then no, it's not a good idea to ban them.

Australia really needs to put its collective head together and decide if following America's lead remains a good idea. Australia should be a lot more concerned about pissing off China than America, right now. Given the current and foreseeable direction of American leadership and policy under President Donald Trump, as another nation [Australia] far from America, decisions should be made on the assumption that American support is going to either be greatly reduced, or the alliance is going to require expensive confrontation, with everyone on America's 'list'.

Australia is a great little country, with big borders. But it is little compared to the superpowers of the developed world. That isn't bad. It's simply reality. America is learning quickly that isolationism is going to make the USA quickly fall out from its global leadership role and probably end up like Britain - a shadow of its once glorious empire, still invited to participate with the 'big kids' out of respect, but with no meaningful or effective role.

Or, America could end up as the new North Korea - a political rogue nation and isolated home of a Dr. Evil and his 300,000,000 minions.

As the trade war escalates between America and China, with no finish line within view, it's worth looking at a similar scenario to see just why screwing with international trade relations for political gain doesn't generally have positive domestic outcomes. This latest trade war will not end well for America. We need to just take a look at Toyota - a company that is getting heavy tariffs for supposed national security reasons in America. This is having a direct impact on the 138,000 Americans that work in America directly for Toyota, in their factories and dealerships. Plus, another 100,000 or so Americans that work supporting the Toyota factories and the American companies that are suppliers to Toyota. Toyota has explicitly stated that "a 25 percent tariff on automobiles would increase the cost of every vehicle sold in the United States.". That is not good for Americans.

Then, to bigger problems for our nation.

In the past 60-90 days we've seen the United States of America crash through several of the last layers of protections to our democracy. We have insulted, then injured our closest allies, challenged the legitimacy of nearly every minority in America, effectively banned collective bargaining and set up the framework to become a single-party state in 2020.

This is the type of bloodless revolution Marx envisioned that would sweep America. Unfortunately, it is sweeping a fascist wave and dictatorship with strong religious intolerance into what once was the beacon of freedom for the world, all triggered by latent racism even worse than South Africa.

God have mercy on America!

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

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[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] June 28, 2018 | Better Education and Support Needed for Basic Minimum Income, Before Being Taken Serious

Freedom Publishers Union has referred to on more than one occasion, Basic Minimum Income (BMI) and how the government doesn't need taxes or banks to implement guaranteed money to everyone in the country. Indeed, it was suggested that during a 10 year phase-in period, taxes would gradually be eliminated as well as the government providing a consistently larger salary that gradually replaces pay for work on a dollar-for-dollar basis, if the employer wants to reduce wages by the amount of BMI their employees receive.

The entire idea is based on the fact that money is not something that is real. Rather, money is simply a yard-stick that allows us to value completely unrelated objects and actions, making it possible for person A to trade their labor for the art of person B without the need for A to do labor directly for B. The market sets the relative worth of both sides of the transaction. It has to be decided if the hours of work done is worth the value of the art. And it has to be decided if an offer of payment sufficiently repays the creative labor.

The value of money as a yard-stick only works if every good or service is measured in the same way - meaning that money needs to be universally adopted by the entire economy in order to function. This requires government that is universally respected to manage the amount of money, otherwise anyone could just make up how ever much they wanted, which would eventually make it worthless. The government regulates money by setting the value via two mechanisms: Purchasing goods and services directly - which establishes a baseline value. And through regulating the amount of money banks are allowed to possess - which regulates the volume of money that exists. Banks absorb and release money into the economy with savings and loans. The former absorbing excess money that isn't being used for transaction, and the latter releasing money for a new transaction.

As long as a majority of goods and services are produced and consumed inside the economy, the amount of money required to allow everyone to possess anything they want and work the way they want is easily regulated. If things become too expensive (too few things to buy and not enough money), the government can encourage the production of more things by giving more money to the scarce producers and would effectively add more money by discouraging savings. If the opposite happens, the government can encourage savings and make loans harder to get.

What is the reason for all this? Although we believe this based on loose empirical understanding of economics, we haven't found many big name economists that support the BMI concept. We need more economists and advocates for BMI to get financial institutions, corporations and politicians to understand and support the concept. Otherwise, it will all remain just a concept.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] June 23, 2018 | Don't Be Fooled by the Media Portrayal of Donald Trump/Kim Jong-un Friendship

What we are seeing with the political developments with the United States of America and North Korea following the historical summit recently held in Singapore, is the most profound change in politics since the absolution of direct monarchies. It has been predicted for decades by authors. People have chosen the news they want. It is a consequence of an Orwellian flood of simple, biased information which has come to dominate public opinion, and thus their political perspectives.

President Donald Trump has made use of Goebbels-style narratives to guide opinions at all levels toward his goals. This resembles the same method Brexit and the alt-right used to gain dominance in Europe. Trump tells the 'big lie' enough times to displace 'reality' and conventional wisdom. It appears to have worked. However, this is not without merit. Conventional politics is about saving face, not about solving problems. Trump has addressed politics and diplomacy not as self-aggrandizing (not in the conventional political sense of leading consensus), but in the sense of transactional solutions to problems.

Transactional negotiation deals with actual solutions to problems by negotiating over a measurable fiscal or practical result, not ideology. The 'trade war' is about negotiating to fully open trading that has no favorites, even though it sometimes appears one-sided. Dealing with the North Korean leader is the same thing: rather than argue ideology and morality, instead fix the problem economically, but with an existential threat to back up the deal. North Korea needs to reenter the developed world through interaction first. Then between solving their economy and greater prosperity, for the leader and Koreans in general, the rest of the bad behaviors will gradually just go away. China has done it. Russia has done it too. North Korea now wants to do the same thing. Trump just opened the door to enable this to happen. Support from China and Russia makes this a very likely outcome which would not be achieved outside of a war by conventional diplomacy.

This approach does have risks. Trump can force transactional negotiations by threatening to do something crazy and destabilizing - which usually works - because he's demonstrated he'll actually do crazy and unexpected things. Often to the surprise of his allies and even his closest advisors. But if someone calls his bluff, he either carries out his threat of nuclear war or caves and is never, ever able to con the world again. That's the biggest fear. There is the very real possibility a leader like Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau actually tells Trump to 'go to hell', and when Canada survives retaliation, every other country follows suit. That will trigger economic instability in America, and sets up the conditions for a real dictator (or religious zealot) to dissolve the US Constitution and create 'a new Russia'.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

[Filed from MUMBAI] June 22, 2018 | Australian Government Attempts to Censor Murray-Darling Basin Authority Staff from Contributing to Royal Commission

There is an increased effort of what appears to be government sponsored attempts at censorship and a shut down of transparency, through efforts to thwart all possibility of transparency by taking questionable legal steps to stop staff members of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) from speaking with, disclosing any information and/or providing documents to the Royal Commission on the Murray-Darling Basin, South Australia, which was initiated on January 23, 2018. The hearing commenced on Monday, this week.

The Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin was established to examine the effectiveness of the Basin system and to investigate of any evidence of misconduct in accordance to the Water Act 2007 and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The Commonwealth Government, under the leadership of the Liberal Party of Australia, has been critiqued for its lack of action taken leading up to the Royal Commission, despite allegations of upstream water theft. The Commonwealth Government has been accused of turning the other way and ignoring concerns that have been raised specifically to water theft allegations and possible misconduct of the MDBA.

We are very concerned of the actions and lengths that the Commonwealth Government are going to, to keep the MDBA quiet and disassociate them from the Royal Commission. The attempts that are being made to protect the MDBA from contributing to the investigation which is currently taking place, are concerning and can be described as very aggressive.

Freedom Publishers Union is concerned that there may be something of substance worth investigating with the activities of certain individuals within the MDBA. Yet, if the Commonwealth Government successfully censors the staff members of the MDBA, then there is no immediate avenue for any possible exposure of those activities. If the Commonwealth Government is confident they have no knowledge of any misconduct, then it should have no problem allowing staff members to share any knowledge that may be required of them, to the Royal Commission.

We find it alarming that the Commonwealth Government has the nerve to stand up and censor staff, disallow information from operations of the MDBA from being shared with the Royal Commission and ban all documents from being presented. All this is the reaction of a guilty party with something to hide, giving justification to any logical conclusion being drawn to conclude that there is something legitimate to hide which requires legal action to ensure it remains hidden from becoming public knowledge.

We condemn the Australian Government for its lack of transparency. We commend the South Australian Government for their establishment and dedication to ensuring the Royal Commission is carried out to the best of their ability. Despite legal action being launched from the Commonwealth Government, which is yet to be approved by the courts, it has the legal baring of its intention. However, the Commonwealth Government has still ordered all staff of the MDBA to ignore any requests for assistance they receive, to contribute to the Royal Commission, while reminding their staff that the South Australian Government has no legal standing to compel anyone at the MDBA to appear before the Royal Commission.

Freedom Publishers Union has a strong presence in Australia and we take a strong political position on three very important matters that we feel we have a responsibility to be politically engaged. We want to continue ensuring that the Murray-Darling Basin is protected and managed properly and in accordance to the legislation the Murray-Darling Basin Authority is bound. We believe that the MDBA is the best agency to be managing the Basin, but their management must also be accompanied by the appropriate amount of transparency required to maintain public and political confidence. With respect to the MDBA, they may very well have had every intention of allowing staff to stand before the Royal Commission and may have had every intention to provide documentative evidence to ensure any claims of misconduct are proven to be false. But the problem here is the Commonwealth Government, who has jumped in the middle and effectively broken up any potential cooperation before it was allowed to commence.

It raises questions. The spotlight should now be moved off the MDBA, instead to be shone right over the Commonwealth Government who continues to act in extremely worrying ways which resemble a mild form of authoritarianism through controlling who they believe should and shouldn't appear at investigations hearings and deciding that there is no requirement for transparency, by blocking all requests for information to be provided to the Royal Commission.

Freedom Publishers Union is worried that Australia's democracy is eroding. It's not failing. The foundations for one of the most respected and strongest forms of democracy are still embedded deep into Australia's Parliament and its political structures. Yet the Government continue to push for censorship, control and ultimate power of its citizens which is gradually, yet consistently, eroding the civil liberties of Australian citizens and the transparent process of the democracy it supposed to represent.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

[Filed from MUMBAI] June 12, 2018 | Australian Military Again Faces Allegations of Human Rights Abuse and War Crimes, in Afghanistan. Yet the Secrecy Continues

Freedom Publishers Union commends the investigations published by Fairfax Media and Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) which purported multiple very serious allegations of systemic abuse of human rights and possible war crimes, in Afghanistan, by the acts of Australia's elite SAS regiment.

The publications were courageous, especially in light of the increasing possibility of Australian media being stripped of much of its freedom, with the new Foreign Interference legislation which looks set to pass the Australian Parliament in the coming weeks.

Our Asia/Pacific Press Office in Mumbai published an article on July 18, 2017, which followed earlier details released by ABC News of "civilian casualties in Afghanistan which includes the lethal shooting of children and unarmed men which have fallen at the hands of Australian Military involvement.".

At the time of going to press, Freedom Publishers Union was unable to seek clarification that those incidents and the latest incidents to be revealed by the FairFax Media/ABC joint investigation are related. Largely due to the extreme government secrecy which surrounds the matters and their internal investigations being kept confidential. However, there is one common point that stands out more than anything else. One can not miss the explicit point that each time, the country of "Australia" is associated with the allegations.

Back in July 2017, we made three important observations - culture of the elite forces, operations secrecy and narrow oversight. We also raised the valid question of whether Australia should be reviewing their Rules of Engagement, as further details recently revealed indicate that the Rules of Engagement have most likely been violated by the Australian soldiers, in Afghanistan. If proven to be correct, then it would possibly be breaking Australian military law in addition to international law. How precise this area of law is and how effective any repercussions from a positive determination would actually be, remains unclear.

Furthermore, we noted in our publication in July 2017, that although the incidents detailed in the The Afghan Files published by the ABC only proceeded up until 2014, we believed at the time that the atrocities and misconduct of Australian soldiers continued beyond 2014. We were unable to come to any justified conclusion that war crimes had been committed at the hands of Australian soldiers, however it is increasingly more likely that war crimes have been committed than have not. But without much more transparency from the Australian Government, this is difficult to conclude with certainty.

On civilian casualties, our July 2017 publication in stated, "what Freedom Publishers Union immediately calls for is civilian casualties properly acknowledged and respected, through proper documenting of the incidents surrounding their deaths.". And on transparency we stated, "We need greater transparency and we need to see better public disclosure, whilst allowing independent monitoring groups better access to limited military data for the purpose of documentation of civilian casualties.".

To avoid the risk of repeating ourselves, we will simply state that the position of Freedom Publishers Union remains firm. We would urge the Australian Government to act immediately, ensure action is taken and all investigations remain as thorough as possible. Otherwise, the country may very well face the possibility of retaliation by Afghan citizens, in the form of hatred towards Australian Military personnel and Australia as a nation - which is quickly becoming known to Afghans not for a country of peace, respect and fairness, but a country which kills innocent civilians and irresponsibly detains innocent citizens without any justified indication of suspicion of misdoing in their homeland.

At present, to say the situation is out of control would be an understatement. We need critical action now and the severity and urgency on this matter can not be ignored by the Australian Government and its Defense Department investigators.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

[Filed from MUMBAI] June 11, 2018 | Australian Government Pushing Foreign Interference Laws, Avoiding Debate and Eroding the Country's Free Press

In an article published to The Conversation last week, Tony Walker, a Professor of the School of Communications at La Trobe University, emphasized on the Coalition's apparent rush to get the controversial Foreign Interference laws legislated through the Australian Parliament.

The amended draft which has now been presented has helped address to some extent the concerns that Freedom Publishers Union has expressed over its potential to restrict Australia's free press, through placing much tighter restrictions on what Australian journalists and media can report and publish. Tony bluntly posed the rhetorical question, "What's the rush?". It's a very good question of which requires a bit more attention.

Freedom Publishers Union is also concerned that the Australian Government is trying to force the new laws through Parliament as a matter of purpose to avoid any further debate. Once the amended draft is reintroduced to Parliament and read, there will be debate within the chambers of Canberra [the country's capital city]. However, there remains concern over just how effective the debating points will be considering that the latest amendments that have been implemented into the updated draft were worked on bi-partisan. When a democratic system is built around the foundations of a two-party majority system such as Australia's Liberal/Labor house majority, then you begin to question the effectiveness of its democracy when bi-partisan laws are drafted and agreed on before any effective debate can proceed. Even if there were just a couple of ministers on either side of politics which choose to vote against the legislation, combined with the small parties and independents, it is most likely that any opposition will have little effect to the free passage that the legislation will most likely enjoy anyway.

Freedom Publishers Union still maintains the changes which have been implemented into the amended draft do not go far enough. Despite keen expression of concern raised by many academics and journalists in the media, the message didn't seem to click with either Liberal or Labor. Tony points out, "Under the proposed legislation, bodies such as Amnesty International that have been critical of Australian Government policies may be vulnerable.".

It is becoming increasingly clear that Australia is using the Russian interference allegations (we use the term 'allegations' quite loosely) in the US Presidential election which saw Donald Trump become the US President, as a means of justification of the immediate necessity that the legislation is passed before the upcoming by-elections in Australia set to be held in July, which the results will have somewhat great importance on the Federal Election which will most likely follow in the next 6-12 months. Tony makes the point [that], "No reasonable person would argue against the need for beefed-up legislation to deal with challenges to democratic processes such as those witnessed during the recent US election. Russian cyber interference in the US political process is hardly in question, nor attempts by Russian agents of influence to suborn the system. The question is to what degree?". And at what cost to the continued erosion of Australia's free press? Tony continues by reiterating our previous point on the concerns over the continued free media that Australia enjoys, which could soon take a turn in a very dark direction. On the original draft of the legislation, Tony says, "It represented an unreasonable threat to individual liberties and freedom of expression. It was particularly antagonistic to journalists operating in the security space. Long jail terms for publication of unauthorized security material were incorporated.". On the amendments Tony continues by saying, "The insertion of a public interest amendment has somewhat alleviated that risk.".

Freedom Publishers Union believes the changes are more a relaxation of the original restrictions. They are still present. In fact this has been echoed by a [verified] political source who spoke to our Asia/Pacific Press Office on the condition of anonymity, "There are still too many restrictions present, but they've just been relaxed slightly and most certainly shouldn't be categorized as protections. Not at all.". As Tony makes clear, concerns have actually began to surface as reality already, after "Fairfax Media's publication overnight of leaked documents dealing with alleged war crimes by members of the Special Air Service might have fallen foul of such provisions, and may still do so.". So there is already a festering of fear within the media ranks in Australia, of just where exactly the line gets drawn and just how much is considered public interest journalism before the Government determines that the line has been crossed. It remains unclear, still.

Tony says, "Most of these recommendations are cosmetic, except those relating to journalistic inquiry. They include the need for security certifications to be validated before proceedings could be initiated for an espionage or secrecy offense, and a review of the legislation by the National Security Legislation Monitor after three years.", then continues, "As interested parties digest the provisions of the proposed amendments, it's likely more objections will be raised".

Well those concerns are already present and not just from Freedom Publishers Union, but also Claire O'Rourke, a representative from Amnesty International Australia who told The Guardian, "under the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill charities like Amnesty [International] that hold the Australian Government to account on its human rights record could face criminal charges. This is clear government overreach and a cynical exercise by both sides of politics to shield themselves from the scrutiny of Australian society, including charities.".

Freedom Publishers Union believes more time is needed for scrutiny by all sides of politics and the Australian public. The Coalition is touting the target of the legislation as a means to halt foreign interference in our democratic processes. Freedom Publishers Union believes there to be an alternative motive for this legislation. By including such restrictions on journalists and the free press, the government is hoping it will scare journalists into darkness and stop media from publishing content and information that is critical of the government and its international relations. Specifically, publications such as those published by our friends at Wikileaks and the mass-surveillance documents revealed by former NSA Contractor, Edward Snowden.

We urge all Australian journalists, editors, publishers and media entities to stand firm, continue to support Australia's free press and do not cower to these overzealous unjustified laws. Because once the free press is gone, it will become extremely difficult to perform a 180 degree turn from the darkness that the country is currently staring at.

Remember, it doesn't stop here. There is more legislation to follow.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

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May 24, 2018 | Tough New EU Privacy Regulations Could Lead to Better Protections in Australia

Major personal data breaches, such as those that occurred recently at the Commonwealth Bank, Cambridge Analytica and Yahoo, have taught us how vulnerable our privacy is.

Like the cigarette and alcohol markets, it took a long time to prove that poorly regulated data collection can do us harm. And as with passive smoking, we now know that data trading can harm those around us as well as ourselves.

Regulators in the European Union are cracking down on the problem with the introduction the new strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from May 25. The hope is that the new rules will shift the balance of power in the market for data away from companies and back to the owners of that data.

The GDPR applies to companies who trade in the EU or process the data of people in the EU. This includes some of Australia's biggest companies, such as the Commonwealth Bank and Bunnings Warehouse. Since companies that don't operate in the EU or process the data of people in the EU aren't required to comply, Australian consumers could soon be facing a two-tier system of privacy protections.

That isn't all bad news. By choosing to deal with companies with better data protection policies, Australian consumers can create pressure for change in how personal data is handled across the board.

How the GDPR empowers consumers

The GDPR makes it clearer what companies should be doing to protect personal data and empowers consumers like never before. When dealing with companies operating in the EU, you will now have the right to:

  1. access your own data and any derived or inferred data
  2. rectify errors and challenge decisions based on it, including to object to direct marketing
  3. be forgotten and erased in most situations
  4. move your data more easily, such as when changing insurance companies or banks
  5. object to certain types of data processing and challenge significant decisions based purely on profiling, such as for medical insurance or loans
  6. compensation.

This final right will lead to another profound improvement in regulation of the market for personal data.

Consumers as a regulating force

As a result of these new rights and powers, consumers themselves can help regulate company behaviour by monitoring how well they comply with GDPR.

In addition to complaining to authorities, such as the Information Commissioner, when consumers encounter breaches they can complain directly to the company, share stories online and alert fellow users.

This can be powerful - especially when whistleblowers actually work in the industry, as was the case with Cambridge Analytica's Christopher Wylie.

Companies that don't protect people's personal data will face fines from the regulator of up to 4% of global turnover, or €20 million. In addition, they could be required to pay compensation directly to consumers who have asked investigating authorities to claim on their behalf.

This potentially means that all those millions of EU citizens who were caught up in the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal could, in the future, be able to sue Facebook.

From the viewpoint of empowering and motivating consumers to monitor what companies do with their data, this is a momentous change.

A shift in our expectations of data privacy

The way things currently stand, there is an imbalance in the personal data market. Companies take all the profit from our personal data, yet we pay the price as individuals, or as a society, for privacy breaches.

But as a result of GDPR, we are likely to see expectations of how companies should act begin to shift. This will create pressure for change.

You've probably already been sent notifications from companies asking you to re-consent to their privacy policies. This is because GDPR expects consent to be more explicit and active - default settings and pre-checked boxes are considered inadequate.

Consumers should also expect companies to make it just as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it.

Unlike New Zealand, which has strong privacy laws, personal data protections in Australia - and the massive data markets of BRIC countries - are not considered "adequate", and fall below EU standards.

Consumers should be wary of vested interest arguments, such as Facebook's claim that it just wants to connect people. To use an analogy, that's comparable to an alcohol manufacturer saying it just wants people to have a good time, without highlighting the potential risks of alcohol use.

If you want these greater rights and protections, now is the perfect time to lobby your Members of Parliament and demand the best available protection from all the companies you deal with.

Vincent Mitchell, University of Sydney

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

May 15, 2018 | Opposing Domestic Spying, Respecting Privacy and Protecting Encryption

April 29 was a day that Australian's became increasingly alarmed when a letter purported to be written by Mike Pezzullo, the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs sent to Greg Moriarty, the Defense Secretary, leaked to the media and was published by The Daily Telegraph website.

Admittedly, Freedom Publishers Union was also alarmed at the media report, which if assumed to be legitimate, suggested that the Australian Government would soon be exploring options which may lead to legislating and making legal domestic spying on Australian citizens.

Currently, Australian intelligence and spy agencies are permitted to spy on citizens in foreign countries through a complex web of intelligence programs spread across what is known as the 'Five Eyes' nations, which Freedom Publishers Union has detailed previously.

The momentary state of panic which was quickly expressed by privacy advocates and activists was completely justified. Despite Freedom Publishers Union's initial concern, we held off from publication of any response until all of the facts could be established and verified.

Since the leak of the letter, several representatives from the Coalition Government in Australia have responded and clearly stated and placed on the public record that the text in the leaked letter was misinterpreted and taken out of context. This is somewhat considered reassurance from the Government that they have no intention to draft any legislation that would make legal domestic spying on Australian citizens and that they were satisfied that existing legislation, some of which has already been expanded in scope, was sufficient to meeting the country's national security requirements.

Freedom Publishers Union remains quite relaxed and confident that there is no immediate plan to have legislation drafted which permits and makes legal domestic spying.

We warn Australian citizens to not be complacent. Remain vigilant and aware that there is always the very real possibility of this kind of speculation becoming reality - through either side of party politics.

We also warn to remain vigilant about privacy rights and encryption, with the threat of legislation to force implementation of encryption backdoors still circling overhead like vultures.

Freedom Publishers Union has received indication that the US, UK and Australia are all exploring possible legislative options which will force technology companies to implement backdoor access to their services, which would result in free access to user's data by governments and intelligence agencies. However, we must clarify that this is indicative only and cannot be verified at the time we go to press. Ensuring uninterrupted privacy rights are protected and encryption technology remains free from government forced backdoors is at the forefront of our focus.

The types of proposals we understand the Australian Government is considering would technically be classified as a backdoor. Despite Coalition Government representatives publicly claiming that backdoor implementation is not what they seek to legislate, surrounding encryption. However, we cite various Australian and international security experts who consistently claim that the only way to access encrypted services is through an intentionally placed backdoor with a provided key which allows for free access, often unnoticed by the user but with full co-operation with technology companies who operate the services. And that is where the Government's plans could face huge set-backs, as any legislation would require the full co-operation with some of the biggest international technology companies in the world. This could prove difficult and Freedom Publishers Union would urge technology companies to oppose such invasive proposals which aim to intentionally weaken their security features and encryption standards.

Freedom Publishers Union understands that there is currently no known way to crack tough encryption when its implemented properly. There is still some encryption technology available to the consumer of which have questionable implementation. However, big technology companies like Facebook, Google and Apple are increasingly using end-to-end encryption, which is proving to be a problem for intelligence and spy agencies who seek to access such valuable and private communications data.

We cannot doubt that these services will be the primary focus of such encryption backdoor legislation that may be in development now, or in the future.

On responding to government pressure, Microsoft is much firmer than it used to be. However we remain skeptical of the security of its consumer operating system, Windows 10. We have reason to believe that Microsoft would be one of the first technology companies to comply which government request(s) for access to Windows 10 systems.

As advocates of free and open-source software, Freedom Publishers Union reminds our readers of the security benefits of running a Linux based operating system as an alternative to proprietary operating systems like Microsoft Windows 10. The Windows operating system will always grab attention when governments seek technological co-operation with intelligence and spy agencies who seek to exploit them as an effort to spy on users.

Linux based operating systems do not become the focus due to their increased security and open-source nature of the source code.

Freedom Publishers Union urges the Australian Government, and additionally the UK and the US, to back away from pursuit of attempting to implement forced backdoors. Instead, they must respect the rights to privacy of citizens who utilize encrypted technology.

Freedom Publishers Union has not yet been able to view or access any details of any actual drafted legislation which relates to encrypted technology. We remain slightly skeptical that any exists at this stage. But we warn Australian citizens, privacy advocates and activists to all remain on guard and be willing to stand up for your privacy and protection of encryption.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

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May 14, 2018 | The NSA Has Data Addiction. Mass-Surveillance Must Stop Now!

Quality Publishing Works is all too familiar of the continued operations of mass-surveillance programs that continue to operate throughout the world, under the guidance of the world's most powerful government leaders. However, it was to some surprise to learn that North America's lead intelligence agency, the National Security Agency (NSA), has tripled the amount of cell phone call and message data collected on American citizens since 2016.

A media report published by Reuters, details that the NSA collected 534 million cell phone call and message records of Americans last year. According to Reuters, the figures were sourced from a report released by the NSA, which is available in the public domain.

Quality Publishing Works finds it extremely concerning that the data collection by the NSA continues under the eyes of American citizens, still without any effective oversight and without questioning whether the sheer amount of data collected on Americans is actually justifiable.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones is the former Editor of our media partner Freedom Publishers Union. Chris is no longer the Editor for the publication but has extensive insight and knowledge into mass-surveillance and government spying programs and has covered the topic for many years. He says, "This is just one data collecting program initiated and under the control by the NSA. The agency has many programs. Way too many, in fact. The amount of data the agency collects and stores is frankly mind-boggling.".

The agency continues to run its global networks of mass-surveillance operations. Despite attempts to wind-back and limit intelligence gathering through different pieces of legislation, most the operations continue only moderately reformed and continue to be almost unchallenged. There is still nowhere near enough transparency of the precise operations that the NSA and its global intelligence partners are operating, nowhere near enough oversight of the operations and all efforts and claims that mass-surveillance is not on the same scale as it was before the revelations by former NSA Contractor, Edward Snowden, are very misleading.

The global intelligence and spy operations continue today, continue to expand and continue to be shrouded in near secrecy without any effective transparency, regulation or independent oversight.

Quality Publishing Works and our media partners Freedom Publishers Union continue to advocate for improved political policy which implements proper independent oversight with the power to act when abuse of intelligence and spying power is witnessed. At the moment, it continues to operate without question and seemingly without anyone to monitor whether or not the amount of data gathered by the NSA and its partners is simply too much and unjustified.

The White House and Congress continue to deem it necessary and reassure the American people that all intelligence gathering operations are always carried out to protect American citizens and in the name of national security - an all too typical reason.

We need stronger protections on what data can be collected, how it can be used and how long it is retained. At the moment, Quality Publishing Works believes that too much private data is collected, is misused and is stored for too long - irrespective of whether the data collected is anonymized and transformed into metadata.

Governments also like to abuse the term 'metadata' and sway public impression that metadata is basically useless and cannot be used to identify the private lives and activity of the origins of the data. This is completely false, and the intelligence agencies know they are deliberately misleading the public. You simply need to ask, if metadata were so useless and invaluable, why would the agencies be collecting it and storing it? It may be true that in its rawest form, metadata is quite useless, but when it is compared against other existing data the intelligence agencies already have or have direct or indirect access to through their detailed and expansive internal database search engines, is when metadata is matched and pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. Therefore, it makes metadata incredibly useful and to some degree, vitally important to completing the bigger puzzle of a potential data trail.

The NSA has so much data collected, sourced by domestic and international programs, that in May 2014 a new datacenter was built and established in the State of Utah, USA. The datacenter reportedly cost $1.5billion and under the control of the NSA, used for storage of all forms of communications data collected by intelligence agencies around the world. This may include cell phone call and message records, emails, internet search records, website visit histories and many other forms on private data from citizens on the internet, inside America and around the world. The data reach is limitless.

Before the revelations and document leaks from Edward Snowden, representatives from the NSA made claims that the Utah facility would be used for metadata storage. But these claims were quickly derailed when documents leaked by Snowden proved the existence of the PRISM program, which detailed that the NSA was sweeping up much more data than simply metadata. Former NSA Technical Director and whistleblower, William Binney, describes the Utah facility as a datacenter built to store all records and types of domestic data, not only metadata, as claimed by the NSA. Binney also claims that the operations at the Utah facility include unwarranted data mining.

Quality Publishing Works is unable to source any exact numbers which detail the amount of storage the Utah facility has, but actual blueprints that were published by Forbes in 2013 before the facility officially opened, backed up by quite broad estimates based on storage technology and square meter measurements of the facility's floor space suggested that the facility would probably be capable of storing tens of exabytes. Possibly more, if you take into consideration advances in data storage technology. But as stated, most (if not all) information related to the datacenter, the technology inside and its precise purpose of operations are all classified and remain secret.

The Founder of Utah-based internet service provider XMission, Pete Ashdown, who was able to go inside the facility when it was being built as part of a tour with the Utah datacenter Consortium says he became quite suspicious about the activities and purpose of the building. In a January 2016 interview, Ashdown stated that he was told that the facility had no outside internet connectivity, which led him to conclude that the facility was designed to be a purpose-built data storage facility and not an actual surveillance operations facility. Ashdown also stated that he believes that facility is used to store as much data as possible, including data collected without warrant, with the intent of holding on to it in case a warrant is provided to access the stored data.

The debate continues as to whether the NSA's continued mass-surveillance programs and those of their international intelligence and spy partners have justification to continue. We believe there is too much data being collected. We remain skeptical whether intelligence legislation alone will stop or even regulate the NSA. It has become apparent by looking at the scale of storage space the Utah datacenter alone is capable of holding, that the NSA has a mass-surveillance disease which must be stopped.

Quality Publishing Works renews our call for the unwarranted dragnet surveillance of innocent civilians to stop, restore civilian confidence in the intelligence agencies and to take action and implement true reform which restores meaningful operations which go towards protection and security of citizens accompanied by effective oversight bodies with actual power to act, independent of governmental and intelligence agency interference. Instead, we see a continuation down the path of creating a society which is quickly becoming 'Orwellian'. Or, we might possibly be there already and at the point of no return.

Quality Publishing Works - International Media Group - Reykjavic Press

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April 13, 2018 | Media Deliberately Targeting Facebook and Zuckerberg, in Effort to Tarnish Reputation and Curb Facebook's Influence

As we go to press, Facebook Co-Founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, was busy facing questions from Congress. Information and views that have been expressed by media outlets as a result of the Congressional hearing have not been included in this Editorial due to editing and time constraints.

The Hollywood film "The Social Network" was primarily responsible for tarnishing the public perception of Mark Zuckerberg. The movie may have been released back in 2010, but the rather deceptive and sneaky portrayal of the Co-Founder of Facebook stuck in the minds of those who watched the film.

Facebook is the greatest public forum in digital history. Until 'bullying' started to grab all the attention as a problem as the result of social media, Facebook was the embodiment of 'free speech'. The platform allowed anyone to say anything to anybody that cared to listen. It didn't take long for people to start getting their news, opinions and most importantly, their advertising from Facebook. The platform would mature to become a major challenge to traditional journalism and media.

We must accept that Facebook is not under attack for being a forum for free speech. That's not really important and users don't really think twice about it. Nor do they really care about the abuse of the Cambridge Analytica data. Facebook carries out this type of research all the time - internally and with third-parties. It's how real-world testing is performed and how they determine how people react.

When Facebook revealed to the public some of its research data and statistics, privacy critics expressed great concern about the mining of user's personal data for research purposes, despite the data being rendered anonymous prior to application. Also, the targeted Trump ads from alleged Russian hackers, or more likely PR consultants, don't bother with the other media. Duping the public through editorial bias was not a concept constructed by Fox News or CNN. It has a much longer history. Duping people with social media is as old as politics - whispering campaigns are still in trend as the place to drop a bombshell on an affair or business deal. Facebook is under attack by old model business and politicians. The former, because they're losing revenue as a result of Facebook's gradual move into news media. The latter because their people didn't think of it first.

The furor of the Cambridge Analytica revelation is a culmination of the constant barrage of attacks the media throws at Trump. Because Trump doesn't care too much about the media reporting on him - this is obvious as he prefers Twitter rhetoric over the traditional formal press conference - traditional media has become even more irrelevant than they already were. Traditional and mainstream media started the campaign against Donald Trump, not because they're all Communists, but because of the impact he was having on core reporting and analysis. It helps that the man is terribly inarticulate. But so is the core demographic that supports him. White, rural, poor, deeply Christian, under educated, and because of their poverty, it puts them right on the edge of starvation and very frightened of anything they don't understand. Trump speaks to them in their language.

Mainstream media either held back the Cambridge Analytica story until they found an appropriate spiraling news cycle was found to dump it into - and tar Facebook and Trump - or they are incredibly ignorant and slothful. Sources close to Freedom Publishers Union discovered relevant information associated with this story months before mainstream media decided to act. By revealing all of the information now, media can suddenly become relevant again, tie Facebook to a reviled politician and pretty much torpedo the social media campaigns starting now, for the November Congressional elections.

Facebook has become the first - and probably the last - universal free speech forum in the world. It allows Nazis, Islamism, Christians, spies and even some other questionable propaganda to co-exist in the one platform. However, the amount of content restrictions being placed on the platform is increasing all the time and this is causing the platform to gradually become one giant mechanism for censorship. But if you ignore the content and the message that any of these groups or organizations is spreading on the platform and take notice of the the fact that all these voices are allowed to co-exist on the same platform, means that speech is truly free. That is the key to freedom - transparent communication. If you don't like something you see, the mechanisms are in place for you to block it.

Collectively, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and even Telegram, with the hidden assistance of those in the underground working with Tor Browser and other anonymous and privacy technology were all key players in the various revolutions that were attempted in the past several years - commonly referred to as the Arab Spring. It was social media that was able to ignore censorship and continue to broadcast the messages. The bad news though is while the world was busy being thrilled by the Arab Spring - which to be honest only had limited political success - when the same thing is unleashed on Western nations, it doesn't feel so good.

Facebook and other online gateways sell information to advertising clients. It is this kind of data profiling and sales that have been commonplace since the 1950 onward. Nielsen ratings tell advertisers who is watching what programs on television by profiling down to the city block. Newspapers do this too with changing insert sections for different neighborhoods. But until recently, Facebook had remained 'clean'. They sold you placements based on several thousand characteristics that an advertiser could specify. Facebook didn't give the advertiser names or addresses. That was up to the customer to provide in a follow-up.

It does appears that Facebook failed to do that in the Cambridge Analytica case. As a result, through the media driving this story at full steam ahead, Facebook has lost the trust of some of its users. Unlike most privacy concerns, this is not the end of users complaining. It's the press - and now we understand what their underlying motivation is.

The American press [among others] are continuing to attack Zuckerberg, demanding he 'do something' to 'fix it'. And now they're looking at Google for allowing this to happen. "Apple doesn't do this" is now becoming a cry from the press, forgetting [conveniently] that only a year or so ago, they were complaining of Apple gathering information about their customers, like income, location etc. because Apple would only show advertising to people it deemed 'rich enough' for their products.

Journalists have a lot of power to guide the thoughts of Americans. The press has been heralded as acting as the conscience of Americans, ensuring that the rich and powerful are exposed and brought to justice. Yet news media and journalists aren't elected, or even appointed. They are brought and sold like sports teams by the very rich and powerful they were meant to oversee. Over the last 50 years the press has become consolidated into mega corporations, often owned by the communications conglomerates that regulation is meant to control.

The Facebook privacy violation isn't something that most people expected. However, industry specific people absolutely expected exactly this. It's worth noting that this is hinted at in the beginning of The Social Network film, which is a portrayal of the beginnings of Facebook and college life of Mark Zuckerberg.

It is now widely accepted that most citizens are simply too ignorant to review the Terms and Conditions agreement prompt, or to check the type of data collection that each app performs prior to installing. This can be used as an excuse that journalists raise to a virtue that renders the customers and users as 'victims' when the data is used to manipulate them. It is explicitly outlined in the Terms and Conditions that the customer must accept to. Hence why we will take the opportunity to defend Facebook and state that it has not done anything legally wrong. Indeed, it is important to note that most of these documents place the agreement button below the contract which is to ensure that the customer must scroll through the actual text before they agree. If anyone is to play the blame game - the user should be the recipient of any truthful blame.

But almost everyone, other than those with genuine legal or privacy concern, ignores the content of the text and scrolls past it all then clicks "Agree", while having a false sense of security in knowing that if they think they were duped they can appeal to media and 'expose' what they cry out to be a crime and portray themselves as the poor victim. Instead of explaining these contracts to people, assisting them to make sense of what to look for among the often complex legal jargon and what it means for them if they accept the terms, the media instead guides the public with fear about someone or some company stealing their information and using it to brainwash them into purchases or political thoughts. Loaded words surround these stories: [we quote] breach, attack, hack, theft (of your private data). This gives the public the impression that what has occurred is actually a crime and the customer is the helpless victim.

Separate from social media - in reality, most people have no idea what information they have explicitly volunteered to corporations and complete strangers in the course of their daily lives. We buy something at a store and are asked for our phone number, post code or email address, totally ignorant to the fact that this basic piece of information is as positive as your ID or DNA. That, combined with a credit card purchase, unlocks your financial and legal history. It doesn't matter if you refuse or give false information, because at some point you will divulge that information to someone and it will enter the wild. Some media reports are noting this point, whilst others are ignoring it and frame Facebook as the first company to have harvested data from its users. Your information is out there already and there's no stopping it. And if you believe you will have any kind of success in controlling or deleting your data from the world wide web, then it's ignorance at the highest level on your part. This fact also renders the entire #DeleteFacebook campaign useless, as if you go ahead and deactivate or delete your Facebook account right now, it will have absolutely no effect on the problem of your data already being out there and being traded by data brokers.

The real problem isn't the collection of data. We must all give up information as a simple requirement to exist in today's modern society. The underlying problem is people not understanding what you give up and how it is legitimately and illegitimately being used.

The whole Facebook/Trump news cycle will hit a dead end. Freedom Publishers Union do not believe that any laws have actually been broken by Facebook. You legitimately agree to share your information and data to anyone on Facebook and there is nothing illegal about doing a better job of messaging the voters than the other guy. Even telling straight up lies is not illegal. Whether we see improvements in the area of data handling through incoming data regulation or other legislative data control mechanisms, it is now up to the voter to decide who will do the best job of representing them. If they prefer lies to verified truth, it's in their hands through their vote. Though, as we have learned from Congress probing Zuckerberg on the matter, he actually supports implementation of stronger data regulation. The EU has much tighter controls over data regulation. It seems now is the time that the US follow suit.

What is the net result for privacy? We have none. We have had none for decades. The only difference between now and 1960 is today we have finer granularity in the data. We didn't have the internet back in 1960, so the best we could do was breakdown by demographic, location, income and a few dozen psychological characteristics. Pretty much the same as today, except today the ads are delivered personally, not through TV or the newspapers. But we are more diverse today than in 1960. People were much more segregated then, not just by color, but by economics, religion, job and school. Today, we intermix pretty much everything and give it a fancy name called multiculturalism to make it politically acceptable. Some geographic and class divisions still exist. And they always will. But you find we now have fewer geographies of only white Catholics, Jews or Baptists. Messages are more targeted to individual characteristics, even if they're delivered by mass media. Radio and TV can provide good demographic separation by changing the message slightly in each ad, targeting multiple audiences.

Facebook has been cast as the villain in this story, because you need a villain in the news and people are sick of hearing about Trump. Mainstream media will never, ever blame their audience for being ignorant. Indeed, they count on their audience to be easy, coheres into sales, for advertisers and the studio's benefit.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

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April 8, 2018 | CPTPP Open to Final Challenges Before Ratification

March 8, 2018, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP or TPP-11) was signed by the respective nation's trade ministers in Santiago, Chile. It was then brought back to Australia and tabled in the country's Federal Parliament on March 26, 2018.

There is still the inevitable administrative steps that must be followed with the CPTPP before it gets through both Houses of Australia's Parliament and is ratified. It will be reviewed by Australia's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) and public comment from interested parties and organizations have been invited to make submissions on the CPTPP by April 20, 2018.

Freedom Publishers Union will make a brief Submission.

The United States of America controversially pulled out from the deal, a move supported by Freedom Publishers Union. The countries that remain part of the reformed CPTPP deal are (in alphabetical order) Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Following the signing of the trade deal in Chile, procedures for the CPTPP to progress into the relative final stages and actually come into effect must now proceed through the political processes required for ratification, by all nations.

Our position on the CPTPP remains unchanged and we will continue to press and advocate for better political outcomes on the issues associated with the trade deal, that are of most concern and of which Freedom Publishers Union has publicly expressed before.

We remain extremely disappointed of the conditions of secrecy of which the trade deal was negotiated, allowing it to reach the stage of signing. The entire process from the very beginning has been shrouded in complete secrecy with no transparency from the countries involved. The only way the public has learned of the details inside the trade deal is through leaks of the draft documents from Wikileaks and other independent media organizations - when the trade deal was referred to as simply the TPP.

January 26, 2018, Freedom Publishers Union made a public call for the reformed text of the CPTPP to be released. It was released in the public domain on February 21, 2018, and is now available for access on Freedom Publishers Union.

Politically, we intend to continue to challenge the details in the CPTPP trade pact on the issues of:

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

March 27, 2018 | Infrastructure Investment and Increased Bandwidth Will Solve Net Neutrality Problem. Not Further Regulation

Most Americans use the internet for entertainment purposes. By most, we mean a majority. But we cannot forget the minority. With recent changes to the rules surrounding net neutrality, the majority of Americans will actually find their internet services may be improved, which will see more internet bandwidth priority put towards entertainment services, including Netflix and YouTube along with any pre-packaged services.

Freedom Publishers Union still has many concerns on the rule changes which could still impede on actual net neutrality principles. But the real problem is bandwidth availability.

In the United States of America, this has somewhat been helped along by Amazon, Google, Microsoft and even Netflix having caching servers installed. This actually helps alleviate some of the network congestion problems which are generally caused by lack of available bandwidth. This highlights another problem though, which probably goes more unnoticed. Traditional broadband companies which had a large grip on infrastructure have merged into the realm of media. The merge into media has been gradual, yet organic of liberal business which expands and transitions into different sectors.

To solve the looming bandwidth problem is not going to be through net neutrality laws. The real solution will be found by forcing a company break-up into different divisions - one which handles entertainment service delivery and one which handles the infrastructure back-bone.

Infrastructure is simply a utility, which in business terms equates to a not all that profitable sector. But with remaining under the same ownership and parent company as entertainment services delivery, the profits can be shifted to infrastructure where needed and has the potential to actually benefit everyone. Looking even further ahead, service providers need to invest in infrastructure development to grow the capabilities of the networks to a point that net neutrality can actually be achieved through capacity and pricing, where getting higher packet priority services will not matter as there will effectively be enough bandwidth for everyone and the constant screwing with net neutrality legislation will not be required.

The view on net neutrality is split. Major organizations in support of retaining net neutrality rules are the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Greenpeace and Mozilla Foundation. Proponents claim that removing net neutrality hands too much power to service providers and hands them the keys to operate a multi-tiered system of control which is effectively aimed to direct flow of profits to benefit them.

While opponents include the technology giants of Intel, Juniper, Qualcomm, Cisco and old big blue, IBM. They all argue that net neutrality rules defer investment in broadband infrastructure.

Currently, there are many different States in the US taking up the fight to the FCC in opposition to the recent changes - fighting in the name of "net neutrality". In late January, Wired website reported that 21 States were taking up the fight and challenging the FCC. A publicly available table on Wikipedia which is dated February 28, details 23 States as suing the FCC. While more recently, on March 19, independent media website Digital Music News reported that up to 36 States were fighting.

Freedom Publishers Union is unable to verify the exact number of US States in opposition to the FCC changes because each State is responding differently in the fight. Some are jointly suing the FCC. Some are introducing legislation which either blocks the changes or has workarounds which go towards restoring some net neutrality standards. While others haven't actually introduced the legislation proposals yet but have plans to do so soon. One thing we can verify though, is that there is definitely opposition to the FCC's decision and this matter does not seem like it has been resolved just yet.

Freedom Publishers Union is led to conclude that this will not solve anything nor will it improve the situation. Instead, to find the right solution we need to look much broader than just the pages of rule books. They should be looking at options which eliminate competition laws and create more incentive for more investment into network infrastructure. Market forces will solve the problem of the current lack of investment in this area, but it starts with removing the political barriers which stand in the way of progress.

One could be forgiven for concluding that the whole net neutrality battle is simply a smokescreen for covering the service provider's need to generate revenue to pay for entertainment purchases to deliver to their customers. Service providers are actually against breaking up into separate business divisions, as we mentioned earlier. And they are also against local monopoly laws that are currently preventing them from other service providers in small jurisdictions neighborhood and city level. Net neutrality forces service providers to provide transport to other entertainment companies without prejudice. That is actually part of the solution to this problem. It allows customers to experience entertainment from other sources at much lower cost than the service provider's choices offered.

Infrastructure is where service providers do have a legal monopoly. Yes, from investment perspective, this would make the infrastructure division function more like a utility company which to investors, is rather boring and not that attractive. So, we see continued investment in entertainment content and eliminating competition by consolidating small services into entertainment mega-pack delivery.

This is where the hole in net neutrality benefits service providers. Wireless service delivery is exempted from neutral carriage, which is why we are seeing wireless service providers offering so much zero-rating and free entertainment from specific content sources. Since wireless is cheaper per customer to roll-out and maintain compared to traditional wired networks, we simply have a duplicate of the net neutrality problem, just without the wires this time around. With the incoming roll-out of 5G services, bandwidth availability will rival that of wired networks. Therefore, we may see a situation where the entire net neutrality fight will start all over again.

To summarize everything - ultimately, the focus needs to shift to infrastructure being forced through regulation and into a monopoly, or duopoly, where we can see true focus and investment put into service delivery capabilities rather than entertainment and other content being prioritized. This could have a side-effect of gradual price increases over time for customers and may also slow roll-out of new technology, but it will enforce connection consistency across America, on both wired and wireless networks, which has much better and fair results for everyone. Because at the end of the day, we do not want a two-tiered broadband network for Americans across the nation which serves a majority one level of service and a minority a different level. Because if priority is given to the majority, it's the minority that will ultimately suffer as focus of investment and delivery of services are giving the majority priority over minority. It is unfair. And whether you agree with the definition of net neutrality or not, that goes against the very principles of what it stands for.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

March 23, 2018 | Human Motive to Blame for Abuse of Deep Packet Inspection Technology

It is the intention by design that deep packet inspection hardware is supposed to look at data contents of a packet coming into the network and determine what the content represents how it should treat it and by what action. If the content matches the profile for either a rogue website, malware or anything else that may be determined to be harmful, the deep packet inspection box is supposed to drop the packet and not act in order to make the website think that it has given you the data and then proceed to report the problem to the system administrators.

The problem with deep packet inspection boxes (or DPI for short) technology is that it can also be used for good as well as evil. At corporate sites, DPI boxes send a message to the system administrators if anyone attempts to visit an external website that is on the list of banned connections from the company. For example, if YouTube is on the list of banned websites and person A goes to YouTube on the company internet connection, a message stating that person A is attempting to contact a restricted service will go straight to the systems administrators. Again, this is what DPI boxes are supposed to do in a corporate environment and it's all completely normal procedure, really. They both protect from external threats and limit potential internal threats from going to places that the company deems as not business-orientated or simply classified as insecure.

Because they have the ability to intercede and inject another website or redirect to another URL, the DPI box can, if programmed, do malicious things as well as good things. That is obviously what the Sandvines packet monitor is doing. In a sense, this is not outside of what the device is supposed to do. However, it has been subverted to do something that is not in the best interest of people inside the dictatorships of authoritarian governments that are deploying this device in a subversive way. The fact that Sandvine advertises this capability to its governmental clients is questionable but it is not outside the capabilities of any DPI box that's designed to provide the version of connections to sites that are deemed not advantageous to the government or corporation that uses it.

Malicious payloads are criminal only under the laws of the country where diversion has taken place. So, it might very well be that Turkey, Syria or any other countries that have implemented the Sandvine device(s) are not aware of the malware it is in fact diverting traffic too. However, it might just be another way for them to use people they considered to be a problem, to help them gain some revenue or use in defense of things they want to protect. We do not know for certain. But it must also be considered.

Use of packet sniffers and deep packet inspection software to monitor networks is not uncommon. They are used for a variety of reasons, most of the time for legitimate security monitoring of network traffic and packet activity. Sometimes they are utilized to debug problem devices connected to the network. Generally, software tools do not have the same ability to do what DPI hardware does. They can't go in and edit packets and send them back on-the-fly. Instead, software simply looks at what's going on and reports where necessary. They are effectively just monitors, with very specific limitations. Still, it's important to understand the technical differences between software and hardware network monitoring and packet inspection technology and how each is implemented and utilized.

It is equally important to understand and acknowledge that deep packet inspection, diversion or deletion of packets in a data stream is not necessarily an evil or dishonest thing to do. As noted earlier, corporate firewalls make use of this exact same technology in order to protect the internal network from possible malware coming from public sites. It's also used to prevent employees from visiting sites that are unrelated to work purposes and visiting sites that could potentially pose a threat to corporate network security.

All this is something that is done at virtually every level of the internet by the companies that provide the backbone of the infrastructure that support it, interconnect it and ensure last-mile distribution and connectivity. Internet service providers often deploy this technology in order to send messages or interrupt a customer's session. We know of cases where this has been done. It is also possible for the internet service provider to actually replace advertising that is on the network coming from a remote site with their own advertising, or to remove it completely because of its malicious nature. This could actually have the potential of raising legal questions in some countries of whether it is deemed acceptable security practice or be deemed to be interference with the service being provided to the client, who is paying simply for internet access and no other service(s). A good example which demonstrates this, only locally, is your ad-blocking software that you're probably running inside your browser. It is doing the exact same thing as these deep packet inspection boxes are doing: it is examining the HTML code, looking for specific URL patterns or other suspicious tags, and then either removing them or replacing them with something else. The script-blocking software NoScript does this down to a very specific, programmable level. You can have it eliminate each element one at a time, by groups or by a variety of different filtering criteria. In effect, it is working as a DPI firewall, within your browser.

The recent security research published by Citizen Lab is focused on the Sandvine DPI device. Virtually every hardware firewall device is capable of doing the same thing. Cisco, Barracuda etc. can all be programmed to perform the same diversions outlined, including malicious diversions too. The only difference is the intent of the owners of the device: protecting or deceiving their users.

It has been suggested that various countries around the world are placing serious consideration to the concept of implementation of national-level firewalls, similar to the Great Firewall of China. There are already various means of which countries can block inbound or outbound internet traffic from its borders. And there have been rumors floating around of some countries having an internet "kill switch", which would essentially stop all internet traffic within the country with the simple launch of the rumored kill switch. Although Freedom Publishers Union is not aware of such Hollywood-style kill switch being in actual existence. It was recently revealed that Russia is open to the possibility of implementing its own internet, which would include the Russian operations of a central domain name system, similar to ICANN, which holds primary responsibility over access and traffic flow of the world's internet. Some media outlets conclude this is an attempt by Russia to create an entirely new and separate internet. This is incorrect. If Russia's concept was to come to realization, then it would effectively create a separate backbone of access to the existing internet. The concept requires further review and scrutiny, but based on what we know so far, it's actually a perfectly reasonable and sensible proposal.

Whilst implementation of a national-level firewall is one option to control internet access of a nation - which will probably be argued that it is to protect citizens from exposure to malicious content - it does raise many issues of civil liberties and freedom of access to the internet which is free from censorship. The alternative approach is the path the United States of America which prefers to continue to operate mass-surveillance networks which are wide in scope and vast in reach, to log, store, analyze and monitor traffic from everywhere around the world, rather than block it.

Ultimately, this technology whether it be software or hardware in nature, can be used beneficially or maliciously. The use/abuse of it is determined by the laws of the country that hosts the network. A country that defends its citizens freedom of expression and the Rule of Law to protect them will use these tools for good. It is the duty of organizations like Freedom Publishers Union to keep democratic nations that way.

Quality Publishing Works - International Media Group - Reykjavic Press

February 20, 2018 | Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Submitting to Government Pressure, Deleting and Editing Stories on Government Request

The ABC News, Australia's flagship public broadcasting news agency operated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was once known for cutting edge reporting, investigative journalism and fearless reporting on all the important issues. Something has changed within the walls of the ABC offices. It has somewhat lost its edge and its age-old mantra of fearless reporting is beginning to show signs of cracks around the edges.

Last week, The Guardian reported on a particular story which was written by the much respected ABC journalist and presenter, Emma Alberici. The piece that she published on the ABC was taken down off the website after reported complaints by Australia's Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

(As we were about to go to press with this Editorial, Freedom Publishers Union learned from The Australian that the Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, also made a formal complaint to the public broadcaster, in addition to the complaint lodged by the Prime Minister.)

The Guardian reports that the ABC claims that the story was removed because it did not meet the required editorial standards for an analysis piece. There was also another news story which accompanied the piece that was also removed, which made accusations to QANTAS that the company had not paid its corporate tax for 10 years. At the same time Alberici's first story was being removed, her accompanying story on QANTAS was being edited and rewritten by the news editors. It was republished, but key economic data and charts have been removed.

According to Guardian Australia, it reports that ABC management were holding what it describes as 'crisis meetings', which occurred after the Prime Minister launched attacks on the ABC story by Alberici in Question Time. This was followed up by an official complaint in written form, to the public broadcaster. Later, the ABC would claim the meetings were held before the complaints were lodged. Freedom Publishers Union is at odds with this claim and calls on the ABC to produce meeting minutes as documentative evidence of the definitive schedule of these meetings.

Freedom Publishers Union has become concerned that the ABC, particularly its news division operated under the Director of News, Gaven Morris, is willingly responding at the apparent request of government ministers to have information edited or removed. In this particular case, Australia's highest minister - the Prime Minister.

ABC's Director of News, Gaven Morris, has seemingly caved in to government pressure by acting on the complaint of the Prime Minister by removing a story and having another edited. Freedom Publishers Union is certainly not directly accusing Mr. Morris of personally ordering the deletion and editing of stories to please government officials. But to hide behind reasons that particular stories are removed/edited for simply not meeting editorial standards is strange. Strange, as it is out of character for the ABC and also unjustified on such an accomplished journalist such as Emma Alberici, who studied economics and was also the hardline former presenter on Lateline, where she was known for her tough and relentless interviews of Australia's most prominent politicians.

Freedom Publishers Union is very concerned of the editorial tampering the ABC's news-level management are taking against its journalists. We were able to access the deleted story through the Wayback Machine and can confirm that there was no data in the article that was incorrect. Alberici opened the removed story with the following statement, which we understand is the primary cause of the governmental complaints towards the piece, with the following comments, "There is no compelling evidence that giving the country's biggest companies a tax cut sees that money passed on to workers in the form of higher wages.". This opening comment was justified, absolutely has merit and is not just a matter of uninformed economic opinion of the author, as suggested by ABC editorial management.

Freedom Publishers Union researched and fact checked the information and concurs with this opening statement. Based on the interactive economic data and graphs we analyzed for the period of 2008-2018, the data proves that company profits have increased and company wage growth has actually dropped. Economic projections for wage growth in Australia in 2018 is pretty dismal too. Projections show that Australia is set to grow wages at only 0.4%, some of the lowest growth rates in developed economies. The theory that lower tax rates bring better wages for workers is largely based on theory, rather than actual historical data. In fact, data proves contradictory to the theory. We cite the UK, where over the last 10 years the corporate tax rate has gone from 30% down to just 19%, the lowest it's ever been, yet has not flowed through to wage growth. Actual wage growth has dropped, and for most of the last 10 years has been stagnant. The data is much the same for Japan. Despite over the same 10 year period of Japan's corporate tax rate dropping from 40% to 30%, wage growth has been slow and again, quite stagnant over the same period.

Our concerns over the integrity and editorial standards of the ABC extend even further and are not solely related to this one instance.

Freedom Publishers Union were critical of the ABC's decision to return the source document files from the relatively uneventful publication of The Cabinet Files. The documents that were used as the source of a very limited publication, were handed to the ABC by a source who's identity has not been revealed. Supposedly, the documents were acquired through the purchase of an ex-government filing cabinet which was locked and sold without the key. The new owner broke into the cabinet after allowing it to sit, unattended for several months. Reportedly, inside were thousands of government documents - some of which were classified as "Secret" and were relevant to many different national security matters. Many of the documents were said to be marked "Australian Eyes Only".

Freedom Publishers Union understands that the source would have handed these documents to the ABC because the ABC has been for a very long time the most trusted source of news in the country. It is much more respected than commercial news broadcasters. We cannot independently confirm this was the reason for the source trusting the ABC with the documents, but through careful analysis and process of elimination, this was the most plausible conclusion that we can draw.

It seems we are not alone. Many analysts in the media have echoed our conclusion. If this was in fact the case, then Freedom Publishers Union believes that the ABC had a journalistic and ethical responsibility to carefully analyze the documents, said to be in the thousands of pages, and report on them using safe, ethical and responsible editorial and reporting methods. The ABC is more than capable of handling such sensitive documents and information. Why was it not able to handle the sensitivity surrounding the information that was provided inside The Cabinet Files? Instead, we saw the ABC managerial team swoop in and take over what was to be released and what was to be handed back to the government. And let's be honest, the stories that were published can be described as disposable and genuinely uninteresting to most people. It was only days later though, that government officials and ASIO intelligence officers entered the office of the ABC and took possession of the physical documents, supposedly to ensure national security interests were protected. Or the other possibility - to avoid international embarrassment through the leaking of such sensitive intelligence information.

What Freedom Publishers Union finds extremely disturbing is that the ABC is claiming that there was nothing in the documents that was of public interest. We just can't allow ourselves to believe this claim. We seriously cannot conclude that there is nothing of public interest in a cabinet full of government documents that many of them were marked secret/top secret or for Australian Eyes Only. Freedom Publishers Union advocates for governmental operations transparency. But if such material was deemed to be too sensitive for public disclosure, then we would expect the ABC to report on the information in a responsible manner and by using appropriate, yet minimal document redaction processes to ensure national security was respected and maintained.

Freedom Publishers Union is not the first to point out that the ABC is more than capable of such a task and is one of the best news agencies in the country for dealing with investigate journalism and reporting on sensitive issues. Even the ABC network's own media program, Media Watch, expressed strong views and skepticism towards the network's handling of The Cabinet Files. Paul Barry of Media Watch cited Gaven Morris when he claimed, "We [the ABC] could have told hundreds of stories over weeks or months". Paul Barry responded by asking the most obvious rhetorical question, "If that is so, why on Earth did the ABC not tell them?".

Investigative journalist, Brian Toohey, from the Australian Financial Review responded with much the same response by saying, "The ABC's filing cabinet kowtow to ASIO and the government was gutless".

Paul Barry sums it up very well by stating, "it is a sorry end to what in many ways was a great get for the ABC" and reaffirms that the network was "trusted by its source" and "how sad that what could have been a triumph ended in something of a train wreck".

Freedom Publishers Union believes that the public broadcaster failed the Australian people through deciding to not publish more detailed information on The Cabinet Files. And if the source of the documents chose to hand them over to the ABC for proper investigative journalism to be carried out, then we expect they must also be extremely disappointed in the way the nation's public broadcaster buckled to government pressure to get their hands on the documents. In the end, the ABC failed and the government got their way. Which seems to have become common practice now at the public broadcaster.

Freedom Publishers Union support Australia's free press. The country is extremely lucky that it enjoys so much freedom. But we feel under the current Liberal Party run Government that this is gradually shifting into frightening territory and slowly, piece by piece, these freedoms are eroding through overbearing legislation that impedes on the nation's freedoms and rights of the people. Specifically, the issues with the ABC started with reduced funding of the public broadcasting sector, which also includes the SBS network. Prior to the Liberal Party entering into government, there was a specific promise to the Australian people that public broadcasting would not face funding cuts. Once Liberal was elected into office, they effectively backtracked on this key election promise. There is no denying that the Australian people were lied to. Albeit, these reductions were small. They were nevertheless reductions which has seen the ABC forced to make major changes to its radio and television programming to accomodate. Current affairs and news programming has suffered.

Whilst we're sure the public broadcasters are doing their best to withstand the constant barrage of attacks from the government, we also believe that they are growing weaker and are more likely to cooperate with the government, or face the very real possibility of further funding cuts if the ABC demonstrates too much independence. The government is constantly attacking the ABC network when views and opinions expressed through their journalism differs to government policy or direction of political debate. SBS remains unscathed most of the time. This is very concerning and Freedom Publishers Union remains in the constant battle to protect public broadcasting in Australia and aims to protect journalism so it remains free from censorship, governmental interference and can maintain editorial independence. We constantly watch closely, just how much the government aims to curtail the truth about its flawed economic policy, which when revealed to be flawed through the use of actual data has the potential to influence public opinion and turn the public's interest against the government's agenda. They don't like it.

Governments are free to disagree with media analysis and opinion. However, they are not free to launch formal complaints just when they disagree and put media and journalists under pressure to a point they feel they must comply. But this must be backed up with strong leadership and management from media. And this is the key area where the ABC is failing the public. It no longer has a spine of stubbornness and is much too easily intimidated by government pressure, which it appears to comply with at almost every request.

Australian's once had a very strong public broadcaster and had confidence in the ABC, which was usually reliable in standing up for its cause. And Australia's media landscape was stronger for it. Now, we're not so sure.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

February 10, 2018 | Tribute to Freedom Fighter, John Perry Barlow

john-perry-barlow-tribute

Freedom Publishers Union is deeply saddened to learn from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) of the passing of internet pioneer and cyber-libertarian, John Perry Barlow.

John was a Co-Founder of EFF and Freedom of the Press Foundation, and one of the true internet pioneers who in the 1990's foresaw the internet's full potential to change the lives of humanity, for the better, whilst acknowledging that it could also be used for evil.

John was a true freedom fighter for digital rights and believed that the internet should remain free from unethical government interruption and over-regulation. Freedom Publishers Union fights for these same rights! So to lose John, is to lose one of our own.

The legacy of his work will continue through the EFF, but John's presence will be missed by all. John was a true freedom fighter for digitals rights.

As a tribute to John Perry Barlow, Freedom Publishers Union is publishing a manifesto he wrote in 1996 titled "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace":

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.

You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract. This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge. Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.

In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.

In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.

We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Freedom Publishers Union - Public Relations Department

February 4, 2018 | New Bill Would Make Australia Worst in the Free World for Criminalizing Journalism

Australia is a world leader in passing the most amendments to existing and new anti-terror and security laws in the liberal democratic world. Since September 11, 2001, it has passed 54 laws.

The latest suggested addition is the Turnbull government's crackdown on foreign interference. The bill has been heavily criticized by Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and major media organisations for being too heavy-handed and far-reaching in the limits it would place on freedom of expression and several other civil liberties.

The government's own intelligence watchdog, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, argues the bill is so widely worded that its own staff could break the law for handling documents they need to access to do their job.

A case in point is whether the ABC's publication of confidential and secret cabinet documents would be in breach of the proposed bill. Two filing cabinets full of thousands of confidential cabinet documents were given to the ABC by a source who, astonishingly, had bought them for small change at an op-shop in Canberra.

The ABC made an assessment and chose to publish a very limited number of the documents it deemed in the public interest. The ABC has so far clearly acted responsibly, and no documents that could harm Australia's national security were in the first publication.

Some of the published documents are embarrassing for both the current and former Coalition and Labor governments, but that should not stop publication - rather, the opposite.

Read more: New foreign interference laws will compound risks to whistleblowers and journalists

What the bill would mean

The foreign interference bill, in its current form, suggests it should be criminal for anyone to "receive" and "handle" certain national security information. It would seem that by just receiving the filing cabinets and assessing what to publish, the ABC staff would be in breach of the provisions suggested in the bill.

Furthermore, this makes an already heavy-handed whistleblower regime from an international perspective even more draconian. It is sure to lose Australia several places on the Press Freedom Index if implemented as suggested.

The bill is an overreach in many respects. But one of the worst aspects, from a transparency and accountability point of view, is that it seeks to extend the draconian Section 70 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act.

Section 70 makes it a crime, punishable by a maximum of two years in prison, for public servants to communicate or supply information to anyone outside government without permission. The ABC's publication of the cabinet files clearly illustrates that media organisations with ethical and thorough editorial polices are perfectly capable of assessing what to publish.

The bigger picture is that the current bill is part of a pattern that started after the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001.

In our forthcoming book, In The Name of Security - Secrecy, Surveillance and Journalism, my colleagues and I assess how the anti-terror laws and mass surveillance technologies in the Five Eyes countries has impacted on in-depth public interest journalism. We also compare the Five Eyes with several BRICS countries and the situation in the European Union.

Our main conclusions are that the current fear-driven security environment has made it much harder for investigative journalists to hold governments and security agencies to account. This is partly due to anti-terror and security laws making it harder for whistleblowers to act.

Add to this the truly awesome powers of mass surveillance making it increasingly difficult for investigative journalists to grant anonymity to sources that require it for their own safety, and you end up with a very complex journalist-source situation.

Another important factor in Australia and the UK is that all national security agencies are exempt from Freedom of Information laws. This makes it virtually impossible to independently acquire information from the security branch of government.

The balance between national security and transparency is complex. As citizens, we want to feel safe and know what is being done to keep us safe. In our book, we have labelled this the "trust us" dilemma, meaning governments argue they can't disclose what they are doing security-wise, lest the "bad guys" find out.

That leaves us needing to trust the government's security actions and policies. But the problem is, how can we as citizens decide if we trust the government if we don't have the information on which to base this decision?

There is no easy answer to this question. Political philosopher Giorgio Agamben takes our reasoning one step further when he argues that the liberal democratic world has been in a "state of exception" since September 11. This has granted powers to security agencies that are creeping increasingly closer to those of the totalitarian regimes in Europe in the 1930s.

Agamben traces various states of exception all the way back to Roman times. The pattern is similar through history: governments point to an "other" - often a hard-to-define enemy - as a reason for increased powers to the security apparatus. They are convinced they are doing the right thing.

The problem is that if we don't roll back the strengthened security laws in times of lower threat, we start from a high level next time we enter a "state of exception". This in turn can lead to a never-ending war on real or perceived threats where our cherished democratic civil liberties become part of the collateral damage.

If we allow the "state of exception" to become permanent, we risk allowing the terrorists to win.

Johan Lidberg, Associate Professor, School of Media, Film and Journalism, Monash University

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

February 4, 2018 | The Edge of Post-Privacy

Freedom Publishers Union is absolutely committed to spreading the message of privacy. Everyone deserves the right to privacy and to take action to uphold that right. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) interprets Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as "a human rights treaty that guarantees privacy rights. More specifically, Article 17 of the ICCPR protects everyone from arbitrary or unlawful interferences with their privacy". Freedom Publishers Union notes, that the ICCPR is a civil rights document and not specifically a human rights document. However, in its interpretation, Article 17 is in fact a privacy right and must be adhered to. Whether 'privacy' itself is a civil right or a human right is a separate debating point. Irrespective of that, it is a right. Article 17 reads:

-------------------

Article 17

1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.

2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.


-------------------

When citizens take action to protect their privacy, they often get it wrong. This is not through fault of their own, rather, usually it is through lack of being provided the education and knowledge required for action to become effective. This is why it has become so important for independent publications to spread correct and accurate knowledge about security, privacy and the tools to achieve it. We need to get the message across and we need to get the message right. But there is something that we cannot fix. We are constantly faced with legislative decisions, even in free and democratic countries, that threaten our ability to take action to protect our privacy. Additionally, we are losing our ability to remain completely anonymous on the internet, which is a major building block of privacy.

Freedom Publishers Union is not totally comfortable with how privacy is being handled. The way we view privacy today is causing us to become fearful not just of government or big business, but of ourselves. The bad news is that there never really has been or will be true privacy. We know more about it today because of people like Edward Snowden, but we've always been faced with someone other than us snooping on our secrets. This has been a part of our history for as long as we've had written record.

Data trails are left everywhere - on every website - on every server. Before we begin to panic, we need to put things into perspective and understand what happens with our data on the internet. It can often be confusing. It's certainly complex. It's also very expansive. When using mapping tools to view and analyze websites and where the data is shared, you're truly only getting a glimpse of the entire connection array. These software tools are limited in scope and in some cases rely on algorithms to predict where data is going based on previous connections, to fill in the gaps. Still, they offer incredible insight into just how far data sharing goes.

Google is trying to be an honest broker of the zettabytes of live data that we as humans, scatter around the planet. Amazon is also trying to act in our best interest. After all, between Google and Amazon, the largest collection of information about people is stored and accessible. Facebook too has massive chunks of information stored on its users. Their datacenters even hold records of internet users that do not even have Facebook accounts but have accessed the website or any website that has Facebook linked to it. Whether it's through Facebook's advertising network or simply through social media sharing, once the connection is made, all data that Facebook can access, it retains for its own commercial advantage. Let's be honest, Facebook is probably linked in some form to almost every news website and blog in the world. Facebook's stewardship is not lacking, but is being primarily directed by the its users in a way that makes trying to keep information secure, almost impossible. And completely anonymous, equally impossible.

Transparency is a double-edged sword. We need to be realistic. Google - Amazon - Facebook - all of these companies make money by connecting their users with advertising that may lead to a sale where both parties share the benefits. But it comes at the cost of sharing information. That information has a different value to each of the parties. These sources openly provide snippets (terabyte snippets, but still a fraction of the raw data) for third-party analysis. It's very easy to connect the dots and derive new information from the large patterns that you find. Facebook provides social interactions. Amazon knows 'why we buy' and 'what we buy'. Google provides insight into our curiosity and from that, what our conscious interests are.

There are many other smaller firms focused on narrower data streams - Axciom, Experian and Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) to name a few. Taken together, all of these firms collect masses of anonymous data, analyze it, then apply the analysis as filters over individuals. Despite public perception and concerns over privacy violations, they really don't care about the details of a single person, but they allow individuals to be categorized in the context of a 'transaction'. Whether it's buying a car, deciding on a book or planning a crime, the data is meaningless outside of the context of the applied filter. The data truly is anonymous right up to the very end. Only when the final context is applied does the Schrödinger's Cat of identity precipitate into a real person. Effectively, it's our data that is being traded. Not really our identities.

And that's the problem. Because the data that's filtered relies on so many different sources with different obfuscation and different data points in their storage, we end up with blind men and an elephant. No one has a full picture of all the data points that make up an individual. Schrödinger's Cat appears, but sometimes missing ears or a tail. That's what causes the errors in results, why gay women get Viagra adverts or an innocent person is swept up and accused of being a terrorist. This is a failing of algorithms and is why these advertising algorithms are constantly being updated and refined, in an effort to be as precise as possible within the contextual restraints of the data filters and with minimal identity detection built in to the entire stream. Transparency cuts both ways. The problem is like medicine. Every year we learn more about illness and curing disease, but those diagnosed and treated last year could be out of luck. The more that is known, the better the results become. We don't drill holes in skulls for headaches!

Anonymity is a middle ground between secrecy and full transparency. What we need to do is get to a point where we change our attitudes towards things that really don't matter in the greater scheme and focus on those aspects of 'our lives' that do matter. People are more worried about the interpretation of a hug or a smile or a friendship than they are about how their lives are being manipulated. We need to learn and understanding the impact of privacy and the way people can be hurt by it, and also understand the reality of what's happening with the technology and the impact it can have on people's lives.

We are right at the cusp of becoming a 'post-privacy' society. Actually, it's difficult to pin-point whether we have entered the post-privacy era or whether we are at the border, staring over into foreign territory. Following the original Snowden leaks, in an article titled "The Post-Privacy World" written in July 2013 for Wired, Nova Spivack said, "While it is tempting to have a knee-jerk reaction against government intrusion in our lives, in fact it's not that simple. Whether it's PRISM or Wikileaks that worries us more, we are clearly in a different world now. One in which privacy is being replaced by something new - transparency - and this has implications that go right to the heart of our democracy.". Furthermore, Nova adds, "Given that secrets will become ever more difficult and costly to protect, our expectation of privacy has to evolve. We have to accept that it's impossible and unrealistic to achieve total privacy". Nova pretty much sums it up right there. That folks, is our entry into the post-privacy era. But there's a slight problem with this. Nova wrote those words in 2013, and it's now 2018. Almost 5 years have passed, yet it somehow feels that we are still spooked by privacy violations of our identities online and having all our actions scooped up in dragnet surveillance. Nova continues by stating, "We are now entering the Age of Transparency, an era of increasing openness at all levels of society. Transparency arises when it becomes increasingly hard to keep secrets, and so the focus shifts to how to behave when anything (from personal info to state secrets) can be discovered if one is determined enough.".

Perhaps post-privacy doesn't exist and is simply something that we drum up in our minds. A kind of paranoia. Facebook is leading the way to socialize the idea, and the other data pools will follow soon after. But, in order for this post-privacy world to function properly, people need to understand that everything they do is being saved and stored in a datacenter somewhere, by some company and most likely being traded too. Problems won't become problems if enough context, enough data, exists to clarify them. Because anonymity is secure until the final moment, it's only when the last step in the transaction executes that the data becomes a human. So, if that moment can be held off, less data leakage will occur.

Whilst it can't be guaranteed to work, there is a concept that may come close. First, we need to create a true 'honest broker' to act as the secure clearing house for personal data. Think of an 'ICANN for data', if you will. They assign everyone a unique key that is used to identify you and they maintain the repositories of raw data, linked only by the unique key. But the key is set up the way a one-time token is, and each request for data gets a unique key, good only for that requestor and dataset. The analysis can theoretically occur with complete anonymity. When the final result is found, the request returns to the honest broker - the request is verified - and the transaction is completed. Through this process, each request for data and the results are correlated and, using something like a blockchain, the audit trail is maintained without compromising on security and anonymity. If data does leak, it's simply a matter of crawling back up the blockchain and identifying which request caused the leak.

Such a proposal would not be easy, would realistically take at least a decade to implement properly and to receive the security it deserves. And of course, governments and criminals will try to keep their own copies. But the costs of duplication will quickly eliminate the problem. There should be no special requests for any court, media, journalist, military, Kings/Queens or Congress. The problem is developing a Charter that keeps the honest broker completely transparent and neutral, as both would be key to the successful rollout and also maintaining that the requests for special access remain barred at all times.

Without a working prototype of such a proposal, it is difficult to foresee what security vulnerabilities could arise. The question of security is paramount and would need to be dealt with. By having a centralized data broker, you cannot escape the realization that security concerns are present and questions are going to be asked. But if implemented properly, it would finally allow for all data to be treated equal and all requests would be handled in the same transparent manner.

Perhaps Julian Assange isn't so crazy after all. He fights for total transparency. It was once thought that his concept was crazy. Now, it's becoming much more appealing.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

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February 1, 2018 | Grip on Australia's Press Freedom Looks to be Tightened. Borders on Authoritarian!

It was on the last day of sitting for 2017 for Australia's House of Representatives, that the Liberal Party of Australia introduced proposed changes to the laws surrounding espionage and other matters of national security, which could see the possibility of detrimental effects be placed on the free press in the country.

Criticism comes as the Parliament is set to return next week. The proposed changes in the legislation titled "National Security Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017", is sure to become a deep topic which will see heavy debate ensue.

The proposed espionage changes are reportedly in response to Australia feeling the pinch from threats from foreign interference of other nations. Although it has not been officially recognized, China is at the heart of their concerns, along with Russia. Whether the two countries actually pose any legitimate threat to Australia's strong functioning democracy, is an open question. In fact, the proposals are more reflective of attacks that attempt to silence specific areas of the media.

There are many valid concerns which have been raised by many journalists, publishers and media outlets. The proposed changes are complex in their writing and the scope much too broad. As outlined in the actual legislative document, anyone and media will be forbidden to:

("it" refers to information)

Freedom Publishers Union expresses opposition to the proposed changes because there have already been sweeping changes over the past couple of years with other parts of the law, directly related to national security concerns. "The changes Australia has already implemented have done enough. In my opinion, they've already gone too far and already threaten the freedom that Australia enjoys with a free press. These latest proposals threaten the free press even further. But not just the free press, but whistleblowers, journalists and publishers. Effectively, our own organization [Freedom Publishers Union] could face legal action if we are to even receive information related to anything on national security matters. And that's even before we've made the information public. To me, that sounds very authoritarian.", says Freedom Publishers Union Editor, Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

Under the current proposals that have been tabled, journalists, publishers and media outlets can all face heavy handed legal action pushed against them when reporting on foreign intelligence and national security matters. And this is irrespective of whether it is in the public's interest. The proposals actually take a much tighter grip on the free press, by leaving open the possibility that those in media can face the same hefty legal action if they do not report on the issues, but are in possession of source documents that could be used for reporting on matters which the Government is claiming are sensitive to matters of national security. Whistleblowers could also face legal action placed against them. There's nobody in the chain of how the source-to-media process operates that would be free from possibility of prosecution under these draconian espionage law changes, if they pass and get enacted.

Chris continues, "As the grip around freedom of speech and the free press in Australia gets tightened, Freedom Publishers Union sees dark times ahead for Australian media if we are not even allowed to report and document on matters which may be based off leaked documents or other information, deemed to be in the public interest and declared suitable for public disclosure.".

In a completely ironic and unforeseen situation, as Freedom Publishers Union were in the process of preparing this Editorial, a major developing story broke from the nation's public broadcaster, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The news agency has obtained thousands of pages of top secret and classified documents from several different Parliamentary Cabinets. The ABC obtained the documents from a source who purchased some ex-government filing cabinets. The filing cabinets were bought cheap as they were locked, reportedly with no key for access. The owner cracked into the filing cabinets to find the source documents, unexpectedly. Whilst this story is still effectively developing as we go to press, it must be noted that to the best of our understanding, under current laws the ABC is more than entitled to report on the documents. However, under the aforementioned proposed changes, no media agency would be permitted to report on them. "Effectively, this is media censorship at its finest. Here, in Australia, happening right in front of our eyes.", Chris concludes.

The timing of the documents coming into the hands of the public broadcaster could not be more perfect, as it puts on a public show by example of the threat that the current espionage proposed changes actually pose to Australia's free and open press which is still taken for granted by so many Australian citizens.

Despite the claims by the Liberal Party that the legislation has protection clauses drafted into the document to prevent any restrictions being placed on the free press, we are not confident that it goes anywhere near far enough. As we have analyzed the proposed legislation, we can only find minimal reference in just a line or two, noting that there will be legal exclusion for "fair and accurate reporting". Freedom Publishers Union advocates very strongly against the proposed changes, unless serious amendments are put forward which will guarantee protection for whistleblowers, journalists and publishers.

Australia enjoys a free press, much like the Unites States of America and other democratic countries. It must be protected against constant attempts to place restrictions on what can be and what can't be reported by media. Media outlets must be allowed to have the freedom to publish what they deem to be in the public interest, in an ethical, and professionally responsible manner.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

January 27, 2018 | NSA Deletes Surveillance Data From 2001-2007. Conspiracy or Incompetence?

On January 19, 2018, Politico broke a story of which describes the destruction of data related to one of the most intensive of the NSA's vast network of surveillance programs - the President's Surveillance Program (PSP). Irrespective of the actual cause, it is clear that the NSA has failed in its mandate to protect the data. Since 2007, the NSA was ordered by the courts to ensure the protection of surveillance data related to the illegal and warrantless wiretapping of international communications, which was ordered and authorized by former President George W. Bush following the 2001 terror attacks on the Twin Towers, in New York.

Additional details have been revealed that backups of data from 2001-2007 have also been destroyed. It is stated that backup tapes that could have potentially been used to restore the original data, were destroyed in 2009, 2011 and 2016. The NSA claims the data was destroyed as part of a "broad, housecleaning effort" which was carried out to free up space for incoming data. However, The Hill has reported that the NSA still retain the metadata of the main data that was destroyed and if required, the metadata used as evidence.

PSP was in operation from 2001 until it expired in 2007. From 2007 onwards, it was significantly broken up and portions of the program were renewed under different legislation, while other parts were supposedly dropped. Although the specifics of what went where are extremely complex and the process has not exactly been transparent. Therefore, speaking on a general basis, Freedom Publishers Union is skeptical of any suggestion that the NSA has improved its ways and we still believe there is much more oversight required to reign in much of the NSA's unnecessary spying on civilians.

A lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation suggested that the NSA has a "tremendous volume of information they're [the agency] vacuuming up" and that it is "impossible to be meticulous" in the safe management of the data. The NSA admits it has failed in its obligations to protect the data from destruction, but makes no justification of why the backup data was also destroyed. And this is where privacy activists and civil libertarians are going to focus their attacks on the NSA, which will undoubtedly be relentless and unforgiving.

We must be careful and understand that it could very likely be a simple error of judgment by some innocent worker(s) inside the agency. It's difficult to conclude definitively, based on what representatives from the NSA have publicly stated. As the operations inside the agency are some of the most secretive in the world, the public is forced to accept the public statements made by officials from the NSA. We note that in 2014, an official stated that "the NSA has stored these tapes in the offices of its General Counsel". But now four years later in 2018, the NSA now claims that that original statement was only "partially accurate when made".

It raises the obvious question - Should the NSA still be engaging in dragnet surveillance if it cannot properly manage and secure the data?

Freedom Publishers Union believes that mass-surveillance is returning to the pre-Snowden era, is being expanded and broadened in scope under the Trump Administration. Where there are legal loop holes to be exploited, the NSA is exploiting them. Where there are no loopholes to jump through, the NSA uses the extensive surveillance programs capabilities of its intelligence sharing partners in the Five Eyes intelligence network. The NSA has previously relied upon the operations carried out by their British spying partners at the GCHQ. This close relationship continues today.

Freedom Publishers Union has connected with people who have worked inside both government agencies and in the private sector. We have reason to believe that if the NSA destruction of the data was a genuine accident, then it would not be the first time something this silly has occurred inside such a high-level government agency. We add that if it were a simple scenario of old data being deleted in an effort to clear up some free space, then it is very likely that the person who carried out the original removal were unaware of what the precise data was and probably unaware it was meant to be safeguarded against its removal. But this would be put down to sloppy management of such critical data and could not be deemed the sole fault of one (or more) individuals. We also have information directly from sources who work have worked in the big data industry for close to 40 years, who will gladly admit that backups are the major joke of the industry. Failing backup data is a regular occurrence and there's not much confidence in backup storage technology in general.

If it were to be confirmed the destruction of the data was intentional, it seems inevitable the US Government is going to get crucified. One could not imagine a worse situation. Politically, those on the opposite would use this to the highest extent possible, leaving the government with not much defense. If we see any kind of extensive investigation into the event, then it is very likely that it might spread further than the walls of the NSA and into the CIA, the FBI and further. How long is a piece of string? This ordeal has the potential of making the United States of America (USA) look stupid. It is that bad. The USA has very little credibility left, politically. If a country has an intelligence information sharing arrangement with the USA, then we'd recommend they tread carefully and take a few steps back because everybody is going to become a suspect.

Surely, just surely, somebody inside the NSA - one of the world's most elite spy agencies - could not be that stupid to recklessly hit the delete key on such important data, without first verifying that it was no longer needed? Or did 'that person' have higher authority permitting them to execute the destruction of the data? Is this just how stupid, incompetent and pythonesque governments have become? Occams razor bloodies the idiots.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

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January 19, 2018 | More Intel Vulnerabilities, with Active Management Technology (AMT)

Technology is in every corner of the world and we appreciate it in each step of our lives. Technology unlocks the world before us and allows us to realize our potential, but it also has the potential of unlocking a straight line of access for attackers.

The word "hacking" is almost known by everyone in this digital life. We believe hacking to be a good thing. Yeah, it can be illegal. But it is challenging the technology industry in a positive way which is helping to make security stronger.

Now, we are part of a generation where we don't have to unlock our devices by putting password manually because of our passwords can now be our body parts, like the iris and fingerprints. Sure, traditional methods of security still exist, but biometrics are improving security and is an example of how we have improved our security.

Hacking can be done through hardware or software. Software has many options to hack because you can directly interact with it through the network. But hardware is a little bit different, as it has fewer options. This is because you can't get direct access to it in the same way you can with software.

Wikipedia describes Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) as "hardware and firmware technology for remote out-of-band management of personal computers. It is used in order to monitor, maintain, update, upgrade and repair". All this could be done through remote connectivity. Like all technology, AMT has two faces - Advantage and Disadvantage.

Freedom Publishers Union learned of the loophole from a publication released by security firm F-Secure. But the original vulnerability is tracked back to a white hat hacker from Finland, who is also a F-Secure Security Consultant, named Harry Sintonen. He discovered the AMT vulnerability back in July 4, 2017. According to details in the full security advisory accessed by Freedom Publishers Union, he made contactwith many technology companies including Fujitsu, ASUS, Dell, Lenovo, HP, ASUS, Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba and Acer. Most importantly, Intel was notified on July 11 and July 12, 2017. Intel confirmed the advisory was received on July 12, 2017. Some of these companies responded to the advisory notice. Specifically, Intel did take action in what seems like an attempt to rectify the security issue. Information was not available to Freedom Publishers Union at the time of going to press as to how effective Intel's action has been to inform its customers about the AMT vulnerability. We were able to cite a technical security document supplied by Intel, provided through F-Secure, that confirms that notification of the vulnerability was confirmed by Intel by adding it to its Security Advisories for Intel Active Management Technology, under the Advisory Number "INTEL-SA-00075". It was unclear to us what action other companies had taken, specifically laptop vendors.

Essentially, there is a loophole in Intel processors that allow an attacker to bypass logins, leaving open the potential to place a backdoor on the laptop which allows adversaries remote access to laptops. F- Secure claim the loophole can be exploited in less than one minute. The technique requires attackers to have physical access to the computer and also assumes the target has not configured their system to protect the Intel Management Engine BIOS Extension (MEBx) account on computers that support Intel AMT.

As we stated earlier, AMT is a remote feature of Intel processors normally used in vPro enabled and Xeon processors. But you may now be thinking what is MEBx account? MEBx is the account in the Management Engine BIOS extension on AMT-based computers and is used for initial authenticated access to the AMT firmware on in Configuration Manager 2007 SP1 and later. If you enable the out of band management feature, you must configure the password to use for the MEBx account in the Configuration Manager 2007 console when migrating computers to Configuration Manager that have been provisioned for AMT by using another management solution. Physically, you would not find access to this account in any of the operating system's access on the machine, apart from the BIOS menu.
F-Secure writes, "The issue allows a local intruder to backdoor almost any corporate laptop in a matter of seconds, even if the BIOS password, TPM Pin, Bitlocker and login credentials are in place. No, we're not making this stuff up. The setup is simple: an attacker starts by rebooting the target's machine, after which they enter the boot menu. In a normal situation, an intruder would be stopped here; as they won't know the BIOS password, they can't really do anything harmful to the computer.".

The F-Secure publication continues, "In this case, however, the attacker has a workaround: AMT. By selecting Intel's Management Engine BIOS Extension (MEBx), they can log in using the default password "admin", as this hasn't most likely been changed by the user. By changing the default password, enabling remote access and setting AMT's user opt-in to "None", a quick-fingered cyber-criminal haseffectively compromised the machine. Now the attacker can gain access to the system remotely, as long as they're able to insert themselves onto the same network segment with the victim.".

We conclude by pointing out that although physical access is required to initiate the exploit, "this might not be as difficult for skilled attackers to organize as you might think.", Harry Sintonen says.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

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January 18, 2018 | Major Security Vulnerabilities Present with In-Browser Password Managers and Auto-Fill

There is growing concern over the lack of attention to security that is being provided to in-browser password managers, which are now commonly included in almost all popular web browsers. Whilst it is widely accepted among the computer security circles that third-party password managers generally handle security better, in-browser password managers are still widely used. Their use which is considered pretty standard for password management, can only be based on the fact they offer somewhat more convenience than a third-party tool. Well, that is the common perception anyway. We believe security to be of the utmost importance. When a consumer is offered a choice of convenience or high-security, then the choice is very clear and should always be in favor of increased security. But sadly, among consumers this is still not the case.

Results published by the Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy, in-browser password managers are being exploited using known vulnerabilities when combined with third-party scripts which are used for tracking users. According to the Princeton research, a user's credentials can be exploited when the user saves their submitted credentials to the in-browser password manager. The third-party script is usually not present on the login page, yet when the user is returned to a non-login page on the same website, a third-party script can invisibly reside and then exploit the saved credentials.

The research warns of the vulnerability, which has been known to exist for literally years. Yet it continues to go unresolved, to the best of our understanding. Usually, it is exploited by cross-site scripting, or otherwise known as XSS. The research claims that of the 50,000 websites that were analyzed, there was no exploitation occurring using the technique described in the research. Instead, it was discovered that tracking scripts were actually embedded by the first-party. The scripts effectively siphon off the email address information and send the relevant data to third-party tracking servers. The scripts the Princeton research department found were present on 1,110 of the top 1 million websites on Alexa.

In an effort to prove their research, sample code is provided in source form along with a demonstration of the code also being provided through a running demo website. In collaboration with our technology publishing partners, Tecseek Technology, we tested the code and can independently verify that the exploit is very real and does in fact leak user credentials that have been saved to the in-browser password manager.

The simplicity of executing the exploit is what we find truly alarming. All that is required for a web browser to determine which website is used to enter the credentials using auto-fill, is a set of heuristics which simply require a login form to be present. Generally, this does not require any interaction by the user for the password manager to automatically enter the credentials into the form. This is what enables to possibility for the exploit to rear its ugly head. A third-party script can hide an invisible login form on the page and effectively take advantage of the same auto-fill ability. A third-party script can usually bedetected by anyone who cares to analyze the site code in finer detail, which can easily be done from inside the web browser's developer tools. However, it is not a realistic or practical approach to dealing with this security exploit.

There is concern over what precise information could be collected, expanding in scope beyond simply an email address. The research discovered that the common "OnAudience" script tracks the email address, browser type, plugins installed, display dimensions and resolution, time-zone and language configuration, user-agent, operating system and CPU information. Taking all this information into account, the script will generate a fingerprint to identify the user. "OnAudience" claim that they only collect anonymous information. This is a false claim as email addresses are not anonymous and could potentially be matched up with the supposedly unique fingerprint.

As stated earlier, these kinds of browser-based vulnerabilities are not new. We viewed bug reports as old as 10 years on the Mozilla Bugzilla reporting platform. Additionally, we cited multiple academicpapers from multiple colleges and universities which have composed their own research, which not only substantiate the concerns over security with in-browser password managers, but also the auto-fill feature in general.

It's a more complicated problem than what you might first conclude. Despite more than 10 years of complaints being made public, there is still no potential 'fix' for this vulnerability. Instead, we see browser developers and vendors touting that there is no actual 'vulnerability', at least not in the same way they would determine and label an actual vulnerability. Therefore, as it goes, if there is no vulnerability then there is realistically no hole in the software to be fixed in the first place. Freedom Publishers Union don't quite share this conclusion and it appears that browser developers and vendors are side-stepping on the issue and don't seem very intent on finding any real solution to eliminate the possibility of abuse of the vulnerability, or security hole. The blame is actually being shifted onto website publishers for allowing these tracking scripts onto their web platform, willingly and with complete ignorance towards data being tracked and shared with third-party servers and used for user tracking purposes.

In-browser password managers are part of the problem, as there should never be a clear text exchange of credentials. A one-time hash or some sort of non-identifying exchange should be the norm for sites that require access while inside the secured part of a website. Even two-factor authentication doesn't address this issue, as the purpose is simply to generate an identifier across multiple sites. Hashing the User ID/Email ID is just a way to create a mostly unique value for tracking purposes.

The problem is that getting an ID - whether it's the email address or full credentials - has been handed off to unreliable third-party actors. Remember, the actual site owner already knows your credentials and probably has complete access to the database too. They gain nothing from this entire exercise. Only a third-party that is looking to inject ads or track users need this information. It's all about tracking for the purpose of third-party's gathering data. This should be emphasized.

This could be addressed by standardizing on a single broker of identity. Google is trying to do this by promoting your Google Ad ID - managed by them - as an anonymous point of contact to a customer. By being the middle man, Google ensures that identity stops at their border. But this approach is certainly not flawless and can raise further security concerns. It is perfectly legitimate to raise the question of why we should put all our trust in Google, or any other single broker of identity, to be the ultimate gatekeeper of our digital identity.

There is great potential for even further extension of security related problems surrounding password managers included in web browsers. As more and more browsers are shipped with the ability to authorize a central database of user credentials to be shared across multiple devices, also referred to as syncing, the problem has the very real possibility of growing into something more than what was once thought to be restricted to the computer web browser. This was confirmed on August 2016, when Opera confirmed a server breach on their Opera Sync software.

So, as we draw to a conclusion of our analysis of this problem, we must attempt to answer the obvious question - What is the solution to avoid becoming a victim of this vulnerability? Installing web browser extensions that aim to block and illegitimate and unsafe XSS are the most sensible solution and will give you immediate protection. Something else you should consider is disabling any auto-fill feature your web browser is using. If you insist on using auto-fill, then consider implementing any options your web browser provides which prompt for user authorization when auto-fill is prompted. This will force the user to actually authorize the auto-fill data to be entered. It might completely undo the entire purpose of auto-fill, however, security of your data, maintaining your privacy and avoiding becoming a victim of targeted third-party web tracking should be your highest priority. Computer security expert and cryptographer, Bruce Schneier, recommends that users create password lists through a password manager that is a completely separate program to that of your web browser. We concur.

Quality Publishing Works - International Media Group - Reykjavic Press

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January 16, 2018 | Spectre and Meltdown Attacks Against Microprocessors

The following computer security essay was written by Computer Security Expert and Cryptographer, Bruce Schneier and was distributed in the January 15, 2018 edition of his "CRYPTO-GRAM" email newsletter which is widely distributed and respected among the computer security community.

Freedom Publishers Union is re-publishing the essay here in its unedited entirety. The views expressed in the essay are that of Bruce Schneier and not that of Freedom Publishers Union. However, it is re-published here in accordance with our Editorial Process and highly regarded as very accurate at the time of publishing.


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The security of pretty much every computer on the planet has just gotten a lot worse, and the only real solution -- which of course is not a solution -- is to throw them all away and buy new ones.

On January 3, researchers announced a series of major security vulnerabilities in the microprocessors at the heart of the world's computers for the past 15-20 years. They've been named Spectre and Meltdown, and they have to do with manipulating different ways processors optimize performance by rearranging the order of instructions or performing different instructions in parallel. An attacker who controls one process on a system can use the vulnerabilities to steal secrets elsewhere on the computer.

This means that a malicious app on your phone could steal data from your other apps. Or a malicious program on your computer -- maybe one running in a browser window from that sketchy site you're visiting, or as a result of a phishing attack -- can steal data elsewhere on your machine. Cloud services, which often share machines amongst several customers, are especially vulnerable. This affects corporate applications running on cloud infrastructure, and end-user cloud applications like Google Drive. Someone can run a process in the cloud and steal data from every other user on the same hardware.

Information about these flaws has been secretly circulating amongst the major IT companies for months as they researched the ramifications and coordinated updates. The details were supposed to be released next week, but the story broke early and everyone is scrambling. By now all the major cloud vendors have patched their systems against the vulnerabilities that can be patched against.

"Throw it away and buy a new one" is ridiculous security advice, but it's what US-CERT recommends. It is also unworkable. The problem is that there isn't anything to buy that isn't vulnerable. Pretty much every major processor made in the past 20 years is vulnerable to some flavor of these vulnerabilities. Patching against Meltdown can degrade performance by almost a third. And there's no patch for Spectre; the microprocessors have to be redesigned to prevent the attack, and that will take years.

This is bad, but expect it more and more. Several trends are converging in a way that makes our current system of patching security vulnerabilities harder to implement.

The first is that these vulnerabilities affect embedded computers in consumer devices. Unlike our computers and phones, these systems are designed and produced at a lower profit margin with less engineering expertise. There aren't security teams on call to write patches, and there often aren't mechanisms to push patches onto the devices. We're already seeing this with home routers, digital video recorders, and webcams. The vulnerability that allowed them to be taken over by the Mirai botnet last August simply can't be fixed.

The second is that some of the patches require updating the computer's firmware. This is much harder to walk consumers through, and is more likely to permanently brick the device if something goes wrong. It also requires more coordination. In November, Intel released a firmware update to fix a vulnerability in its Management Engine (ME): another flaw in its microprocessors. But it couldn't get that update directly to users; it had to work with the individual hardware companies, and some of them just weren't capable of getting the update to their customers.

We're already seeing this. Some patches require users to disable the computer's password, which means organizations can't automate the patch. Some antivirus software blocks the patch, or -- worse -- crashes the computer. This results in a three-step process: patch your antivirus software, patch your operating system, and *then* patch the computer's firmware.

The final reason is the nature of these vulnerabilities themselves. These aren't normal software vulnerabilities, where a patch fixes the problem and everyone can move on. These vulnerabilities are in the fundamentals of how the microprocessor operates.

It shouldn't be surprising that microprocessor designers have been building insecure hardware for 20 years. What's surprising is that it took 20 years to discover it. In their rush to make computers faster, they weren't thinking about security. They didn't have the expertise to find these vulnerabilities. And those who did were too busy finding normal software vulnerabilities to examine microprocessors. Security researchers are starting to look more closely at these systems, so expect to hear about more vulnerabilities along these lines.

Spectre and Meltdown are pretty catastrophic vulnerabilities, but they only affect the confidentiality of data. Now that they -- and the research into the Intel ME vulnerability -- have shown researchers where to look, more is coming -- and what they'll find will be worse than either Spectre or Meltdown. There will be vulnerabilities that will allow attackers to manipulate or delete data across processes, potentially fatal in the computers controlling our cars or implanted medical devices. These will be similarly impossible to fix, and the only strategy will be to throw our devices away and buy new ones.

This isn't to say you should immediately turn your computers and phones off and not use them for a few years. For the average user, this is just another attack method amongst many. All the major vendors are working on patches and workarounds for the attacks they can mitigate. All the normal security advice still applies: watch for phishing attacks, don't click on strange e-mail attachments, don't visit sketchy websites that might run malware on your browser, patch your systems regularly, and generally be careful on the Internet.

You probably won't notice that performance hit once Meltdown is patched, except maybe in backup programs and networking applications. Embedded systems that do only one task, like your programmable thermostat or the computer in your refrigerator, are unaffected. Small microprocessors that don't do all of the vulnerable fancy performance tricks are unaffected. Browsers will figure out how to mitigate this in software. Overall, the security of the average Internet-of-Things device is so bad that this attack is in the noise compared to the previously known risks.

It's a much bigger problem for cloud vendors; the performance hit will be expensive, but I expect that they'll figure out some clever way of detecting and blocking the attacks. All in all, as bad as Spectre and Meltdown are, I think we got lucky.

But more are coming, and they'll be worse. 2018 will be the year of microprocessor vulnerabilities, and it's going to be a wild ride.

Bruce Schneier - Computer Security Expert, Cryptographer and Chief Technical Officer, IBM Resilient

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December 30, 2017 | Yemen - 68 Civilians Killed in a Single Day, 109 Killed in 10 Days

The Yemeni Civil War is entering its third year. What has changed and what progress has been made over its deadly course? Nothing. Zero. We still see the same arguments from both sides, the same claims and we still see civilians being caught up in the unjust war, often becoming the targets.

In the past 10 days, 109 civilians have been killed, in two separate incidents. 54 civilians were killed at a busy vegetable market in Attazziah, in the province of Taiz. Among those killed were 8 children. The civilian casualties were the result of Saudi-led airstrike.

In another incident, a family of 14 were killed on a farm situated further West, in Al Hudaydah. The region is where Saudi Arabia believes that Iran is smuggling weapons to Houthi rebels. A claim that goes unconfirmed and is disputed by many.

It's all a too familiar scenario, as the United Nations (UN) states that the Saudi-led coalition continuously target civilians and their residencies. International aid groups and advocacy groups echo the calls of the UN. The accusations stand justified, by observing the continued destruction of the country's medical facilities and other critical infrastructure. Much of which is damaged beyond use or completely destroyed by airstrikes and reduced to just rubble.

Freedom Publishers Union has recently learned that the Houthi's are not an innocent party and should not be portrayed as such. They now initiate crackdowns in regions that remain under their control. As we understand, they are arresting hundreds of people they believe were previously associated with the former Yemen President, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Despite the accusations being questionable, the automated assumption of being guilty and no way to prove their validity, people are still being arrested. It remains unclear to Freedom Publishers Union what is happening to those that are arrested and we have genuine concerns for the welfare of innocent victims. Houthi rebels are also blocking entry of humanitarian aid transport and there are reports they are continuously trying to force the shutdown of internet access. Although Freedom Publishers Union can not independently verify the latter claim.

Jamie McGoldrick of the UN says, "The incidents prove the complete disregard for human life that all parties, including the Saudi-led coalition, continue to show in this absurd war that has only resulted in the destruction of the country [Yemen]".

Reportedly, the Saudi's are very unhappy with the comments and views made public by Mr. Goldrick which give the impression the UN supports the Houthi rebels. The Saudi's also claim it puts doubt on the information and data gathered and used by the UN to draw their positions on international matters. A major sticking point with Saudi Arabia is their staunch view that the Houthi rebels are supported by Iran. It is well known to the international community the Saudi-led military has the complete support and backing of the United States of America and Britain, through political support, motive and arms sales.

UN officials clearly state that there are no military solutions that can or will resolve this conflict. Freedom Publishers Union calls for an immediate cease fire from all sides, followed by peace negotiations. That is what is needed. Otherwise, we fear there will be no foreseeable end to the conflict and it will potentially drag on for many years, with no vision or mission which will see the end of this horrific war which is largely being ignored by many parts of the developed world.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones of Freedom Publishers Union says, "It is quickly becoming clear that those that have major influence and power in international politics choose to stand by and watch the horrors of civilian casualties inside Yemen, unfold right in front of their eyes. They have the power to inluence an immediate change of course of this war and put Yemen on a path to peace. Yet it's clear they're choosing to turn a blind eye to the atrocities of civilian casualties.".

There is no accurate figure which can detail the increasing death toll, but estimates suggest it to be over 10,000 killed. That figure was an estimate put forward in 2016. As we approach the last days of 2017, it is very likely the number is on the conservative side and almost certain to be much higher.

Saudi Arabia have not officially released any statement or acknowledgment in response to the deaths of the civilians, as an undisputed and direct result of the latest round of airstrikes. Instead, they are attempting to divert attention off civilian casualties and are proudly announcing that they are allowing humanitarian aid to pass through the port of Hodeidah, over the last couple of weeks. Despite the UN pushing for the port to be reopened and utilized to its full capacity, the Saudi's continue to only allow a small number of ships into the port with the very real possibility that the port will again see closure in just 30 days. Yet they so proudly declare to the public of their shy efforts of allowing humanitarian aid into Yemen, which is said to be starving up to 70% of the civilians stuck inside the war-torn country and who require the aid so urgently.

The reopening of the port is a good thing. It doesn't matter which side it comes from, if humanitarian aid is free to travel through ports and into Yemen, then that can only be encouraged. However, we must not ignore the hypocrisy of the Saudi's who attempt to charm the international community by touting their lackluster humanitarian contributions and use it as a façade to continue to launch airstrikes on civilians which directly violate international law and carry out human rights abuse on a grand scale in Yemen and within the borders of their own country.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

December 16, 2017 | New Foreign Interference Laws Will Compound Risks to Whistleblowers and Journalists

The Turnbull government has announced a crackdown on foreign interference in Australian politics and national security. Proposed laws include a ban on foreign political donations, new criminal offences, and a transparency register for those acting on behalf of foreign governments or organisations.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull carefully emphasised that the proposals are not focused on China's influence in Australia. But, as the Lowy Institute's Euan Graham put it, there's an in the room.

The proposed criminal offences will significantly expand the scope of existing laws against espionage and treason. This will make it easier to prosecute spies and other foreign nationals who seek undue influence over Australian business or politics.

However, the new laws pose risks to whistleblowers and journalists. They suggest the concept of "national security" is continually expanding.

Further reading: Ban on foreign political donations is both too broad and too narrow, and won't fix our system

Espionage

The Criminal Code currently sets out an offence of espionage that is punishable by 25 years' imprisonment.

The main offence applies where someone communicates or makes available information that concerns Australia's security or defence. The person must intend to prejudice Australia's security or defence, or advantage another country's security or defence. Under the proposed changes, this offence will attract a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Where a person recklessly endangers Australia's security or defence, this will be punishable by the current penalty.

The new espionage offences will apply to possessing or receiving information, in addition to communicating it. They will protect a broader range of information, including unclassified material.

Other new offences, punishable by 15 years' imprisonment, will target preparation for espionage and the theft of trade secrets.

Foreign interference

Proposed offences for foreign interference will target conduct not ordinarily considered to be espionage or treason.

Currently, the federal offence of treason describes very rare and serious conduct, such as assassinating or capturing the Queen or prime minister.

These new offences will target covert, deceptive or undisclosed conduct that is directed, funded, supervised or undertaken on behalf of a foreign interest. The penalties will range between ten and 20 years' imprisonment.

To constitute foreign interference, the conduct must be intended to:

Other new offences will target the support or funding of foreign intelligence agencies. These will be similar to existing crimes for supporting or funding terrorist organisations.

Are the new offences needed?

The changes will make it easier to prosecute foreign nationals who intentionally interfere with Australia's business, political or foreign policy interests.

Where such influence cannot strictly be described as impacting on security or defence, successful prosecution under the existing espionage or treason offences is very difficult.

The government's other justifications are much weaker. The current espionage offences already extend beyond the communication of information to making, obtaining or copying sensitive records. The Crimes Act includes offences that are triggered when an Australian public official discloses official secrets or obtained in the course of their employment.

What are the risks?

The proposed offences will target some conduct that should clearly be a serious criminal offence, such as intentionally supporting a foreign intelligence agency.

However, the proposed laws go well beyond such clear cases to target a broad and vague range of conduct affecting Australian interests. This includes possessing unclassified information and any deceptive or undisclosed conduct that influences government processes.

Most importantly, the proposed changes pose risks to whistleblowers and Australian media organisations. These risks were compounded in 2014 by changes to national security legislation in response to the threat of foreign fighters.

Further reading: National security bills compound existing threats to media freedom

A journalist could face serious penalties under the proposed espionage offences for receiving information leaked by a government official or intelligence whistleblower, before they even decide to publish that information.

It seems the information need not even be classified for the penalties to apply, provided making the information available would benefit a foreign country or organisation.

The government needs to ensure that journalists publishing sensitive information in the public interest will not face criminal prosecution for espionage or other federal criminal offences. This should be done by drafting legal protections for journalists who act in a professional capacity in the public interest.

Assurances from Attorney-General George Brandis that journalists will not be prosecuted for doing their job are not enough.

The proposed laws should be viewed not only as a response to increasing Chinese influence in Australia, but also as symptomatic of a post-Snowden crackdown, in which all potentially embarrassing information about government is closely protected.

Similar debates about expanded espionage offences and press freedom have already taken place in the UK. These debates confirm that "national security" is no longer simply about physical threats like terrorism or traditional forms of spying.

Increasingly, the language of national security is invoked to protect a government's broader interests - political, business and economic.

Keiran Hardy, Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Member, Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

December 14, 2017 | Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Votes to Kill Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to repeal the rules that were put in place under the Obama Administration in 2015, which were aimed to protect internet access from abuse of speed restrictions from internet service providers of specific services whilst prioritizing others, and to keep the internet open and fair. Essentially, the rules were to ensure net neutrality was protected.

Yesterday, everything changed when the FCC voted 3-to-2, to repeal the net neutrality rules.

Freedom Publishers Union advocates for net neutrality and condemns the latest vote by the FCC to repeal the rules. We believe the internet should be free and accessible to everyone, without restriction, censorship, interference and/or speed manipulation.

The repeal of the rules are set to favor big telecommunications companies and internet service providers. The path is now clear for service providers to prioritize specific services over others. Freedom Publishers Union Director, Chris McGimpsey-Jones says, "It is unclear as to how this will affect consumers at this early stage. But it is almost certain that the repeal will make it more difficult for smaller service providers on the internet deliver their goods against the giants of the internet - Google, Amazon, Facebook and Netflix.". The internet delivery power these four giants of Silicon Valley hold is a growing concern. Whilst Netflix still has some competition, moreso now an agreement has been made for Disney to acquire a major chunk of 21st Century Fox in an effort to compete directly with Netflix, Google, Amazon and Facebook have almost nil competition. Now that net neutrality has effectively been killed by the FCC, their power is guaranteed to increase. This will accelerate the challenges startups face when trying to grow their services and make it more difficult for them to compete for their space on the internet, as internet service providers are now free to prioritize service delivery to Google, Facebook and Netflix (or any other service they reach a commercial deal with). This is a slap in the face for both startups and consumers, and will undoubtedly result in startups and smaller service providers being locked out of the internet fast lane.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to advocate for a free and open internet - net neutrality. We are not alone. There have been millions of internet activists speak out on the potential dangers of killing net neutrality rules, as have many of the large internet companies and service providers. Chris adds, "The FCC outright ignore the purpose of the fundamental design and foundations of why the internet was created. Instead, they view it as a money making machine of which they insist on handing control to Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.". These are the big three internet service providers that deliver a huge chunk of internet access to consumers in the US. Chris continues, "Instead, the internet should remain free and neutral, and data should be allowed to flow freely in an organic nature, with absolute minimal regulation. Where regulation is applicable and necessary, and that's another matter for argument, that regulation should not include placing impediments against net neutrality. As someone who is actively and aggressively involved with fighting for digital rights, I view this as a big sticking up of the middle finger by the FCC, accompanied with a big f**k you.".

Freedom Publishers Union expects there will be much negative feedback that follows from the FCC decision. We also expect to see legal action launched against the FCC. Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has referred to the telecommunications companies as the "online gatekeepers". Jay continues on to state, "nobody should think that network neutrality is dead. We at the ACLU and our allies will be fighting back at the federal, state and local level to restore the protections that the FCC has now eviscerated. And there is plenty that citizens can do. But the clock is now ticking because Americans may soon begin to see negative changes in the internet they've always known.".

Chris of Freedom Publishers Union concludes, "The fight is not over. Net neutrality can still be upheld.".

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

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November 15, 2017 | Illegal Access to Financial Data of US Citizens, Not Necessarily Intentionally Illegal

On October 6, 2017, Buzzfeed revealed details of accusations that US Government departments and intelligence agencies have been illegally spying on American citizen's financial data.

Freedom Publishers Union always put forward our strong opposition to government surveillance programs. Most often, they are deemed illegal and are extremely complex and sophisticated, intertwined networks.

The aforementioned details that emerged of the financial data of American citizens being illegally accessed is slightly disturbing, but Freedom Publishers Union does not believe that it is cause for too much concern. This can be justified by the fact that it gained very little follow up media coverage. And the Buzzfeed publication itself was of questionable quality journalism. Instead, the publication was typical of Buzzfeed's usual hyper point-and-print method of presentation. But that's not to say they've brought up an important issue which requires closer analysis.

Questionable access to this type of data is what happens when different committees of the US Congress write laws unintentionally (or with intentional forethought) don't coordinate their legislation to the extent they should. Especially under what Congress would consider 'crisis' situations, like the common response to 'terrorism' or situations which are quickly, yet unnecessarily deemed a threat to 'national security'.

Money laundering and other financial mischief has become a catch-all for financial transactions that don't smell right to investigators from a wide variety of law enforcement agencies, investigative departments within the banking sector, federal intelligence agencies and the many other organizations involved with investigating cases of money laundering and other illegal financial activity.

Lest we forget the Treasury, which has responsibility for the accounting for the US Government - including the ability to print money. Which is not the same as the Federal Reserve, which has direct responsibility for the economy outside of the Government. Then there's the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and the now dissolved Office of Thrift Supervision - those are just some of the federal agencies. Every US State also has the same panoply of agencies that don't report to the US Government. Worse still, there are areas of financial law that are truly gray areas where depending on a multitude of factors, a crime may or may not have been committed.

It's a financial oversight minefield, yet with very good intention. But the legal/illegal access of financial data and sharing of the data between these oversight agencies in cases of legitimate investigation into genuine illegal financial activity, is equal a minefield with the after-effects creating just more minefields. The question of legality spreads like a virus.

This must all be taken into perspective, before anyone can begin to assess whether access to financial data is concluded as legal or illegal.
All of these agencies have some responsibility for monitoring financial crimes. Which of course, involves both identifying a financial crime and then enforcing the criminal statute. And therein lies the problem: The necessary information to identifying and prosecuting a financial criminal is their finances and their identity. Pure and simple. Thus, you're going to get overlap in finding this information, and in the process, you will have agencies that are looking at data that is potentially outside of their oversight jurisdiction, but required for them to do their investigation.

A certain amount of backdoor co-operation between agencies is hardly unknown. Until the advent of data mining, this wasn't even a concern to defense attorneys. It was always assumed to happen. The required financial brief and accompanying identification details would be initially logged and eventually the correct agency would get the data and collate it into an enforcement context allowing them to act on the final gathered information and data.

In order for any enforcement to work today, each and every transaction in the chain from start to end needs to be identified, reviewed and traced before the actual criminal activity is identified.

Many of these schemes involve regular, everyday citizens that get sucked into part of that chain whether the transactions be for work or private purpose. Many of which will appear to be completely normal unless you find them in the longer chain of tracking the activity trail. This is precisely why we have all these different agencies looking into individual bank accounts, which is now being labeled "illegal".

An ugly combination of the hairball of unco-operative laws, the separation of expertise into isolated agencies, and as much as anything, the unjustified media hype surrounding all these actions portray the government as snooping on your $20 withdrawals from your bank. This is not exactly true and must be completely examined and put into proper context.

It could be the simple result of someone (or a group of individuals in any number of the aforementioned departments) may be either disobeying the law because another law requires them to, disobeying a law intentionally, or just doing gray area research in order to legitimately carry out their investigation in an effort of genuine pursuit of criminals. It doesn't really matter to the individuals swept up in the financial data analysis, as they are just anonymous points of data in a much, much larger pattern of possible illegal activity.

So the whole "If you are not doing anything illegal, then you have nothing to hide" statement, actually does apply in this case.

There's two vital questions which must be asked: Is this a consequence of too zealously pursing illegal activities that suck millions of innocent citizens into the confusion? Or is this the price we (Americans specifically) have to pay to get the criminals that are allegedly ruining our lives?

Finally, we propose a possible afterthought and ask further: Is this actually making us safer? Or is it just another consequence of modern-day prohibition where everyone is assumed a criminal?

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

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October 27, 2017 | Russia Mass-Surveillance Revelations

September 19, 2017, Wikileaks dumped an unusual set of documents related to mass-surveillance programs inside Russia.

The Wikileaks Press Release states that, "While the surveillance of communication traffic is a global phenomena, the legal and technological framework of its operation is different for each country. Russia's laws - especially the new Yarovaya Law - make literally no distinction between lawful interception and mass-surveillance by state intelligence authorities without court orders.".

It continues by stating, "Russian communication providers are required by Russian law to install the so-called SORM components for surveillance provided by the FSB, at their own expense. The SORM infrastructure is developed and deployed in Russia with close co-operation between the FSB, the Interior Ministry of Russia and Russian surveillance contractors.".

Information provided to Freedom Publishers Union details SORM as the technical infrastructure for the Russian surveillance networks and is operated on a national scale. It dates back to 1995 and has evolved from SORM-1 (capturing telephone and cell phone communications) and SORM-2 in 1999 (interception and collection of internet traffic), to the current SORM-3. SORM now collects information from all forms of Russian communications networks, and provides long-term storage of all information and data, including the possibility of storage of actual recordings and locations. The infrastructure was expanded in 2014 to include social media platforms. The Ministry of Communications ordered companies to install new networking and technical equipment with Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) capability. In 2016, SORM-3 added additional classified regulations that apply to all internet service providers operating inside Russia. The European Court for Human Rights has previously deemed Russia's SORM legislation in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, in 2015 (Zakharov v. Russia).

Whilst most of the Wikileaks documents are in Russian, there are a couple of English language documents in the collection which come from PETER-SERVICE, a Russian billing services provider and now a major software supplier of for the Russian mobile telecommunications industry. According to information provided by Wikileaks, technology developed and supplied by PETER-SERVICE extend beyond traditional billing services and into mass-surveillance. PETER-SERVICE goes beyond simply complying with strict Russian surveillance laws and is apparently initiating partnerships and establishing commercial business opportunities with Russia's state intelligence departments.

Data retention is a crucial piece of the surveillance program operating inside Russia. According to a Data Retention System document released by Wikileaks, the Data Retention System service "is an add-on product for the Core Subsystems of SPS Family of Products (SVC_BASE). It provides access to the main functions of PETER-SERVICE SVC_BASE by means of the web interface". Details inside the documents cited by Freedom Publishers Union include meta-data search functions, filtering and search export options. The descriptive details resemble that of what we learned from documents provided by former intelligence and security contractor, Edward Snowden, about the PRISM and ICReach programs which are part of the mass-surveillance network operated by the National Security Agency (NSA). Previous evidence published suggests that some NSA operated programs extend accessibility to fellow agencies throughout the ¿Five Eyes' intelligence network - USA/UK/Canada/Australia/New Zealand - and to the CIA, then filtered all the way through to the FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Access is vast and wide. Therefore, there is every possibility that the Russian mass-surveillance network that operates inside the country will have the same level of data accessibility and free sharing of citizen's meta-data throughout Russian Government departments, primarily the FSB.

Meta-data is required to be collected and stored for a duration of 3 years. According to PETER-SERVICE, their data retention system components can handle 500,000,000 connections per day, in one cluster. The data retention laws and required time-frame for the data to be stored is not unusual and has stark similarities to meta-data laws in Western nations.

As PETER-SERVICE operates in the Russian mobile telecommunications sector, it has put itself in a unique market position to be able to collect meta-data, cell phone communications data, cell device identification information, network connections information and cell phone tracking through cell phone tower connection monitoring. We do not know exactly the types of data that is being monitored and collected, but potentially, the amount of data could be huge and resemble that of other global mass-surveillance programs that operate.

The Russian documents release is a game changer on how we approach the notion of mass-surveillance because now we have learned that these programs that effectively spy on a country's citizens are operating on a global scale - inside all types of oppressive, repressive, communist and democratic regimes.

It's no longer safe to assume any country is free of mass-surveillance. We need to stop focusing on any given country and start talking about surveillance generically. But we must also be careful to not accept that mass and dragnet surveillance on sweeping scale is the norm and we must always raise immediate concerns over potential violations of privacy and civil liberties.

Ultimately, a set of United Nations guidelines on how all mass-surveillance initiating countries should disclose and monitor their compliance would be appropriate. However, Freedom Publishers Union still believes it is still almost impossible to achieve any kind of United Nations standards for surveillance oversight and transparency, simply because many nations still are not publicly admitting that many of these programs actually exist and are operating. Despite confirmation from the many documents that have been published which prove their existence and continued operation, and despite questionable legal right to operate.

Privacy in nearly all aspects of life is no longer possible, so it is time that we focus on establishing what the different expectations of privacy are, how they're defined, and how the scope of each can be legally protected from abuse and whether lawful and realistic transparency and public disclosure can be applied. Because it's the abuse that is the driver of our fear against mass-surveillance and fear of losing our privacy.

We need to define what abuse of privacy means in each of these legal and illegal instances and continue to provide input and feedback to governments and political legislators on how to define abuse and misuse, and how to appropriately use laws to prevent abuse and compensate those who are victims of any actual abuse that occurs.

The Russian-sponsored revelations are effectively the launchpad needed to reboot public discourse on the dangers of mass-surveillance, the dangers of passing laws that permit (and in some cases force) dragnet surveillance through hardware and software data gathering technologies and also the lack of sufficient oversight backed up by meaningful transparency.

It is no longer about throwing out the message that surveillance should be stopped completely. Ultimately, we believe that it should be. But realistically, surveillance must be structured according to our aforementioned points of oversight, transparency and accountability for abuse.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

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October 27, 2017 | Australian National Identification Database is an Extension of Existing Mass-Surveillance Programs

The Australian Government is pushing its privacy attacking agenda onto the State Governments, in an effort to harbor support which would see the possible implementation of a national identification database.

As Freedom Publishers Union understands it, the national identification database which would require the complete co-operation by State Governments to proceed and citizen's identities and accompanying information collated by using current photo identification from drivers licenses, proof of age identification and passports.

We condemn the move and deem it unnecessary. The Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is claiming that the creation of the database is necessary in Australia's fight against local terrorism. He continues to advocate that a national identification database would greatly benefit law enforcement and intelligence agencies in their fight against extremist behavior, particularly in events of mass gathering of citizens.

We believe the creation of a national identification database has major security concerns which need addressing which have been raised by privacy advocates and civil libertarians, yet seemingly are being ignored and brushed aside by the Government. Instead, the Government presses ahead by claiming that it's an important issue of national security. Furthermore, the Australian Government with initial support from the various State Governments, are making public claims that in the interest of national security, the national identification database must be established as national security is more important than civil liberties.

We dispute this claim, directly. Nothing is beyond maintaining the civil liberties of a democratic country's citizens. It's these very civil liberties that exist within the foundations of democracy which makes democracy function so well. Particularly in Australia, where our democracy is the envy of the world.

Legislation has already been implemented in Australia which is directly targeted at combating terrorism - locally and abroad. Some of the current legislation we have opposed as civil liberties have already been impeded. Establishing a national identification database is a step too far and is moving beyond fighting terrorism and into technological territory of monitoring the behavior of innocent citizens who simply go about their daily business, without harm.

We also fear further attacks on encryption and security technology is next on the agenda for Malcolm Turnbull and the Australian Government's continued attacks on Australian's rights to privacy.

Freedom Publishers Union makes no apologies for upholding civil liberties and rights to privacy. We see a national identification database as a primary centralized target for international hacking groups, who seek easy access to mass data on Australian citizens, through sub-standard computer security.

Systems and networks handled by the Australian Government contractors do not have a good track record when it comes to maintaining strong security. There have been breaches in the past - some acknowledged, some unacknowledged. In some case, details of alleged breaches have to some degree been denied or even ignored as nothing serious. A classic case of 'nothing to see here'.

We do not trust that security surrounding any such central identification database will see any further enhanced security than what Australian Government systems are currently protected by. The security is lapse and citizens that face their photo identification and information being stored in a core database with sub-standard security should be concerned - purely on merits of privacy concerns.

Additionally, Australia is a democracy which comes with natural civil liberties. The country's intelligence community and network of surveillance programs, which is essentially connected to the 'Five Eyes' mass-surveillance network, have become victim to surveillance creep. Programs are established with good intention, but unfortunately get integrated into more extensive programs and information further collated into what essentially becomes a mass-surveillance program similar to what we've seen exposed in the past by Edward Snowden, Wikileaks and other media outlets - programs run by the NSA, GCHQ and the CIA.

Australia's intelligence agency, ASIO, is also a partner to these major US and UK-based mass-surveillance initiating agencies who thrive on data gathered by dragnet surveillance programs. It seems Australia has simply followed the global mass-surveillance trend, which continue to operate, gather more data and become more complex, despite governments touting their efforts to reign in these often illegal programs.

Freedom Publishers Union sees an Australian national identification database as an extension of more extensive dragnet programs and therefore can not support such creation of such an unnecessary and unjustified central database, as it directly impedes on civil liberties and outright breaches the privacy of Australian citizens.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

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October 9, 2017 | Let's Face It, We'll Be No Safer with a National Facial Recognition Database

A commitment to share the biometric data of most Australians - including your driving licence photo - agreed at Thursday's Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting will result in a further erosion of our privacy.

That sharing is not necessary. It will be costly. But will it save us from terrorism? Not all, although it will give people a false sense of comfort.

Importantly, it will allow politicians and officials to show that they are doing something, in a climate where a hunt for headlines demands the appearance of action.

Your biometric data

Biometric data used in fingerprint and facial recognition systems is indelible. It can be used in authoritative identity registers, featured on identity documents such as passports and driver licences.

It can be automatically matched with data collected from devices located in airports, bus and train stations, retail malls, court buildings, prisons, sports facilities and anywhere else we could park a networked camera.

Australia's state and territory governments have built large biometric databases through registration of people as drivers - every licence has a photograph of the driver. The national government has built large databases through registration for passports, aviation/maritime security and other purposes.

Irrespective of your consent to uses beyond those for which the picture was taken, the governments now have a biometric image of most Australians, and the ability to search the images.

COAG announced that the governments will share that data in the name of security.

Sharing data with who?

Details of the sharing are very unclear. This means we cannot evaluate indications that images will be captured in both public and private places. For example, in retail malls and libraries or art galleries - soft targets for terrorism - rather than in streets and secure buildings such as Parliament House.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has responded to initial criticism by clarifying that matching will not involve "live" CCTV.

But the history of Australian surveillance law has been a matter of creep, with step-by-step expansion of what might initially have been an innocuous development. When will law enforcement agencies persuade their ministers to include live public or private CCTV for image matching?

We cannot tell which officials will be accessing the data and what safeguards will be established to prevent misuse. Uncertainty about safeguards is worrying, given the history of police and other officials inappropriately accessing law enforcement databases on behalf of criminals or to stalk a former partner.

The sharing occurs in a nation where Commonwealth, state and territory privacy law is inconsistent. That law is weakly enforced, in part because watchdogs such as the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) are under-resourced, threatened with closure or have clashed with senior politicians.

Australia does not have a coherent enforceable right to privacy. Instead we have a threadbare patchwork of law (including an absence of a discrete privacy statute in several jurisdictions).

The new arrangement has been foreshadowed by governments over several years. It can be expected to creep, further eroding privacy and treating all citizens as suspects.

Software and hardware providers will be delighted: there's money to be made by catering to our fears. But we should be asking some hard questions about the regime and questioning COAG's statement.

Let's avoid a privacy car crash

Will sharing and expansion of the biometric network - a camera near every important building, many cameras on every important road - save us from terrorism? The answer is a resounding no. Biometrics, for example, seems unlikely to have saved people from the Las Vegas shooter.

Will sharing be cost effective? None of the governments have a great track record with major systems integration. The landscape is littered with projects that went over budget, didn't arrive on time or were quietly killed off.

Think the recent Census and Centrelink problems, and the billion dollar bust up known as the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record.

It won't be improved by a new national ID card to fix the Medicare problem.

Is the sharing proportionate? One answer is to look at experience in India, where the Supreme Court has comprehensively damned that nation's ambitious Aadhaar biometric scheme that was meant to solve security, welfare and other problems.

The Court - consistent with decisions in other parts of the world - condemned the scheme as grossly disproportionate: a disregard of privacy and of the dignity of every citizen.

Is sharing likely to result in harms, particularly as the biometric network grows and grows? The answer again is yes. One harm, disregarded by our opportunistic politicians, is that all Australians and all visitors will be regarded as suspects.

Much of the data for matching will be muddy - some street cameras, for example, are fine resting places for pigeons - and of little value.

As with the mandatory metadata retention scheme, the more data (and more cameras) we have the bigger trove of indelible information for hackers. Do not expect the OAIC or weak state privacy watchdogs (which in some jurisdictions do not exist) to come to the rescue.

As a society we should demand meaningful consultation about official schemes that erode our rights. We should engage in critical thinking rather than relying on headlines that reflect political opportunism and institutional self-interest.

The incoherent explanation and clarifications should concern everyone, irrespective of whether they have chosen to be on Facebook - and even if they have nothing to hide and will never be mistaken for someone else.

Bruce Baer Arnold, University of Canberra

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

September 23, 2017 | Increased Usage of CIA Drones Raises Questions of Morality

Last week, the NY Times reported of new efforts underway within The White House, to garner the appropriate measures required to remove any legal restrictions currently imposed for operations of unmanned drones used by the CIA for air-strikes, in Afghanistan.

There are three questions that require closer analysis by international academics. Right now, not enough questions are being asked by academics with global influence. This story was only covered by the NY Times, as most other reputable media outlets ignored the story. And the smaller agencies that did publish information on the story simply produced recycled content from the original NY Times piece. It's time that we start to begin asking the most vital and fundamental questions as to the role the US plays in the world.

1. Is the US really in a position to declare itself the world's 'police force', engaging 'criminals' at the regime level around the world?

2. Is this simply justification for being war-mongering racists?

3. Are we continuing to pursue the Taliban and al Qaeda because they have political resonance in America, or because they are a real danger to global stability?

As the continuing terrorist attacks in London and wider-Europe illustrate, these terrorist groups and loyal followers are going to do this no matter what. Whether they are religious zealots or simply anarchist extremists, terrorist acts will continue to attempt to disrupt our modern way of life and our very democracy, as long as there are malcontent people.

The Jonestown massacre of 1978 in Guyana, or the Aum Shinrikyo subway sarin attack of 1995 in Tokyo - there is no redeeming aspect of a cult that exists solely to kill others, just because they believe they are better off or live the better way of life. The real question isn't can we take action to stop terrorism, because we can't. As long as there are malcontent people, there will be terrorists. Historical evidence cements the theory. What we need to know, is can we use military actions - overt or covert - to significantly reduce terror attacks.

If al Qaeda is the fan club for terrorists (they get their membership card, stickers for their notebook and cars, and a 20-page instruction manual that gives them a public brand for their actions), then destroying the club house is probably worthwhile.

If you are view al Qaeda as simply a Creative Commons-type service that anyone can use (like a hash-tag) then it's pointless to try and destroy leadership, because there isn't any. It very much resembles the concept of the Anonymous computer hacker collective. You deal with them like any other brand that you want to eliminate - you dilute the relevance of the brand by shifting the exposure of the brand to totally meaningless gestures. If they try to claim responsibility for a terrorist act, refuse to credit them and give it to someone else with a more specific meaning focusing on the individual who carried out the attack.

Media have a huge ethical responsibility here and must take action. Unfortunately, we believe that won't happen. News will continue to report terrorist attacks by brand name as it grabs viewer's immediate attention and we will continue to use military options. Not because military options work. But it's one of the few things governments can point to and say, "we're working on it".

Just like the TSA searches at airports, the symbolism of inconvenience makes people think 'something' is being done, even though the actual activity does absolutely nothing to improve security procedures over previous methods.

Freedom Publishers Union believes that drones do have a role in military conflict. However, we also have a strict view that they must be used for specific targets which are based on very reliable source information. CIA drones are too easily used as a tool to exclude all aspects of human responsibility for civilian casualties, when they occur. The fact can not be ignored that they will occur. When civilians are killed, then the CIA, the US Military or any other government associated killing force must act, own up and someone must take full responsibility for civilian casualties from drones.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

September 20, 2017 | North Korea Peace Opportunities Are Becoming Increasingly Difficult to Foresee

Freedom Publishers Union fears the time that the United Nations (UN) could negotiate any kind of sustainable and effectively peaceful settlement with North Korea ended back in the early 1960's, when North Korea raised their million-man army.

If military conflict is to eventuate between North Korea and the United States of America (USA), perhaps with assistance from its allies, then it will likely be a very short war and remain conventional and without any nuclear weapons being used by either side, other than rhetorical threats to the effect of deterrence. The issue is not that the USA, China, Russia or any UN coalition force could not defeat North Korea, but the real problem is South Korea.

South Korea is one of the major manufacturing powers in the world, yet unfortunately happens to share its border with a country that has the ability to pretty much annihilate the South in a matter of minutes, without any use of nuclear weapons. North Korea has a massive amount of troops and equipment right on the North/South Demilitarized Zone. The artillery alone is capable of destroying 80% of the South Korean capital of Seoul and the surrounding area in about one hour, with severe punishment delivered within just the few first minutes. Effectively, this holds the South to ransom in addition to its key ally, the USA.

The million-man army of the North can literally be across the border and enter the South and into what would be left of Seoul within hours, not days, with the potential to extend through the rest of the country in just weeks.

Freedom Publishers Union believe China and Russia are the reasonable ones at the table, because they realize what the instant loss of South Korea would mean. China and Russia do massive trade and business with the South. Even more than the USA and Australia, of which do privately recognize the instant threat posed to the South, but are shy to go on public record of the acknowledgement. The dark realization is that unless the rest of the world is willing to write-off South Korea and spend multiple trillions to rebuild it, there will be no action against North Korea that we can foresee.

Whilst China and Russia have given support for some important sanctions, they are on record at the UN for not increasing some sanctions and actually relaxing them if North Korea sits still for a while. Additionally, tough sanctions proposed by the UN have effectively been watered-down by China and Russia in effort to gain their support through the UN but to also protect important trade with the North. Both countries have sternly warned the USA and its allies against launching any military action against North Korea. At least to preemptive strikes. If North Korea was to attack first, then it might change the language of China and Russia, and indeed may result in actual launch of military action from them. To what extent exactly, would remain a mystery.

To be frank, Kim Jong-un is not an idiot. His actions and behavior may appear to present him as an idiot, but his strategy is absolutely brilliant and to a large degree, is working. He understands very well that he can rant and rave to keep the constant media attention focused on his country and dictatorship. He has the power and is using it to its fullest potential on the global stage, albeit not in a peaceful way.

Kim also knows that the only card he holds is the potential of obliterating South Korea within just minutes of any outbreak of war in the region. This goes to explain the sudden rush by the North to master nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Before their nuclear programs came to realization, North Korea would still be able to destroy a large part of the South before any allied response could follow. But that would most likely guarantee that the any allied response would certainly use nuclear arsenal and send the North back to the stone age almost immediately and carry on to disassemble what was left of the country's dictatorship regime and handing it to a democratic South.

A bi-lateral nuclear exchange is a completely different story. Short range nuclear weapons - even carried in trucks and detonated after the initial invasion - would make South Korea unrecoverable. It would literally be the world creating a new Israel for the remaining Koreans, as well as investing in the massive cleanup of hydrogen bomb devastation on such a scale never attempted to this very day, and a scenario we remain confident we will never see.

There is another ugly alternative on the Korean peninsula. And it's not good. South Korea could possibly be utterly destroyed at some point, because there is no possible way to prevent it. Even with the allies using tactical nuclear weapons to try and clear the border threat - which is actually becoming the most realistic option to solve the immediate border problem if you ignore the flow-on problems such a response would generate - would be the only way to delay ultimate destruction is to force the South Koreans to just accept that they are living on a nuclear fault line and reach out to their neighbors and make genuine efforts to achieve peace and acceptance. But it also means that the South would continue to survive and would open up the potential for trade with the North, which would increase their standard of living and eventually integrate them into a single trade entity.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

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September 11, 2017 | Paid News Subscriptions Are Key to Sustainable Media and Journalism

There was a moment in independent media history when I was a staunch advocate against all forms of web advertising and paid news subscriptions. I thought the formula was just all wrong and thought it would be death of media and news on the internet as we knew it. It was some years ago, but to be fair, my strict opinion of the time was probably justified and reflective of most people's opinions towards the concept of paying for news. Boy how times have changed. I can unashamedly declare that I have gradually formed a view which could be deemed polar opposite of the view that I used to have. I now proudly pay for a number of news subscriptions and for those services, among others, I actually allow web advertising through my ad-blocking browser extensions. Yes, a view completely of opposites. Shock.

It's difficult to pinpoint a single time in history that I could state that my opinion changed. Rather, it's been a gradual shift through a combination of reflection of the media industry as a whole, careful analysis of the differences between mainstream commercial news and quality journalism and how journalists and their work are both appreciated and not appreciated by the audience. As a result of my slow, yet careful and calculated reflection which has been an assessment drawn out over the last two to three years, I've come to a better understanding of all things media, the true benefits of targeted web advertising for respective media agencies that actually deserve the revenue they receive through advertising and also how funds received through paid subscriptions not only benefits the quality of journalism produced, but also carries on to breed and nurture further quality journalism.

If I was to break it all down even further, I could say that paying for news is paying the journalists for their work and tireless effort. It's all about creating a and sustaining a creative media platform. If you don't show your appreciation for the hard work, then there will no longer be quality journalists in media to produce such quality content and instead we will see news being produced, recycled, facts twisted, published and re-published by robots. The sad fact is, this is already happening with some online media producers. Somewhere in my complicated unexplainable personal media analysis algorithm, I guess this point was also included to bring me to any kind of conclusive judgment of why we should be paying for news.

One can present the obvious counter-argument of why would you pay for news when you can still read it for free. Well, it's a fair argument to make as no one can deny there are still many free news sites remaining online and don't look like they're going to disappear anytime soon. Still, if you are one of these people to assume the position that they're always going to remain online, remain free and regarded as quality journalism, then you're taking both a naive view towards the media industry and showing not only lack of appreciation for proper quality journalism which is fact based and properly researched, but also shows your obvious display of no appreciation for the services you consume - most likely every single day.

Running a media agency or publishing business is expensive. Although it mat not seem so obvious when you are staring into the glow of a computer screen, everyone must understand that all aspects of the operations cost money. That money has to come from somewhere. It must come from a combination of commercial interests through targeted advertising and paid subscriptions. I will refrain from publicly naming the news agencies and websites that I now subscribe to, in effort to avoid promoting one agency over another and to also avoid being shamed to taking a particular media bias or political media perspective. In fact, it's the opposite of that. My own selection of media subscriptions that I have chosen to support covers a range of left/right political bias and spreads across a national Australian and international spectrum.

I also wish to make the point that if you pay for news through subcription services, it not only has benefits for the media agency producing the news you consume and retains the quality of the journalistic efforts, but your support through subscription also has a greater personal meaning when you visit that website. When reading content through paid subscription, you begin to appreciate the words you are reading. They almost take on a completely different meaning and you begin to respect journalists instead of taking it for granted.

The benefits are apparent for journalists, publishers, consumers and the entire media industry.

This Editorial is written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones, who is the Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Publishers Union.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

September 8, 2017 | Google's Ideological Echo Chamber

"Google's Ideological Echo Chamber" is also more commonly known as "The Google Manifesto", first cicrulated as an internal memo within the ranks of Google offices. The manifesto is dated July 2017 and since its original publication on the Gizmodo website, the author has been revealed as US-based Google software engineer, James Damore.

The manifesto specifically outlines Damore's concerns on Google's diversity policies and argues that Google continues to shut down conversations about diversity within the Silicon Valley company.

Since the release of the manifesto, Damore has been fired from Google. We believe the manifesto is important in the issues that it raises and should be published, not censored. We also believe that the firing of Damore was completely unjustified. Although Damore's actions probably did violate Google's employee code of conduct, we think the actions of firing the employee for his actions of speaking out justify the issues he outlines in the manifesto - speak up, and you get shut down.

Freedom Publishers Union has published the most complete and unedited version of the text of the manifesto available, below.

Google's Ideological Echo Chamber

Reply to public response and misrepresentation

I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don't endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can't have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber. Despite what the public response seems to have been, I've gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change.

TL:DR

Background [1]

People generally have good intentions, but we all have biases which are invisible to us. Thankfully, open and honest discussion with those who disagree can highlight our blind spots and help us grow, which is why I wrote this document.[2] Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology. What follows is by no means the complete story, but it's a perspective that desperately needs to be told at Google.

Google's biases

At Google, we talk so much about unconscious bias as it applies to race and gender, but we rarely discuss our moral biases. Political orientation is actually a result of deep moral preferences and thus biases. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the social sciences, media, and Google lean left, we should critically examine these prejudices.

Left Biases

Right Biases

Neither side is 100% correct and both viewpoints are necessary for a functioning society or, in this case, company. A company too far to the right may be slow to react, overly hierarchical, and untrusting of others. In contrast, a company too far to the left will constantly be changing (deprecating much loved services), over diversify its interests (ignoring or being ashamed of its core business), and overly trust its employees and competitors.

Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google's left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies. For the rest of this document, I'll concentrate on the extreme stance that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment and the authoritarian element that's required to actually discriminate to create equal representation.

Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech [3]

At Google, we're regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognisant of this, but it's far from the whole story.

On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren't just socially constructed because:

Note, I'm not saying that all men differ from women in the following ways or that these differences are "just." I'm simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don't see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there's significant overlap between men and women, so you can't say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

Men's higher drive for status

We always ask why we don't see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.

Status is the primary metric that men are judged on[4], pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths.

Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap

Below I'll go over some of the differences in distribution of traits between men and women that I outlined in the previous section and suggest ways to address them to increase women's representation in tech and without resorting to discrimination. Google is already making strides in many of these areas, but I think it's still instructive to list them:

Philosophically, I don't think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women. For each of these changes, we need principles reasons for why it helps Google; that is, we should be optimising for Google ¿ with Google's diversity being a component of that. For example currently those trying to work extra hours or take extra stress will inevitably get ahead and if we try to change that too much, it may have disastrous consequences. Also, when considering the costs and benefits, we should keep in mind that Google's funding is finite so its allocation is more zero-sum than is generally acknowledged.

The Harm of Google's biases

I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices:

These practices are based on false assumptions generated by our biases and can actually increase race and gender tensions. We're told by senior leadership that what we're doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology[7] that can irreparably harm Google.

Why we're blind

We all have biases and use motivated reasoning to dismiss ideas that run counter to our internal values. Just as some on the Right deny science that runs counter to the "God > humans > environment" hierarchy (e.g., evolution and climate change) the Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ[8] and sex differences). Thankfully, climate scientists and evolutionary biologists generally aren't on the right. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of humanities and social scientists learn left (about 95%), which creates enormous confirmation bias, changes what's being studied, and maintains myths like social constructionism and the gender wage gap[9]. Google's left leaning makes us blind to this bias and uncritical of its results, which we're using to justify highly politicized programs.

In addition to the Left's affinity for those it sees as weak, humans are generally biased towards protecting females. As mentioned before, this likely evolved because males are biologically disposable and because women are generally more co-operative and areeable than men. We have extensive government and Google programs, fields of study, and legal and social norms to protect women, but when a man complains about a gender issue issue [sic] affecting men, he's labelled as a misogynist and whiner[10]. Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women's oppression. As with many things in life, gender differences are often a case of "grass being greener on the other side"; unfortunately, taxpayer and Google money is spent to water only one side of the lawn.

The same compassion for those seen as weak creates political correctness[11], which constrains discourse and is complacent to the extremely sensitive PC-authoritarians that use violence and shaming to advance their cause. While Google hasn't harbored the violent leftists protests that we're seeing at universities, the frequent shaming in TGIF and in our culture has created the same silence, psychologically unsafe environment.

Suggestions

I hope it's clear that I'm not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn't try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don't fit a certain ideology. I'm also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I'm advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).

My concrete suggestions are to:

De-moralize diversity.

Stop alienating conservatives.

Confront Google's biases.

Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races.

Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.

Focus on psychological safety, not just race/gender diversity.

De-emphasise empathy.

Prioritise intention.

Be open about the science of human nature.

Reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory for promo committees.

[1] This document is mostly written from the perspective of Google's Mountain View campus, I can't speak about other offices or countries.

[2] Of course, I may be biased and only see evidence that supports my viewpoint. In terms of political biases, I consider myself a classical liberal and strongly value individualism and reason. I'd be very happy to discuss any of the document further and provide more citations.

[3] Throughout the document, by "tech", I mostly mean software engineering.

[4] For heterosexual romantic relationships, men are more strongly judged by status and women by beauty. Again, this has biological origins and is culturally universal.

[5] Stretch, BOLD, CSSI, Engineering Practicum (to an extent), and several other Google funded internal and external programs are for people with a certain gender or race.

[6] Instead set Googlegeist OKRs, potentially for certain demographics. We can increase representation at an org level by either making it a better environment for certain groups (which would be seen in survey scores) or discriminating based on a protected status (which is illegal and I've seen it done). Increased representation OKRs can incentivise the latter and create zero-sum struggles between orgs.

[7] Communism promised to be both morally and economically superior to capitalism, but every attempt became morally corrupt and an economic failure. As it became clear that the working class of the liberal democracies wasn't going to overthrow their "capitalist oppressors," the Marxist intellectuals transitioned from class warfare to gender and race politics. The core oppressor-oppressed dynamics remained, but now the oppressor is the "white, straight, cis-gendered patriarchy."

[8] Ironically, IQ tests were initially championed by the Left when meritocracy meant helping the victims of the aristocracy.

[9] Yes, in a national aggregate, women have lower salaries than men for a variety of reasons. For the same work though, women get paid just as much as men. Considering women spend more money than men and that salary represents how much the employees sacrifices (e.g. more hours, stress, and danger), we really need to rethink our stereotypes around power.

[10] "The traditionalist system of gender does not deal well with the idea of men needing support. Men are expected to be strong, to not complain, and to deal with problems on their own. Men's problems are more often seen as personal failings rather than victimhood,, due to our gendered idea of agency. This discourages men from bringing attention to their issues (whether individual or group-wide issues), for fear of being seen as whiners, complainers, or weak."

[11] Political correctness is defined as "the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against," which makes it clear why it's a phenomenon of the Left and a tool of authoritarians.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

August 31, 2017 | Xenix: The Microsoft Unix That Once Was

One would not normally associate Microsoft with Unix. While Microsoft's interest(s) in Unix may remain minimal in recent times, history tells a very different story. Let us take a quick journey down memory lane, back to the late 1970's and into the early-mid 80's.

In 1979, Microsoft formed an agreement with AT&T Corporation to license Unix from AT&T. Then Microsoft licensed out its renamed Unix to OEM vendors, including Intel, Tandy and SCO. Those companies then ported it to their own hardware architectures and requirements. Microsoft was hit by a legal problem of the ¿UNIX¿ name not being able to be used. Therefore, Microsoft was forced to come up with their own distribution name. Xenix was chosen. To put it simply, AT&T licensed Unix to Microsoft and then Microsoft passed on the same Unix software re-branded as Xenix.

Microsoft's intention was to take Xenix to the 16bit microcomputer market. The initial port of Xenix was to the Zilog Z8000 series and then followed on the the Intel 8086/8088 architecture. By the time Microsoft reached the 7th edition, it was incorporating elements of BSD. Xenix became the most widely installed base of any Unix distribution. This was largely due to the continued popularity of the relatively inexpensive x86 processor. There was lots of modifications being done to Xenix by many different companies. Microsoft Xenix originally run on the PDP-11. It was then ported to the Zilog Z8001. Altos ported it to their Intel 8086 based computers. Tandy Corporation ported it to their 68000 based computers. SCO released a port to the IBM PC in September 1983. There was even a port for the 68000 based Apple Lisa.

During this time, Xenix was based on AT&T's Unix System III. Xenix version 2.0 was released in 1985, based on Unix System V. Microsoft then released the updated 2.1.1, which added support for the Intel 80286 processor. There were several more compatibility releases based on Unix System V. In 1987, SCO ported Xenix to the Intel 386 processor, which was a 32bit based chip. Xenix 2.3.1 was released and included support for i386, SCSI and TCP/IP. SCO's Xenix system was the first 32bit operating system available for the x86 architecture.

By the mid 1980's, Microsoft signed an agreement with IBM to develop OS/2. The code name for the project would be called CP/DOS. As Microsoft continued to develop CP/DOS with IBM, they gradually lost interest in Xenix. It took 2 years for IBM and Microsoft to develop the first release of CP/DOS, which was released with the name OS/2. It was released in 1987. And in the same year, ownership of Xenix was transferred to SCO. The agreement left Microsoft with a 25% ownership in SCO. History would repeat itself with Microsoft and OS/2. Microsoft lost interest in OS/2 development and focused its future and company strategy towards Windows NT. Despite Microsoft losing almost complete interest in Xenix, the company is said to have used Xenix internally right up until as late as 1993.

SCO released SCO Unix which was based on System V Release 3. SCO had included a number of improvements over Xenix. Although, Xenix did remain in the services line-up for SCO. AT&T and Sun Microsystems collaborated on merging portions of Xenix, BSD, SunOS and System V in to what became System V Release 4. Although SCO Unix was based on System V Release 3, it did include most of the advanced features that were included to make up System V Release 4. The last version of Xenix ever released was Xenix 2.3.4. At that time, Microsoft had little or nothing to do with the release or development. The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) has gone through several transitions of company re-organization and re-structuring. The former SCO and SCO Group are now owned by UnXis Inc. Derivatives of Xenix and SCO Unix continue on today and is now known as SCO OpenServer. It could be considered that if Xenix development had of continued, OpenServer is what it would now have been. The latest OpenServer 6.0 release still maintains backward-compatibility for software applications developed for Xenix 286 forwards.

Wikipedia proved to be a great resource for my research on Xenix and provided me with enough information to write this article. Anyone can go to Wikipedia and read the whole story for themselves. But I have attempted to simplify the details in to a more friendly and readable format. Personally, I find it an interesting story to find that early in Microsoft's history as a software company, for many years there was a serious reliance on Unix based operating systems for its initial survival. It probably ensured their long-term survival too. Whether you agree with all the past, present and future decisions that Microsoft made and continue to make, they're an interesting company to observe and one that always presents an interesting story.

It's also worth noting although Microsoft don't necessarily have a Unix or Linux based system available nowadays, they do contribute plenty of source code to the Linux kernel tree and other software projects. They have also rebooted their open-source initiatives in recent years with the launch of an internal department titled Microsoft Open Technologies. Microsoft now provides access to native Ubuntu Linux running inside Windows 10, as a sub-system. And development continues to bring Fedora and OpenSUSE sub-systems into Windows 10 also.

Microsoft can't really be famed for actually releasing any source code for their own crucial software products and services. But things are much better than they used to be. This is highlighted by the company throwing PowerShell source code out to the open-source community which has resulted in PowerShell binaries running natively on Linux. Also worth noting is the open-sourcing of the ChakraCore JavaScript engine that remains a core component of its Edge Browser package. These are all positive signs that Microsoft is beginning to accept that free and open-source technology is a real and viable alternative to proprietary. The best thing we can at least expect is much better interoperability and compatibility with FOSS alternatives.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Disclaimer: This article was originally published on Unixmen. The original author of the article is Chris McGimpsey-Jones and the article is published under the Creative Commons license model. The article remains published on Unixmen, however the website breaks the terms of the Creative Commons license and additionally, Unixmen has changed the name of the author and claims the article as their own. This is incorrect. Chris McGimpsey-Jones is the original author of the article and it is now published to Freedom Publishers Union, with permission by the original author and under Creative Commons license as permitted by the correct terms and conditions in accordance to the license.

August 30, 2017 | The Children of Linux

Linux - It's really not a hard operating system to learn. In fact, that statement is quite wrong. Linux is not an operating system. Linux is a kernel which is used as the very core to build an operating system around. But these are the things that children of today are not learning. At least, not in the public schools anyway.

When I was a teenager, I was very interested in computers. I looked forward to and really enjoyed my Information Technology classes. But it wasn't just the computers that I was interested in. The more I got involved with them, the more I wanted to know about what goes on to make them work. Or to be precise, the operating system. It's a long time ago now, but I remember when I was talking to my teacher one day he briefly said something about "Unix".

Until that time, I had never heard of this mysterious Unix system. He mentioned it only this one time. At the time, I really didn't know anything about Unix but was intrigued of what Unix could be. It was some years later before I got my first glimpse of anything to do with Linux. Which is the widely-accepted modern alternative to Unix. My first encounter with Linux was SUSE 8, which came free on a magazine at the time. I might mention, it later came to my attention the magazine was not actually meant to be giving the operating system away on the front cover as they were. Not long after my acquisition of the disc, I learned that I was the one responsible for having the copies of the disc recalled by the magazine publisher. How many were actually returned out of ethical duty is anyone's guess. I suspect it was not many. But ever since my first experience with SUSE 8, I never let go of Linux and have always been involved with it in one form or another.

Now as you all know and are well aware, Microsoft Windows is basically the only operating system taught in our public schools. I understand that the Windows operating system is the industry standard and I can accept that. But I don't believe teaching children how to use Windows solely, is the way forward to a positive IT future. And it is definitely not going to solve the problem of being able to fill the coming flood of positions that are set to become available in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) sector. If Linux even got a mention, it would be progress.

My high school years are well gone now, yet nothing has changed. Public schools are still teaching children Windows and (unintentionally) presenting it as the only operating system you'll ever need to learn and the only operating system than can cater for your daily computing requirements. This assumption is just so untrue and Linux has now evolved to become a great challenger to the Windows operating system in the home and office.

There arises many issues and setbacks with the aforementioned lack of Linux teachings in high schools. One of the primary reasons, being the IT teachers themselves having no concept of how to use Linux. There are many issues from many different angles. We are very lucky in some ways that we live in a world of fast broadband access where anyone can download and install Linux for free. This is accompanied by the huge wealth of technical information, guides and open-source development communities waiting to help, with a quick search in your favorite search engine. When I was in high school, a 56k dial-up internet connection was a true privilege and there was only one computer in the whole school that had internet access. I'm probably still on that waiting list to use that computer, as the list was always a mile long and your turn never seemed to arrive.

All my 15 years of Linux experience that I have today has all been self-taught. I have put myself through free courses and done my fair share of tinkering, configuring and certainly my fair share of breaking systems - sometimes accidental and sometimes intentional by motive of learning. I continue to get yelled at by family members because I've broken the computer once again or changed something! I'm sure it will continue for a very long time. Why? Because Linux offer endless learning capabilities. And despite being a Linux veteran, I am still learning things on Linux on a daily basis and still intentionally break things to see how they work in detail. In fact, I continue to experiment with third-party distributions and development packages which have potential to provide a very different user experience from the usual mainstream Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Fedora.

That is where we begin the see the whole point. There's endless possibilities of learning when it comes to Linux. And perhaps that's the problem when it comes to public schools and teaching Linux. It is such a large scale eco-system with so many different facets, where would one begin to teach. I see that as an excuse for not teaching Linux and not a valid argument. Because even giving children a glimpse of Linux in their high school studies will no doubt have a flow-on effect to further private studies and courses. Linux must be taught to future high school students. Otherwise, we are going to experience a severe shortage of knowledgeable Linux administrators in the future. We are already seeing the first signs of this problem and unless we start arming the young nerds of today with the knowledge they require to make up their own mind, we are going to continue to have even more problems than we do at present.

If things don't change soon, I can only hope that today's students come out of schooling as open-minded as I did and choose to at least give Linux a try and see for themselves the true raw power of free and open-source computing that is modern Unix - Linux.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Disclaimer: This article was originally published on Unixmen. The original author of the article is Chris McGimpsey-Jones and the article is published under the Creative Commons license model. The article remains published on Unixmen, however the website breaks the terms of the Creative Commons license and additionally, Unixmen has changed the name of the author and claims the article as their own. This is incorrect. Chris McGimpsey-Jones is the original author of the article and it is now published to Freedom Publishers Union, with permission by the original author and under Creative Commons license as permitted by the correct terms and conditions in accordance to the license.

July 18, 2017 | Civilian Casualties Abused and Disrespected by Coalition Forces. Bodies Just Become Collateral Damage Statistic

On July 11, 2017, ABC News in Australia published scathing details of civilian casualties in Afghanistan which includes the lethal shooting of children and unarmed men which have fallen at the hands of Australian Military involvement. This is followed up by details of abuse of bodies of the deceased in Afghanistan, with documents dating incident from 2009 right through to 2014.

The Afghan Files publication by ABC News is very alarming and brings to light the question of potential misconduct of Australian Special Forces soldiers in the Afghan warzones and the broader aspects of the culture that bonds these elite forces together, which mostly operate in secrecy and under what appears to be very limited oversight from the Department of Defense.

The details were based on leaked documents which authenticate the horrific allegations of abuse, which the ABC has chosen not to publish in full as many of them are marked with AUSTEO - Australian Eyes Only. Additionally, the reports are said to include details of a secret internal military inquiry into the cases of the civilian casualties and abuse claims.

Understandably, there has been growing frustrations within Afghan communities. The frustrations are directed towards the Australian Military for the many alleged cases of Australian soldiers killing innocent civilians, who are often determined post-incident to be unarmed, uninvolved in the conflict or in some cases found to be children. As further details are revealed, unarmed civilians who have been killed are often subjected to Australian soldiers setting up a 'scene' by placing knives or guns onto or surrounding the bodies of dead victims to portray them as being armed at the time of death by the Australians.

Freedom Publishers Union is deeply concerned by the details found in the ABC publication and we urge the Australian Government and the Department of Defense to look into the many outstanding issues surrounding these claims, which have been documented, leaked and published by the ABC, yet previously shrouded in secrecy from the wider public by the Department of Defense.

Later details reveal disturbing details of Australian soldiers mutilating dead Afghans by severing the hands off the bodies, in a so-called effort of identification-related purposes. As we understand it, Australian Military personnel are required to collect fingerprints and eye scans as part of the identification process of the deceased. But only if possible to do so. We are so disturbed that soldiers are resorting to what we view as desperate measures of body mutilation, in an effort to gain identification of the civilian casualties when they are not actually required to do so if it is deemed not possible.

The published details are graphic, disturbing and raises many questions of whether Australia's Military require closer oversight in war operations and also raises the potential question of whether a review of the current Rules of Engagement and other related military response and operations guidelines should be further reviewed. For obvious national security reasons, Rules of Engagement and other related military operations techniques and guidelines are usually kept secret and out of the public domain by the respective country's military.

Therefore, it remains nigh on impossible for Freedom Publishers Union to put exact parts of such operations and techniques under further scrutiny due to the surrounding secrecy measures implemented. However, we feel we have every right to call out possibilities of operations breaches if we have suspicion that there is in fact a breach or multiple breaches which have occurred.

The allegations and details publicized by ABC News bring many of these allegations to light, but it's also backed up by documented evidence that these cases did occur and that the Australian Military was aware of the possibility of multiple breaches, yet it was kept secret and out of the public domain.

The latest documents were dated as late as 2014, yet the atrocities carried out by Coalition forces, which includes Australia, continues today. It is important to view the violence from both sides of the coin and understand that these acts of aggression and violence is not just carried out by Coalition associated military forces, but also from Islamic State (IS) forces.

On July 10, 2017, Amnesty International released a 50-page Report titled "At Any Cost - The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul, Iraq". The Report notes that in March and May 2017, Amnesty International visited Northern Iraq to examine and investigate possible violations of human rights abuses and international humanitarian law.

The Report outlines the war atrocities and horrific and often unimaginable violence directly and indirectly involving civilians which is carried out by both Coalition and IS Military Forces.

IS continues to disrespect and outright ignore the laws of war, international humanitarian law and the most basic elements of human rights. The basic importance of human life also seems completely irrelevant in many cases. IS rounds up thousands of civilians at a time, moves them into known war zones and uses them as human shields. Essentially, this creates a very big problem. When you can't distinguish the 'Enemy' from 'Civilian' - as is the case fighting IS militants and the various off-shoot groups which are present in so many of these places across Iraq and Syria - you're going to get civilian casualties.

Furthermore, some of them are going to be deliberate killings. You can report, document, investigate and prosecute the soldiers retroactively, but as long as your are making war, this will continue to happen.

What we do need and what Freedom Publishers Union immediately calls for is civilian casualties properly acknowledged and respected, through proper documenting of the incidents surrounding their deaths. At present, we constantly see vast differences in the numbers of civilians killed based on the figures from Amnesty International and independent monitoring groups such as Airwars and Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in camparison to 'official' acknowledged and documented civilian casualties published in the public domain by The Pentagon.

With such vast difference in numbers of civilian casualties released to the public, suspicion grows and questions need to be asked. Somewhere between the high count of independent organizations and the relative low count of documented civilian casualties published by Government representative departments, we need to get a more accurate figure.

We need greater transparency and we need to see better public disclosure, whilst allowing independent monitoring groups better access to limited military data for the purpose of documentation of civilian casualties. Where classified information and sensitive data is involved, we urge better collaboration between independent monitoring organizations and the military to ensure proper security protocols are followed and respected.

This must also be followed up by ensuring that Rules of Engagement and military operations manuals and techniques are adapted to better accommodate the process for documenting incidents of civilians casualties in a secure, respectful way without the secrecy and constant denial of which we are currently witness to.

Too many civilians are being killed in Iraq and Syria and whilst being denied recognition of their untimely and unexpected deaths, they are equally being denied the respect they deserve. These civilians of foreign countries being caught up in military conlfict zones are still human and are therefore entitled to have their human rights respected, inclusive of their dignity.

There is a deep problem. It is war. Civilian casualties happen. The only way to not have civilian casualties is to not go to war in the first place.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

June 30, 2017 | Elon Musk's Multi-Planetary Civilization Essay, a Blueprint for Serious Consideration

During the month of June, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, released a 16-page essay on multi-planetary civilization, the science community was a little surprised. Some academics were critical of the essay's contents and expressed concern it has no scientific credibility and that it was nothing more than a fantasy.

Before you go head and read the essay, one must open up their mind to the concept of multi-planetary civilization. In reference to Musk's essay and from a scientific stand point, there are many innaccuracies and clear expressions of ignorance of some of the major scientific and engineering challenges that such a cosmic venture would pose. Additionally, from an engineering perspective there remains many problems which would potential make or break any plans for humans to settle on Mars. However, we need to take a step back for a second and look at the structure of the essay. Musk presents the essay by going through each challenge in the appropriate steps which would be required to be completed for any such plan to become reality and to be successful.

The essay starts by outlining humanity's necessity to consider migrating to another planet. In Musk's proposal, he has chosen Mars as his focus. This is not just a random planet pick out of our solar system, he actually does make his case for choosing Mars specifically. The essay continues on and outlines in brief, the requirement for a little more exploration of Mars prior to initiating plans for civilization inhabiting the planet and to start building self-sustaining cities. He is not completely ignorant to the challenges posed by such an ambitious plan. Musk outlines the common challenges that require immediate attention. Technology challenges are very present which would require heavy investment, much research, technical and engineering development and vast improvements to existing technology. We also can't ignore the fact that in some cases we are considering technology that does not yet exist and scientific challenges that have not yet been explored, analyzed and produced any kind of unaninous academic and scientific conclusion. But it's not just the technical challenges that are of immediate concern, there are additional multitudes of engineering challenges too.

The essay continues to detail space ship types and sizes required to transport equipment and actual humans, along with the rocket and propulsion technology required to launch, operate, direct and land these massive ships of which the world has not yet witnessed anything that comes close to resembling the size that Musk proposes is required. Again, we need to remind people that it's a very ambitious plan which will require much more detailed analysis and research.

Finally, the essay concludes with plans for refuelling these ships mid-flight and even goes as far as detailing eventual requirement for fueling 'stations' located in various parts throughout solar system and beyond.

The main problem with the essay is it remains very brief. The entirety of the essay is just 16-pages and it includes information, technical details and diagrams to help illustrate the proposal. The plan is all clear and for such a short essay with only brief information, Musk does a great job of getting his point accross. He deserves credit for that. But where the essay remains very brief, is also the subject of its negative critique. For such a vast plan to be drafted and proposed in just 16-pages could be viewed as ridiculous. And if the proposal is to be ever taken serious, we feel that it would require much more detail, technical specifications, scientific and engineering analysis than this. A serious proposal would most likely run into thousands of pages of text and diagrams.

Elon Musk should not be ignored nor should this essay be treated as ridiculous science fiction. Some might make the assumption that Musk has fallen victim to his own work to the same degree that Ron L. Hubbard succumbed to his own science fiction stories by actually believing what he was writing, to be the truth. The concept of multi-planetary civilization is nothing new and Musk is not the first person to come up with such a concept. When reading the essay you can't help but feel the enthusiasm in Musk's words. His passion for the concept and further development to make the concept a reality is very obvious. On this front, he should be credited for spawning the idea. After all, he founded Tesla and SpaceX to much critique in the early development stages of the companies. Despite the criticism, both Tesla and SpaceX have succeeded and continue to make milestones in technologies and development in their respective fields of business.

We should not discredit Musk and in fact, we should be embracing the passion and thought put into the essay. It's a starting point and all great ambitions start with a basic plan. Even if that plan is to come across as initially crazy. There are obvious challenges present which humans have not yet been forced to deal with. But that leads us to the point where we start believing that Elon Musk's essay is not so ridiculous as you might think. He has outlined problems. He has only provided basic and vague ideas to overcome these challenges. He is just one man. But he is a visionary. Imagine what the brilliant minds of humans could achieve if more thought, research and development was put into multi-planetary exploration with an eventual plan for civilization and establshment of self-sustaining cities on Mars and beyond.

As humans continue to destroy Earth at rapid rate and continue to absolutely outright ignore the problems we are already facing and will face in the future by climate change, and take into consideration the undisputed resource problems that our planet will face, we need a plan B. Elon Musk has proposed an alternative. Is it really such a bad thing to put forth a plan which could possibly see the continued existence of our species? We say it again - He is just one man. But he is a visionary.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

June 25, 2017 | 'Five Eyes' Calls for Better Security co-operation Could Still Lead to Attacks on Encryption and Forced Backdoors

Momentum is gaining traction for 'Five Eyes' nation's respective leaders to (re)commence their attacks on encryption. The new front is being led by Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. It comes not so long after the newly re-elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, released a Party Manifesto which detailed in disturbing detail a future vision for digital rights and the potential for the UK to lead the way through introduction of legislation which would see regulation of the internet.

Freedom Publishers Union advocates for freedom of information which includes freedom of accessibility and spreading of digital information on the internet, without government intervention, tampering or mass-surveillance. It is the whole purpose of the open design and development of the internet and the infrastructure that binds it together. We will always aim to protect the organic nature of its design.

It has become increasingly clear since the revelations of government sponsored and initiated mass-surveillance programs that governments were unhappy about their secret programs becoming public knowledge. Political discourse followed and legislation was gradually introduced by a variety of parties and nations which aimed to regulate and reign in the what were previously secret mass-surveillance programs which operated under the radar and on sweeping scale. The amount of data these sweeping programs were gathering and the rate of collection was vast and in some cases required completely new datacenters to be built, purely for secure storage of the data.

For a short while, Freedom Publishers Union was positive with the actions that we were witness to. There were signs that government bureaucrats were taking notice of citizen discontent with their every move being tracked and logged. But the path to surveillance cleansing has once again gone off-track and we could comfortably conclude that we are going backwards and on a path to mass-surveillance which if goes unchecked and unchallenged, will undoubtedly grow to a scale larger than anything we've yet learned.

Privacy is important. It is a civil liberty of citizens to enjoy and uphold their right to privacy. This right to privacy is enhanced through the use of encryption. Before the revelations of secret mass-surveillance programs was revealed, citizens were ignorant to encryption not through intention, but through lack of knowledge and understanding of its purpose to protect their data from the unwelcome eyes of sweeping surveillance programs like PRISM, XKeyscore, Tempora, MUSCULAR and STATEROOM.

On the eve of the secret 'Five Eyes' security meeting in Canada, Australia is calling for better co-operation from technology companies with intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Malcolm Turnbull stops short of stating what specific measures he and his Australian Attorney General, George Brandis, would be proposing. But he did state that calls for increased co-operation does not mean that pursuit of forced backdoor inclusion is on the table.

Freedom Publishers Union warns citizens, we must not be complacent in trusting our democratic country's governments to always do the right thing and protect our data. It has now become all too clear that governments want our data, therefore we must protect it. We must not conclude that it is a war between governments and the citizens. Because it is not. And this is a scenario which we prefer to avoid, frankly. We believe that governments do have genuine intent when legislation is passed that legalize surveillance programs under the banner of protecting citizens through fighting terrorism. Intent is there. But the temptation for sweeping surveillance on mass scale is there, it does happen and will continue to happen is pressure on governments and intelligence agencies is not maintained.

Freedom Publishers Union reminds our supporters and readers that protection of your data is your priority. Encryption is available for free and much of it open-source. You can openly and freely use it to protect your data right now. There are tools for beginners and tools for advanced users. But use of encryption to protect your data should not be your only mission. You should also be advocating for the use of encryption and other software that protects privacy and data. Help others download and install privacy software when you become comfortable with how it works. Let it be your mission to advocate and spread the message that our data should remain exactly that - "Our data".

It is no longer the sole responsibility of advocacy groups and crypto-anarchists to do the hard work and advocate for right to freedom and privacy. We have moved beyond that and it is now up to everyone to unite. It's no longer a movement or a political activist campaign. It is your right. If you do not own your rights to privacy and continue to fight for your civil liberties, they might very well be taken away from you by overreaching governments and intelligence agencies. It was all happening right under our noses prior to the courageous leaks of Edward Snowden as a former NSA security analyst working on these secret programs. It could easily happen again if we don't stand up, unite on the privacy frontline and speak out in support of encryption, privacy and civil liberties that enable freedom to thrive to its truest form.

Never be complacent.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

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June 19, 2017 | Misrepresentation of CIA Spying Activities, Following Latest Vault 7 Release by Wikileaks

Wikileaks continues to disperse information which reveals just how deep the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spying techniques really go. The latest documents leak from the Vault 7 cache paints a true picture of what we already suspected of the CIA intelligence gathering methods - there really is no boundaries for their targets. Essentially, everything is a target.

The latest documents contain information which detail with frightening certainty that network hardware, routers, switches and firewalls are a focus of the CIA's vast spy program. The network routers that are the forefront of the Wikileaks publication don't just single out one or two brands or models of network hardware, but entire series of routers which the CIA has methods of tampering with, typically by installing unauthorized modified firmware.

The hardware range targeted are some well known brands of D-Link, Belkin, 3Com, Linksys and Cisco. Oddly, the equally popular consumer brands such as the Billion, Netgear and TP-LINK network hardware are not mentioned. We could make the assumption that the brands targeted have less security and are easier for the CIA to manipulate and supposed non-targeted brands have better security. It's important to note this is assumption only and we have absolutely no substance of data to back up this assumption. We can not confirm whether there is more routers which have fallen into the cross-hairs of the CIA, but there is some notable absences.

There has been some over-hyped reporting on the latest release. But it's important to keep the entire Wikileaks publication in context. The CIA has the ability, as we've now learned through these publications, to install modified firmware onto these network hardware devices. There is a mix of consumer level hardware and also business centric hardware. We do not urge panic. We urge caution. But we should never remain complacent and should always aim to stay one step ahead of security contractors that work for government intelligence gathering agencies and ahead of the intelligence gathering agencies themselves. ie. CIA, FBI, NSA, GCHQ, ASIO and others.

Most good network administrators know their hardware very well and should therefore know when/if firmware has been changed or updated without their consent. Freedom Publishers Union considers our own network security to be quite strong. Our server resides on a network behind multiple routers, multiple switches and firewalls. We are confident of our network security and always maintain priority of our network activity at software and hardware level. There are certain indicators which would draw immediate attention to network hardware that has been tampered with. However, in large corporate environments with large and complex networking infrastructure, it would be fair to say that one could not expect the administrators to be able to monitor their state of health and security of every single hardware device connected to these networks. It would be unfair to expect this and outright unrealistic to imply that such undertaking could even be possible without appropriate resources and personnel to carry out such a massive task.

This most likely explains the absence of most consumer level networking hardware. But we can not be sure whether there is more information that accompanies what has been published by Wikileaks, or whether Wikileaks has purposely held some information back. Or it could be a case that such information never leaked through to Wikileaks as part of the Vault 7 cache because it simply does not exist.

This much is speculation. What is not speculation is the very fact that the CIA does carry out spying, hacking and all other forms of intelligence gathering without boundaries or morals. We must remember to always go back to the source documents themselves and analyze the finer detail where required.

May 9, 2017 | Facebook Having Identity Crisis. Must Look to Google for Inspiration

Facebook is facing a huge identity crisis. To the initial public eye of familiarity, Facebook is still the daily social media habit. They are still a social media company, to be fair. But things are changing at Facebook, yet we're not convinced that the company is aware of the change that is underway and whether they are working to best position themselves to accommodate its evolving identity.

To elaborate further and to find a possible solution to Facebook's identity crisis, we need to take a look at one of its largest Silicon Valley rivals - Google.

When Google made the announcement that it was being integrated into a portfolio and under the banner of a brand new company called Alphabet Inc., the corporate world was at first a little confused. Google loyalists were equally confused and bewildered what was happening to this giant of Silicon Valley. The initial confusion was justified. When you take a closer look at what Google done and the reasons for their corporate shake-up and integration into a new parent company, we quickly conclude that it was probably one of the smartest corporate choices Silicon Valley has witnessed.

Google created Alphabet Inc. to become the parent company of Google and its other company holdings, subsidiaries and corporate projects. The public will usually associate Google with being the friendly search engine that pops up on most internet web browsers when you first open it. Google is friendly, happy and familiar to everyone. There was a more complex side to Google though, which may not have been so obvious to anyone unfamiliar with the company's operations. Google was much bigger than just a search engine. Over the years of its existence, Google had acquired many other businesses and also diversified into other areas of science, research and development, computing, operating systems, software development and smart phone development and operations. If you were to summarize the operations of Google in just a couple of words, you could only state that it was "huge and complex". It had become so diversified and complex that it entered an internal identity crisis itself. But Google was quick to recognize this. Quicker than what the public and corporate analysts had determined. And it was upon this recognition that Alphabet Inc. was founded and the divisions created.

Facebook must look to Google for inspiration. Facebook has moved beyond the realm of being just a social media company. It is (and has been for some time) involved in scientific research, software development, gaming and hardware. The next big thing for Facebook looks to be media and news. It has somewhat experimented in this sector, with Trending Topics. However, actual Trending Editors were replaced by internal algorithms. This was not a major setback for Facebook media ambitions, if there are any actual ambitions. But it's safe to say the algorithms failed and were certainly not a suitable replacement for actual content editors. Trending Topics seems to have been brushed to the side in the Facebook interface and it remains unclear how much focus this area will get.

So where does this take us? It leads us to question whether Facebook has legitimate media ambitions or whether it is being pulled unwillingly into the sector by internet market forces. Change at the top could be key to regaining control. Facebook potentially have two options to initiate change and regain control of the company's direction. One option is for them to create a Board of Directors. Some believe that as long as Mark Zuckerberg has sole (majority) control, there will be confusion. To be fair, Facebook hasn't really reached the diversity of Google, yet. Google's Board together with Eric Schmidt, Sergei Brin and Larry Page figured out that Google has become a holding company without intending to do so. They understood the necessary changes and formally made the shift. The changes also allowed them to formalize their company philosophy and define what criteria each sector of the business needs to meet for success and growth under Alphabet Inc.

Facebook hasn't diversifies as far from its roots and it's still mostly about information sharing with advertising thrown into the mix, which is not only keeping the business successful, but generating huge amounts of cash reserves to be invested in other projects. The trend is set to continue and Facebook is undoubtedly set to diversify even more. Unlike Google, it is apparent that Facebook has not yet learned how to plan management and monetization as part of a new project. They are still primarily focused in the one industry - information collection and delivery. In some ways, Facebook is closer to resembling News Corporation than what it does Google.

There's lots going on at Facebook. To be honest, it is confusing. The company needs to define what it is. Without even knowing it, it's trying to be too many things. Splitting it would go some way to allowing it to focus on being a company with different divisions which could focus on each sector more appropriately. Emulating exactly what Google has done. It's almost becoming a media company in its own right, but not quite there yet. When Facebook reaches this point, it will be a very different kind of media company. Like nothing we've seen yet. That is where the challenge lies - defining what it is and what they do.

We draw back to the point of Zuckerberg holding control of the company operations, which is also our second option, of letting Zuckerberg retain that control. Although a Board of Directors at Facebook would not be the worst decision, one could also be forgiven for believing that Zuckerberg has an 'ultimate' vision and is still the one person that should have sole control to achieve that vision.

Looking outside the spectrum slightly, there is a problem with America versus the rest of the world. In the United States of America, corporations are treated as human entities. Whereas in Europe, the majority shareholder or Managing Director is personally responsible for the actions of the company. US corporations act as proxy for owners and management, which therefore allows the company to pay any penalties and results and no responsibility assigned to leadership level. It's the moral equivalent in business of saying all the Nazi atrocities were carried out by Germany and that Germany needs to go to jail, not Hitler or the Nazi leadership.

Google made the transition from the duopoly of Brin and Page to a diversified Board that allows responsibility to rest in the corporations, while providing the measurement framework for these to meet. Facebook must look for inspiration. They're very lucky. They don't have to look hard as the inspiration is right on their door step. Alphabet Inc. is a proven success. Facebook must recognize what it is, how to present itself to the public and win back ultimate trust of investors and public users.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

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April 17, 2017 | CIA Director Takes Aim at Wikileaks, Assange and Publications of Leaked/Secret Information

In a recent spiel by the CIA Director, Michael Pompeo, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies he spoke out about what he believes are unfair injustices of sections of the publishing industry, followed up by making several references that the Trump Administration will be seeking to reform the media industry.

Media reform is not the problem, nor is it the simple fact that Pompeo spoke out about his narrow-minded view of a supposed injustice. Under the very free speech that Freedom Publishers Union advocates and supports he is perfectly entitled to do so. However, there are many aspects of his comments which must be scrutinized in closer detail. Specifically, Freedom Publishers Union is concerned of the direction of which Pompeo's complaints were directed. He complains of the publishing actions of Wikileaks and its Editor, Julian Assange. But he didn't stop there. He continued on his rant to declare the apparent injustice and illegal actions of leakers which provide media organizations with their caches of information, data and/or documentation. He describes the modern independent media trend as a "celebration of entities like Wikileaks" and what he describes as being "both perplexing and deeply troubling".

We disagree.

Freedom Publishers Union must make it very clear that we do not dispute that much of the material that media organizations, including leak websites such as Wikileaks, obtains probably is illegal. However, there is a fine line, which remains quite gray and blurred, which constitutes as news that is in the public interest and should be released regardless of how it was obtained or whether the source obtains the information by legal or illegal means. When it comes to media, sure, we must all act accordingly and within the boundaries of the law. Yet we must also uphold our publishing responsibilities by sharing the information that we obtain and provided to us, by our sources. We point out that this extends rights across the media industry as a whole and is not limited to Freedom Publishers Union, Wikileaks or any other media organization. Not at all. It's a constantly growing industry, thanks to digital publication tools readily available for anyone to utilize.

Why Pompeo's comments remain so tight in scope and focuses on Wikileaks, remains a mystery. Additionally, it concerns us that his comments also put Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning in his cross-hairs. Snowden resides in Russia on temporary visa and Manning is still detained in a military prison, awaiting her early release in coming months. But this didn't stop Pompeo by using them as an example by claiming their actions are carried out to "seek to use that information to make a name for themselves". A notion that we absolutely dispute. And he claims, "As long as they make a splash, they care nothing about the lives they put at risk or the damage they cause to national security".

These are reckless comments coming from the Director of the CIA, as to date no evidence has been presented to make the case that any such publications by Wikileaks has ever put any persons or individuals at risk of harm. Disclosures released by Snowden have been dribble fed to small selections of media organizations. Although he has never stated why his disclosures are dribble fed at such slow pace, Freedom Publishers Union can only conclude that this is done to minimize political fallout and to minimize risk to persons associated with such disclosures and the usually scathing details that he provides through the source information.

Despite Pompeo claiming that Manning was directed by Assange to collect the information that she was able to obtain, we must say that this is absolutely false and is outright stupid to make this claim. And it's obvious that Pompeo is making this a definitive claim, rather than an accusation. It is well known that Chelsea Manning acted alone, disturbed by the activities she witnessed by the US Military in Iraq and Afghanistan which prompted her to collect and forward the data onto Wikileaks. Freedom Publishers Union understands that Assange had limited contact with Manning during the transmission of data to Wikileaks, but it certainly can not be claimed that Manning was under the direction or orders of Assange.

Are the Director's comments truly aimed directly towards Julian Assange and Wikileaks, rather than the media industry as a whole? We believe yes. Careful analysis of the Pompeo's speech makes this an obvious point.

Are the frustrations of the political stalemate which sees Assange still detained to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London beginning to reach boiling point and the Trump Administration is seeking a quick resolution? This is very possible.

Is this boiling point finally going to see the US legal system act on its outstanding Grand Jury against Wikileaks and Assange? While the US Government continue to shroud the Grand Jury in secrecy and deny its existence, we believe this is still unlikely in the short-term, unless more evidence of actual illegal activity becomes available.

In a Statement released by Julian Assange, he believes that the CIA Director should have focused on more important and current issues of international politics surrounding China and North Korea. Interestingly, Assange failed to mention the outstanding US tensions present with Russia. This will be sure to add fuel to the fire of continued accusations that Assange continues to speak out and work for the interests of Russia.

Freedom Publishers Union does not support this view and believes it is completely unjustified. But Assange could have put a stop to these unjustified accusations, by at least mentioning Russia as a topic of concern in the same context he does of China and North Korea - which we believe are justified by mention.

Assange concluded his response Statement very well, "Pompeo's speech attempting to stifle speech only serves to underscore why Wikileaks' publications are necessary. Wikileaks will continue to publish true, newsworthy information that contributes to the public debate".

Freedom Publishers Union echoes this statement and strives to always follow the same publication path and standards, enhancing the free press to a wider audience through publication of well researched and fact-based information. We hope that all independent media organizations follow the same path and strive to do the same.

Freedom Publishers Union actually goes one step further and releases our Editorials and original material under a combination of Creative Commons and Konomark, which guarantees a careful and responsible balance of the associated freedoms of sharing of this information and helps to ensure it can not be removed or censored.

Pompeo continued to justify the points he makes in his tirade by quoting hand-picked comments from The Intercept, which criticized Wikileaks for "stretching the facts" and documents published were "not worth the concern Wikileaks generated by its public comments". Freedom Publishers Union does not work directly with Wikileaks or The Intercept. However, their work is part of our information gathering and Editorial processing, often providing vital research material that can not be found in mainstream media coverage of certain stories. But we have also previously made direct judgment onboth Wikileaks and The Intercept. We have also directly criticized Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald (and Edward Snowden), on various issues in the past. The point is; even if a working relationship is in place, official or unofficial, we still retain our right to openly criticize and put pressure on each other where we feel there is justification for criticism. It's the democracy embedded in open and free media and it's this criticism which keeps the free press healthy and goes to ensure accuracy of information and helps to present non-bias, factual presentation of information.

Glenn Greenwald from The Intercept sums it up well, "Trump's CIA Director stood up in public and explicitly threatened to target free speech rights and press freedoms, and it was almost impossible to find even a single US mainstream journalist expressing objections or alarm, because the targets Pompeo chose in this instance are ones they dislike - much the way that many are willing to overlook or even sanction free speech repression if the targeted ideas or speakers are sufficiently unpopular".

Greenwald goes on to quote Pompeo further, "A little less Constitutional law and a lot more of a philosophical understanding. Julian Assange has no First Amendment privileges. He is not a US citizen. What I was speaking to is an understanding that these are not reporters doing good work to try to keep the American Government on us. These are actively recruiting agents to steal American secrets with the sole intent of destroying the American way of life. That is fundamentally different than a First Amendment activity as I understand them. This is what I was getting to. We have had administrations before that have been too squeamish about going after these people, after some concept of this right to publish. Nobody has the right to actively engage in the theft of secrets from American without the intent to do harm to it".

Greenwald responds by stating, "Given how menacing and extreme this statement is, it is remarkable - and genuinely frightening - that it received so little notice, let alone condemnation, from the US press corps".

Freedom Publishers Union can not comment in legal terms, but Glenn Greenwald from The Intercept claims that "the notion that Wikileaks has no free press rights [under the US Constitution] because Assange is a foreigner is both wrong and dangerous". We can however express our own frustration among independent media circles, when mainstream media fails to pick up on these issues or outright ignores to cover them.

We believe there are greater implications to press freedom if the US were to criminalize publication of classified information. it is common practice among the free press, including mainstream US media, to publish classified documents and information which is deemed in the public interest by that media organization.

Furthermore, legally charging and prosecuting Wikileaks and its staff members for publishing secret documents and information are a huge threat to press freedom and also bring into question the purpose of the purported protections and legal standing of the US Constitution. This whole issue of drawing the line with First Amendment protections is a huge can of worms.

Essentially, the official secrets protections are nothing more than a Government Non-Disclosure Agreement which means that before you are allowed to see the secrets, you agree to be prosecuted if you reveal the secrets, without permission. Let's be honest - you're never going to get permission to release information which details secret government operations or mass-surveillance programs.

Freedom Publishers Union points out that we must recognize illegal activity when we see it. We wouldn't even blink if Microsoft launched criminal proceedings against someone who stole and published the source code to its Windows operating system. Or if someone published the complete text of J.K. Rowling's next Harry Potter novel. The person committing the theft is certainly guilty of a criminal act. But that's where the free press has an ethical responsibility and needs to make a decision - to publish if they deem it to be in interest of the public or to refrain because it was sourced illegally.

Upon receiving the Iraq and Afghanistan material, Assange made an ethical decision as Editor of Wikileaks, to publish the material. Albeit, initially in redacted form. Yet nobody must ignore that Chelsea Manning committed a criminal action in stealing the information. Justified or not, there is a fundamental breach of law involved.

Wikileaks obtained the documents. Manning was caught and imprisoned. That much is fact.

Where this gets complicated is what happens at the next level, after the initial theft, the act of publication is essentially removed from the theft. If Glenn Greenwald publishes the verbatim text of aforementioned hypothetical Harry Potter novel, knowing that it is the unpublished book, he would also be committing a crime as an accessory to theft. In effect, the second publisher becomes a fence of stolen property. Even if criminal actions are discovered on the part of J.K. Rowling, the theft and fence are still guilty of a crime. Although charges would likely be dropped if the revelation of the other crime was sufficiently heinous.

Under the same theory, the theft and publication of secret documents are also crimes. Just against a different victim. The prosecution of the theft and publication of secrets is dealt with the same as a Harry Potter theft. If there is the revelation of criminal activity in the stolen material, it is likely that the theft charges would be dropped - at least against the journalist(s) that publish it.

A slightly different perspective, interestingly, the US Government could probably make a case for copyright infringement stick. Even if there is question about whether the publication of the stolen documents are justified by revealing a more criminal act. And that is if they copyrighted the secret documents in the first place. Admittedly, this is taking a slightly different view on the issue. But it is interesting nevertheless.

Freedom Publishers Union outright condemns the CIA Director, Michael Pompeo, in taking a blatant stance to violate First Amendment guarantees. But it must be acknowledged that somewhere in the mess of leaking and/or stealing classified secret information and documents, there is a point where a real criminal action occurred.

Where that happened and who bears responsibility for it is what legal scholars will be debating for years to come.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

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March 21, 2017 | Are We Forgetting About the CIA's Lack of Morals and Ethics?

The Julian Assange and Wikileaks bashing has proceeded once again. When the notorious publishing organization released the first dump as part of the Vault 7 cache, the same old arguments were launched and carried on for the days that proceeded. These arguments are quite unjustified. Assange, through Wikileaks, is constantly finding himself under scrutiny for the controversial releases and files dumps of the content that the publishing organization gets it hands on, through anonymous user submission.

The work and data dumps of Wikileaks shouldn't be about Assange. Nor should it be about Wikileaks. Yet for some abhorrent reason, we constantly find mainstream media outlets questioning the journalistic responsibility and integrity of Assange and Wikileaks. Again, Freedom Publishers Union reminds these select media groups that it is not about Assange and it is not about Wikileaks. The real focus of the story should be exactly what the data dump presents - The CIA operating an internal hacking network and of which its activities should be questioned for morals and ethics against the spy agency's mandate.

The CIA should be put to scrutiny. That is what should be the focus of the story. It is precisely what Assange makes clear in his Press Statement which accompanied this release.

The CIA has a mandate. They have regulations and the agency must (and should) operate within the boundaries of its mandate. If it operates outside of its limitations, then it should be put in the public spotlight and put on the stage of public debate.

Whether this is by means of internal whistleblowing and leaked data - it's irrelevant. The public debate on the actions of the CIA must ensue.

It will not come as a major shock to anyone to find out the CIA regularly dabbles outside of its mandate. Due to the serious nature of the agency's activities and operations that it is tasked for, there should remain a certain amount of flexibility within its operating activities.

It's also well known that the NSA operates mass-surveillance and spying programs. We have all put eye ball to the documents that prove these programs exist through the very public discourse and extensive media coverage that followed the initial release of the Snowden leaked documents from the NSA and its intelligence sub-contractors.

Now we've learned through the most recent release from Wikileaks, the CIA is also carrying out spying programs of its own, somewhat in competition with its fellow spy agency, the NSA.

One thing is so obvious that you might as well head to the CIA Headquarters and paint it on the front door - The agency has no morals and no ethics. It is that obvious.

One could make the argument that the CIA et al are spy agencies tasked with spying. It's what they do. One could back up that argument with another, by stating that based on those activities the agencies do not have to adhere to morals and ethics.

Freedom Publishers Union disagree. The CIA, NSA and all government operated intelligence departments should operate with a certain level of understanding of their moral and ethical obligations.

Morals and ethics exist and should be followed. The obvious absence of them is what should be reported. These agencies are essentially behaving at free will, creating the tools to initiate as much discomfort and annoyance they feel satisfies their incredible need for knowledge and power over citizens and their civil rights.

Please don't bring out the old 'we only perform these operations on targets' card. That card has failed every other time and it will continue to fail. Much the same as the argument that everything is done to ensure 'national security' from 'terrorists' and the other 'bad guys'.

Come on, please.

If these agencies think we sit idle and actually take notice of their pathetic justifications for their over-use and overreach of their surveillance and spy powers, then these agencies will continue to be forced into the public spotlight by willing whistleblowers and brave publishers such as Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

March 21, 2017 | Spying May Be Unethical But it Must be Done, Within Legal Boundaries of the Law

The morality of spying. This is not a new issue. For many millennium, spying has been classified as an immoral operation. Indeed, spies have been subjected to torture and ignominious death since the Chinese and Egyptians ruled civilization because of their moral turpitude. In parallel with this, however, the amount of spying and its scope certainly has never decreased. So obviously there is a double standard in the way governments and rulers see the utility of espionage vs morality. Even the world's citizens see spying with two views. We hail the men and women that worked in the underground against Germany in World War II; stealing information and sending it on to the Allies for action. Indeed; the defeat of the German U-boats was only possible after espionage was able to break the German (and Japanese) military codes.

Domestically, Americans have for decades known that the FBI uses espionage to counter criminals, from wire-tapping to intercepting messages and ciphers. This has proven to have prevented many acts of crime and violence.

Our agencies - and indeed, the rest of the "Five Eyes" - do adhere to standards of morality and legality. And secrecy. For nearly every person in America or elsewhere in the "Eyes", this has been one of the foundations of our freedom. We know that our privacy is being protected, because we aren't all being arrested for committing the 'crimes that everyone in America commits'. It is not against the law to bash our government; it isn't illegal to trash talk our leaders; hell, it's not even illegal to discuss revolution in public! If we were being spied upon, America would be a lot more like Turkey or Egypt. This must be remembered.

We have a tolerance for the morality of spying, so long as we feel that it isn't being used on us. I'm not going to discuss the way Americans and the rest of the world were duped into questioning individual privacy. But recognize that we, as citizens, look upon our privacy through a many-faceted glass, causing us to reflect on freedom and privacy in many different and often diametrically opposed ways.

On Wikileaks and their information; the publishing organization performs a service that is critical to the functioning of freedom in the abstract and practical sense. It provides information about activities that are being done that may or may not meet with our intellectual and moral approval. Some of these actions may truly be illegal as well as immoral. It is important for these actions to be revealed and corrected in order to ensure that our freedom is based on the 'Rule of Law', both in its scope and in the limits that we, as a civil society, must have.

However, we also need to look at Wikileaks with the same caution that we use on any other media source. While the information Wikileaks releases is usually verified by the same agencies that stand accused of the actions in question, the information does come from anonymous sources with little provable veracity - at least until someone at NSA 'fesses up that 'it's true'. Even then, 'first impressions' authenticity can still be put to question.

One of the problems with getting this information is that it is often impossible to verify it before it is released. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the perpetrators usually admit to the act and corrections are made. However, over time it becomes more and more difficult for Wikileaks to not be duped by cleverly created 'propaganda dumps'.

The release of the "DNC emails" during the election is an example of something that - in and of itself - was not a really surprising or shocking revelation for anyone that has worked in politics. However, the cachet of being release by Wikileaks, a source we trust for revealing hidden facts and secret stuff - and the fact that we were in a contentious elections - caused the story to carry far more weight than the facts it contained inside the documents. It also can not be ignored that the DNC emails publication revealed a bias in the Editorial staff of Wikileaks, that had been underplayed in previous releases - A bias that has somewhat undermined the credibility of the organization.

All of our intelligence agencies and all of our other Government departments need to be held up and inspected on a regular basis through genuine auditing and oversight. It is far too easy to commit criminal acts where you're behind the line of the law instead of in front. But at the same time, everyone needs to put this information into a true perspective, rather than simply take the spin a certain news organization put on it.

As an example, the 'revelation' of the Samsung TV recording [spying] capability - It is well known and documented elsewhere that nearly every connected device in a home [Internet of Things (IoT)] can be hacked to perform some form of spying or disruption. Learning that a spy agency has that in its closet is completely obvious, really. And we must understand this isn't the first time this has happened. Back in 2014 the Chinese company, Huawei, was banned from selling their excellent switches in some countries because the CIA discovered that they had malware baked in by the Chinese government. No outcries from that!

It isn't government surveillance that I am concerned about. It's the basis of the government itself. Both the US and Australia are governed under a "Constitution" that establishes the "Rule of Law" and how it is applied and enforced. The Rule of Law ensures that when freedom or rights are violated, it is redressed with the full force of the government of the nation. Thus, if someone were to be harmed by unwarranted surveillance and invasion of a guaranteed right, the agency committing the harm would be fully liable under law. Even if there is no known harm, once the violation is discovered, legal proceedings to prevent future violation are undertaken.

You spy without legal permission, you and your agency are punished. It has worked in the case of the Snowden revelations; it will continue to work as long as the American Constitution is held supreme, as it must.

The bottom line is how intrusive the surveillance is.

Scanning phone records meta-data doesn't violate privacy in nearly all cases. If I call someone in country X, yes, that record will be scanned. But there isn't anything actionable about it, so nothing happens. It is, literally, the case of 'a tree falling in the woods'. On the other hand, if that record triggers an investigation into me and my actions, then, unless I've violated a law or I'm under suspicion of violating a law, any result of that investigation constitutes a violation of my rights under Constitutional law. And I'd have a prima facia case in court.

Agencies like the CIA, NSA, GCHQ, ASIO and other members of the "Five Eyes" DO NEED TO BE AUDITED TO PREVENT ILLEGAL ACTIONS. But the line must be drawn at when the agency actually breaks a law, not merely that their action can potentially break a law. Scanning meta-data is legal, so long as the results remain anonymous. Listening to my conversation is illegal without a specific warrant - and a FISA court warrant is still completely legal. And adding software to a device to perform surveillance may be legal so long as it doesn't immediately violate my Constitutional rights. Especially if that software is actually in place for another purpose and isn't specifically introduced for surveillance - like the inadvertent ability to enable a web-cam already present in existing software. Solong as a warrant is obtained to use it for surveillance purposes, it's legal. On the other hand, if the 'bug' is intentionally introduced, then a FISA warrant better be in hand because that action borders on illegal - and would be if it is used.

At Freedom Publishers Union we must stress that we are not advocating for enabling a "Big Brother" state; far from it. But we all need to understand the need for some of these techniques and technologies: foreknowledge is forewarned. There are times where the "Ends Justify the Means. But in all cases, the agencies must work within the limits of their charter and the Constitution and be held to it. Even if sometimes the permission is retroactive.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

January 28, 2017 | Trump's Influence on Balance of Privacy and Law

There is growing fear spreading throughout digital societies that our privacy is being eroded. Fears continue to be sparked, largely due to the erratic and somewhat unpredictable behavior of newly elected US President Donald Trump and his Administration. A common term that we are beginning to hear get thrown around the office is, "There is no such thing as privacy". This term has a disturbing amount of truth to it.

If we specifically refer to modern computerized technology, our privacy as it existed pre-modern computers, is being leaked to the world at rapid rate and on a daily basis. If we disregard privacy, it is possible to have temporary secrecy. But even that can and will disappear as soon as there is value in doing so. It doesn't matter who is in charge of making the rules, because we already know that the rule of law doesn't apply when it comes to privacy and secrecy. If we make privacy a legal right, then covert surveillance will be conducted without legal oversight anyway. If we acknowledge that there actually is no privacy, then we will prepare ourselves for the consequences of our actions being revealed when we take them.

We can't deny the fact that President Trump will be no more abusive with privacy than any other President and Congress would be. Even with strong laws protecting privacy, if there is a compelling reason to violate the law and obtain the data, it will be done regardless of legal status or classification. By making it easy to obtain warrants publicly to conduct privacy invasions, at least we can ensure that there is some level of transparency, which therefore opens the door for accountability.

We can't ignore the possibility of the worst case scenario: strong privacy laws making it impossible for journalists and publishers to do their investigations and press duties legally. Anything that is considered private, confidential or secret is now a crime to reveal under various laws that already exist. Even if the information leads to more criminal actions, it would become inadmissible evidence, as obtaining it would violate the right to privacy in the first place. If it is leaked illegally, even if the leaker is captured and convicted, the damage is already done.

There can not be a guarantee to the 'Right to Privacy'. It needs to be clearly defined what constitutes private and privileged communications, and what does not. We must unambiguously create laws that define these boundaries, strictly. And we need to ensure that all privacy laws apply equally regardless of the station in life or publicity of the person or organization involved. The challenge comes with being aware of what the consequences of these laws are with regard to journalistic integrity and the response to illegal violations of privacy and secrecy.

We cannot condone the actions of Edward Snowden and Wikileaks on one hand and then condemn government agencies for doing the same thing - with the power of law and warrant on their side. Both parties need to be held to the same standards and those legal boundaries must be clear enough to prevent unwarranted snooping yet porous enough to permit reasonable investigative actions by both journalists and government agencies.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

December 17, 2016 | Australian Federal Court Orders Block of The Pirate Bay and Others

Freedom Publishers Union learned on December 15, 2016, the Australian Federal Court handed down its judgment on the blocking of BitTorrent website The Pirate Bay, along with several other websites - of which some are now defunct.

Primarily, the target of the case was demonstratively The Pirate Bay, as the Federal Court has ordered that the website must be blocked at the ISP-level, by whatever means the ISP deems necessary to the acceptance and standards accepted by rights-holders - in this case primarily led by Foxtel and Village Roadshow.

Freedom Publishers Union holds a very strong view on censorship matters and our position on this matter has never changed. We support freedom of information and any technology that allows for freedom of the flow of information. This includes BitTorrent software and websites that index and provide torrent and magnet information.

Copyright requires much reform. This is very well known. If proper copyright reform was to be pursued, with the intention of the addition of fair-use clauses and appropriate provisions, it would have a much greater effect on reducing piracy levels than simple attempts of website/domain blocking. ie. Censorship.

We believe the existence of The Pirate Bay and other websites that permit for the freedom and dissemination of digital information on a mass scale should be acknowledged for their technical expertise, abilities and implementation and the possibilities that they enable by allowing for the very freedom of information, distribution and dissemination that we refer to.

We believe that they should never be used as a pawn for fighting for copyright protection by incoherent media companies and rights-holders which continue to demonstrate their absolute lack of understanding of the larger issues. This is not new, as has been done in the past many times and continues with this latest case and judgment which has resulted in another country (Australia) paving the way for blocking measures to be implemented. We also believe that this is the very first step towards greater implementation of censorship of Australian internet.

We will continue to fight for and advocate for freedom of information and will always oppose against censorship and attacks against net neutrality.

Freedom Publishers Union will oppose the judgment to the fullest extent and advocate that all blocking measures be reversed and seriously reviewed so a better solution can be established with the pursuit and addition of copyright reform.

Additionally, Freedom Publishers Union will continue to distribute software that will bypass such blockages and offer a level of security and anonymity, through digital dissemination and distribution of Tor Browser packages and its source code. We will also continue to operate our own The Pirate Bay sub-domain which redirects to the official domain name. If this results in blocked pages being displayed, as it will be dependent on the blocking techniques implemented by the ISPs in Australia, then we will guide our website users to information that will instruct them to download and install Tor Browser, so that the intended website(s) and page(s) can then be accessed - securely and with anonymity.

Heading into 2017, we will strive to continue to oppose governments, their associated agencies and departments that implement any kind of censorship on Australian users, as we will proceed to do the same in any country implementing censorship on its internet users.

Finally, and in conclusion, we will continue to push for copyright reform and the addition of fair use clauses and provisions.

Copyright reform and fair use are the solution to combat mass global piracy, not censorship. Information should be free. That is what Freedom Publishers Union will continue to fight for.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

November 30, 2016 | UK Now Has Legalized Dragnet Mass-Surveillance. Carry On, Nothing to See Here.

Soon, the Investigatory Powers Bill will become law in the United Kingdom. The Bill is also commonly referred to as the "Snoopers Charter" or simply the "IP Bill", and has passed both Houses in the UK Parliament. Sadly, there was very little attention given to its finer details, nor was it really put under the required scrutiny. And, it seems there was very little interest in any amendments being put forth which put any kind of restraint on the powers that the Bill enables. The only effective amendment was protective measures that allow for Parliamentarians and specific Government officials to be excluded from exposure to the Bill's Provisions.

Under the provisions of the IP Bill, it allows for lawful hacking by police, security and intelligence services which can include computer networks, mobile devices and servers. Methods can include interference using existing vulnerabilities known, in software to gain access, to extract data or monitor the device and input/output data.

The only requirement for these tasks to be carried out and be deemed legal, is for a warrant to be obtained.

At the time of going to press, It remains unclear of the broader terms surrounding 'bulk hacking', with the Provision allowing for data gathering from a large number of devices in a specific location. This can include foreign regions suspected of terrorism activity. Concerns are present, that data of untargeted and unknowing civilians will be caught up in this mass-surveillance Clause, which uses terms much too broad and very non-specific and allowing for extended surveillance techniques to be carried out by UK law enforcement and intelligence officials. This is effectively dragnet surveillance.

Some measures are being taken to include steps are implemented to oversee activities and to attend to any problems that shall arise. This will be handled by an Investigatory Powers Commissioner (IPC) and Judicial Commissioners, which will be appointed by the Prime Minister of the day, currently Theresa May.

The IPC will audit legislation compliance of hacking and surveillance operations and carry out investigations into operations mismanagement, if required. Reporting and recommendations determined by the IPC are to be made public.

Mandatory data retention of 12 months is to be maintained, with requirement for data to be stored which includes web browsing history and connections. This data will be accessible to police, law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Combined, making these some of the most invasive data retention measures in the democratic world. Concerns over the precision and amount of data being required to be stored is mounting and the fact can't be ignored of the immense pressure which gets applied on internet service providers (ISPs). This has been witnessed first-hand by financial constraints and pressure on limited resources with ISPs in Australia - a country which has similar provisions for data retention requirements, albeit meta-data only being retained.

Under the IP Bill, data must include websites visited, servers accessed, day, date, time, where it was accessed from and using what device on what network. In short, the Investigatory Powers Bill has just legalized dragnet mass-surveillance in the UK. Again, warrants must be obtained, but we suspect this will be much too easy, enabling access of private data.

Privacy has been eroded to almost nothing, with the upcoming enactment of the Snoopers Charter. Civil liberties that lead to the right to privacy, has been eaten into, in large bites.

Freedom Publishers Union urges citizens to play on the side of caution. More thought and consideration of steps to implement encryption to enhance ones privacy must now become priority. Also, we need to make it difficult as possible for authorities to collect the data in the first place. This can be achieved by using tools which aim to implement anonymous internet access, by using Tor Browser which connects to the encrypted internet network of Tor, also referred to as "The Onion Router".

We must remember to call this invasive legislation out for what it is - Snoopers Charter. We must continue to apply pressure on future legislators which can make future amendments which will see even a slight amount of curbing of some of the worst Clauses and Provisions, which allow for this mass-surveillance to continue under the banners of 'legality'. And, we must continue to see that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner and the Judicial Commissioners are held accountable for their actions, if they fail to fulfill their duties of oversight of surveillance operations and their compliance with the legislation set before the citizens of the UK. Civil liberties have been violated - a common theme which has been replicated by many democratic governments across the globe.

Once invasive legislation which legalizes sweeping, dragnet mass-surveillance is enacted and made law, focus must shift to amending the legislation and implement the most important amendments which aim to curb at least some of the most invasive measures. Where violation of civil liberties has occurred, this must be counter-balanced by operations transparency and accountability being ensured through people power, by those who remain strong enough to stand up for civil rights, their liberties and the right to privacy in the digital sphere.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

November 13, 2016 | Australia's Refugee Situation Underscores Deep, Global Problems

Asylum seekers and refugees - these are incredibly messy topics because they need to be viewed with x-ray vision of economics and politics, and not just through the rosy glasses of humanitarianism.

There is one reason people become refugees: they want to survive. Sometimes this is a literal survival: escaping from Syria and ISIS is an existential issue for most refugees. But most of the time, survival is defined in quality of life terms. Starving in the streets of Myanmar might be existential too, but often it's a matter of wanting a better life, not necessarily escaping death.

Creating a "humanitarian crisis" is a well-known tactic used by governments to change their population and send messages. Consider the Mariel "boat-lift" that came from Cuba to Miami which resulted in an influx of about 125,000 political refugees to the United States of America. Mixed in to that were a small, yet significant percentage of hardened criminals and mental patients, intentionally released into the refugee stream by Cuba to clear the jails. Overall, the Mariel refugees integrated into the US with very few problems. Even in Miami, where a large number stayed after being processed through refugee camps, had no long-term impact in its economy with the large influx of Cuban unskilled labor.

The majority of these people were political refugees in the classic sense: they faced imprisonment in Cuba for their religious and political beliefs and therefore, met the international criteria for refugee status. But unlike many other refugees, they also had massive support from their associated community in America. The Cuban-American community of Miami stepped up to orchestrate and execute the rescue of these immigrants and provided support to the Government in processing and relocating the refugees. While there were some problems associated with what was perceived to be incarceration of the refugees (in Arkansas, a riot at the refugee processing center established at Fort Chaffee caused the then-Governor Bill Clinton to lose re-election because of racist campaigning triggered by the riots), the crisis was completely abated within 3 years.

Today, we see the same scenario playing out in many places around the world. However, this time the cases of the refugees aren't as easy to make as it was for those from the Cuban dictatorship.

A similar scenario occurred in the US at the end of the Vietnam war. Hundreds of thousands of refugees left Vietnam and came to the US. Like the Cuban situation, they received massive support from Vietnamese-Americans, mostly those living in Southern California, providing them the resources to integrate into existing Vietnamese enclaves in the area and entering the economy. Today these ex-refugees are well-integrated into American society.

Australia, on the other hand, is facing a different problem. Most of the refugees arriving on the doorstep are from war zones in Islamic countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Sri Lanka etc. Most of these people are legitimate asylum seekers: they are under threat of death and violence because of their politics or religious beliefs and see no alternative but immigration to escape death and torture.

Some are economic asylum seekers: they seek a better, not necessarily a safer, life in another country. But the majority can claim true threat to their lives and usually have extensive documentation to support their claims.

The problem for Australian refugees is that they do not have the same support structure awaiting them as the Cuban and Vietnamese did in the US. Most of them are Muslim and come from cultures that are radically different than the Western, Euro-centric culture that permeates America and Australia and Europe. Many aspects of their culture and religion run completely counter to the social norms of Western society, making their integration problematic unless they are willing to change their values and beliefs to potentially fit into their new society.

Without the social structure of enclaves of familiar religious and cultural environments in which to settle, these refugees are at an insurmountable disadvantage in attempting to immigrate to Australia. While they may be legitimate refugees, there is - literally - nowhere for them to 'go' in Australia. There isn't a large Muslim, Afghan, Syrian or any other community that has the ability to accept these people and provide the environment to integrate them into their new lives. (Some of the refugees are Christians: these people will most likely find sponsorship in Australia or at least support to assist them in relocating to an accepting environment.)

Australia is not the place these refugees need to escape to. They need to go to a country that has the cultural and support system in place to accept them as they are and help them transition to a more Western society in various progressive stages. Where would those places be? Often the places they are refugees from; Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt - basically any Muslim nation that isn't in the middle of a civil war. The only problem is that most of those places have the same problem with these refugees that their home country did; they are not a 'compatible' sect of Islam that fit in with the religion and mores of other Muslim nations either.

Australia is caught in a nasty situation here. These refugees don't (and won't) fit into Australian society. They are outcasts from their home countries, but not because they are adherents to the 'Great Satan' of Western culture; rather because they don't fit into the Muslim culture either. The are the equivalent of those crazy sects of Christians in the US that want to essentially create their own country and rules and won't accept that other people may not want to follow them. In the US, these people usually end up locked up in Federal prison for life, simply because they violate nearly every felony law there is; ranging from tax avoidance to child abuse to murder. Or they all die in a horrific shoot-out and fire with ATF agents.

The problem that Australia is having is not that the Government is intentionally being cruel and inhumane to these people through increased tightening of immigration policy and legislation, although it may seem that way. The problem is that Australia is actually trying to accommodate asylum seekers and refugees by keeping them somewhere safe and to themselves (rather than on Australian mainland) where they don't have to face the culture shock of Western life and society without the appropriate support mechanism in-place. The asylum seekers just keep coming faster than Australia can process them. And unlike the US, it doesn't have the relocation facilities at old military bases that can be used to manage the refugees until they can be absorbed by greater society.

If these people had come to the US, they would be sponsored by people from Detroit or Minneapolis - two of the largest concentrations of Muslims of all types outside of the Middle-East or the Far East. There would be support culture and people to help them and they would eventually fit in and maybe even move on to other places as American citizens. In Europe, refugees have been accepted into areas where there are culturally similar enclaves and accommodation is being made available for them. However, even in Europe, which has the largest number of Muslims overall outside of their home countries, acceptable space is running out to continue to accept more refugees. The sudden rise of anti-Islam feelings in Europe isn't just because of xenophobia: it's because the communities that can accept these people are saturated at present and as they arrive in Germany, Romania or other countries, they end up in yet another ad-hoc refugee camp. There's just no more space right now to take them in.

Australia could, given a couple of years and several hundred millions of dollars, build a proper refugee processing facility and create 'cultural cities' for these people to reside, while acclimatizing to Australian life. But not today. And given the images that are being pirated out of these camps, probably not ever. Anyone can understand why the Australian Government wants to keep these places and their operations secret. It's not because of the inhumane treatment of the asylum seekers and refugees, but that with the numbers arriving there is no other place for them to go. It's like the camps in Greece or other places in Europe where conditions are worsening each day. As quickly as one person is processed and relocated, twenty more show up in their place.

As military conflict continues around the world, in many zones increasingly getting worse, the cycle will continue and the global refugee problem will continue to grow.

Australia has been stating ever since the beginning: "DO NOT COME TO AUSTRALIA! STAY AT HOME OR GO ELSEWHERE! WE CAN'T HELP YOU!". The Government has been doing everything it can to help. It's just that is has become a case of too much, too quickly.

Finally, another factor in all of this is most of the asylum seekers heading to Australia are using illegal smugglers to get there. They aren't using relief agencies or Muslim organizations to coordinate their movement - although the Vietnamese that came to California often used the same methods. The difference is in the numbers of people doing it. Most of the Vietnamese came under the sponsorship of churches and organizations from the Vietnamese community. The Cubans were handled completely by the Cuban-American community of Miami, which did the outreach and coordination with the US Government to process the refugees. But even that had problems. When a paid smuggler ships people to Australia, they're not interested in making all the connections, doing the paperwork and ensuring those on board the boats have the appropriate documentation to legalize their arrival, as a refugee. All the people smugglers want is their money. Without those groups of churches and communities from the same background to help, asylum seekers are truly on a one-way ticket. There is no coordination - just boats appearing with more people.

Before condemning the Australian Government for its 'failure' at the asylum seeker and refugee situation, we need to think about what is 'really happening' here, and how different it is from the successful migrations of the Cubans and Vietnamese in the United States of America.

America is on the verge of another wave of migrants washing up on its shores very soon; all the people from Venezuela that are being starved to death because of their failure to deal with the real world. Already, many countries in South and Central America are taking refugees from there, but they're about to become overrun the same as Australia or Eastern Europe. And, of course, they'll just keep sending the refugees north until they wash up on the beaches of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. And once again, America will have to deal with them. The only problem; Americans are now very xenophobic and are not going to tolerate any humanitarian effort that they see as 'more Mexicans'.

The Catholic church will be key in handling this, but there's only so much even they can do. Outside of Louisiana, Catholics are not looked upon very highly (American Protestants have always had problems with Catholics, treating them almost as badly as the Jews), and they won't get a lot of help from other churches with this crisis. With Donald Trump as President and a full Republican Congress, the Government sure isn't looking like it's going to help. So we may have our own Nauru and Manus Island going on in the US soon.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

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October 14, 2016 | Yahoo Inc. - Initiator of Sweeping Surveillance

It was an explosive revelation when Reuters published details of Yahoo Inc. providing direct assistance to the conglomerate which has become internationally recognized as the world's mass-surveillance state, the United States of America and primarily, the NSA and its international intelligence partners.

Details have emerged that Yahoo has cooperated directly, with a demand from the US Government providing the platform for enablement of sweeping surveillance by scanning all incoming Yahoo customer emails, for specific keywords and character strings. The practice was carried out by Yahoo, by providing the tools to enable and perform the email scanning.

According to details since revealed, Yahoo performed the sweep by modifying existing source code for a program the company already uses to scan and identify malware inside its customer emails. The new program was developed through heavy code modification, which resulted in a complete new program going live on Yahoo servers. The program was then used at the hands of Yahoo, in direct and undisputed co-operation and as demanded by the US Government intelligence officials.

One of the most disturbing elements is that Yahoo representatives never disputed, questioned or resisted the demand. Exact details of the legal demand for Yahoo to perform the sweeping surveillance have not yet been revealed at the time of going to press. We do expect the precise legal details and documentation to be treated with a high amount of secrecy - much like all operations directly related to the US mass-surveillance programs.

Freedom Publishers Union condemns such undisputed sweeping surveillance and untargeted mass-surveillance on any scale. Any digital surveillance should be targeted and have a legally obtained warrant provided. When Apple was asked to assist the FBI with the cracking of one of the company's iPhone devices in the San Bernadino case, Apple stood by its company standards and refused to cooperate. Apple's decision must not be confused here, as it is to quickly make an assumption which is wrong. Whilst the legal side of this case gets much more complicated, what we learned from the public perspective is that Apple is willing to stand its ground, stand by its products and uphold the privacy which is enabled by the provided security on Apple devices.

The iPhone in the San Bernadino case was eventually cracked and data accessed with the efforts of a third-party security company and without any involvement from Apple. Yet we must note that Apple never relented or caved into the mass-surveillance institute led by the US Government. Yahoo Inc. has let its customers down, by simply cooperating with the mass-surveillance regime, without question and with a certain amount of enthusiasm from the company's CEO, Marissa Mayer. According to sources inside Yahoo, it has been said that Mayer's actions, judgment and lack of questioning of the reasons for the demanding of email sweeping caused some major disunity among the executive ranks of Yahoo.

Freedom Publishers Union maintains our view that digital surveillance measures should be carried out as targeted operations based on a legally obtained warrant and must be absolutely justified.

As we continue to debate privacy, encryption and civil liberties, this case could easily become a reason to begin to question whether any progress has in fact been made since the debate become mainstream back in 2013. We believe it is fair to point out that progress is being made by a majority of the big technology companies, who wish the gain back the trust of their customers through providing better security and encryption for their services. Things are much better that just two years ago. Yet equally, we still have a long way to go.

The institute of American-led mass-surveillance continues and the legal loopholes that exist are being found and abused by the institute as a means to justify their actions and be able to publicly claim their operations 'are legal'. Legal - perhaps. Ethically responsible and acceptable - absolutely not. Mass surveillance must stop. Sweeping surveillance must stop. The constant attempts of intelligence agencies and their legal goons to use whatever means to find these legal loopholes and policy makers deliberately creating the loop holes so they can be exploited by the mass-surveillance institute must also stop.

Finally, technology companies must continue to provide better security for their customers, not only through their services and products, but backed up by said company standing firm against untargeted surveillance.

In this latest case, Yahoo Inc. has failed on all counts. We have lost what little respect we had for company. Will it hurt the company's bottom line? Probably a little bit. But probably not much. What is guaranteed to stain Yahoo's immediate public image and become a sore spot of its history, is its failure to stand by and protect the privacy and rights of its customers in favor of preferring to collaborate with the US mass-surveillance program and becoming a direct initiator of a sweeping surveillance program through the development of software that Yahoo developed.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

September 1, 2016 | France Leading Charge for EU and Global Push for Anti-Encryption Legislation

For just once, we wish that all sides of the encryption wars would agree on a cease fire and public and governments accept that encryption is a tool and not an end-all in itself.

Freedom Publishers Union has published much content and documents supporting encryption. We are known advocates for encryption and see it as a vital tool to enhance individual's privacy. But not just encryption - strong encryption. We understand its abilities to protect the privacy of an individual's data - which is the purpose of encryption.

Equally, we understand that it is not a government's place to tamper with or modify to any extent encryption algorithms or access methods - ie. implementing government sponsored compulsory backdoors.

We stand by and always aim to protect the civil liberties of individuals and their absolute right to protect their own privacy. The connected world as we know it (as the internet) is under constant mass-surveillance. Thankfully, in a relatively short amount of time since we learned of PRISM and its associated spying programs, the digital world has come a long way, as has encryption. But there is still a long way to go, as we are nowhere near where we should be for protecting ourselves from these mass-surveillance programs. The tools are readily available. The software is already out there and most of it already open-source and known to have not been tampered with. When potential vulnerabilities are detected, patches are quickly developed and pushed out to the public through the open-source distribution model.

During the month of August, France made calls for nations in the European Union to unite and campaign against the use of encryption. It has specifically called upon Germany for help, to get the country to start drumming up support for a campaign to stop implementation of strong encryption. This is a time when the citizens must equally unite and fight back, in support of strong encryption.

Why is France complaining about encryption? According to a recent article published by news giant Reuters, France believes one of the reasons they are struggling to thwart terrorist attacks on home soil is because of encryption. The article specifically points out Telegram and its implementation of end-to-end encryption.

This all needs to be kept in perspective; there are lots of good people, businesses and non-profit organizations that use encryption software on a daily basis, in a completely innocent manner - which is to enhance their privacy and protect important data. No harm intended, encryption used for protection of data and to maintain privacy of legitimate behavior. Whether this data needs to be protected or should be protected is not for governments to make that judgment. It is the right of civil liberties of any individual to make the call whether they want their data protected. Simply standing up and touting that the 'terrorists are using encryption, let's stop all use of encryption' is not only taking the entire thing out of context and perspective, but it also underlines the failings, again, of the understanding of the purpose of encryption.

Telegram has been heavily criticized for its method of encryption and the implementation of its algorithms which used to protect the communications of its users. This criticism has mostly come from respected members of the crypto community. However, there are some conflicts in the validity of the criticism and the actual reliance of the security measures by Telegram. The claims by French authorities that Telegram is a major cause for concern because terrorists are using the software's encrypted chat ability to organize and communicate their operations and their apparent inability to penetrate the software's encryption provide much merit to the software security mode, despite the criticism posed by security researchers.

Freedom Publishers Union takes encryption seriously and we would actually like to see more software services take encryption and its security abilities much more serious. There are still many software services that are used on a daily basis that are still rendered insecure because there is simply no implementation of encryption. However, technology companies claim to be working on more secure implementations of their services, albeit the development and roll out has been slow to date. Despite the Silicon Valley consistently telling us 'we are working on it' and 'it is coming'.

The new French-born attack on encryption (with more EU countries most likely to join), is unjustified. By claiming that use of encryption must be reduced, stopped or backdoors implemented (by law) so governments and their law enforcing and intelligence agencies can snoop around their respective citizens' data is just another gross display that governments still do not understand the pillars of encryption, its purpose and how it actually enables security conscious citizens to protect themselves and their data from the 'bad guys'. Even worse, they're having to use it to protect themselves from their own governments too.

When citizens become scared of the bad people in society, there is most likely issues with rising crime. But when citizens become scared of the bad people within the governments they entrust their confidence, yet who have apparently become absolutely and certifyingly obsessed with knowing everything about everyone and then sharing that information with their international allies, then its another demonstration of the veracity of the ongoing crypto wars and the wider implications of the ongoing mass-surveillance programs.

Unfortunately, the war is between the government and the citizenry - rather than between the government and the bad people.

It's about how we look at it.

Encryption can be viewed and examined from many different aspects. All issues surrounding encryption need to be kept in perspective, otherwise it can be confusing and information that should be of relevant importance becomes just a mess.

Strong encryption is no different than a strong safe. A safe is used to store valuable or secret information, with the assumption that it will be very difficult for anyone to open it without authorization. Law enforcement has been dealing with safes for centuries. If the owner refuses to provide or authorize access, they are held in contempt and law enforcement then has the authority - under a legally obtained warrant - to break into the safe.

Companies like Chubb or Diebold certainly do not build backdoors into their products simply because law enforcement would 'like to have them'. And any attempt to pass legislation that would require a master key to all safes - including banks - would be stopped at the doors of Congress.

Encryption should be treated the same way. In the most famous case to date - breaking into the iPhone that was used by the San Bernardino murderers - the phone was effectively cracked without the assistance of Apple, the carrier or the deceased owner. No one was forced to reveal secrets that made every other device insecure. Although challenges were made to weaken the safe of encryption, nothing was actually legislated and no contempt charges against Apple or the carriers were filed.

This is exactly the way it should be. Treat encryption and safes the same way and be done with these legislative tantrums. It must be understood, if law enforcement does break encryption while executing a warrant, they do not have to share the method with anyone. If they can keep the 'secret' to breaking into an iPhone, then they are welcome to it. All this means is that the defense has to keep working to fix bugs and improve safety. Just as the offense continues to work on breaking through into the safe. Because eventually any such 'secret' will be revealed, the bug fixed and everyone goes back to square one.

Remember that this approach is completely within the boundaries of the Constitution or Charter of most Western nations today. Receiving court permission to gather evidence means that a robust case was made that convinced a judge that there was merit in allowing the action to proceed. And if the warrant was issued without due process, there is redress in law for the plaintiff. If the laws surrounding the execution of these very important components of fair jurisprudence and law enforcement are broken in the execution or obtaining of a warrant, then this can be raised immediately and further legal action taken. We know that this works, as there are hundreds of cases dismissed because of improper procedure every year, including some high-profile cases dealing with exactly this issue in the mass collection of citizen's information in America.

So we come to the conclusion.

Security researchers and cryptologists have been here so many times before. We pose the same argument for encryption, defining it's importance and presenting scenarios to attempt to justify our argument. Those against encryption do the same.

If one was to be uninformed of the definition and purpose of encryption and read media accounts of the arguments and government calls for anti-encryption legislation, it would all seem so simple. "Bad guys are doing bad things with software that allows them to mask their operations and communications." When looking at it through the glasses of realism, you understand the complexities of encryption - its history - its intended purpose - and how it surrounds us already through technology integration. This is too often over-looked when calls are made to reign in encryption use.

We remain confident that common-sense will prevail in the long-term, however it does not mean that we must remain complacent. We will not stand by and watch encryption and security software be attacked. Freedom Publishers Union remains dedicated to upholding civil liberties for all citizens around the world, including encryption and privacy.

Freedom Publishers Union is yet to view any actual EU legislative proposal which has potential to affect, change or outlaw encryption from the current form. We will watch with a keen eye and publish any documents as they become available.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

August 27, 2016 | European Copyright Leak Exposes Plans to Force the Internet to Subsidize Publishers

A just-leaked draft impact assessment on the modernization of European copyright rules could spell the end for many online services in Europe as we know them. The document's recommendations foreshadow new a EU Directive on copyright to be introduced later this year, that will ultimately bind each of the European Union's 28 member states. If these recommendations by the European Commission are put in place, Europe's internet will never be the same, and these impacts are likely to reverberate around the world.

The 182-page document identifies three general objectives-ensuring wider access to content, adapting copyright exceptions to the digital and cross-border environment, and achieving a well-functioning marketplace for copyright. In this initial article we examine the recommendations that fall under the third of these three objectives, which are amongst the most alarming proposals, including new obligations on Internet platforms, and new copyright-like powers for news publishers.

More specifically, this article will look at two of the proposals for what the Commission calls "upstream" problems, or difficulties faced by copyright owners in extracting value from the use of content online. We'll deal with other parts of the document in later posts.

"Sharing of Value" Proposal Exposes Rights-holder Greed

The assumption that copyright owners should be entitled to share in any value created by online platforms is never really examined by the Commission. The theory is that because online platforms are doing rather well in the digital environment, and because traditional publishing industries are doing less well, this gives the publishers some kind of claim to share in the profits of the platforms. It's a questionable starting point, and as we'll see, the recommendations that flow from it are ill-considered and harmful.

The first of the two problems that copyright owners supposedly face in extracting such value is that there is a large amount of user-generated content uploaded by users to sharing platforms, and that European law does not place an obligation on platforms to proactively police this content for possible copyright infringement, but instead relies on the latter to identify that the material has been uploaded without authorization and to request its removal. That existing law strikes a reasonable balance, similar to Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the US.

Major entertainment companies characterize this as a problem because it means that copyright owners have less ability to ask online platforms to pay licensing fees for their content. In the case of user-generated content platforms (think YouTube and SoundCloud), the platform can simply offer to remove a copyright-owner's content rather than paying for it-or, in practice, to voluntarily offer a compromise such as YouTube's Content ID that automatically scans uploaded content and shares ad revenues for content identified as the copyright owner's.

As for platforms that offer access to their own library of content (think Netflix and Spotify), rights-holders contend that they may be willing to pay less in order to remain competitive with the user-generated content platforms. In either case, major copyright holders contend that platforms should be paying them more for the content that the platforms make available online.

The European Commission's proposed solution, however, is worse than the supposed problem. The Commission is proposing that user-generated content platforms should be forced to seek, in good faith, to conclude private agreements with copyright owners and to put in place "appropriate and proportionate content identification technologies". In short, the use of something like YouTube's Content ID system is being made compulsory.

This is a treacherous idea for many reasons, but just to give two:

More broadly, this kind of insidious regime of private agreements pushed by government is the kind of cop-out from good lawmaking that EFF calls "Shadow Regulation"; a concept that we'll be introducing in more depth in subsequent Deeplinks posts, where we will give some other examples of the same. But in short, such agreements can embody the worst of all possible approaches, by combining the coercion of government regulation, with the lack of accountability of corporate self-regulation.

A Link Tax in Favor of News Publishers

The European Commission doesn't stop there, but also has a similarly ham-fisted proposal to address the declining revenues of news publishers from their print publications, which leaves them with fewer resources to continue to invest in journalism.

We have previously agreed that this is a real problem. But where the Commission errs is to pin responsibility for this problem on the reuse of news content by web platforms under exceptions to copyright; and it compounds this error by seeking to limit their use of such copyright exceptions going forward.

The Commission's proposal is to award publishers a new copyright-like veto power, layered on top of the copyright that already exists in the published content, allowing them to prevent the online reuse of news content even when a copyright exception applies. This veto power may last for as little as one year, or as many as 50-the Commission leaves this open for now.

This kind of veto power has been described as a link tax-notwithstanding the Commission's protestations that it isn't one-because when the publisher controls even the use of small snippets of news text surrounding a hyperlink to the original article, it essentially amounts to a tax on that link. The result, as seen in Spain, will be the closure of online news portals, and a reduction in traffic to news publishers.

A new wrinkle on this link tax proposal is that the Commission also proposes that publishers who have received a transfer of copyright from authors should also be entitled to collect revenue from whatever copyright levies member states may impose to "compensate" authors for use of their content under copyright exceptions. The notion that "compensation" is needed for users exercising their rights under copyright is a thoroughly perverse one, as we have previously explained. This addition to the link tax proposal is a gift to copyright collecting societies that will further increase the cost and complexity of lawfully reusing content.

What Happens Now?

The impact assessment is not yet a draft law, but it is a crystal clear indication from the European Commission about the content of the law that is is proposing to develop as a draft for approval by the other European institutions, namely the European Parliament, and the Council of the European Union. Users will have further opportunities for input into the proposals when they reach that stage. But we'll have the best chance of stopping these misguided proposals if European officials are alerted to our concerns right away. They need to understand that Internet users won't accept the "Shadow Regulation" of intermediaries by requiring them to enter into expensive and error-prone arrangements with copyright owners for the automating flagging of user content. Neither will they accept a new "link tax" for news publishers that could stifle the dissemination of news online.

Jeremy Malcolm, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States (CC BY 3.0 US)

July 13, 2016 | An Appeal for the Reduction of Confinement of Chelsea Manning

Freedom Publishers Union has consistently called for better treatment of Chelsea Manning and our call for Clemency remains.

Most notable Chelsea Manning leaks:

Chelsea Manning completed her 6 years of imprisonment by May 21, 2016. While it is still a point to ponder whether she should be called a whistleblower or a traitor, as she violated the terms and conditions of her employer. She was charged with 16 charges including those under the Espionage Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

At Freedom Publishers Union we do not declare whether her confinement is right or wrong, but to analyze the fact that her punishment is much more than her crime (if whatever she did should be referred to as a crime).

Allegations

Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) is responsible for the biggest military leak in history [at the time of going to press], which showed the 'other' face of modern warfare. An aspect our governments do not want us to know.

The first leak was a video of a US Army Apache helicopter brutally killing civilians in Baghdad, Iraq. Helicopters misidentified two Reuters journalists as terrorists carrying guns. Without any warning or opportunity to surrender, the video shows the helicopter's engagement, killing the innocent civilians.

Later, they also fired on a van which came on-site to collect the bodies of injured and dead. The people from the van also received the same fate. Two children were also injured due to deliberate civilian firing. The children were sitting in front seat of the van yet the pilots ignored the fact and claimed that it was their fault that they bring children to a crime scene.

The video was leaked to Wikileaks which then produced the video and released it under the title of "Collateral Murder". Many activists agreed on the name as the video clearly describes just that. Manning also leaked ~91,000 reports covering the war from 2004 to 2010 known as "Afghan War Diary". Reports also describe the number of persons stated to be killed, wounded or detailed during the course of the war in Afghanistan.

The Afghan War Diary is the most significant archive about the reality of war to have ever been released during the course of a war. The deaths of tens of thousands is normally only a statistic but the archive reveals the locations and the key events behind each most of these deaths. "We hope its release will lead to a comprehensive understanding of the war in Afghanistan and provide the raw ingredients necessary to change its course", says Wikileaks Editor, Julian Assange.

Manning is also responsible for ~390,000 classified military documents on the war and occupation in Iraq, from 2004 to 2009, as told by soldiers in the US Army. Notably, the months of May 2004 and March 2009 are absent. This is known as "Iraq War Diary" and is one of the biggest military warfare data leaks in history. The majority of deaths in the Iraq war is civilians (60%) which is [average] 31 civilians dying everyday over the span of 6 years. During that time Iraq was five times more lethal with respect to equivalent population.

"Cablegate" is another affiliation of Manning's data leaks, in which ~250,000 US diplomatic cables were leaked which comprised of talk from 274 embassies around the world. This data shows the spying nature of US Government and how governments have many faces.

Appraisals

Since her confinement, Manning has been awarded many times. She is also three time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. Which clearly indicates her good deeds towards the data leak concept. But as the charges are applied on her, it is clearly a battle between law and ethics. Everyone must agree that no law is flawless and ethics are the same throughout the world. We are taught from our early childhood about how transparency, truth and honesty are essential qualities and one must do good no matter what. Chelsea Manning did the right thing and got many appraisals for that but the law is clearly not happy with her.

She was reported to authorities by one of her confidants, a renowned hacker [at the time]. After confinement she stated that her intention was not to hurt anyone or give the leaked information into the wrong hands, but to ensure transparency. Manning's leaked documents showed us how modern warfare looks and how innocent civilians are caught up in conflict and killed because of corrupt and unethical politics.

Many of us will agree that the Iraq and Afghan war(s) changed the world, but not for the better. The Arab Spring is a result of multiple failures of US operations in these countries and their neighbors.

Then we have the violent terrorist group, known as "Islamic State [also known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh]" which effectively developed as a result of the power vacuum left by the Western invasion in the Middle-East.

War is bad and these documents are proof of that.

Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die. --Herbert Hoover

This was not the first time when documents regarding the war became helpful and showed wider harms to the rest of the world. The Diary of Anne Frank describes the situation of war [World War II, 1947] and today we can imagine the torridness of that era just by analyzing such documents. Back in those days when Adolf Hitler was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize [1939], these documents show us their importance. Some of us agree that single photo of Napalm Girl helped end the Vietnam War. So we can say that the data leaks by Chelsea Manning is good for whole mankind.

Aftermath

Now, the more important thing is how this whole incident is going to affect all of us. Whistleblowers are definitely seen as selfless martyrs doing the right thing for the right cause. But this incident shows how whistleblower protection must be a real thing with real powers. And Manning's imprisonment for this duration [35 years] is too much punishment and this contrasts with the decision of the rest of the world where Manning is appreciated for her contributions. If the confinement period is not reduced very soon, then surely whistleblowing will be a thing of the past and we will keep struggling with corruption and selfishness of our leaders.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

July 9, 2016 | Data or Just Numbers? British Intelligence Gathering Dates Back to 1990's

On April 21, 2016, The Guardian published an article referencing documents released by Privacy International which detailed extensive surveillance, which dates back to the 1990's and how it was to be the primary source of intelligence gathering for Britain's intelligence organizations - GCHQ, MI5 and MI6.

Freedom Publishers Union has viewed the documents, which includes 116 documents detailing intelligence gathering information across many hundreds of pages.

The document dump was provided by Privacy International.

Through our US Press Office, upon closer review of the document dump by Freedom Publishers Union Sub-Editor, Brett Brennan, he provided the following analysis of the history of intelligence, whether privacy still exists and how encryption is still so important, as failing on encryption marks you as just another 'suspect' on a very long list.

I work with clients that take available data sources - most of them open in the public record - and use data warehouses to compile multiple sources of information into a detailed profile of literally millions of people. Financial institutions and risk analysis firms have access to additional private data which they can legally, whilst following privacy guidelines, combine with other data sources - often the same public data - to create even more detailed profiles of individuals. Then, law enforcement can take the data and combine it with their legally obtained sources to create an even more detailed insight into people's lives.

There are rules and laws surrounding what can and cannot be done with this information. Most of these agencies work within those rules. Many of the rules didn't exist a decade ago, far less back through the 20th century. FOIA works both ways: I can walk into a courthouse or records office and look at data about anyone that is on public record, then take that information with me and composite it with other information that obtain - legally and openly - from other sources and build a profile that would be scary to anyone other than a data scientist.

What we all need to consider is not so much the collection and correlation of this data. What is far, far more important is the uses that this data is often compiled for. Taking a bulk collection of CDR's (Call Detail Records - telephone bills) and using it as an input into a profiling system doesn't violate legal privacy. No one is identified in the bulk data, it's just data - impersonal, anonymous and massive. Creating a profile of anyone based on the data in that data-set also isn't an invasion of privacy - it's still just data, with more attributes.

It's only when that data is put through a filter and a model is created to use the data that we first start getting close to pin-pointing the individuals contained within. It's all in the 'context of the use', not the data itself, that defines an invasion of privacy or anonymity. And in most of the Western world, that last step requires legal oversight.

Let me put it another way. My Wife mines huge amounts of data from public records doing genealogy research. Most of the data she dumps, simply because it doesn't fit the model (family history) that she is using as the filter criteria. She has "viewed" private information that is in the public domain, but doesn't act on it. When she does use the data and enhances it with other sources, she can paint a more detailed picture of the people that she is analyzing. Cheating husbands and wives can be identified, splits in a family that even the family didn't know about at the time, along with a lot more information about the financial and even mental state of those individuals that have their data in public records.

But even armed with that information, she still has not violated any privacy laws of morals. Her correlation is not the causation of the events that happened to these people. If she publishes the newly correlated data - which she (and everybody else involved in genealogy research does) - she still hasn't violated privacy laws. The data is in public domain and effectively, anyone can do the same process and arrive at the same data-set. The consequence of this publication may cause people who are unaware of the information to feel as though their privacy has been violated, simply because this new view of the data breaks their preconceived and strongly held belief of what the 'story' of their ancestors and living relatives is.

When a Government or other associated agency collects data, it is simply taking the data-sets and correlating them into a suitable model. The result set is still nothing but just data, but it is now data that meets the criteria of the model - the filter - being applied to it. It is only when that data is used to precipitate an action does it trigger consequences.

This brings us to the 'real' fears about data collection. When there are thousands of laws being enforced, all of us are in violation of some law at some point. Maybe we skipped out on paying a parking ticket back in 1979 and that minor violation has gone to warrant for arrest due to the failure to comply with the parking law. If that data is put into a database that any law enforcement agency can access and they choose to check the ownership record of a vehicle against outstanding warrants (mostly looking for stolen vehicles and criminals known to possess a specific vehicle), they might just find that the person who skipped that $12 parking ticket is wanted back in Kansas City for a criminal charge. They can then stop and arrest that person legally - and because there is a crime involved - perform additional actions to determine if more crimes have been committed by that individual. Like having an open beer can in the car, which remains a crime in most of the 50 States in the US, that requires arrest and arraignment. So an unsuspecting person who has completely forgotten about a trivial crime committed 20 years in the past and who has some trash in his car, ends up incarcerated for a day or two, loses their driving privileges and pays a hefty $2000 fine.

People are scared of being arrested for something minor. This is simply because with new data collection capabilities, law enforcement can uncover the violation and make a legal arrest. Cops have been doing this for centuries without the help of bulk data collection. All computers do is make enforcing the law - even completely trivial laws - that much easier.

Privacy is about hiding information. The same as State Secrets. The reason we hide information is to prevent moral or legal implications to change our lives. If we had a single law - one single law - in force throughout the world, there would be people who had violated it always worrying about being caught. Discovery of this violation through data analysis would be a violation of their privacy. A completely legal and acceptable violation because laws protect the rights of the many against the transgressions of the few.

It can not be disputed that privacy is dead and gone. Never collecting any data won't change that. We simply return to the halcyon days of the 1960's where testimony (unreliable) and opinions (less reliable) substitute for evidence. Any laws we enact around the use of data to prevent unauthorized use are completely mooted when we live our lives on Facebook and Twitter, literally.

Until strong and evolving encryption is used by everyone, then anyone who uses encryption will be flagged by traffic analysis as a suspect. Instead, let's deal with privacy from the root cause backwards. Let's fix the laws so that anyone can understand which law they violate immediately, rather than worrying about something that they just don't know.

Data is extra-judicial. It has no value, use or worth as a raw piece of information. Phone numbers are just a random string of numbers, until a model translates them into a useful piece of information. Data is a Heisenberg uncertainty: until you give it context and a model, it doesn't exist. Only by understanding the context of the data we generate in our life-wake can we understand its value. And by removing the cause of the fear most people feel, more so in a post-Snowden era, they can get on with their lives without worrying about who has access to their data. Because without laws to provide context, it's just Heisenberg numbers.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

June 17, 2016 | Death Penalty: Is it Justified or Just Plain Wrong and Unethical?

May 13, 2016, The Guardian published an article on pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, and their decision to ban its products, through increased control in an effort to ensure that the company's products are not used for the purpose of lethal injection in prisons.

Freedom Publishers Union as an organization takes a strong stance against the death penalty in any country. On June 9, 2015, we released a Press Statement which initiated our global condemnation against any nation that practices the death penalty.

Death as a punishment has been the reason of debate for a long time. Before we start analyzing the pros and cons of death as punishment, we must consider the opinions and mindset of whole humanity.

In many religions, people celebrate the death as it appears to them as a gateway of another life. But there are very few communities that celebrate the death of young ones.

It can not be questioned that death penalty is extreme punishment. Usually, we humans try to separate some individuals from the rest of us because we think that these individuals are dangerous to others as they violate some laws who are made for betterment of everyone. We hope that within the time of solitude, that criminal will either learn to live as everyone or he/she will be too weak to commit a crime after the solitude.

But a criminals perspective is totally different. Punishment for them is not related with introspection but pain for them and their loved ones. They fear to commit crime because they and their loved ones will be tortured for their heinous act. The gentlemen who decide the punishment for a criminal hope that during the imprisonment, the person will look into their inner-self and he/she will try to be good. But that is not true always.

Death punishment comes as a liberty to some criminals. They do not think much while committing a crime because their pain is for once only. Above all these, terrorists affiliated with Jihad embrace death. Their mindset tells them that death while committing a crime is guarantee to be martyr. They believe and hope that after death they will go to heaven, so-called Jannat, where they'll be caressed by fairies. These criminals are more worried about their after life. Death is not a punishment for them at all. But these incidents encourage others like them to commit crime and reserve some place in heaven.

While we are talking about artificial death, we must make equal consideration of euthanasia. It is also known as "death due to mercy". Euthanasia can be categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries. Non-voluntary euthanasia (patient's consent unavailable) is illegal in all countries, as we understand.

Involuntary euthanasia (without asking consent or against the patient's will) is also illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.

Methods which are used to carry out euthanasia are selected in such a way that the candidate feels the least amount of pain. But the same is true for the death penalty as well, or supposedly. We stress there are many cases and claims of abuse of the practice of the death penalty through lethal injection. And these claims can not be ignored. Some countries do not kill people for crime. Other countries who still believe in law and democracy attempt to use the least painful method for death. In India, where hanging is method for death, the executioner prepares a special rope for hanging. He will even go to lengths to apply wax on the rope so that death is instantaneous and painless.

So we can see that criminals fear of pain and the ultimate penalty of death does not provide the pain they should in-fact be afraid of. While a majority of criminals embrace death. In all ways, the death penalty is totally illogical because people who commit the heinous crimes and get punished by death are abnormal people. They are mentally unstable and not enough attention is paid to this fact and the immediate need for more medical treatment, as an alternative to the death penalty.

However, the death penalty itself is not designed to impact the mental state of the individual being killed. Rather, it is intended to act as a deterrent to those elements of society that may be contemplating the commission of a heinous crime. It also acts to provide a sense of justice to other, 'decent' people in that society: the perpetrator of this horrid, heinous crime is being removed completely from society for all eternity.

It is this distinction that centers the debate on societal ritual killing for justice. The debate is whether the death penalty is a sufficient deterrent to others and if it truly provides society with the catharsis and closure needed to heal from the emotional upset of the crime.

In most modern societies, the majority of murders are committed as crimes of passion. They are the result of a momentary event that causes insanity in the perpetrator. Enough to override their instilled morality. It is difficult to see societal value in death as punishment for these crimes. Many of these perpetrators end up committing suicide on their own when the impact of their actions finally hits them.

The few murders that remain - those committed by psychopaths and fanatics (which are just a special case of psychopath) - are not going to feel remorse over their crime. Indeed, most feel satisfaction as a result of their actions and are expecting complete release and approbation from their deaths. Keeping them alive does nothing to cause remorse; killing them does nothing but satisfy them.

In these cases, the benefit to the greater society needs to be analyzed. If society is going to benefit psychologically from their killing, then it would be best to provide this closure, as the perpetrator just doesn't care. However, the way that the killing is done may need to be altered in order for it to not only assuage society's feelings, but to send a message to other potential murderers that this will not get them the satisfaction they want. This would probably involve setting aside the "cruel and unusual" punishment clauses that promise a humane death. How this is done is a topic for another debate on this already very complex and sensitive topic.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

April 28, 2016 | Australia's Continued Attempt to Silence Off-Shore Detention Center Whistleblowers

Freedom Publishers Union originally raised concerns over Australia's Border Force legislation in an Editorial published on June 25, 2015.

The Border Force Bill 2015 contains disturbing elements which aim to gag whistleblowers who could potentially speak out against Government wrongdoing or from associated organizations contracted by the Australian Government.

Detainees on Australia's off-shore detention facilities of Nauru and Manus Island are held under conditions which have been deemed to violate international treaties on human rights. Amnesty International called the conditions witnessed on Nauru "a human rights catastrophe".

Freedom Publishers Union has continuously raised concerns over the conditions of detainees of Australia's off-shore detention facilities. Additionally, our calls have remained consistent that the conditions on these facilities that asylum seekers and refugees are held under is ethically and morally unacceptable and a violation of human rights.

In another Editorial published on October 2014, questions were being raised whether Australia was following the basic principles set out in the United Nations - Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Then on April 26, 2016, came a landmark decision from Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court, which concluded that the detention of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island is illegal, a violation of the country's Constitution and a violation of human rights and civil liberties. Further, the Supreme Court urged both Papua New Guinea and Australia to take immediate steps to ensure detainees have freedom of passage and movement. Justice Terence Higgins said that to continuously have those seeking refugee status "as prisoners irrespective of their circumstances or status, is to offend against their rights and freedoms".

Freedom Publishers Union has accessed the legal document released from the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea. Australia's public broadcaster ABC, aired on its television program Four Corners, details of the stories from former medical staff who have worked on off-shore detention centers, under the operations of International SOS and its subsidiary, International Health and Medical Services.

International Health and Medical Services runs the medical services provided on Manus Island.

The medical practitioners who have spoken out on the program are essentially defying the restrictions put on them under the aforementioned Australian Border Force Bill. Under the Bill, the medical practitioners could potentially be prosecuted and jailed for revealing the disturbing details and mismanagement of medical staff and the operations that have been occurring on Manus Island.

The details revealed by the former staff who have either worked directly at the facility or associated with its operations, are alarming. Equally alarming is the gross mismanagement and sheer ignorance put forth by Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Force who are outright ignoring the advice and recommendations of medical staff and healthcare workers, which is resulting in an already dire situation of detainee's health conditions, getting worse. This very mismanagement and ignorance from Department of Immigration and Border Force resulted in the death of Iranian detainee Hamid Khazaei.

It was advised from several medical workers on Manus Island that Hamid Khazaei be transferred to a better equipped medical hospital, without delay. Immigration officials in Australia halted any transfer of Mr. Khazaei citing that there were issues with his visa. His medical condition continued to deteriorate further and the Department was again advised that Mr. Khazaei be transferred, but this time to mainland Australia and to a hospital in the city of Brisbane. This request from medical staff was also initially ignored and delays continued.

After much delay by Australian Immigration officials, a transfer to Brisbane was eventually approved for Mr. Khazaei. This decision came at a time when doctors already suspected him to be "brain-dead", as revealed by medical staff who have spoken out about the details. Their suspicions were proven correct when Mr. Khazaei arrived at Brisbane's Mater Hospital. His condition was so bad he was kept alive only by life-support machine. Mr. Khazaei's life-support was switched off several days after his arrival on mainland Australia.

It's important to understand the two different sides to the story. However, Freedom Publishers Union believes they are directly related. The rules which have been set out in the Border Force legislation are a clear indication of the policy's failures. By disallowing and restricting visits from journalists and media into the detention facility on Manus Island, making it illegal to report on operations of the facility and scaling back all forms of operational transparency allows the detention center to operate in near-secrecy which resembles something of a military base.

Section 42 of the Act is titled "Secrecy". The term "Entrusted person" essentially means employees, consultants and contractors. In short, everyone involved in the operations of these torrid facilities. "Protected information" means A information held by detention centers.

Continued attempts to restrict the exposure of the concerns expressed by whistleblowers by gagging and the lingering potential of 2-year imprisonment for those who reveal such operational details and information, is not how democracy should function.

By disallowing and literally shutting down every window of opportunity which sees off-shore detention centers scrutinized by the wider public, we will almost certainly continue to see more examples of clear mismanagement and dysfunction at these centers and also in the operational back-end of the Department of Immigration and Border Force. This is not simply an administration error which has resulted in the death of Mr. Khazaei. It is a direct result of flawed and failed Border Force legislation and immigration policy which has enabled this to happen.

If the Australian Government or Government appointed contractors are violating the United Nations and Papua New Guinea human rights laws (or any other Constitutional or civil liberties laws) then there is clear justification for a legal case against Australia. [As we go to press with this story and following on from the legal decision from PNG deeming the Manus Island detention center illegal and violating the PNG Constitution through loss of civil liberties, the PNG Government has now ordered that the center be closed. The PNG Government and Australia are currently making arrangements to resettle/move current detainees held at the Manus Island facility. No final decision has yet been made as this is currently developing news.]

One can not question the knowledge and understanding of the direct operations and what occurs on off-shore detention centers which house asylum seekers and refugees. The Australian Government is well aware of the problems that are present in off-shore detention facilities, in addition to its clear administrative problems present which are on display by the Department of Immigration and Border Force being unable to cope with the workload of everyday operations, let alone deal with serious problems when they do arise. Such is clear with the terrible case and tragic death of Hamid Khazaei, which if dealt with swiftly and as recommended by medical staff as they are experts in their field, the fatality of an asylum seeker/refugee who is under the care of Australia could possibly have been avoided.

What are the real and viable options Australia has in dealing with its asylum seekers and refugees? Well, there are options of establishing a new facility on mainland Australia which can be operated with much closer supervision and which should allow for media and journalists to visit the facility, paving the way for much more transparent operations than what off-shore detention currently offers. Such proposals have been made by some Australian Politicians and Senators. The concerns continue to grow as more details of human rights violations are exposed. In-fact, it has become party policy of some small political parties in Australia that the off-shore detention centers of Nauru and Manus Island be closed immediately, following the establishment of a new facility of the mainland. Such a solution would also have a realistic added benefit of a more cost effective solution than the current expensive operations of off-shore detention. Human rights of those seeking asylum and those with who have acquired genuine refugee status could also be closely scrutinized and to some degree, we would see their civil liberties be upheld. After all, seeking asylum is not illegal. Violating human rights and stripping people of civil liberties in a democratic sovereign State is illegal. That is what is being carried out by the Australian Government, its contractors and its Department of Immigration and Border Force, through the use of the Border Force legislation and allowing it to all occur in secret whilst gagging those who speak out of this abuse.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

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February 19, 2016 | Site Blocking and Censorship Will Not Reduce Piracy

As reported on the torrent news website TorrentFreak, the attacks against Australian internet users has jumped into another stage.

The next stage of the attack is being led by Australian premium cable subscriber, Foxtel. Additionally, in a separate yet related legal filing, Village RoadShow have also launched their own legal action.

Combined, the legal action of the two entertainment entities is supposedly in-favor of site-blocking mechanisms through DNS blocking. Any site blocking implemented would aim to block mainstream file sharing websites and websites that 'supposedly' promote and enable piracy.

Freedom Publishers Union has always advocated freedom of information flow on the internet, without blocking, without censorship and without restriction. We do not condone piracy and do not believe a majority of Australian (and International) internet users are mass-pirates. This majority use file sharing websites for a combination of reasons, including lack of access to compatible legal material which is free of any type of digital rights management (DRM) and a genuine intent of personal viewing/listening and fair use.

Detailed in a Report compiled for the Australian Department of Communications, released on June 24, 2015, which focused on online copyright infringement of Australians aged 12+, key findings revealed that 28% of users who downloaded illegal content in some form, had also paid for legal content. So there is a positive perspective. There is definitely room for improvement, yet there is equal room for improvement from entertainment companies offering digital content to Australian internet users which can match or better the quality that can easily be accessed for free through file sharing websites.

Let's be realistic; Apple has done a fine job for delivering music tracks and albums through its iTunes service. However, if a user chooses to use the Linux operating system, iTunes is simply not an option for them as the operating system is not supported by Apple. Movies are much the same. Movie files are normally accessed through some type of portal which requires a user to register to all kinds of untrustworthy services and way too many sign-up details required. And if a user is patient enough to tolerate all the associated sign-up rubbish and reach a point where the movie is ready to be delivered to the user digitally via download, it usually requires them to download and install a proprietary media player distributed by the studio providing the digital download. Both mainstream options for music and movie entertainment and limited, restricting and highly inflexible. This is why internet users pirate music and movies. More so in Australia because the access and options are often limited in comparison to that of the United States.

So let's get to the crux of the entire problem; flexibility. It is what internet users want. Music lovers want to be able to simply click DOWNLOAD on that MP3/AAC file or album and get exactly what they want within minimal effort and getting a resulting digital file free from all DRM. And the scenario is exactly the same for movies. Movie buffs simply want to perform the same actions as above and get a resulting file, again, free from all forms of DRM and in MKV/MP4 format.

Internet users like files in formats which can be migrated, moved and copied to their personal music devices, smartphones and media players. Only when the music industry and movie studios can emulate the ease-of-access and flexibility that file sharing websites offer, and on all operating systems and platforms will the legal alternatives offered become equally attractive. So far, both the music industry and movie studios have failed. In fact, they have failed so badly that they have not even commenced to recognize where the problem lies. Well, there it is. It's ironic that they spend millions of dollars every year attempting to counteract piracy levels, when the real solution is so simple and written right in front of their eyes - Ease-of-access, DRM free and flexible file format.

Freedom Publishers Union and our media partner Quality Publishing Works has released many Press Statements, combined with the many Editorials on the same topic, all in support of freedom of information flow and fair use policy of digital media and access to file sharing websites. We do believe that file sharing websites and legal media entertainment websites offering the same files for reasonable cost can live in harmony on the internet.

On March 6, 2015, Freedom Publishers Union along with limited collaboration with Pirate Party Australia, made a 8-page submission to Communications Alliance Ltd. in response to the Copyright Notice Scheme Draft Industry Code.

In the submission's opening Statement, former Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Publishers Union, Chris Jones, made claim that the Copyright Notice Scheme was on the right track to becoming a viable code, if Clauses and Provisions were included which enable "fair use". The terms of "fair use" can not be under-recognized, as they always are. It is not a method of escaping penalty for illegally downloading content. It is simply something that actually does occur and should be recognized exactly for what it is - fair use of the media accessed.

Currently, all legal action filed from Foxtel and Village RoadShow, along with the potential for more in the future, are still outstanding and it will take time to go through all the usual legal channels of process. So nothing will change without prior warning. File sharing websites are not going to suddenly become inaccessible for Australian internet users.

In conclusion, we must point out the obvious; piracy is real. We have never denied this. But so is the realistic scenario of genuine innocent internet users who do use file sharing websites for genuine personal entertainment listening and viewing, often on a very reasonable scale. It's well documented that these types of users also do purchase legal material in addition to testing the waters with illegally downloaded content. Again, this is why we strongly advocate on fair use policy as it would potentially eliminate time wasting legal pursuit of these types of users.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support and advocate for the open access and freedom of information flow on the internet, which also extends to file sharing websites. Finally, as a precaution of concern for internet security and privacy of users, we also take this opportunity to re-iterate our call for internet users to use Tor Browser where appropriate and where specific blocking and censorship measures are implemented.

Internet censorship must stop. Freedom of information and data must flow freely without interference or limits and net neutrality must be upheld.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

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January 4, 2016 | Tribute to Debian Founder, Ian Murdock

ian-murdock-tribute

On December 28, 2015, the free software world lost of one its smartest programmers and software engineers, Ian Murdock. Ian was most well known for his founding and creation of one of the most respected Linux distributions to date, Debian.

Through Ian's creation of Debian, the Linux operating system has gained a reputation for being one of the most solid, reliable and versatile Linux operating systems for the server and desktop sectors.

Debian has provided the basis for many Linux based operating systems, including the world's most popular Linux system [at the time of going to press], Ubuntu.

Debian development continues today through the volunteer efforts of thousands of software developers and engineers. Whilst Linus Torvalds is often considered the grandfather of Linux, Debian is equally considered the grandfather of Linux based operating systems.

The tireless work that Ian Murdock put into Debian and other projects earned him the respect that he deserved.

In January, 2006 Ian's hard work led him to a role as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) with the Free Standards Group, which eventually evolved into the Linux Foundation. Ian continued his role as CTO until the following year of March 2007 where he was employed at Sun Microsystems to lead Project Indiana. When Sun Microsystems merged with software giant Oracle, Ian resigned from the company.

From 2011-2015 Ian was employed by Salesforce Marketing Cloud, until in November 2015 he joined Docker Inc. His role with Docker was short-lived, when on December 30, 2015, Docker announced his tragic passing.

Whilst specific circumstances surrounding his passing have not been officially released, there are indications that Ian Murdock had taken his own life. Absolutely tragic and deeply saddening for Ian's family, friends, colleagues and all of the free and open-source software community.

It's important to remember the legacy that Ian left behind, through his work as a free and open-source software developer and engineer. More specifically, Ian will always be remembered for the founding and creation of the world's most loved and respected Linux operating systems, Debian.

May you rest in peace Ian Murdock, you will be sorely missed.

As a sign of our respect to Ian, today we finish our tribute by publishing the "Debian Manifesto" written by Ian Murdock in 1994:

Debian Manifesto

A.1 What is Debian Linux?

Debian Linux is a brand-new kind of Linux distribution. Rather than being developed by one isolated individual or group, as other distributions of Linux have been developed in the past, Debian is being developed openly in the spirit of Linux and GNU. The primary purpose of the Debian project is to finally create a distribution that lives up to the Linux name. Debian is being carefully and conscientiously put together and will be maintained and supported with similar care.

It is also an attempt to create a non-commercial distribution that will be able to effectively compete in the commercial market. It will eventually be distributed by The Free Software Foundation on CD-ROM, and The Debian Linux Association will offer the distribution on floppy disk and tape along with printed manuals, technical support and other end-user essentials. All of the above will be available at little more than cost, and the excess will be put toward further development of free software for all users. Such distribution is essential to the success of the Linux operating system in the commercial market, and it must be done by organizations in a position to successfully advance and advocate free software without the pressure of profits or returns.

A.2 Why is Debian being constructed?

Distributions are essential to the future of Linux. Essentially, they eliminate the need for the user to locate, download, compile, install and integrate a fairly large number of essential tools to assemble a working Linux system. Instead, the burden of system construction is placed on the distribution creator, whose work can be shared with thousands of other users. Almost all users of Linux will get their first taste of it through a distribution, and most users will continue to use a distribution for the sake of convenience even after they are familiar with the operating system. Thus, distributions play a very important role indeed.

Despite their obvious importance, distributions have attracted little attention from developers. There is a simple reason for this: they are neither easy nor glamorous to construct and require a great deal of ongoing effort from the creator to keep the distribution bug-free and up-to-date. It is one thing to put together a system from scratch; it is quite another to ensure that the system is easy for others to install, is installable and usable under a wide variety of hardware configurations, contains software that others will find useful, and is updated when the components themselves are improved.

Many distributions have started out as fairly good systems, but as time passes attention to maintaining the distribution becomes a secondary concern. A case-in-point is the Softlanding Linux System (better known as SLS). It is quite possibly the most bug-ridden and badly maintained Linux distribution available; unfortunately, it is also quite possibly the most popular. It is, without question, the distribution that attracts the most attention from the many commercial "distributors" of Linux that have surfaced to capitalize on the growing popularity of the operating system.

This is a bad combination indeed, as most people who obtain Linux from these "distributors" receive a bug-ridden and badly maintained Linux distribution. As if this wasn't bad enough, these "distributors" have a disturbing tendency to misleadingly advertise non-functional or extremely unstable "features" of their product. Combine this with the fact that the buyers will, of course, expect the product to live up to its advertisement and the fact that many may believe it to be a commercial operating system (there is also a tendency not to mention that Linux is free nor that it is distributed under the GNU General Public License). To top it all off, these "distributors" are actually making enough money from their effort to justify buying larger advertisements in more magazines; it is the classic example of unacceptable behavior being rewarded by those who simply do not know any better. Clearly something needs to be done to remedy the situation.

A.3 How will Debian attempt to put an end to these problems?

The Debian design process is open to ensure that the system is of the highest quality and that it reflects the needs of the user community. By involving others with a wide range of abilities and backgrounds, Debian is able to be developed in a modular fashion. Its components are of high quality because those with expertise in a certain area are given the opportunity to construct or maintain the individual components of Debian involving that area. Involving others also ensures that valuable suggestions for improvement can be incorporated into the distribution during its development; thus, a distribution is created based on the needs and wants of the users rather than the needs and wants of the constructor. It is very difficult for one individual or small group to anticipate these needs and wants in advance without direct input from others.

Debian Linux will also be distributed on physical media by the Free Software Foundation and the Debian Linux Association. This provides Debian to users without access to the Internet or FTP and additionally makes products and services such as printed manuals and technical support available to all users of the system. In this way, Debian may be used by many more individuals and organizations than is otherwise possible, the focus will be on providing a first-class product and not on profits or returns, and the margin from the products and services provided may be used to improve the software itself for all users whether they paid to obtain it or not.

The Free Software Foundation plays an extremely important role in the future of Debian. By the simple fact that they will be distributing it, a message is sent to the world that Linux is not a commercial product and that it never should be, but that this does not mean that Linux will never be able to compete commercially. For those of you who disagree, I challenge you to rationalize the success of GNU Emacs and GCC, which are not commercial software but which have had quite an impact on the commercial market regardless of that fact.

The time has come to concentrate on the future of Linux rather than on the destructive goal of enriching oneself at the expense of the entire Linux community and its future. The development and distribution of Debian may not be the answer to the problems that I have outlined in the Manifesto, but I hope that it will at least attract enough attention to these problems to allow them to be solved.

Freedom Publishers Union - Public Relations Department

September 30, 2015 | Tribute to the Father of the C Programming Language, Dennis Ritchie

dennis-ritchie-tribute

Dennis Ritchie, the man behind the scenes who created the C programming language or as they call him, the Father of the C programming language. Richie was born on September 9, 1941 in Bronxville, New York. His father Alistair Ritchie, was a switching systems engineer at Bell Laboratories. Dennis was later moved to Summit, New Jersey with his family. Dennis graduated from Summit High School, then got a bachelors degree from Harvard University in Physics and Applied Mathematics field in 1963, and a PhD in Mathematics in 1968 from Harvard University. He later moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dennis was a key developer of the UNIX operating system, and co-author of the book "The C Programming Language". He worked along with Ken Thompson (A scientist who wrote the original UNIX). Later, he developed a collaboration on the C programming language with Brian Kernighan and they were known together as K&R (Kernighan & Ritchie). Dennis Ritchie had an important contribution to UNIX which was that UNIX ported to different machines and platforms. His ideas still live on, at the center of modern operating systems design, in almost all new programming languages, and in every bit of open systems.

Richie started his career in 1967, as he started to work at the Bell Laboratories - Computing Sciences Research Center. (One of the most famous centers of digital innovation in the world at that time and the birthplace of the transistor).

Jeong Kim, President of Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs said, "Dennis was well loved by his colleagues at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, and will be greatly missed. He was truly an inspiration to all of us, not just for his many accomplishments, but because of who he was as a friend, an inventor, and a humble and gracious man. We would like to express our deepest sympathies to the Ritchie family, and to all who have been touched in some way by Dennis.".

At Bell Laboratories, Ritchie worked on the Multics project. Multics was an operating system which could replace the idea of batch processing with interactivity. (Programs were running one at a time from a cards stack by an operator and the programmer or user themselves had full control during the writing of a software). There, Dennis met Ken Thompson, who later became one of Ritchie's main collaborators.

Dennis said, "One of the obvious things that went wrong with Multics as a commercial success was just that it was sort of over-engineered in a sense. There was just too much in it.".

Bell Laboratories stopped working on Multics, Ritchie and Ken decided to not abandon the ideas of interaction and collaboration and they began to work on a successor, called UNIX. That modern operating system (UNIX) spread within Bell Laboratories and later was announced to the world in 1973.

Computer hardware design in the 70's had many variations and experimentations which reflected badly on software writers' life as they had to either spend more time and energy recreating their software for each new platform or limit their programs to run only on one particular platform.

The original UNIX kernel was written in the Assembly language, but Ritchie and Ken decided that they need a higher level language, to give them more control over all the data which spanned the operating system.

Richie and Thompson used BCPL (Basic Combined Programming Language) to write UNIX by squeezing it into 8 kilobytes and renamed it "B".

Ritchie responded to that problem by designing a new computer language, called "C" as an upgrade of the B language by adding data types and new syntax to it. B was an interpreted language that was executed by an intermediate piece of software running over CPU, but C was a compiled language translated into machine code and then executed directly on the CPU.

Dennis once stated, "UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity.".

C was able to easily and quickly move between different hardware. Software that were written in C language could run with little or even no modifications on any device that could run C.

C used very few syntax and little instructions, but it was extremely modular and structured. Because of this C was easy to use in different computers. There were huge blocks of C functions which were already written and programmers could copy the whole code into their own software without any need to start from scratch, making it easier and faster to implement. Such functions blocks were easily accessible and available in libraries, so programmers could access them.

Ritchie and Ken rewrote the UNIX in the C language and they could give UNIX the portability option as well as they gave programmers the chance to learn one operating system, one programming language, and some set of tools. Only one side effect that UNIX later became a natural place for experiments and inter-networking between various systems.

Dennis declared, "Obviously, the person who had most influence on my career was Ken Thompson.".

In 1978, "The C Programming Language" book was published by Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan. The book covered a brief definition of the C language and a peerless introduction to different styles and techniques of programming in C. This book still remains an inspiration reference and practical guide for programmers, today.

By the middle of the 1980's, the C language became one of the most popular programming languages in the world. Because of the functionality and speed with which C could be easily used to write software and run them, many companies started to use C to develop their own applications.

The C programming language is still being universally used nowadays as the second most popular programming language in the world in application systems, operating systems and embedded systems development, and its influence is still seen in most modern programming languages. Also UNIX influences in establishing concepts and principles which are now computing precepts.

"C was already implemented on several quite different machines and operating systems. UNIX was already being distributed on the PDP-11, but the portability of the whole system was new.", says Dennis.

The last important technical contribution that was made by Dennis Richie to UNIX was the Streams Mechanism which was used for interconnecting devices, applications and protocols.

UNIX and C's spiritual descendants are hard to count, but they respectively include Linux, Android, Mac OS, iOS, JavaScript, C++ and many more that are used in internet technology and by a world full of software developers.

Numerous amounts of applications were and still are written in C language and its object oriented successor C++. C was standardized by ANSI and ISO, that's why it was multi-purpose and becomes in almost every aspect of the computing industry today.

As an example, languages which came later (such as C++ and Java) were derived from the C language, [some] browser's code are written in C. Also, Microsoft Windows was initially written in C. Even Both of Apple's operating systems (Mac OS and iOS) are based on the UNIX-derived system of FreeBSD.

There is no doubt that Dennis Ritchie's contributions on the computing industry has significantly altered the core of the history of computing industry.

Dennis said, "The kind of programming that C provides will probably remain similar absolutely or slowly decline in usage, but relatively, JavaScript or its variants, or XML, will continue to become more central.".

Ritchie later became the head of Systems Software Research Department at Lucent Technologies, and was striving to make computers work better and more easily for users, until his retirement in 2007.

Dennis had admitted that his personal life and his professional life were mixed together as he stated in an interview, "I've done a reasonable amount of traveling, which I enjoyed, but not for too long at a time. I'm a home-body and get fatigued by it fairly soon, but enjoy thinking back on experiences when I've returned and then often wish I'd arranged a longer stay in the somewhat exotic place.".

Dennis lived alone at his home in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. He was found dead on October 12, 2011. The cause and exact time of his death are unknown.

He spent several years in frail health following treatment for prostate cancer and heart disease. He died a week after death of Steve Jobs but his death did not receive as much media coverage as Jobs.

The Fedora 16 Linux Distribution, was released and dedicated to his memory in 2012.

The computer historian, Paul E. Ceruzzi, stated on Dennis Ritchie's death, "Dennis Ritchie was under the radar. His name was not a household name at all, but if you had a microscope and could look in a computer, you'd see his work everywhere inside.".

On Linux, Dennis stated, "I think the Linux phenomenon is quite delightful, because it draws so strongly on the basis that UNIX provided. Linux seems to be among the healthiest of the direct UNIX derivatives, though there are also the various BSD systems as well as the more official offerings from the workstation and mainframe manufacturers.".

Rest in peace Dennis Ritchie. We miss you.

Freedom Publishers Union - Public Relations Department

June 25, 2015 | Australia's Democracy, Freedom and Civil Liberties Under Threat

The Australian Government has gone out of its way to make a dramatic shift towards ripping the democratic freedoms and civil liberties from its citizens.

Since the Liberal Government was elected to Parliament in September 2013, under the leadership of Tony Abbott, Freedom Publishers Union has witnessed too much controversial legislation which directly attacks multiple facets of Australia's freedom. Intertwined inside all the complex legislation, freedom of expression has been attacked and freedom of the press has also taken a hit. As has journalism and publishing.

The current Government has been heavily criticized for legislation which literally stampedes on these freedoms, which Australia has previously enjoyed. Unfortunately, Australia's Liberal Government has not solely had Australian citizens in its cross-hair. Refugees and asylum seekers have also had a target painted on their backs and their boats, along with the country's digital society, with recent passing of copyright reform legislation and measures to implement website blocking and filtering technology - paving the legal path to a censored and filtered internet for Australia.

Australians holding dual-citizenship (also known as dual-nationals) are now in the political spotlight, as the Government has just introduced measures to enable easy revocation of Australian citizenship and deportation to a country of origin, through amendments being made to the Citizenship Act 2007. The final details are yet to be finalized.

On almost every occasion, the opposition Labor Party of Australia has effectively failed the Australian public by providing almost nil opposition or alternative proposal to counteract the controversial and unfair legislation which attacks Australia's freedom and citizen's rights.

The Labor Party of Australia has simply followed suit, based on misinformation (and often lies) and rhetoric from the Liberal Party, in an effort to get its suite of counter-terrorism legislation passed through the Australian Parliament and Senate.

The Border Force Bill 2015 raises concerns in relation to gagging potential whistleblowers. In the legislation, there is potential 2-year imprisonment for health workers who reveal details and information on conditions of detention centers, where refugees and asylum seekers are detained, such as Nauru and Manus Island. Both for which have been criticized internationally and by Australia's own Human Rights Commissioner in a recently released detailed report, for human rights abuse and treatment of detainees.

Australia's national public television and radio broadcaster, ABC, points out-Section 42 of the Act is titled "Secrecy". The term "Entrusted person" essentially means employees, consultants and contractors. In short, everyone involved in the operations of these torrid facilities. "Protected information" means any information held by detention centers.

The terminology used and for which the Border Force Bill contains, is vast and very wide-spread. This is deliberate in an effort to ensure no leaks occur from inside Nauru or Manus Island - an attempt at gagging and preventing any potential whistleblowers.

We have grave concerns for both of the aforementioned bills and their included provisions. Specifically, we have concerns with the proposed changes for the dual-citizenship legislation. The changes would be made through expansion of Section 35 of the current Citizenship Act 2007. Under the new laws, Australian citizenship status can be revoked from Australians holding dual-citizenship and can then be forcefully removed from Australia and deported back to country of origin.

How is this decided? By one single Government Minister. Yes. There is no judicial oversight or involvement in the process and the decision will be handed down by the Australian Immigration Minister of the day, currently Peter Dutton MP.

The process and final decision from the Minister is supposedly based off evidence and information on the individual and their activities, both home and abroad, as provided and sourced by Australia's intelligence and spy agency, ASIO.

And it doesn't end there. The Liberal Government has flagged proposals for getting the new laws to apply to retrospective cases, which raises the concern of what so-called evidence and information the Government is using to apply the new laws to old cases and how reliable this information can be. How far back does it want to go? As yet, this much is unclear.

As we have typically seen with all this over-hyped legislation, it all comes presented and shrouded under the buzz-terms of the day - "terrorism" and "national security". Media outlets have publicly criticized the proposals. The ABC has deemed the dual-citizenship changes "unconstitutional" and possibly "illegal". Whilst one of Australia's most prominent advocates for refugees, asylum seekers and human rights, Julian Burnside, has also been critical of the legislation.

At the time of going to press, the proposals are under closer review of the Parliament Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Update: On July 1, 2015, The Guardian published an Open Letter written and signed by 41 professionals, ranging from health workers, medical practitioners, school teachers, youth workers, social services workers and humanitarian officers.

The Guardian reports, "More than 40 staff who have worked at detention centers on Manus Island, Nauru and across the Australian mainland have spoken out on the same day that a new offence comes into force that criminalizes the disclosure of information.".

The letter effectively defies the new law and challenges the Federal Government, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to prosecute the signatories of the letter, so the matter can be resolved in the public presence in open court proceedings.


Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

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October 4, 2014 | Australian Government May Be in Violation of 11 Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Freedom Publishers Union is publishing our growing concerns that with new amendments and legislation the Australian Government is currently implementing, it genuinely raises the legitimate question of whether Australia is violating human rights, based on the United Nations' very own document.

Freedom Publishers Union is not claiming that any specific legislation or section of any legislation does actually violate any of these rights. We simply note there are specifics in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights document, which we believe require very careful consideration from the Australian Government.

We also understand that the said document from the United Nations is not a legally binding document and United Nations countries are not legally bound to abide by the Declaration. But it does provide the basic fundamentals of civil and human rights within a supposed free and democratic country. Something Australia is quickly shifting away from.

As the Declaration is not legally binding, it begins to raise the question of whether there is a valid point of having the Declaration in the first place if countries are to simply outright ignore the civil rights of its citizens and go ahead and introduce legislation which legally wavers the country responsible for these human and civil rights.

Australia proudly touts itself as being one the eight original countries involved in drafting the original Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Australia also so proudly chants how much of important role it played in the founding of the United Nations and the UN Charter. If Australia is so proud of its achievements and its involvements in the United Nations, then it raises further questions of the integrity of the current Australian Government and how it so proudly and possibly, breaks up to 11 of the Articles in the United Nations - Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

SUBMISSIONS

April 15, 2018 | Submission to Joint Standing Committee on Treaties

Freedom Publishers Union would like to present our formal Submission, in response to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific (CPTPP/TPP-11).

Our organization has remained in a consistent position of opposition to this extremely complex and detailed trade deal.

As the CPTPP enters the final stages of administrative approval, and despite our position of continued opposition, we remain realistic and take the understanding that the agreement has enough support and momentum from the Australian Parliament to be ratified.

The path to approval is very close, but we still wish to outline that we remain very disappointed in the lack of transparency that has accompanied the entire process for the duration of the negotiation stages, from when the agreement was negotiated in the original TPP format through to the latest iteration which has been reformed as the CPTPP. The path of negotiation was carried out in absolute secrecy. It is very disappointing that the negotiations for CPTPP followed the same path of secrecy.

We remain concerned about key issues in the agreement, specifically:

The focus of advocacy for Freedom Publishers Union will now shrink, and shift to key political decision making points and legislation on these specific issues.

Amit Gautam - Spokesperson

March 11, 2018 | Submission to Digital Platforms Inquiry

Freedom Publishers Union considers the Digital Platforms Inquiry to be of great importance, which will act as an attempt of grabbing a snapshot of the current climate of Australian media and how it has been affected by the encroachment onto Australia media by numerous digital media distributors.

We believe that any information technology company that pursues distribution of digital media, news and information over the internet should be of interest to the Inquiry's goals. Primarily, we believe the Inquiry will naturally focus largely on the operations of Google and Facebook, simply due to the sheer scale of the company's combined market share, which can not be ignored and probably should be taken into consideration. However, we warn against making these two companies the sole focus and recommend that all other companies involved in the distribution of digital media, news and information also be considered.

The Inquiry must focus on the distribution models of the content that is under review as part of this Inquiry. It should not matter whether the content is created inside the borders of Australia or overseas. Its creation origins are not going to have any overall effect to the quality of journalism and news accessibility in Australia. It is the actual distribution models that will have the greatest effect.

Freedom Publishers Union prides on our publishing and pays particular attention to accuracy and fact checked information, which has been properly researched and processed through our strict editorial procedures. We believe if we can achieve this with a small amount of staff members which of most are volunteers, combined with absolute minimal costs and resources, then large media companies can achieve the same if the effort is made to resource them appropriately. If it is deemed that Australian media is failing to deliver quality journalism and news on digital platforms in accordance to the processes that we outlined, then the questions must be asked as to why it is not happening. To a large degree, cost savings measures constantly being refined are having a dramatic effect on allowable allocation of resources for large media companies to achieve this. This should be taken into consideration for this Inquiry.

In the Digital Platforms Inquiry Issues Paper, which has been accessed by Freedom Publishers Union prior to preparation of our Submission, it outlines the vast resources and platforms of distribution that Google has at the company's disposal. Google can effectively deliver digital media, news and information through its Search engine, Google News, Play Newsstand and YouTube. These are only the core platforms that Google can utilize. It must be understood that the company has much more potential than solely these platforms and it must also be taken into consideration how intertwined Google's services are. The company's extensive advertising network has very far reach and much dominance in the digital advertising sector.

Following on from the information on Google detailed in the Issues Paper, is profiling information on Facebook. Facebook is at a transition. The company was once primarily known as a social media company. It is now entering the field of media. Some industry analysts already identify Facebook as a media company. We identify Facebook as a fully established software company. As Facebook seeks to work out more ways to monetize its gradual, yet inevitable slide into the media sphere, its influence will also grow. Not too dissimilar to Google, Facebook also has a vast advertising network which is constantly expanding throughout its portfolio of software services including Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. It has a lot of market share and has great potential to take even much more.

In our Submission, we do not wish to focus too much on Google and Facebook. But as smaller information technology companies and startups use these two giants as Silicon Valley role models, it gives some indication of the areas that smaller and more aggressive companies seeking to prove themselves will also begin to focus on as they also grow and look for new markets, potentially in digital media distribution.

To make any credible analysis on the quality of the distribution of digital media, news and information in Australia, Freedom Publishers Union believes that any argument should start the basic question of 'free versus subscription'. Nobody can deny that the word "free" grabs attention. It is within human nature that when we are offered two choices - free or paid - by our very human nature we will almost every time choose free. The issue of quality journalism, news and its accessibility is much more complex than just a simple choice of free versus subscription. On news, consumers must understand the difference between the two distribution models and understand what they sacrifice to get something for free and what they receive for their money when paying for subscriptions. Currently, public education is not so good and as a country, Australia must do much better at educating those who consume news, of any differences.

The argument was examined by us a little closer in September 2017 by our (former) Editor-in-Chief, who published a column on Freedom Publishers Union in which he poses the most obvious question, "why would you pay for news when you can still read it for free.". The opinion piece concludes that paying for news subscriptions is not only a sign of appreciation for quality journalism and the publication that publishes the piece, but it also goes a long way to supporting the Australian media industry. News generated by bots and other forms of artificial intelligence are accelerating the pace of which news can be distributed to consumers. This is having an overall negative effect on the quality of proper journalism through traditionally respected publications. It is putting great pressure on traditional publishers to follow suit and join the 'publish now and publish fast' revolution that has engulfed global media. At the very least, paid subscriptions go a long way to restoring the traditional model of journalism, eases the pressure to some degree and also restores confidence in traditional media agencies by giving assurance that their readers are willing to pay for quality journalism if it is produced. This is reiterated in the aforementioned opinion piece when it is said that if you "pay for news through subscriptions services, it not only has benefits for the media agency producing the news you consume", but "retains the quality of the journalistic efforts".

Google, Facebook and other information technology companies are not really content creators. The news and information delivered by their services are usually aggregated by the use of computer operated algorithms. These algorithms make it easy for these services to generate news summaries and headlines which grab the attention of the user. Often, data already held by these companies is also used by the algorithm to determine which news articles and stories are presented to the consumer and which are disposed as not relevant. Freedom Publishers Union believes this to be unfair as it does not give the consumer the complete offer of available news articles and stories. Naturally, the particular stories that will be shown will be based on personality traits of the consumer, which has been determined through the deep and often much too intensive personal data collection. It is by allowing these companies to collect and store your data and share it with advertisers and trade with data brokers, which makes these services free. When consumers agree to the terms and conditions upon signing up to these services, they are actually giving the companies permission to raid their personal information. This is not the sole fault of the consumer and is not a case of simply not reading the terms and conditions. They are usually very lengthy and written in very complex legal jargon which is not easily understood by the consumer.

Freedom Publishers Union believes that it is outright abuse of consumer habit to take advantage of their natural reaction to just click "Agree" and carry on with setting up their profile without thinking of the eventual consequences of what the company will do with the consumer's data and how the tweaking of the company's algorithms is performed to adapt to certain personality traits which results in presenting the consumer with a very limited set of news stories. It is having an effect on the quality of journalism and accessibility of certain stories which are not being offered the complete opportunity they deserve to have their creative works distributed to the widest audience possible across the networks of digital media distributors.

The result has been traditional publishers placing pay-walls onto their news websites. There is various models of accessibility in place with publishers. Some allow a set number of free articles before you are forced to pay for a subscription, while others will not let the reader view anything without a paid subscription. We believe that these pay-walls are not the best design for protecting quality journalism and retaining accessibility to as many people as possible. But we also completely understand that due to aggregation services effectively stealing the content from traditional publishers and integrating them into their own services which are delivered to their consumers for free, is both morally wrong and should be considered stealing.

To conclude, we return to five key points of matters to be taken into consideration, outlined in the Issues Paper and add our footnotes on each to summarize our position. Our position should be taken as general in nature and is not focused on any specific digital media distributors:

i. the extent to which platform service providers are exercising market power in commercial dealings with the creators of journalistic content and advertisers;

Freedom Publishers Union believes primarily due to the shear massive scale and global market share, digital media distributors abuse their power through dominance of their services without regard to the wider effects on the quality of journalism and accessibility of digital media, news and information.

ii. the impact of platform service providers on the level of choice and quality of news and journalistic content to consumers;

The practices that are carried out by digital media distributors are not producing appropriate choice of digital media, news and information to the consumer. By offering targeted content, it is effectively impeding on any consumer choice and is making the choice for them.

iii. the impact of platform service providers on media and advertising markets;

It is clear that the free distribution model is not aimed at producing quality content for consumers. Rather, it is aimed at fast and targeted distribution which is further aimed at getting the consumer to click on targeted and selective content so the digital media distributor benefits from advertising revenue that is produced. If Australia were to have a majority subscription based media, then the advertising sector would remain unaffected by any large degree and consumers would see an increase in the quality of digital media, news and information.

iv. the impact of longer-term trends, including innovation and technological change, on competition in media and advertising markets;

If the current trends are permitted to continue, Freedom Publishers Union fears that consumers will see less choice and more targeted content distributed. This will undoubtedly have a flow on effect and force more traditional publishers into shutting down operations as their subscription models will not be allowed to grow at the same rate that free models can. This will unfortunately lead to much less proper journalism and lower quality digital media, news and information distributed. And consumers will see a dramatic increase in unreliable news and information produced by bots and other forms of artificial intelligence.

v. the impact of information asymmetry between platform service providers, advertisers and consumers and the effect on competition in media and advertising markets;

Taking all of the information, opinions and analysis that we have outlined in this Submission into consideration, Freedom Publishers Union remains certain that the eventual path will lead to less journalism, less quality publications, less revenue to produce it and make news and information unreliable and riddled with errors and unchecked claims.

Unless serious action is taken and reform is introduced by the Australian Government which can protect traditional media distribution models, which is effectively protecting the quality of journalism and guarantee their continued operations, Freedom Publishers Union can only conclude that quality journalism will drop back to just a few small independent publications and digital media distributors, that will remain dedicated to delivering services using the proven traditional media distribution models.

If this were to be allowed to occur, it would not be good for Australian democracy or the media industry.

Amit Gautam - Spokesperson

January 25, 2017 | Increased access to Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Data Retention Data/Meta-data

Freedom Publishers Union would like to make a formal Submission in response to the Access to telecommunications data in civil proceedings matter.

We are firmly against any extension of access to data/meta-data collected from the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Data Retention regime, to civil proceedings. Freedom Publishers Union is against the regime which legally allowed for surveillance to be implemented in Australia, on a mass scale in comparison to the operations that were already being carried out by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

We do respect that Australia's democratic and Parliamentary process allowed this Bill to pass, and we must respect it. However, we believe that any extension of access of any information, data and meta-data collected through this program is completely unjustifed and unnecessary. This is backed by the Advisory Report, carried out by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security - where it has clearly been defned in the Report that it is not recommended that civil proceedings be allowed access of the said data.

We echo this recommendation from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Freedom Publishers Union would like a better explanation of what any new law will do. We express concern and do not want any court to be able to do an unnecessary 'NSA - style' data grab for civil proceedings. To our understanding, no reason(s) has (or have) been outlined by the Attorney General's website for any specifc scenario that could justify any extension of access.

Copyright remains at the heart of our concerns, that any new law(s) that permit increased access would be used to pursue cases of copyright infringement , which we must point out is not the reason this surveillance Bill was established. There are already copyright laws that allow for investigation into possible copyright infringement. We believe that current copyright laws are sufficient and provide enough access to allow for investigations into copyright infringement. Albeit we acknowledge these laws are very much outdated and advocate that any amendment to these laws should remain separate.

Additionally, and in conclusion, we do want to preserve access to court records as required, to permit appropriate appeals and legal research. But we specify, this should remain completely separate to permitted access of data/meta-data from the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Data Retention regime.

Amit Gautam - Spokesperson

May 12, 2016 | Productivity Commission Publication of Intellectual Property Arrangements Draft Report

Freedom Publishers Union would like to make a formal Submission in response to the Intellectual Property Arrangements Draft Report.

We commend the report and its greater detail, as it provides the best source of information related to recommendations for reform to intellectual property and copyright in Australia.

Freedom Publishers Union has always advocated and supported calls which demonstrate the need for a sensible and realistic approach to assist the reform of the aforementioned laws and legislation in Australia, whilst upholding current outstanding international obligations.

We commend the following key recommendations as presented in the Intellectual Property Arrangements Draft Report:

Geoblocking

We support a free and open internet across the entire world which provides unrestricted flow of information and adheres to proper net neutrality principles. Geoblocking is a major hurdle which puts restrictions on internet users rights and permissions to access specific content. Companies and persons who carry out technical operations which go towards implementing geoblocking mechanisms are failing to uphold the very basic principles of net neutrality and Freedom Publishers Union condemns this behavior of restricting specific internet users to specific content and deem it unacceptable.

Internet users who aim to and successfully circumvent geoblocking in an effort to simply access legal content which should be available to them without having to resort to the use of such circumvention techniques, should not be presented as criminals and should not be punished, in cases where they are accessing and paying for legal content and of which has no financial burden or effect on the content producers and/or distributors.

Essentially, we would support any recommendations made by the Productivity Commission which would support and legally allow for use of geoblocking circumvention techniques.

Copyright reform

In its current form, we believe that Australia's (and the entire world's) copyright laws are much too restrictive, are far out-dated and are a major contributor to high levels of piracy. Consumers have demonstrated their frustrations with out-dated copyright laws which do not reflect current content and media use in a digitally connected world. When copyright laws were devised, digital media and the way it is used by consumers today (legally and illegally) was not considered, for obvious reasons.

Therefore, we would support the Productivity Commission's recommendations to have copyright law reformed and the duration of copyright reduced to a more reasonable time frame. Currently, copyright is having a negative effect to what it is supposed to control - fair-use of material, content and media covered under copyright law.

Fair-use

Emphasis must be made on fair-use of copyrighted material, content and media. Currently, we can see no fair-use provisions or clauses which accommodate the behavior and methods of how material, content and media is sourced, used and shared in the 'modern age'. It's a trait of our very human nature to want to use, try, test and share everything that we access, at a personal level. Copyright laws put heavy restrictions and burdens on consumers and do not allow for any type of defined fair-use of such content.

Freedom Publishers Union urges the Productivity Commission to place emphasis on recommendations that promote implementation of fair-use provisions and clauses to be amended into copyright reform. With legally allowable fair-use, we believe that this will ease the burden off content and media producers who feel that their content usage that is copyrighted is being abused or the copyright being ignored. In many cases it is not and in-fact, the content and media is being used or shared in a very fair, acceptable and what we consider 'reasonable' manner which has absolute minimal or no financial impact on producers of copyrighted content.

With all of the above taken into consideration, Freedom Publishers Union believes that the Productivity Commission's key recommendations which primarily promote reform of intellectual property rights in Australia, whilst maintaining our international obligations under current (and future) international trade agreements is a great start to achieving overdue reform of the IP sector and to assist in promoting a positive approach to legislative reform that could potentially be fair for all parties.

Amit Gautam - Spokesperson

March 6, 2015 | Communications Alliance - Copyright Notice Scheme

The following Submission is made to Communications Alliance. It was devised in collaboration between Freedom Publishers Union and Pirate Party Australia. It is an official joint Submission. The Submission is our response to the recent publication titled "Copyright Notice Scheme".

In our joint Submission, we outline a total of 19 concerns. In addition to outlining our concerns, we additionally suggest our recommendation of resolve for each concern to the extent of what we would deem reasonable and in the interest of all parties that may be affected from any eventual implementation of a Copyright Notice Scheme.

1. Initial concern - Actual details are not clear and detailed enough as to what each of the three notices are, informing the Account Holder.

Recommendation - Outline, preferably at the beginning of the document, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, what each notice is and what are the incursions for acknowledging and/or ignoring the notice.

2. Initial concern - Actual details are not clear and detailed enough as to what are the incursions for ignoring the third/final notice informing the Account Holder.

Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, what are the incursions for all concerned parties, if the Account Holder ignores this notice.

3. Initial concern - Actual details are not clear and detailed enough as to what are the incursions and resulting action be for Account Holder ignoring the third/final notice.

Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, what are the incursions and resulting action from the ISP and Rights Holder, if the Account Holder ignores this notice.

4. Initial concern - No Clause or Provisions set out in this document, for "fair use", substitute or equivalent.

Recommendation - A Clause and associated Provisions must be added to the document, which outline in specific detail some implementation of "fair use" policy. Additionally, there needs to be clear details which outline the specifics of what is deemed "fair use". Effectively, when a "fair use" Clause and associated Provisions are implemented, relevant, sensible steps and guidelines need to be added and strictly followed, to integrate the Clause and any Provisions into other working and related Clauses and Provisions of this document.

5. Initial concern - What exact information is deemed "personal details".

Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, what details and information of the Account Holder is deemed "personal details". Stating "Same as Privacy Act" is not sufficient in specifying what is deemed "personal details". It needs to be stated within a Clause of this document.

6. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.12; How accurate is the method(s) and technological techniques used for IP address detection of possible copyright breach of the Rights Holder, from the ISP and Account Holder.

Recommendation - There needs to be specific guidelines and procedures outlined within a Clause and Provisions of this document, in which [a] specific method(s) and technological technique(s) used for IP address detection of possible copyright breach of the Rights Holder, from the associated ISP and alleged Account Holder. All outlined technological details and specifications presented in the document, must read in basic, understandable terms and remain as uncomplicated as possible.

7. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.13; The Clause uses the term "must" when referring to ISP issuing a notice upon request of the Rights Holder. What incursions result when a ISP fails to proceed with issuing a notice to the Account Holder, as requested by the Rights Holder.

Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, what are the incursions and resulting action from the Rights Holder, for an ISP ignoring the request to issue notice to the Account Holder.

8. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.16; This Clause Requires stronger emphasis.

Recommendation - Refer back to Privacy Act.

9. Initial concern - Will require further review when more information on numbers is provided in the document.

Recommendation - Update document as necessary.

10. Initial concern - Not enough detailed information is provided in the document to describe what a "Preliminary Discovery Application" is.

Recommendation - Our understanding indicates it is the Rights Holder gaining personal details and information of the Account Holder. If this is correct, it needs to be ensured this is legally doable and possible without breaching any Clauses or Provisions in the Privacy Act.

11. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.9.2 (6); Pop-up; How will this technology be implemented.

Recommendation - There needs to be specific guidelines and procedures outlined within a Clause and Provisions of this document, in which [a] specific method(s) and technological technique(s) used for "pop-up" to alert Account Holder of relevant alleged breach and possibly ignoring the notice. It needs to be guaranteed, to a 'reasonable' extent, to not be bypassed (unintentionally through the use of ad-blocking software mechanisms) and remain unacknowledged by the Account Holder.

12. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.9.2; It remains unclear whether an ISP is required to re-attempt a second (or more) time if one selected contact option fails to the Account Holder.

Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, if the ISP is required to re-attempt a second (or more) time if one selected contact option fails to the Account Holder. If repeated attempts are required, it must be specified how many times as a minimum and to what maximum re-attempts is considered 'reasonable'.

13. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.10; How can a Account Holder obtain a Challenge Notice.

Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, how and where a Account Holder is to obtain a Challenge Notice.

14. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.10; How does the Account Holder send the Challenge Notice to the Adjudication Panel.

Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, how and what method is used for the Account Holder to send the Challenge Notice to the Adjudication Panel.

15. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.10.6; In the details of this Clause, it is unclear whether the stated "28 days" applies to the date the Final Notice is sent to the Account Holder or the date the Final Notice is received and officially acknowledged by the Account Holder.

Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, whether the stated "28 days" applies to the date the Final Notice is sent to the Account Holder or the date the Final Notice is received and officially acknowledged by the Account Holder.

16. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.10.13; The term "Privacy Principles", as used in this Clause is too broad and non-specific.

Recommendation - Outline, all relevant details which clearly state in obvious form, what specifically "Privacy Principles" defines and refer to the official title of the Privacy Act.

17. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.11.1; The period for records keeping at 24 months, as specified in this Clause is too long and unnecessary.

Recommendation - The period for records keeping should be reduced to a period of a maximum of 12 months.

18. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.11.2; Details outlined in the Clause require amending in accordance to Clause 3.11.1.

Recommendation - Amend details outlined in Clause 3.11.2 in accordance to Clause 3.11.1.

19. Initial concern - In reference to Clause 3.11.2; The term "may destroy", as used in this Clause is not sufficient in terms of respecting the rights to privacy of the Account Holder.

Recommendation - Amend details outlined in Clause 3.11.2 and replace the term "may destroy" with the effective term of "must destroy".

Chris McGimpsey-Jones - Director of Freedom Publishers Union

and Member of Pirate Party Australia

PRESS STATEMENTS

October 18, 2018 | Increased Aggression of the War on Democracy and the Free Press

Freedom Publishers Union commends the extensive reporting from mainstream press on the disappearance and suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. However, very few in the press can take credit for stating the story, if proven, for what it truly stands for - a politically motivated attack on journalism and the global free press which looks to have been carried out by a state-sponsored professional hit crew, specifically flown in for one task.

Although the precise cooperative arrangement of the investigation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia is unclear, Freedom Publishers Union have genuine concern over how thorough the investigation will be. We urge the investigators to continue to provide the public with as much transparent information as possible, pending verified authenticity and accuracy.

Despite the call by Freedom Publishers Union for a complete and thorough investigation, we are not confident that it will be achieved. We are concerned that Turkey will limit the scope of the investigation as to minimize political damage of international relations with Saudi Arabia. Additionally, if the allegations of the torture prior to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi are proven, we have equal lack of confidence of any sufficient response from the United States of America (USA) under the leadership of President Donald Trump.

The USA enjoys an extremely close political relationship with Saudi Arabia. It is a key geopolitical ally and the USA will not do anything of significance, following evidence which proves the Saudi's were responsible for the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, which will damage their international relationship. The USA is a major trading partner with Saudi Arabia and contributes extensively to the arming of Saudi Arabia's military in its war in Yemen, where they continue to carry out military bombing and demonstrating absolute disregard for civilian casualties.

Politically motivated state-sponsored murder and maintaining good international relations should not take priority over the loss of the life of an individual who is in pursuit of writing about the truth. As details of the story unfold in the press, it looks more likely that this is exactly what has taken priority.

The global war on the free press is ongoing and aggressive. It needs to be defended by all democratic countries in the world and its importance must be reiterated by those that have the resources to do so. But if evidence is presented which proves the suspected murder of Mr. Khashoggi, then it opens up a completely new front on the war on the free press. A front which turns an extremely dark corner.

July 3, 2018 | New Collaborative Arrangement with Quadrant Computing

GC Media Publishing Management is proud to be able to announce that we have entered into a new arrangement which will see our technology publishing arm, Tecseek Technology, enter into a collaborative arrangement with computer consultancy business, Quadrant Computing.

The new collaborative arrangement will greatly benefit the technological consultation, analysis and review capabilities for Tecseek Technology and will see much better quality and more accurately detailed articles being published.

Quadrant Computing are experts in their field, have lots of experience in information technology and will share their technical expertise and their extensive in-house computer resources with Tecseek Technology.

June 17, 2018 | Our Exit from Social Media Platforms

June 16, 2018, our parent company GC Media Publishing Management, was put into a position where serious consideration had to be made, to make the extremely tough and controversial business decision to disable and initiate deletion procedures of our social media accounts on the Facebook and Twitter platforms.

It was a tough decision, but after careful thought it was concluded by GC Media Publishing Management that it was the right decision moving forward, for Freedom Publishers Union and Tecseek Technology, and for the business.

In an era where social media plays such an important role in connecting the lives of billions of people around the world, we find it disheartening that there is so little interest in fact-based and fact-checked information and publications without bias, by independent media entities such as those owned by GC Media Publishing Management. It must be made clear that the decision which has been made by GC Media Publishing Management to leave social media platforms is not the result of discontent with the platforms or their operations. Our discontent is with the ease of which public opinion and thoughts are persuaded by commercial media through these platform, which in our opinion is generally failed journalism.

GC Media Publishing Management's publications have always and will continue to pride ourselves on publishing quality, properly researched information which is some of the most accurate on the internet and which has been vetted under some of the most stringent editorial procedures of any independent media organization. This is demonstrated by our sometimes obvious delay between an event 'unfolding' and the time we actually release a publication on the event. We focus on fact checking first, then publish when ready. Not a high-frequency 'breaking news' cycle that is employed by commercial media. We believe it is this very model which has decreased the value and accuracy of many news organizations around the world and by our commitment to adhere to the procedures GC Media Publishing Management has employed, we prefer the former focus on accuracy of the facts we present, despite any resulting delay.

Social media was never a huge output stream for the business and the audience we acquired from social media sources was absolute minimal. We made significant investments in time and resources dedicated to growing our social media presence, but ultimately growth was minimal and insignificant to our overall growth strategy of the business.

Some of our social media sites are still available and some have been removed immediately. Over the course of the next two weeks they will all gradually be removed from Facebook and Twitter. Effectively, this will remove all social media presence we previously had.

Our absolute dedication and focus has always been utilizing our website as our primary output source to reach our audience. This will continue and as we no longer have social media responsibilities to attend to, we can put that extra attention onto the website which will continue to remain our primary output source of publications under the ownership of GC Media Publications Management. Additionally, we continue our commitment to delivering our publications without spying, without tracking and without ads.

Thank you for your continued support.

May 18, 2018 | Accusations of Ecuador Spying on Julian Assange, Instead of Upholding Protection

Allegations have been revealed through multiple publications by The Guardian of Ecuador spying on the activities of Julian Assange, as he remains detained inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, United Kingdom.

Additional accusations have been made against Assange, claiming that he had compromised the digital security of the Embassy's communications, by methods of hacking.

Freedom Publishers Union acknowledges the accusations, but without documentative proof of any of these accusations made against Ecuador or Assange, we are unable to collaborate them and declare there is no change in our position on the matter.

Freedom Publishers Union continues to support Julian Assange and Wikileaks, calling for the US to drop its Grand Jury investigation.

We also continue to call for the UK to stop the ongoing detainment to the Ecuadorian Embassy and allow for free passage to safety for Assange.

We extend our call to the Ecuadorian Administration and urge them to uphold the protection of Assange and use all its resources to seek a suitable diplomatic resolution with the UK and the US, which will see eventual freedom provided to Assange.

Additionally, we urge Ecuador to restore all previous communications and internet access that Assange was previously provided and (re)enable visitation rights to him for personal, work, health and legal purposes, inside the Embassy.

March 15, 2018 | Death of Stephen Hawking

Freedom Publishers Union is sad to learn of the passing of Physicist, Cosmologist and Author, Stephen Hawking.

The world renowned scientist had great respect from the both the science community and general public right around the world. Mr. Hawking suffered from a crippling motor neurone disease which gradually took hold of his body and restricted him to a wheelchair. However, his disability never stopped him from continuing his important work as a scientist and writer. His work ethic was accompanied by a cheeky sense of humor, which helped him earn the respect that he deserved.

Stephen Hawking was the recipient of many academic awards and his contributions to science is simply immeasurable.

Freedom Publishers Union pays respect to Stephen Hawking and we send our thoughts and love to his family and all in the science and academic communities which are undoubtedly moved by this loss.

A man bigger than all of us, and who seemed invincible has gone home to the cosmos.

Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up. --Stephen Hawking

February 22, 2018 | Resignation of Editor-in-Chief

I am both incredibly joyed and incredibly sad to have to announce of my resignation as Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Publishers Union. My resignation will be effective from February 26, 2018.

My resignation will also extend to my position at Tecseek Technology.

I am sad to have to relinquish my position, but it was all put under careful consideration under the terms of agreement for our new ownership structure, which sees more parties take effective ownership of Freedom Publishers Union, FPUorg and Tecseek Technology.

Under the new agreement, I will remain as a staff member, but in a much reduced role and with much less operations influence and responsibility.

My new role for Freedom Publishers Union will be Head Advisor.

My new roles with FPUorg and Tecseek Technology will be Secretary and Head Advisor, respectively.

The change in my role was essential for the new ownership model to proceed. On a personal note, as I increase my outside political commitments and ambitions, I have for quite some time felt that to remain in an editorial position of a publishing website is a direct and indisputable conflict of interest.

It has been a privilege to remain as Editor for such a long time and I have no regrets. I am positive of the changes ahead for the organization and wish everyone involved with Freedom Publishers Union only the best wishes for the future.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones - Outgoing Editor-in-Chief, Incoming Head Advisor

February 15, 2018 | Julian Assange Ruling #2 - UK Arrest Warrant Upheld

The latest decision to uphold the arrest warrant for the Editor-in-Chief of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, is a carbon copy of last week's decision which concluded with the same disappointing result.

Mr. Assange will remain detained to the Ecuadorian Embassy for now, until the next step in the long running legal standoff can be determined.

The latest judgement comes from Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot, who believes that the arrest warrant is a proportionate response to the situation. Ms. Arbuthnot attacked Mr. Assange by claiming that he was restricting his own freedom by remaining in the embassy and stated that he was free to leave at any time. This attack was delivered to Mr. Assange while completely disregarding the immediate and direct threat of arrest if he were to leave the embassy. Also, Ms. Arbuthnot stated that she believed any suggestion that the Swedish authorities would extradite him to the US was unbelievable. The judge believed if this were to occur, it would put a great amount of strain on international relations between the UK, Sweden and the US.

Freedom Publishers Union condemns Judge Emma Arbuthnot for publicly discrediting any conclusion by the United Nations that the ongoing arbitrary detention of Julian Assange is illegal.

It is unclear to Freedom Publishers Union whether Mr. Assange's legal team will appeal the latest decision.

Freedom Publishers Union's ongoing support for Julian Assange continues and we call for UK authorities to drop the arrest warrant, allow a safe passage to freedom for Julian Assange and for the US to drop its unjustified and outstanding Grand Jury investigation into Wikileaks and Julian Assange.

February 7, 2018 | Julian Assange Ruling - Arrest Warrant Remains in Place

Julian Assange and his legal representatives have again been set back in their legal efforts to see Mr. Assange be able to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy, without the ongoing threat of unjustified arrest by the UK, which would inevitably see eventual extradition to the US.

The latest decision has been decided on one point only and the remaining points of Mr. Assange's legal team's arguments are still yet to proceed and remain undecided.

Freedom Publishers Union continues to support the efforts of Julian Assange and will continue to advocate for his freedom, from illegal arbitrary detention and unjustified combined pursuit by the UK and US.

February 6, 2018 | Lauri Love Will Not Be Extradited to the United States of America

Freedom Publishers Union is happy to read that the English born hacker, Lauri Love, has been dealt some reprieve from being extradited to the United States of America.

We can not comment on the computer crimes charges that he has been accused of, however, we do believe that Mr. Love's case is another public example of a British/US governmental witch hunt against activists and members of the computer hacking community.

Mr. Love still has a legal fight ahead of him. But the charges can be dealt with in relative calm in the United Kingdom, without immediate threat of US extradition hanging over him and his family. Freedom Publishers Union believes that if he were to be extradited, there would be no doubt that he would face an unfair trial and be faced with an exhorbitant sentence that does not match the charges.

Freedom Publishers Union has admittedly lapsed in supporting the cause behind Lauri Love. Our resources have been stretched to their limits at times. But we are proud that he has enjoyed the support of many activists and supporters, all over the world. In particular, the continued support from the Courage Foundation has been relentless.

January 26, 2018 | CPTPP Still Shrouded in Too Much Secrecy. USA May Re-Enter the Trade Pact

Australia's claims that the new refined Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP), or otherwise known as TPP-11, trade pact is finalized and ready for signing has now been put up for question after the announcement by US President, Donald Trump, stating that his country is possibly interested in joining the CPTPP. The refined trade pact reportedly cuts out the USA from automatic inclusion due to the decision of the Trump Administration to pull his country out of the original TPP. Freedom Publishers Union understands that the decision was made by the 11 nations which remained committed to keeping the deal alive, that the USA's inclusion remained an important factor.

We cannot independently confirm any details about the reformed deal, which is being touted as having been renegotiated, primarily to address the concerns raised by Canada. Initially, it was thought that Canada's reservations expressed and refusal to sign would ultimately seal the fate of the deal. Many thought that it was the end of the CPTPP. However, it is said that Canada is once again on board and happy to sign the deal in its current form. But, there is now some concern about any March 2018 signing after Trump has called for renegotiations. As we go to press, there has been no response from any of the 11 CPTPP nations on the statement made by Trump, showing US interest.

We remain not confident of any public release as the CPTPP continues to be tweaked, while shrouded in secrecy despite involved nations consistent claims that there is nothing secret about the negotiations process. Freedom Publishers Union previously made available the original full text of the TPP on our website. What has changed since this release, is unclear.

Freedom Publishers Union urges the 11 countries involved in the latest negotiation process to agree to further transparency measures. We call for the latest version of the text be made available for public access by being placed into the public domain. Only through placing the text in the public domain can the public begin to scrutinize and focus our attention on the parts of the deal which are unfair and deemed to be not in the best interest of country X and its citizens.

January 22, 2018 | Tragic Passing of Another SecureDrop Developer and Open-Access Advocate, James Dolan

When Executive Director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, Trevor Timm, publicly announced the tragic passing of James Dolan, shock waves were felt inside the media and publishing industry.

James Dolan was the Co-Creator of the SecureDrop document submission platform, which he developed alongside the late Aaron Swartz and journalist Kevil Poulsen.

Swartz fell victim to heavy handed legal pressure from the US justice system, which saw him facing the possibility of spending decades in prison and putting huge financial pressure on himself and his family. The figure is now known to have run into the millions of dollars. Swartz tragically committed suicide.

Dolan was a former US Marine, who served time in Iraq. Those close to Dolan say he suffered from PTSD as a result of his time spent in Iraq. It is also reported that his experiences and the constant secrecy around military activities were a major contributor to his motivation to develop SecureDrop.

So far, there has been no official details released of the circumstances surrounding the passing of James Dolan, however it is widely accepted that the cause of death was also suicide - a tragic resemblance to the fate which consumed Aaron Swartz.

Freedom Publishers Union does not implement SecureDrop. However, we absolutely support the system and its purpose 100%. We believe that it is only through leaks from government, business insiders and whistleblowers who are witness to illegal or unjust behavior, that the world learns about it and can then begin to apply pressure and take action. SecureDrop allows a secure and anonymous passage for leaks to occur and Freedom Publishers Union is effectively in support of the software.

We support the dedication that Freedom of the Press Foundation has given to developing and maintaining SecureDrop. But it was only through the passion and dedication for open access that James Dolan and his colleagues advocated, that SecureDrop has got the respect the platform so rightly deserves.

December 22, 2017 | Acquisition of Democratic Pirates Australia

Freedom Publishers Union, led under authority of GC Media Publishing Management, are extremely proud to announce the acquisition of all web assets of Democratic Pirates Australia.

We have previously worked with the former alternative Pirate Party, operated out of Australia, on various key issues that both organizations shared common interest.

A formal motion for the full takeover of Democratic Pirates Australia was proposed in an internal Freedom Publishers Union Memorandum and put to a voluntary vote of all staff members of Freedom Publishers Union. The Director of Freedom Publishers Union, Chris McGimpsey-Jones, was restricted from the voting process to ensure the entire process was independent of his involvement and persuasion, based on the grounds of a possible conflict of interest.

Following the commencement of voting, it was quickly confirmed that the formal motion as proposed had majority support and would be carried in the affirmative.

The acquisition was effectively approved and effective as of December 20, 2017.

The acquisition is a proud moment for us, as the data and website assets that we receive through the acquisition is extremely rich in political value and information that we can adapt, reform and include into the cache of already existing content on the Freedom Publishers Union website.

We intend to carefully adapt the information of Democratic Pirates Australia and integrate the most appropriate content into the website of Freedom Publishers Union. Some information deemed not relevant, will be virtually discarded.

We must stress that this does not change the direction of Freedom Publishers Union. We are still an independent media organization focused on the very same core issues and stay true to the same values as before. Any political views that we have will be integrating into our existing Editorial Procedures, and will follow the same principles as we've always had - publishing fact checked, accurate information.

We take this opportunity to thank our readers and supporters for their continued support as we draw 2017 to a close, with this positive news.

December 12, 2017 | We Support Wikileaks, Despite Obvious Bias

We refer to recent revelations of Wikileaks corresponding with Donald Trump Jnr. on matters related to the Clinton/Trump Presidential Election campaign.

It has now become clear that Wikileaks has expressed its bias. To a certain degree, this does change our position of support towards Wikileaks in which we want to make very clear.

We will continue to support the work of Wikileaks. However, we trust them as a document source. Additionally, we support the articles presented on Wikileaks that accompany their publications, but now take on a fresh view that it is presented with a certain amount of bias. A view of bias that we did not carry before.

This brings Wikileaks into line with our acceptance and determination of trust towards other media organizations that are part of our trusted sources through out strict editorial methods and standards.

We believe Freedom Publishers Union has some of the strictest editorial standards of independent media and we intend to remain strict, to ensure our focus on accuracy and fact-checked information remains.

December 4, 2017 | Appointment of Barrett Brown and Biplab Das, as Freedom Publishers Union Advisory Board Members

We are proud to announce the official appointment of Barrett Brown as the newest member to be appointed to the Freedom Publishers Union Advisory Board.

We are also proud to make the additional announcement of the appointment of Biplab Das, also joining as a member of the Advisory Board.

Freedom Publishers Union will use their combined extensive and rich knowledge of the greater importance of independent media and freedom of information, and integrate it into the already existing collective knowledge of the Advisory Board.

The Advisory Board appointments have taken immediate effect.

November 17, 2017 | Appointment of Dinesh Raja, as Freedom Publishers Union Public Representative

We are proud to announce the official appointment of Dinesh Raja as Public Representative for Freedom Publishers Union.

The appointment of the position is to become effective immediately.

The appointment is accompanied by some small changes to our Advisory Board. Two seats have been vacated, as we seek new candidates to fill the positions.

When any appointment has been made to the Advisory Board positions, we will release Press Statements accordingly.

November 5, 2017 | Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Pact Reemerges, as Possible TPP-11

Discourse surrounding the highly controversial trade agreement officially known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), has reemerged.

It has remained relatively dormant since earlier this year when the announcement by US President, Donald Trump, that he will officially withdraw the United States of America as a signatory from the TPP.

The withdrawal of the US put the future certainty of the agreement in jeopardy. Doubt was immediately raised as to whether the agreement could proceed without the inclusion of the US, which effectively brought the tally of 12 nation signatories down to 11.

This week, the trade agreement has made news headlines again. There is renewed calls by the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to get negotiations underway that would see the TPP revisited and reformed into an agreement which could proceed without the inclusion of the US, but with included provisions that would allow for the possibility of re-inclusion of the US in the future. Which if re-inclusion were to eventuate, it would most likely occur under a new US Presidency, as Donald Trump has continued to vow his opposition to the TPP.

We stand by the decision of Donald Trump to withdraw the US, as Freedom Publishers Union oppose the TPP.

Freedom Publishers Union has previously made our concerns public, highlighting specific elements of the TPP. Our position remains firm and will remain firm for any reformed trade agreement, dubbed "TPP-11".

Despite our firm opposition to the TPP, as a compromise, we will continue to urge the 11 remaining signatory nations and their governing political parties to renegotiate the agreement in a completely open and transparent fashion, allow for free passage of regular updates to media, along with drafts of chapters that have been amended to be placed in the public domain rather than relying on leaked copies having to be released through whistleblower platforms.

We conclude by stating that despite our push to have future amended draft chapters released through both mainstream and independent media channels, we will continue to offer our full support to whistleblower platforms such as Wikileaks, as their importance for providing source documents in the media for journalists and reporters is greatly under-appreciated.

August 21, 2017 | Freedom Publishers Union Continues to Support Free and Open Internet, and Oppose Censorship

Late last week, following on from a series of lengthy legal attacks led by Village Roadshow, Warner Bros, Paramount, Universal, Disney, 21st Century Fox and Australia's cable subscription network, Foxtel, the Federal Court of Australia ordered in favor of blocking specific internet sharing services and torrent index sites that are claimed to be directly or indirectly assisting in copyright infringement.

The Federal Court has ordered that the site blocking measures must be implemented by affected internet service providers within two weeks of the court's ruling.

Freedom Publishers Union is concerned of the continuing trend in censorship being implemented and pushed onto Australian internet users, through these blocking measures which are getting authorized in the Federal Courts under copyright infringement, in continued legal attacks from the major production studios who use their market dominance to force the blocking (with intention of shutdown) of legitimate file sharing sites and their associated networks, which some enable legitimate and completely legal file sharing services for creative and organic content.

We always advocate for a free and open internet without government interference and with minimal international regulation, which includes open access without restrictions and without any form of internet blocking or censorship. Freedom Publishers Union has never bent or moved on our position to uphold these digital rights for all internet users around the world, including Australia.

We remain firm in our position and always advocate that users facing censorship through website and/or domain blocking, should consider using Tor Browser as a means of bypassing these relatively meaningless and ineffective censorship techniques.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to fight for digital rights on the internet, alongside copyright reform and always advocate against and oppose censorship to the fullest extent possible.

August 9, 2017 | Israel Ordering Closure of Al Jazeera Office, an Attack on Global Press Freedom

Freedom Publishers Union is deeply concerned at the latest attacks on press freedom, specifically aimed at censoring Al Jazeera. This week, the state of Israel announced plans to force closure of the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem and also revoke outstanding media credentials of its journalists in Israel.

The announcement from Israel echoes that of other leading countries in the Middle-East who have issued condemnation of the Qatar-based media organization. Middle-Eastern states who continue to attack independent journalism and the free press are constantly making false public claims that Al Jazeera is supporting terrorism and their related terrorist organizations. It is not. These claims are false, misleading and are simply aimed to attempt to undermine the editorial independence of the network and damage its model for revealing the truth and facts about the true events and nature of these repressive regimes which falsely claim to be democratic. The attacks are a targeted distraction from the facts of repression.

Al Jazeera strives off the independence of its journalism model and holds a massive amount of respect in the media industry for its independent and non-bias stance on the issues it reports on. Freedom Publishers Union absolutely supports the independent journalism model and firmly believes in a free and open press. Al Jazeera holds our dedicated and absolute support, as does its journalists.

Freedom Publishers Union condemns the state of Israel for the latest attempt to silence Al Jazeera and its journalists. While Israel remains a key ally of Western nations, including the United States of America, the very nature of the forced closure and stripping of media credentials of journalists puts the repressive actions of the Israeli Government on public display. It's counter-productive to what Israel claims.

Al Jazeera remains a grave threat to repressive regimes, specifically in the Middle-East where repressive regimes continue to flourish, through threats to any form of any independent voice. Only through a free and open press can unjust events and actions be reported and published for the public, for citizens to make their own determination of whether their respective governments are in fact operating a democratic system, or continue to suppress freedom of information through their governing model of power, force and secrecy.

Despite the attacks on the news agency and forced closure of its Israeli-based office, in a Statement released by Al Jazeera, the agency has vowed to continue to report and detail important issues that they always have and have said despite the office closure, "Al Jazeera will continue to cover the events of the occupied Palestinian territories professionally and accurately, according to the standards set by international agencies, such as the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom)." Additionally, Al Jazeera has indicated that it will pursue legal action as a result of the decision.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support the excellent, independent and quality journalism of Al Jazeera, based on the principles of the free and open press model that we so strongly aim to serve, support and advocate.

In conclusion, we urge Middle-East states to immediately stop the attacks on the freedom of the press and if differences of opinion are present, to accept the difference is real whilst commence to realize the greater importance of free and open journalism which comes from an independent publishing model.

December 3, 2016 | Release of Barrett Brown

Journalist, Writer and Internet Activist, Barrett Brown, has been released early from serving his sentence in prison.

Freedom Publishers Union has been in support of Mr. Brown receiving fair treatment and early release from prison.

We remain confident that he will continue his writing through his work as an independent journalist and activist.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support his legal cause, as Mr. Brown is still obligated to pay restitution and other legal fees.

We wish him the best of luck for the future and we are proud that our Organization was able to support such an incredible talent and independent journalist, by assisting to keep up the public pressure for early release.

July 28, 2016 | Shutdown of KickAss Torrents (KAT) Website

Freedom Publishers Union is extremely disappointed to learn of the recent shutdown of the torrent website KickAss Torrents, or more commonly known as KAT. In addition to the website shutdown, its Founder has also been arrested and is currently detained.

Our Organization has always advocated and supported services and infrastructure that allow for the dissemination of information and data in a free and open internet environment.

We have witnessed continued attacks against torrent indexing website, The Pirate Bay (TPB). It has been consistently attacked, at the domain level with countless domain seizures. Although the website has experienced downtime, it continues to make a full recovery and returns online. Ironically, it is now located and accessible at its original .org domain. Freedom Publishers Union has supported The Pirate Bay and called for the constant attacks from authoritative figures, representative bodies and media industry behemoths, on TPB services and infrastructure to stop.

Our full support extends to KAT. We support the website and the operations from its owner(s). We should hope that KAT will make an eventual return to the internet. Whether it be in official form or a new service dedicated to uphold the KAT legacy in the torrent sphere, is yet unclear. Until we see an official endorsement from an entity associated with the official (and original) KAT website, we warn torrent users to be cautious about accessing websites that attempt to replicate the original website. As we have witnessed by previous TPB shutdown attempts, unfortunately scams are born from closures of popular torrent websites.

Freedom Publishers Union supports and advocates freedom of internet and data flow. BitTorrent is a protocol that allows for the freedom of this data to flow, with minimal interruption. Therefore, we support the BitTorrent protocol, its associated technologies and all indexing websites, in-full and will continue to do so.

Attacks against websites and persons associated with the core functions of BitTorrent operations that allow for torrent indexing and access, must stop immediately.

We do not endorse piracy, rather Freedom Publishers Union supports fair-use provisions of copyrighted material, along with further copyright reform. We believe that aggressive pursuit of copyright reform would be much more productive as a counter-piracy measure. We will continue to seek out measures and consult with organizations and political entities across the world, to advocate the importance of a free and open internet and the equally important matter of copyright reform and fair-use.

June 29, 2016 | Acquisition of Tecseek Technology

GC Media Publishing Management has completed the acquisition of Tecseek Technology. The successful acquisition will see the website and its entire operations integrated into the business and publishing services under its new parent owner, GC Media Publishing Management.

Tecseek Technology will remain a separate website and its operations will operate as normal. Going into the future we will see even closer integration with the website of Freedom Publishers Union and closer integration with current server technology which is utilized throughout our business.

We are proud and positive for the future of Freedom Publishers Union, as the acquisition of Tecseek Technology gives Freedom Publishers Union the absolute best opportunity we could possibly have to extend our reach with technology based publications. This has been a core focus for our business in 2016 and we openly admit that we have lagged in our efforts and we see this as a great opportunity to reinvigorate and accelerate our focus on technology publications across the IT sector.

Freedom Publishers Union supports open information sharing through releasing all our content through the Creative Commons license. This will also be followed on to Tecseek Technology and all content published through Tecseek Techology will also be released through Creative Commons licensing.

The acquisition will see former Editor-in-Chief and current Director, Chris McGimpsey-Jones, return to his former position and be reinstated as Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Publishers Union and all its integrated publication services. Mel Khamlichi will become the Technical Advisor for all operations.

Furthermore, the acquisition of Tecseek Technology will see a change of the share of ownership to GC Media Publishing Management. This will have no public operations or publications impact and will remain solely an administrative task.

January 15, 2016 | Death of David Bowie

Freedom Publishers Union is deeply saddened by the recent passing of Singer, Songwriter and Musician, David Bowie.

Bowie passed away on January 10, just 2 days after the release of what would be his final album, Black Star. The album was quickly dubbed to be a farewell gift to his fans and the wider music world.

He was a unique individual and never seeked rock-star status and many times almost disappearing from the public eye, fueling speculation that he had quit the business of music. However, all through his career he continued to release quality music with equally impressive lyrics. Sometimes controversial and sometimes quirky. Bowie is said to have inspired the rock music of the early 70's and influenced punk rock with his style of dress, music and stage performances.

No words can truly explain the impressive career of Bowie which spanned over 50 years. David Bowie will be sorely missed by the music industry and the wider music world.

Freedom Publishers Union pays respect to this special individual who never failed to produce topshelf music which was very much appreciated by his fans. To some extent, Bowie will never know how much he was loved and appreciated for his contributions to the music industry.

September 25, 2015 | Presidential Pardon of Al Jazeera Journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed

Freedom Publishers Union commends the efforts made by the Egyptian Government, under Presidential orders to officially Pardon the Al Jazeera Journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed.

We have continuously campaigned against the unjust detainment of all three Journalists, including Peter Greste who has not yet been officially Pardoned.

The latest development has restored some degree of confidence in the Egyptian Government and International relations.

Peter Greste has been released and is now residing back in Australia. His criminal convictions remain in place. Although Mr. Greste enjoys freedom in his own country, the criminal convictions that remain in place do however limit his journalistic work as a Foreign Correspondent and limits the countries that he can now travel to.

Freedom Publishers Union urges the Egyptian President to take the next step, restore much more confidence in its Government's control over International relations and extend the Presidential Pardon to Peter Greste, so all crimimal convictions can then be cleared.

With all three men now free from unjust detainment in Egypt, the landmark decision also draws our campaign to a close.

August 30, 2015 | Retrial Verdict of Peter Greste and Al Jazeera Colleagues

Freedom Publishers Union is deeply disturbed and concerned by the verdict of the retrial of Al Jazeera Journalists Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed.

Our Organization has been at the forefront of the campaign for freedom of these Journalists and our support remains with them, on the basis of human rights, press freedom and democracy.

On June 24, 2014, Freedom Publishers Union released a Statement raising the initial concerns expressed from our own Organization on this matter. This is when our campaign for freedom of the Al Jazeera Journalists commenced.

On July 12, 2014, Freedom Publishers Union contacted the Egyptian Embassy in Canada and Australia, pleading for equal justice for all three men and for recognition that their human rights and fair legal justice had been violated.

Since our initial contact with the Egyptian Embassies, our campaign has been relentless and have always called for a fair trial based on truthful information, evidence and a legal justice system. To date, the trial and retrial has been completely flawed, falsified and the justice system and prosecutors have failed to present truthful evidence of any illegal activity from all three Journalists.

Our concerns remain firm and the announcement of the latest verdict from the retrial is equally disturbing and flawed as the first attempt at a fair and just legal proceeding.

With the support of all staff members involved at Freedom Publishers Union, we intend to continue to pursue complete equal freedom for all three Journalists, in honor of press freedom and democracy.

July 30, 2015 | Suppression of Grand Jury Documents, in Eric Garner Case

Freedom Publishers Union condemns the decision by the Appellate Division, Second Department to suppress the Grand Jury files, on the case of the death of Eric Garner.

Eric Garner was killed by a police officer on July 17, 2014, in New York City, by methods of a banned "choke-hold".

Freedom Publishers Union has backed support for calls to have the Grand Jury files released to the public, for increased awareness and information purposes for the wider community on the truth of the details of the case. Instead, we see the files have been suppressed and kept secret.

Freedom Publishers Union supports the New York Civil Liberties Union in their appeal of the decision and calls to have the documents released to the public.

July 11, 2015 | Condemnation of Government Interference with Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Questions and Answers (QandA) Program

Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia express our condemnation of the Liberal Party, under the leadership of the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, in its handling of the Coalition's response to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and its Questions and Answers (QandA) program.

The ABC is funded by the Australian Government and the Australian taxpayers. However, it is an independently operated entity without Government interference or control over its operations.

Australia is a democratic country with a free and open media ecosystem. Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia wish for it to remain free, open, transparent and off-limits from all attempts of bureaucratic interference.

We will continue to advocate absolute media freedom in Australia and condemn any attempts of any member or party of Government that attempts to suppress or stamp upon these freedoms.

June 9, 2015 | Global Campaign Against the Death Penalty

Freedom Publishers Union condemns the use of the death penatly in any country, for any crimes committed.

The April 29 execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia, demonstrates a lack of respect for the human rights of the individuals and complete lack of respect for their human dignity.

It remains true the individuals did commit crimes; however, Freedom Publishers Union firmly believes the individuals did serve the necessary time imprisoned in detention in Indonesia, to become reformed citizens.

It can not be disputed our views were echoed in the media arena, both in Australia and on the International circuit.

Freedom Publishers Union is moving to consider ways to step up our campaign against the use of the death penalty and will continue to advocate against its use, regardless of country the horrific practice is undertaken.

March 21, 2015 | Response to Unexpected Passing of Malcolm Fraser

Freedom Publishers Union is deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser.

Malcolm Fraser was very much respected and a great source of inspiration for many people, during his time serving as Prime Minister of Australia and for the entirety of his life.

He always provided insightful and intriguing commentary on all current issues and was a regular on Australian television broadcasting networks, for interview.

On many occasion, Staff Members at Freedom Publishers Union used the commentary of Malcolm Fraser as a preliminary analysis of our own contributions.

Malcolm Fraser, 1930 - 2015.

February 20, 2015 | Equation Group and its Cyber-Espionage Activities

In a joint Statement, Freedom Publishers Union and Quality Publishing Works denounce the activities which have been published through information revealed on the "Equation Group" and its involvements in cyber-espionage.

We are deeply disturbed and were immediately concerned by the technical sophistication of the finer details of the activities undertaken, as revealed by information security researchers at Kaspersky Labs.

The technical cyber-espionage activities undertaken by the mysterious group, dubbed "Equation Group" by Kaspersky Labs, use very sophisticated techniques of which have not been witnessed before, with effects that have the potential for results that pose alarming concern for how widespread the actions are and how integrated the activities and the originating entities are potentially and most-likely connected to Government Agencies and the greater mass-surveillance landscape.

Freedom Publishers Union and Quality Publishing Works jointly condemn this kind of illegal, wrongful, unwarranted, immoral behavior and activities of any group involved in cyber-espionage.

We will continue to analyze any further information and details revealed on this matter and publish as appropriate.

February 9. 2015 | KickassTorrents and the Potential Threat of More Domain Name Action

The domain name extension used by KickassTorrents website, .so has been seized. The website is no longer accessible by this domain name extension as it has apparently been banned by means of domain name system blocking.

The website soon moved to utilize the .to domain extension and is now accessible through using the .to extension.

Freedom Publishers Union condemns these continued attacks on freedoms of the internet. Torrent websites are consistently at the forefront of the ongoing threat by movie and music production studios, in their attempts to limit and shut down file sharing websites and their associated services.

We will always continue to support freedom of the internet and services that continue to provide the means and technology that promote and provide those very freedoms to any internet connected user anywhere in the world, regardless of locale and state and country borders.

It's a continuing threat from worldwide authorities and production studios, in their bid to restrict and have absolute control over media and information flow on the internet. Attacks such as domain seizures, domain name blocking, website shut downs and confiscation of hardware and other personal property from the respective operators; Freedom Publishers Union views all of these events as attacks on freedom of information and internet information flow and will continue to fight, defend and support those very freedoms when under threat.

January 23, 2015 | Response to Sentencing for Barrett Brown

Journalist, Writer and Internet Activist, Barrett Brown, has been sentenced to 63 months imprisonment and ordered to pay the amount of $890,000.

There has been worldwide outrage over the conviction and sentence with many well-respected journalists and media organizations expressing their disappointment in the sentencing.

Freedom Publishers Union echoes the concerns of many others and express our own disappointment with the result.

We believe the case and entire judicial process has been seriously flawed. Many valid points and facts have been brought forth by Brown and his Legal Defense, yet outright ignored by the judicial system. Again, a systematic fail of the United States legal process.

Combined with information that has been twisted and/or concocted by the FBI (as Brown points out in his own Statement) and falsely presented to the Court, along with information that is just plain wrong, makes the Barrett Brown case absolutely ridiculous.

What is equally concerning is the fact that the case of Barrett Brown is not limited to this case only, there are others which compare. There will undoubtedly be more in the future, which we intend to ridicule where necessary in defense of Journalist' who do their job all too well and get punished by the highly flawed and pre-determined verdicts that extend from the Unites States of America legal system.

Freedom Publishers Union is very disappointed with the decision and intends to examine what avenues of support we can now offer the Free Barrett Brown movement.

We hope that the gifted Journalist and Writer that Barrett Brown is, continues to write from the walls of the concrete confinements of prison as we will continue to publish future works of Barrett Brown and Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support his legal defense.

January 9, 2015 | FBI Accusations Against North Korea for Sony Hack, Seemingly Unfounded

There is undoubtedly much more information to be released about the alleged origins of the recent "Sony Hack". In the United States, the FBI has consistently pointed the finger at North Korea as being behind the incident.

The release of the Sony Hack archive and associated detailed information dealt a massive blow to the planned release of the movie which supposedly prompted the cyber attack on Sony, "The Interview".

Freedom Publishers Union is concerned the FBI consistently points the finger at North Korea, yet to date has not publicly released any actual-physical information which gives respect to the claims made by the FBI and the US Government. The FBI has gone as far as classifying the so-called evidence it contains; as secret, in which supposedly proves the cyber attack on Sony did originate from North Korea.

At the time of release of this Statement, North Korea have denied being responsible for the Sony Hack.

Following the Sony Hack archive release from the hacking group who call themselves, Guardians of Peace (GoP), the world witnessed a complete outage of North Korea internet access. Speculation quickly mounted that the US Government was behind the country-wide internet outage.

The US have denied being responsible for the N. Korea internet outage.

Freedom Publishers Union is skeptical of both sides and can only describe the entire political bashing between the two countries which has spilled into the public domain, as ridiculous.

We are concerned that the US Government is seemingly using the Sony Hack as an excuse to implement further sanctions on North Korea. If sanctions are to be placed on North Korea from any country, a legitimate reason and political purpose and agenda should be publicly declared and backed by information that gives cause and merit to the sanctions.

To date, the US Government and the FBI have released nil information which can be backed by conclusive evidence which proves the origin of the Sony Hack was North Korea.

Cyber-Security Experts, Cyber-Security Analysts, Cyber-Security Researchers, hacking group Anonymous and even ex-hacker turned FBI informant, Hector Xavier Monsegur (aka. Sabu), have all publicly declared that there is very little chance North Korea could be behind the Sony Hack due to the complexity required to carry out the hack and the amount of material which was sourced.

In a recent interview with CNET, Monsegur goes on to describe his own analysis of the Sony Hack, claiming the amount of material sourced by the hack was gathered in a highly-sophisticated manner and undoubtedly not stored on one single server within Sony's infrastructure, concluding there was very little chance a rogue country such as North Korea with very little [known] technical capability could be the masterminds behind this kind of cyber attack.

Based on the information that Freedom Publishers Union has viewed, we echo the claims made by Hector Xavier Monsegur, that the hacker(s) would have to have had some pre-knowledge of the internal server structures of Sony and its technical infrastructure.

As we go to publish with this Statement, technology media organization ZDNet has released an article on its website with information which displays how easy it could potentially be for anyone or any country to essentially 'take down' the internet access for North Korea.

Freedom Publishers Union reserves judgment on any country, any group, any persons or entity in the case of the Sony Hack incident. We make judgment based on clear facts backed by clear and conclusive evidence which gets presented in the public domain. We can not base judgment to anyone on any matter based on the rhetoric of the US Government, the FBI and North Korea.

We will continue to follow developments in this ongoing and constantly unfolding story and publish information when it gets released to the public.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to call on the US Government and the FBI (and potentially the NSA), to release any conclusive evidence it has in its possession, into the public domain for public scrutiny and judgment.

January 9, 2015 | Charlie Hebdo Incident, an Attack on Freedom of Expression

Freedom Publishers Union condemns the attacks on French media and publishing organization, Charlie Hebdo.

The attacks can only be described as horrific and cowardly. Freedom Publishers Union views the attacks on Charlie Hebdo as a direct attack on the world's open media platforms and freedom of expression.

What concerns Freedom Publishers Union, is that the story is much more detailed than what has initially been reported by mainstream media organizations. Independent media organization, The Intercept, has published information and details of a Statement it received from persons allegedly officially associated with 'al Qaeda' and claim 'full responsibility' for the attacks in Paris, France.

We feel much more detail is yet to be revealed on the matter. Freedom Publishers Union will continue to monitor the ongoing investigation into the attacks and publish relevant information as it comes to light.

In closing, on behalf of all the Staff at Freedom Publishers Union, we express our sincere condolences to the friends and family of the victims who have been caught up in the violence of the sensitive political incident.

January 7, 2015 | Welfare and Human Rights Concerns for Asylum Seekers, Detained on Manus Island and Nauru

The living conditions and welfare of Australian Asylum Seekers and Refugees detained on Manus Island and Nauru has rapidly deteriorated under the control of the Liberal Government and under the guidance of Australia's [former] Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison MP and [current] Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton MP.

Freedom Publishers Union has been witness to some alarming information in the last 3-6 months. In recent weeks, we have viewed information in which demonstrates an absolute injustice and willingness to ignore the welfare of Asylum Seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.

As recently as November-December 2014, claims of homosexual rape, have leaked to media by an anonymous Asylum Seeker who is currently detained at Manus Island. The alleged rape victim and detainee has stated they are reluctant to report the alleged rape offenses to security officers within the detainment facilities for fear of further abuse, both sexually and physically, including mental torment.

On Nauru, there is constant claims of horrific child abuse, self-harm and suicide attempts, from Asylum Seekers being detained under torrid living conditions.

Amnesty International has previously visited the detention center at Nauru and officially described the living conditions as "a human rights catastrophe". Whilst the United Nations has also publicly condemned the living conditions on both Manus Island and Nauru detention centers, deeming them unacceptable.

Based on information Freedom Publishers Union has witnessed, there appears to be absolute lack of welfare awareness from Australia's Immigration Ministers, former and current. Equally concerning, is the lack of concern by the companies that are employed to operate these facilities and manage the security personnel.

The Manus Island detention center is operated by Transfield Services. The Nauru detention center is operated by SERCO.

The facilities on Manus Island and Nauru are operated in such military-like secrecy, with no information publicly accessible as to the physical locale of these facilities and detention centers.

Freedom Publishers Union is current exploring avenues of action we can pursue in raising awareness of the concerns we have towards the violation of the human rights of the Asylum Seekers and Refugees, being detained on Manus Island and Nauru detention centers.

January 5, 2015 | Peter Greste Released, Colleagues Remain Imprisoned

After more than 400 days, Australian Journalist, Peter Greste has been released from imprisonment in Egypt.

Freedom Publishers Union is proud to have contributed to the global campaign to have Peter Greste released from Egyptian imprisonment.

Our contribution consisted of consistent calls for release for all three of the Al Jazeera journalists, who were imprisoned as a result of flawed and falsified legal proceedings against the journalists.

Additionally, Freedom Publishers Union contacted the Egyptian Embassies in Canada and Australia, to plead for Presidential Pardon of the three journalists.

Freedom Publishers Union is grateful to the Egyptian Government for allowing the release Peter Greste to proceed without further interference, as we requested in our correspondence with the Egyptian Embassies.

The release of Peter Greste is the result of a global media campaign, condemning the imprisonment of the journalists and calling for their immediate release.

The focus of our campaign at Freedom Publishers Union shifts to a different stage, as we now focus on calling for the release of the remaining two Al Jazeera Journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. Their civil and human rights must be upheld and immediate release of the remaining two men must proceed as quickly as possible.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support and call for the release of Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, as we did for Peter Greste.

Additionally, in coming weeks we will be contacting the Egyptian Embassies again, in an attempt to [re]state our case that Freedom Publishers Union believes the civil and human rights of these men, has been violated through misleading and falsified legal proceedings.

January 2, 2015 | The Resurrection of The Pirate Bay and Future

Effective February 1, 2015, The Pirate Bay is back online.

The website has defied recent legal action and emerged once again under the same domain name of thepiratebay.se

The current site is partially operational, with some services still not yet functional.

The investigation by Swedish authorities continues into the website and its activities. Although no official Statement has been released by The Pirate Bay's owners and administrators, articles published in TorrentFreak detail that there is tension among the administrators on a range of issues related to how the website should now be operated and into the future.

Additional reports go on to suggest that former associates of The Pirate Bay have been so dissatisfied with the way the website has been reformed and defectors are drawing up plans to relaunch a new The Pirate Bay website, which could be claimed as being the original and only official The Pirate Bay.

Freedom Publishers Union can not independently verify these reports from TorrentFreak

Freedom Publishers Union is proud that the website has defied its critics and authorities, in a bid to exercise the principles of freedom of information sharing.

At current, The Pirate Bay is considered by name the [un]official Godfather of torrent file sharing eco-system in a modern digital landscape. We believe the hydra behind The Pirate Bay is key to its success into the future.

The time has come for other websites to adopt The Pirate Bay hydra and contribute in their own way to the torrent, peer-to-peer, freedom of information and information sharing eco-system that should and deserves to exist on the internet.

We conclude by stating that we will continue to monitor the ongoing and always unfolding story of The Pirate Bay legal investigation.

However, we are concerned the website is slowly heading towards disrepute and eventual mainstream abandonment by wider audience, if it proceeds and continues to flood the website with pornographic and suggestive advertising banners.

We have previously documented the former Owners and Founders of The Pirate Bay "thepiratebay.org" have also expressed concerns that the website does not resemble what they set out to achieve and preach.

How The Pirate Bay website proceeds from here, will ultimately determine its longevity into the future in its current form.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support The Pirate Bay and its service, as it actively demonstrates the very principles of freedom of information flow on the internet, without censorship and without borders.

December 19, 2014 | Response to Probable Shutdown of The Pirate Bay

Since we received the initial word that The Pirate Bay had been raided and sent offline by order of the Swedish authorities, there has still been no official word in black and white from official representatives of The Pirate Bay.

Torrent news website Torrentfreak.com did however receive word from a person supposedly associated with the project, that The Pirate Bay will not be back online for the foreseeable future. This person went on to state that they hope the BitTorrent community and former TPB users go on to keep their legacy alive, in any form.

At this stage, it seems unclear whether the website, its owners and which associates are still being investigated as the Swedish authorities have been very tight-lipped about revealing much detail related to the investigation. There has also been no official word of the domain names used to access the website "thepiratebay.org", which redirected to "thepiratebay.se".

One of the original Co-Founders, Peter Sunde, has been outspoken of his former bay's demise, by stating that he would be pleased if it were to not return to online status. Sunde felt that the current owners had killed the site's spirit he helped create with the other two Co-Founders, Gottfrid Svartholm (anakata) and Fredrik Neij.

Peter Sunde's words were very strong and there was no holding back in his Statement published on his website.

Perhaps Sunde was right. Perhaps now was the time TPB in its current form set sail for the horizon and let the community of users behind ultimately decide its fate.

It seems that TPB and the BitTorrent user community have responded to keep the TPB legacy alive. We wish to point, specifically, to the work of Isohunt.to, who have put in a great amount of effort to launching www.oldpiratebay.org, which leads users to a Isohunt.to powered torrent search engine which keeps the legacy of The Pirate Bay alive by mimicking the former website's appearance with a tweaked blue theme.

It looks fantastic and functions very well. Search results are equally fast, if not better than they were on TPB.

A massive kudos to the group of developers at Isohunt.to who put this site together. If there was any website that aims to keep TPB legacy alive, www.oldpiratebay.org has succeeded.

Freedom Publishers Union believes that The Pirate Bay was much more than just a torrent search index website. The symbolism of what TPB stood for is what mattered; freedom of information flow and freedom to share, without restriction. Unfortunately, law enforcement authorities and music/movie studios beg to differ and it is now left to the BitTorrent community to decide what gets remembered and what gets forgotten about The Pirate Bay.

Freedom Publishers Union wanted to do our part to support The Pirate Bay legacy and keep the spirit of freedom of information flow and file sharing alive.

For now, that is where The Pirate Bay has left its legacy. If anything is rebooted and presented in the future for The Pirate Bay, it is undoubtedly guaranteed to be positive. Until then, we watch with great anticipation to see whether The Pirate Bay returns.

The original website might be now offline, but the powerful spirit and symbolism it created a decade ago under the control of the original founders, is certainly still online and felt.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to monitor the current case that is still in its infancy and undoubtedly yet to reveal much more detailed information. We will continue to publish information as it becomes available.

We also warn of torrent users to be mindful of the many scams and websites attempting to cash-in on The Pirate Bay name and website logo. We can't stress enough that these are not the original The Pirate Bay website and are actually re-creations, alternatives, mirrors and reboots using the same name and logo, but are not making this clear to their users. Beware of these kinds of websites and please use them at your own risk.

December 11, 2014 | Initial Response to Raid and Shutdown of The Pirate Bay

It's now well documented that The Pirate Bay has been shut-down and its datacenter raided by Swedish authorities.

As yet, there is no official comment released by the Swedish authorities, other than they were responding to complaints against The Pirate Bay website and claims of copyright infringements.

It's simply too early to attempt to predict where this case is heading. Media reports are showing mixed reactions, claims and predictions on the future of The Pirate Bay.

Some media organizations are reporting that this will be the end of the file sharing website and it may never come back online.

Whilst, pirate loyalists and those in favor and greatly supporting its return to online status, remain confident that 'something' is definitely happening in the background and continue to believe that it will return very soon.

Over the course of its existence, The Pirate Bay has endured rough conditions, treatment and legal battles on its journey, both under the leadership of its original three founders and also its current operators, currently unknown to the public and will most likely remain in the shadows for as long as needed.

Freedom Publishers Union will comment in more detail on the matter at a later date, when we have more information. But at the moment, the following key points are what we do know:

Freedom Publishers Union will follow the case carefully and release another Statement when we have more official information about the case.

Until we know and understand more information which comes from reputable and official sources associated or familiar with TPB operations, we urge torrent users to please avoid using TPB mirror/proxy sites and seek usage of alternative torrent file services, for the time being.

More to come.

December 8, 2014 | Plea for Leniency for Barrett Brown Sentencing

Journalist, Writer and Internet Activist, Barrett Brown, had his place of residence raided by the FBI back in March 6, 2012. It was not until September 12, 2012 Brown was arrested.

Brown had experienced several different encounters and harassment from US law enforcement prior to his indictment and arrest. He is currently detained, until his sentencing date which has been unjustly delayed, many times.

Freedom Publishers Union has followed the Barrett Brown case from the very beginning, as we have followed most major cases of this nature. Until now, we have been silent on the case, because only now we feel there is substantial reasoning for a lenient sentencing against Brown.

Our understanding of the case details tells us that the initial arrest of Brown was based on a scattering of some false and some often 'misleading' information. The experiences that Brown entailed dealing with law enforcement borders abuse of power from US authorities.

From evidence that we have read and viewed, the case against Brown is and always has been very weak. We feel the continued delay of sentencing hearing dates, is an effort by US legal representatives to attempt to manipulate a weak case and present Prosecutors something more fearsome than the actual finer details suggest.

Brown continued to be harassed by US law enforcement and at one point during his arrest experience, Brown has claimed that he was injured and received insufficient medical attention for his claimed injuries.

For a person being detained for alleged crimes such as what Barrett Brown is alleged to be involved in, his treatment has been unsatisfactory.

Freedom Publishers Union understands that there is a probable possibility of some wrongdoing on Brown's behalf, but we can not cite any direct consequence against any persons or entity that has come to harm from some of Brown's previous actions and alleged involvements.

From September 2013 to April 2014, Barrett Brown was placed under a Federal-issued gag order and was prevented from discussing details about the case, as was any of his legal representative(s).

Barrett was presented with evidence against him and entered a plea-bargain with authorities, primarily related to his alleged knowing of events surrounding the Stratfor hacking and leaked emails.

March 2014, many of the initial charges that were placed against Brown were dropped. Some still remain, for which he resides in detainment long-awaiting a sentencing hearing date.

Freedom Publishers Union suspects that the case against Barrett Brown has been very weak from the very beginning and based on unreliable information and evidence we describe as 'sketchy', at best.

We would like to re-iterate that again, no harm has come to any persons or entity from the alleged charges against Brown and we are confident he poses no risk to society when he is to be released.

For such minimal charges based on lackluster evidence, Brown has been through much already. Yet the legal system insists on delaying the sentencing hearing for Brown, which has now been set for December (no exact date cited) or possibly as late as January, 2015.

Freedom Publishers Union is currently seeking an official date, but as yet have been unable to seek such information.

The continued delays and setbacks of sentencing hearing dates adds to the confusion of the case against Barrett Brown.

Authorities involved in the Brown case have displayed absolute lack of respect towards Brown during this sequence of events. They have even gone as far as to claim that he is not a Journalist or a Writer and completely ignoring the work and writings of Barrett Brown and where his efforts have been published.

Additionally, Brown has received full payment for his published work by many different publishers. His professional contributions to journalism and writing can not be disputed and has earned the respect to use the title, Journalist and Writer.

This must be respected by law enforcement and authoritative figures.

US authorities seem determined to label Barrett Brown as a viscous, violent hacker who is ultimately responsible for the entire control of the Anonymous hacking movement.

In closing, Freedom Publishers Union does not dispute that Brown may have done something wrong, based on the official evidence we have read through, in official released legal documents. Specifically, his public statements, remarks and specific threats to specific individuals released through his YouTube videos, can not be disputed and these kind of threats to members of the public is unacceptable and inexcusable.

We do however believe that he poses absolutely no risk to society through his previous wrongdoing and other alleged matters.

We conclude that his previous offset behavior would be related more toward third-party issues in Barrett's life, rather than a genuine intention to carry out an action of such threats made to specific individuals.

It's well documented that Barrett Brown is a former heroin addict. Brown himself has gone on the record to declare his history of illicit drug use. This should be taken into account in the event of an eventual sentencing.

Finally, Freedom Publishers Union is and will continue to plead with Prosecutors, to be lenient with Barrett Brown and take into consideration the entire chain of events that have led to his arrest and detainment. And the time he has already spent under detention also needs to be considered when a final sentence is given.

We believe Brown should receive a minimal sentence as deemed appropriate to the actual instances according to US law and not a pre-determined sentence.

When Barrett Brown is released back into society, we believe if placed under the right conditions, in a suitable environment and with the right support, he can re-enter society a good citizen.

November 5, 2014 | Arrests and Detainment of The Pirate Bay Co-Founders

We echo our Statement released on November 1, 2014, on topic of verdict and unfair trial of The Pirate Bay Co-Founder, Gottfrid Svartholm (anakata).

The remaining The Pirate Bay Co-Founders have now been arrested and detained.

Peter Sunde was arrested in Sweden in May 2014. Fredrik Neij has been arrested and is currently detained, in Asia November 2014.

All three original The Pirate Bay Co-Founders have now been arrested and are currently detained.

The Pirate Bay was developed as a file sharing service to allow its users to share files and information via a fast peer-to-peer based network. That is what The Pirate Bay continues to do today.

Whether the charges presented against the detainees are presented as such or not, it's clear the arrests, detainment and sentencing of Gottfrid Svartholm, Peter Sunde and Fredrik Neij is an attack on The Pirate Bay, its users and the worldwide network of file sharers which use the torrent-based protocol to share files of their choice.

The arrests and detainment of the aforementioned persons is a direct attack on the freedom of internet users and the free and open choice we have, to share files and information between our friends and fellow internet users.

Freedom Publishers Union condemns this type of behavior and provocation from the legal systems of the respective countries involved.

As we release this Statement, news of the most recent arrest of Fredrik Neij is still unfolding. At the time of publishing, torrent news website TorrentFreak is reporting that Thai media is claiming that "US movie companies" hired a law firm to search for and locate Neij.

There will be more updates and revelations as the investigations continue.

As the world has witnessed previously (too many times), with The Pirate Bay related court cases and other legal cases against renowned technologists, there will undoubtedly be a case based around false, misleading and absolutely inconclusive evidence that in a functioning legal court system, would fail.

Yet we continue to see pre-determined verdicts prior to the case being heard in court, which eventuates in the final verdict that was clearly determined before the case entered to judicial system phase.

November 1, 2014 | Final Verdict and Unfair Trial in Hacking Case Against anakata

As we go to publish with this Statement, The Pirate Bay Co-Founder, Gottfrid Svartholm (anakata), has been found guilty of the hacking charges he has faced since 2012. At the time of publishing, he is yet to be sentenced.

Freedom Publishers Union does not normally comment on public hacking cases such as the anakata case, but when the evidence is weak as the case against anakata, we feel it necessary to put forth our view to the public.

Whilst it is true that anakata has been caught up in legal battles in previous years, both related and unrelated to The Pirate Bay, it's important to understand that this case is stated as unrelated to The Pirate Bay.

Freedom Publishers Union, does firmly believe that in all previous cases against anakata, evidence has been what can only be described as weak. The latest hacking charges anakata faces are no different. Again, we are seeing a case built around weak and inconclusive evidence and the courts and judicial system has failed.

The anakata hacking case somewhat resembles that of the Bradley Manning case, in a sense that the prime suspect of the courts are suspects of so-called crimes based off computer crimes charges of a nature and proceed through the drawn out court procedures, ending with the expected "Guilty" verdict, in an effort to make a public example out of the suspect(s) and display publicly what the courts and judicial system can and will do to technologists who test and push the system to its limits.

In this case, it is anakata.

In previous (recent) cases, it was Manning. And there's been many more examples before them.

So what effect will the latest conviction of anakata have on The Pirate Bay (TPB)? Absolutely none.

TPB has been shut down previously, each and every time administrators have somehow managed to re-emerge from the depths of the dark and murky waters.

There has been countless attempts to shut the service down, through seizure of server hardware, IP blocking, domain blocking and domain snatching from countries and domain name providers.

TPB's technology has changed, evolved and adapted and has proven that it has become nigh on impossible for authorities to take down the service, permanently.

If the judicial system's intent was to use anakata as bait and make an example out of him, with the side-effect of taking down The Pirate Bay, they have failed at that task too. Almost as much as the failing of the lawful intentions of the judicial system itself.

It's not file sharers that are suffering;

It's not pirates that are suffering;

It's not The Pirate Bay that is suffering;

In fact, the only person to suffer out of the ordeal, is Gottfrid Svartholm, more well known as anakata.

A gifted programmer, anakata has also suffered from drug related problems and mental health issues in the past. All of which seem to have been ignored, along with the fact the evidence against anakata is ill, inconclusive and flawed.

Freedom Publishers Union does not condone illegal piracy. However, we do believe in and advocate that systems and services such as The Pirate Bay (and other torrent indexing websites) are provided so that users have the option and to make the decision for themselves, without laws and government interference. That's primarily why these systems were born and developed.

It's freedom. It's openness on a global scale. It must be protected.

October 16, 2014 | Use of Manning's Identity Reference in the Media

There is public conversation in the media at current, regarding specific references to US Army Intelligence whistleblower, Private Manning.

The center of the discussion is based around how to identify Manning and how to address the identity of Manning and which name to correctly use.

It's a complicated issue and something nobody will find any official reference of a way to properly address the identity of a person who has been medically diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Freedom Publishers Union needs to address this situation for our own readers and how our own Organization refers to the identity of Manning, officially.

At a moral level, it is important to understand that Bradley Manning has legally changed her name to Chelsea Manning. Therefore, when referring to Manning in a generalized context, it is respect to Chelsea that the media refer to her by her correct and legal name. Additionally, members of the public and media need to understand Chelsea is the name she wants to be called. Therefore, out of respect to Chelsea, that is what needs to happen in the media at a broader level than what is currently happening.

Freedom Publishers Union will refer to Manning according to the following guidelines:

Freedom Publishers Union firmly believes that Manning deserves recognition of his/her identity according to the time frame in the context the identity reference is being presented. It's not only respect for Chelsea Manning herself, but also what Manning was/is officially identifiable as, at the time frame of the referenced context.

September 11, 2014 | Concerns Over Security and Privacy Breach from Apple

Today, it was announced that Apple customers had received what is being referred to from the company as, "A Free Gift". If Apple's iCloud customers were to enter their accounts today, it may have come as a surprise when they find Apple had uploaded a free copy of U2's latest album release into their account.

From a security and privacy perspective, this is of great concern.

There are a few points we need to examine;

Unsolicited content being mass distributed - It is of concern, being of the very nature that Apple customers did not ask for the content to be uploaded to their account. Additionally, they were not given a choice to receive or not receive the content.

Choice - If the content in question is not wanted by the customer, they should be given the option to remove the content and have it deleted from their account. At the time of publishing, we are not aware of any users being able to delete the content from their iCloud account.

Forced data retention - iCloud users do have the option to 'Hide' the content so it is not visible. However, users must understand that simply 'Hiding' content from visibility is not removing the content the their accounts. When using the 'Hide' option to effectively remove the content from view, it does not physically remove the content from your iCloud (or any other Apple service) account.

Privacy - User's privacy is being invaded and ignored. It displays a lack of respect for user's accounts and their right to privacy. Apple as a company, have a global responsibility to respect the rights of privacy of its iCloud service and its customers.

Security - Forth-most, it raises more questions than what it answers, on the topic of not only iCloud account security, but the security of all Apple accounts and services. If Apple is able to simply upload data to any, all and everyone's accounts at any given time, without the permission of the account holder; then serious questions need to asked about the overall security of Apple and its services.

We advise that Apple customers be very careful and aware of what information and data they upload to iCloud accounts and other Apple services.

Additionally, users need to be aware that this latest move from Apple demonstrates that the company most-likely has full, unrestricted access to all its user's accounts and related content associated with their accounts.

Freedom Publishers Union is currently in the process of reviewing the Apple iCloud Terms and Conditions and additionally, the iCloud Privacy Policy, to see whether there is any breach of users rights according to the official Apple documentation.

August 25, 2014 | Pirate Party Australia, Membership Announcement

Freedom of information and the flow of information, transparency and democracy have always been very important to me. Moreso, as we continue to delve deeper into a digital world of information and internet presence.

Internet publishing plays a very important role in keeping the information that we consume, open and transparent. Since its founding, Wikileaks has consistently been at the forefront of pushing the limits of all traditional media organizations in an effort to keep governments open and transparent.

The efforts of Julian Assange and Wikileaks have continued with Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and the founding of Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Despite all major efforts from the aforementioned people and their respective and associated organizations, it is a continual uphill battle, due to the higher powers of world governments, otherwise known as the "Five Eyes" (United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), ordering, yet denying, the suppression of such information.

This a direct attack on democracy and freedom of speech. Both of which are basic civil and human rights.

The Australian Government continues to press ahead with intentions to close all forms of information transparency and censor information in which should be readily available to the public. Additionally, post-Snowden leaks, the "Five Eyes" nations continue to track, collect and store data on its citizens from many countries around the world.

I, along with my business partner founded Freedom Publishers Union to not only publish and promote the use of Linux and free and open-source software, but also mature the Organization into an open publishing platform of wider information. We are based on and adhere to the very same principles of Wikileaks and Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Politics doesn't have to be any different. I have been thinking of entering the political arena for some time. Years actually. But the truth remains that until only 2013, there has been no valid established political parties in which stand up for all of the issues that I have outlined above.

Today, I announce I have become a member of Pirate Party Australia.

The first Pirate Party was founded in Sweden, back in 2006. Pirate Party Australia was formally registered as an Australian political party on January 17, 2013. Key focuses of attention is given to many areas;

In addition to the above key elements of attention for the party, there is a strong focus of bringing to the attention of the Australian Government much outdated copyright laws. Which let's be honest, were not created for and do not cater for the era of digital information and media that we now digest at a rapid rate.

Through my involvements and membership with Pirate Party Australia, I hope to build on the efforts that the party performs and contribute to the platform and policies that it practices.

In closing, I must stress that Freedom Publishers Union has no affiliation with Pirate Party Australia or any other political party nor will it be used to publish or promote my political views and motives respective to Pirate Party Australia and involvements within the party.

The entities are separate, as is my role as Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Publishers Union and my role as a member of Pirate Party Australia.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones

August 20, 2014 | Julian Assange's "Leaving soon" Announcement

Wikileaks Founder, Julian Assange's recent announcement that he would be leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, "soon", is as cryptic as the man himself.

We know as much as everyone else. We would safely say that Julian obviously knows more than the media and the truth behind his declaration to be leaving soon, is yet not known by a wider audience.

We certainly hope Julian Assange is released soon, as the man has been locked into the Embassy for over 2 years, without charge of any crime(s). That's not counting the time he has spent in house arrest prior to him entering the Embassy, for the purpose of political asylum.

Julian Assange's life has literally been a media circus. Equal to the circus of allegations and investigations (and the denial of investigations) into Assange and his freedom publishing organization, Wikileaks.

It's not only a war by ruling powers on freedom of publishing but also on human rights. The Julian Assange case in point, is a clear example of exploitation of all human rights by the United States of America and United Kingdom. It's unacceptable.

Freedom Publishers Union was founded on the basis and principles of freedom to publish any material related to free and open-source software. The same principles apply for the actual process of publishing itself. What we publish is our choice and we have the legal right to do so, providing we can ensure that the material we publish is backed up by facts and truth. As Wikileaks' published material is and has been proven to be.

Wikileaks and Julian Assange's efforts and advocacy for freedom of publishing is strong, unique and of inspiration to many publishing organizations, including our own.

We operate our publishing methods and standards based on what Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, their associates and media partners advocate. It's what we have done since we commenced publishing and what we plan to keep doing, long into the future.

July 25, 2014 | Official launch of FPUorg

At Freedom Publishers Union, we are passionate about being as generous to the world as we can, with what limited funds we have available at our disposal.

There are many Charities and Non-Profit Organizations, everywhere around the world in which rely on and require a constant flow of funds, sourced from donations from business and corporate entities. We contribute to some of these Charities and try to make even a small difference.

FPUorg has been founded to separate our charitable operations, so that Freedom Publishers Union can focus on the publishing side of the business and FPUorg can focus on where our donations and funds get allocated.

FPUorg is operated by Freedom Publishers Union.

The domain name is registered for [Removed as dedicated domain no longer active]. Both entities of Freedom Publishers Union and FPUorg operate in co-operation with each other but are treated as completely separate organizations.

June 24, 2014 | Arrest and Sentencing of Al Jazeera employees, Peter Greste and Colleagues

Al Jazeera journalists, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been arrested and sentenced, by the Egyptian Judicial System.

Peter and Mohamed received 7 years imprisonment. Baher received 10 years imprisonment.

The sentencing decision has been condemned by Amnesty International, the Australian Government and the US Government.

The recent events of the Al Jazeera journalists can only be described as unlawful (by International Standards), unfair, disturbing and a declaration of war against freedom of journalism and publishing, by Egypt.

At Freedom Publishers Union, we are not journalists. However, we are involved in internet publishing and media operations. Whatever direct field of work a person, persons and their associated organizations are involved in, whether it be journalism, news, and/or media publishing in any form; any declaration, statement or threat directly or indirectly related to the freedom of the press, is deemed offensive. We believe, rightfully so.

We must take a stand on such behavior and it can not be accepted by the broader publishing media industry.

Peter Greste and his fellow Al Jazeera employees were simply doing their jobs and taking on their responsibilities as journalists. For this, they should not be punished by a forceful and unlawful Government of Egypt.

Freedom Publishers Union operates on a freedom based principle, as do Al Jazeera and most other forms of world media organizations. This must be protected at all costs and enhanced where possible.

Our Organization can not and will not sit back and support such decision by Egypt and we will play our part in spreading the message across the industry, with the tools that we have at our disposal; that this behavior of Governments seeking to quash freedom of information and publishing will not be tolerated nor supported in any way, by us or any other respected media organization.

********************************************************

Democratic Pirates Australia (Acquired by Freedom Publishers Union (December 2017))

TECHNICAL ADVISORIES

December 1, 2016 | Pirate Party Online Security and Privacy Advisory

So what's this new IP Bill I keep hearing about?

Recently passed as legislation by the UK Parliament, the IP Bill (amongst other things) requires UK internet service providers (ISP) to retain a log of all the websites and apps that your computer or mobile phone connects to. This data can then be viewed and accessed by the Police, Department of Health and any other Government agencies, such as the UK intelligence agency GCHQ. Equally, once stored it will be a magnet for hackers and some of the data will, at some point, be hacked into by a third-party and released publicly.

Why is that a problem for me?

The list of every website that you visit is hugely personal information. Just think about those that you visited over the last week. It would almost certainly reveal who you bank with, where you get your main source of news, your political affiliation, which social media networks you use and how often, any health issues you might currently be concerned about, what schools your children attend, where you are thinking of going on holiday or what presents you are looking at for your loved one(s). For even the most innocent person, it is information that could be embarrassing if your work colleagues knew about it, but could be really valuable for anyone wanting to steal your identity.

It is even more of a potential problem for lawyers protecting client confidentiality to ensure fair justice, for journalists protecting sources and the knowledge of stories that they are currently investigating and researching, to minorities who are being, or who could be targeted and harassed by others.

So what can I do about it?

As far as the IP Bill is concerned, to reduce the ability of your ISP to log the websites which you visit you can use Tor Browser. When using Tor, the ISP will see that you are connecting to Tor but won't see which websites you are visiting on the encrypted network. It provides the best consumer-level anonymity by routing the data through a number of different Tor connected servers, known as relays, rather than by connecting directly to the website you're visiting through your ISP as you normally would.

Can I download and use Tor Browser today?

You can download Tor Browser for Windows, Mac and Linux at www.torproject.org

For Android devices, use Orbot. This can be installed from the Google Play Store.

But hang on, I thought that website connections were secure? And what's that padlock thing and why doesn't that help?

The difference is between hiding the identity of the website to which you are connected, and hiding (encrypting) the information that you are exchanging with that website. In simple terms, it is the difference between the ISP logging that you are connected to your bank's website, and which bank that is, compared to someone knowing what information you exchange with that site (eg. Your account number and password).

HTTPS (where your browser shows a padlock symbol in the corner) is where the data that you exchange with that site is encrypted between the two sites (so your ISP or anyone else can't read/see the specific data). Whilst this level of security is obviously important for online banking, making credit card payments etc., we believe that most (if not all) websites should be encrypted so that people don't know if you are reading the sports news, finding out the latest stock market movements, or looking at obscure news from a repressive regime somewhere in the world that you are about to travel to. This is your privacy, therefore should remain private.

Can I install HTTPS Everywhere?

In order to force HTTPS where possible, you can download the HTTPS Everywhere Extension for your chosen web browser. Most popular web browsers are supported. (eg. Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Android). The Extension can be installed at https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere

Stop for a minute! Google and Microsoft are tracking my searches. What do I do?

Traditional internet search engines such as Google and Bing utilize all the data they gather about you in order to present you with the most relevant results and advertising. This data will be a combination of your searches on Google, Calendar items, YouTube viewing habits and even the contents of your e-mail (Gmail, Outlook.com). This means that Google and Microsoft have vast amounts of data on you and can utilize that data to optimize their business model.

What are the secure search engines that respect my privacy?

In order to avoid search engine tracking, we recommend switching your search engine to DuckDuckGo or StartPage.com as they do not track your search habits and do not collect personal data to present your search results.

Visit www.duckduckgo.com to search using DuckDuckGo

Visit www.startpage.com to search using StartPage.com

Are there any more ways to improve my online security?

Secure Messaging is a tough one. There are secure messaging providers out there such as WhatsApp, Signal, Wickr and Telegram, but unless the people you chat with also switch to the same provider, you're not going to be gaining any advantage. If you can't convince the people you communicate with to make the switch to secure and encrypted messaging services, simply refuse to share sensitive information over insecure messaging services. You would be surprised at the amount of people who still carelessly drop their bank account information over unencrypted and insecure messaging networks.

What about Facebook Messenger?

Facebook has been at the receiving end of criticism of the lack of security for the company's Messenger program. Thankfully, Facebook listened to the criticism and implemented device end-to-end encryption as an option for its Facebook Messenger app. If you want maximum protection for your messaging on the social network, ensure you use the Secret Conversation option, as it enables end-to-end encryption which will ensure that your message can not be read by Governments and intelligence services.

What about Twitter and Google?

If you're serious about secure messaging, then please avoid using Twitter direct messaging as there is no option of encryption and access by Governments and intelligence agencies would be relatively easy to gain, if required. Google has a myriad of services which allow for communication. If you insist on using Google for your messaging service, then consider installing the recently released app, Google Allo. It has an option for encryption and will give you the best security for messaging on any of Google's networks and communication services.

What about secure web-based Email?

Google and Microsoft both offer great webmail services. However, due to the popularity and company status within Silicon Valley, they are also targets for mass-surveillance and dragnet data gathering. As we have learned from previous intelligence disclosures, Google and Microsoft are not very secure and encryption is sub-standard. Yahoo is worse and we recommend avoiding use of Yahoo for email if you want any serious security.

There are more secure options for web-based email which are also completely free to use and secure your email by implementing encryption as their standard service. We recommend taking a look at Tutanota.com or Hushmail.com

What about device encryption? How do I secure data on my computer?

On desktop computing, you can choose to encrypt anything you can compress. Keeping sensitive information in a compressed file is a quick solution but often when setting up your hard disk you have the option to encrypt the drive, depending on your operating system. Mobile devices are similar - you can choose to encrypt the contents of your SD card and/or internal memory of the device. Take some time to get to know your system and learn the benefits of encrypting your smartphone or other portable device.

What are my options for software encryption?

Device encryption is important. Equally as important is software encryption. For small, yet very important and private data that you want to secure and protect, consider using a software method for container encryption. Using software encryption services such as Veracrypt and CipherShed (both are forks of the now defunct TrueCrypt (the software used by Edward Snowden for The NSA Leaks)) enable users to have absolute control over the level of security for their encrypted containers for their data. You can protect data by a simple password method, an encryption key file or a combination of both for maximum security.

Let's not complicate matters by explaining the ins and outs of encryption. It will suffice to say as long as you encrypt, it's exceptionally unlikely someone will crack it, including the FBI, CIA, NSA et al. Instead, the most likely way someone will get through your encryption is with a key logger installed on your system - so take a look at a few points we advise below which aim to illustrate good basic security practices:

Glossary

IP Bill: Investigatory Powers Bill. Also known as the "Snoopers Charter". The bill has now been passed by both Houses of the UK Parliament and puts it onto a firm and legal path to guaranteeing all the surveillance and hacking powers that the Government wants, it can legitimately and legally perform.

ISP: Internet Service Provider. The company who provides an internet connection. (eg. Telstra, Optus, iiNet, Internode, TPG, Dodo etc. for fixed-line connections and Telstra, Optus, Vodafone etc. for mobile data connections.

Tor [Browser]: The Onion Router. Accessed by using Tor Browser. A way of connecting to the internet which 'hides' or enables a certain amount of 'anonymity', by encrypting the details of the websites that you are accessing.

HTTPS: HTTP Secure (HTTP is Hyper-text Transfer Protocol) - A standard method and protocol of which websites send information and data in an encrypted (secure) manner.

Adapted by Democratic Pirates Australia, from the original text published by Pirate Party UK | Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

SUBMISSIONS

July 3, 2016 | BEREC Draft Guidelines for Net Neutrality in the European Union (EU)

To Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC);

Democratic Pirates Australia advocates and supports net neutrality in its simplest form and implementation.

Following advice from Free Software Foundation, we support the Draft Guidelines for Net Neutrality in the European Union (EU).

As outlined by FSF, we are also concerned of the provisions that surround "zero-rating" service. In summary, this is where a particular service is offered to the end-user by an ISP or other service provider on the basis that the specific set-out service does not count towards data usage for the end-user. It is common commercial practise that once the limit has been reached, the service delivery is deliberately manipulated.

We support zero-rating delivery, however once the limits that have been put in place have been reached by the enduser, we do not support service providers slowing down or modifying the connection of the service delivery, in any form. Doing so is directly in conflict with net neutrality provisions and require immediate attention, shall the Draft Guidelines be adopted.

We prefer this problem be addressed by increased limits to prevent these limits being reached so quickly. This has the potential to also be accompanied by a fee increase or optional fee due, once the data has been reached. This would be in favor of any form of connection manipulation which affects net neutrality standards. However, potential adoption of these measures must not be deliberately abused by service providers in an effort to seek quick profits at the expense of the end-user.

Democratic Pirates Australia urges BEREC to consider all concerns raised through all public Submissions and ensure that those concerns are addressed and the final Guidelines effectively modified to reflect net neutrality in its truest form and intention in the European Union.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones - President

CORRESPONDENCE

August 16, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Australia President Contacts Civil Liberties Australia

To Civil Liberties Australia;

My name is Chris McGimpsey-Jones and I write to you as President of Democratic Pirates Australia. I have corresponded with your organization before on previous matters, as a representative of the publishing organization Freedom Publishers Union.

Democratic Pirates Australia is a small political party movement based on Pirate Party principles. Last week, we released a Press Statement expressing our concerns over the revised Social Media Guidelines for Civil Servants, in which we describe as "draconian" and "overzealous".

We believe many elements of the guidelines go beyond their scope of purpose and call for Civil Liberties Australia to speak out on these unnecessary and unjustified guidelines which as described in our Statement, "censor communication and impede on our civil liberties and right to freedom of expression".

We would be more than happy to discuss the matter further if you have any questions for us. You can contact our press contact on the following email address press@democraticpirates.com

Thank you for your time and we look forward to your reply. Have a great day.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones - President

August 14, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Australia President Contacts Andrew Wilkie MP, on Introduction of Bill of Rights Legislation

To Andrew Wilkie MP;

Good afternoon. I am the Party President of a small developing political party movement called Democratic Pirates Australia. We are based on the principles of the global Pirate Party movement.

As President of our Party, I wanted to personally write to you and thank you for taking the time to introduce a new Federal Australian Bill of Rights legislation into the Parliament.

Our great country is in dire need of such legislation and its introduction is very much overdue. Our Party Policy for a Bill of Rights is currently under review and being re-developed. We originally advocated to have it amended into the Australian Constitution. But upon closer analysis, we came to the conclusion that this path of implementation for any such Bill of Rights would be expensive, complex and just not viable. Your proposal is extremely consistent with that of our own Party view and is equally consistent of the direction we intend to take our revised Policy once our internal review is complete and the Policy re-developed.

It makes me extremely happy that you have paid so much attention to this frankly, missing, piece oflegislation for Australia. And it's great to see such a respected member of the Australian Parliament standing up for civil liberties and human rights protections of all Australians.

We are currently reviewing your proposed legislative bill in full and will comment further in coming weeks.

On behalf of Democratic Pirates Australia, I commend you for the proposal and the equally impressive speech in the chamber to back the legislation's introduction.

You have 100% my personal support and that of our Party's support and we intend to support it through our own public avenues of communication we have at our disposal. We seriously hope this bill fosters the support and traction needed to progress through the Parliament and see eventual enactment.

Keep up the great work Mr. Wilkie.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones - President

May 11, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Australia Membership Application Withdrawal from Pirate Parties International

To Pirate Parties International (PPI);

Democratic Pirates Australia would formally like to advise PPI that we no longer seek membership.

As a result of our Pirate Party no longer seeking membership, we formally withdraw all and any outstanding documentation which is currently before PPI.

Our Pirate Party goals for a more open and transparent world have diverged from that of PPI. Therefore we have decided to take this opportunity to cease immediate collaboration opportunities with PPI, in order to better pursue our own growing Pirate Party agenda.

We expect and look forward to working with PPI in the future, as both our organizations grow.

Primarily, we represent Australians of a new generation in this new and very open technological world, holding the Pirate Party Principles true to our core values and beliefs. We are increasingly focusing on international pirate politics and as we grow it will become a stronger focus for our Party in the near future.

We are open to collaborative and constructive discussion in the future with PPI, when we see an opportunity that our core interests are following the same path.

Thank you for your time and please feel free to contact us anytime through our Press Contact.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones - President

CHAIRMAN STATEMENTS

May 25, 2017 | Power of Government, Policies and Overreach, a Reflection of Us

We, the people of the first world, have finally reached the end of our modern flirtation with democracy. In countries ranging from the UK and the USA, to Australia and Asia, citizens are requesting that their governments do more to protect them from the harms of free speech.

The UK Conservative Party published their Manifesto last week, which contained a proposal to rescind the right to freedom of speech in virtually every public and private context. In practice, this new legislation would remove from public access any and all material that the State deems to be inappropriate, hateful or morally questionable. The thoroughness of this proposal would result in a English society fettered by the same type of rules that China, Turkey and Iran impose upon their citizens.

Yet no one - other than a few libertarians and journalists - are protesting this proposal. Indeed, reading the text of this blueprint for public discourse, the restrictions are couched in words about safety, children, anti-terrorism, and preventing crime. Cut off the ability for terrorists and criminals to communicate and recruit from their communities, eliminate once and for all the threat of child molestation and cripple criminal gangs before they can even imagine a crime; all this sounds worthy and worthwhile.

Maybe, for the majority of citizens, this is what they want from their government. To feel safer at home, in their neighborhood and on the internet. And maybe a majority of the citizens have thought through this legislation and have decided that, in the long run, the loss of some freedoms now will make life better further on.

The Conservatives are certainly absolutely sincere about their belief in the benefit of their Manifesto. These aren't profiteering businesses colluding on price fixing, or sociopaths that awaken and say "I'm going to go out and hurt 50 people today". These are people who have given up part of most of their lives to try and provide for the thousands of souls that they represent. This is not an easy or comfortable (or lucrative) job to hold. Yet it is crucial to have the best of the best serving, that the best courses of action are mapped for the rest of the country.

The Manifesto is not some power-grab by greedy politicians driven by commercial bribes. This document truly reflects the will of - if not a majority, then the largest plurality - the citizens of the UK. Brexit was a warning: Britons are fed-up with all the bad news about job losses, terrorists, crime and poverty. The belief is that making it harder for rabble-rousers to incite anti-social behavior is a benefit that outweighs those of the freedom of speech that the UK takes for granted.And, maybe, this time it will actually work. But history has taught us that inviting the government to assume power to regulate our speech and ultimately communicating our thoughts to others is simply inviting a 'real' sociopath to lead the government into a dictatorship, or worse.

Yet, when you look at what happens when this does occur, many - if not most - citizens don't really notice any change. Sure they get lectured on saying something that offends, or act overly lewd toward other persons and may even pay fines. But as long as the stories of terrorism and bullying and fights disappear from the news, the citizens will be content with their lot in life.

The question we must ask ourselves: Are these people actually wrong about trading freedoms - especially the freedom of speech - for a more secure society? Has unbridled dissemination of ideas gotten to a point where ideas are doing more harm than good? Have we simply outgrown democracy and freedom as our forefathers understood it?

It's easy to point fingers at government overreach and condemn the legislators for bringing these measure to become law. But these people are elected by us, and therefore are doing what we ask them. Sometimes it doesn't seem that way on a personal level, but by and large this is the case.

So the finger of blame - or approbation - needs to be pointed not at Theresa May or Donald Trump. It needs to be pointed in the mirror, at us. And we need to honestly answer to ourselves: Is this what I really want for my future? That is the way we're supposed to govern in a democracy. Let's get to it.

Brett Brennan - Chairman

PRESS STATEMENTS

December 8, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Australia President Resigns. Operations Cease and Placed in Caretaker Mode

I regret to inform our supporters and followers that effective immediately, I resign my position as President of Democratic Pirates Australia.

As the original Party Founder and President, I remain immensely proud of what we have achieved as a developing political party and hope some day operations can continue under new leadership, a complete restructure and under the operations of a new Party Constitution.

To take immediate effect, all operations will cease and be placed in caretaker mode until further notice.

Thank you everyone for your support. Keep up the hard work and keep fighting for digital rights, privacy and copyright reform!

Chris McGimpsey-Jones - Founder and Former President

December 7, 2017 | Marriage Equality Now Reality in Australia

What a historic day for Australia, as the Federal Parliament passes the Same Sex Marriage legislation in both Houses.

It been an ugly path with some very negative public campaigning by many different lobby groups, political parties and individuals. However, this has been offset by overwhelming community support which saw a huge public majority declare their support for Marriage Equality.

Democratic Pirates Australia led a #VoteYES campaign. Today, as we witnessed the legislation pass through the House of Representatives, we stand proud of our own campaign and firmly believe that we backed the right side - the side of Marriage Equality for all couples.

Well done Australia!

November 8, 2017 | Continued Condemnation of Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)/TPP-11

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a monolithic trade agreement, which includes a total of 12 nation signatories - in its original form.

Since the announcement of the withdrawal of the USA from the agreement, made by President Trump early 2017, the 11 remaining signatories have reconfirmed their commitment to the TPP, which is being unofficially referred to as TPP-11.

There is renewed calls, led by Japan, Australia and New Zealand, to re-negotiate elements of the TPP to include appropriate provisions to leave open the possibility of the USA re-entering the agreement in the future.

Democratic Pirates Australia opposes large, overpowering trade agreements such as the TPP and urge Australia to reconsider its increasingly aggressive pursuit of TPP-11.

After the final details of the trade agreement were ironed out by former Australian Trade Minister, Andrew Robb, our Party was quickly drawn to the conclusion that the TPP does not favor Australian trade, workers or our economic interests as it is being touted. Instead, it is an agreement intended to favor big multi-national corporations and generate large profits.

Democratic Pirates Australia was drawn to our conclusion of opposition based on five specific elements surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement:

Specifically, we condemn the 7 years of secret negotiations and will always promote the process of transparency throughout negotiations of trade agreements. Even more so for trade agreements which wield so much economic power and potential for ruin.

The inclusion of ISDS clauses and provisions are not uncommon in trade agreements. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, various varieties of ISDS clauses are present in over 3,000 trade agreements worldwide. They do vary throughout these agreements. Basically, the inclusion of this clause inside the TPP reveals the potential for large multi-national corporations to sue domestic governments if they introduce law(s) that could potentially have impact on their profits of their services provided in the region.

The Environment Chapter is weak and does nothing of significance to aim to combat climate change. Additionally, we see nothing of significance that encourages protection of the environment that is not already being pursued by local laws. This much is clarified by Wikileaks' own analysis of the Environment Chapter, "When compared against other TPP chapters, the Environment Chapter is noteworthy for its absence of mandated clauses or meaningful enforcement measures.". We echo this analysis.

Intellectual property and copyright are a natural and organic interest for The Pirate Party. Many aspects of the Intellectual Property Chapter are wide ranging in its scope and have the potential for directly affecting freedom of information, civil liberties and the digital rights of consumers. As a political party with direct focus on intellectual property and copyright reform, it is only natural that we approach this area of the TPP with extreme caution. Aspects of the TPP's copyright provisions set extremely lengthy time-frames for copyright, before expiration and eligibility to be released to the public domain. Additionally, the TPP puts heavy restrictions on public broadcast rights of copyrighted content. The provisions covered under the Intellectual Property Chapter, with the inclusions of Copyright provisions are unacceptable and are many steps backwards. They are designed to work in favor of copyright holders, producers and the studios that back them. These provisions should be designed to find a fair and balanced middle-ground which will benefit consumers and content producers. Instead, the consumers are punished and we see the TPP designed to work in favor of big profits and more controlling power by studios and their various heavily cashed up lobby groups.

Our concerns surrounding Pharmaceuticals are perfectly justified and echoed by many. The TPP forces healthcare authorities to give big pharmaceutical companies crucial information about national decisions on public access to medicine and gives big corporations greater powers to challenge decisions they believe to be harming their pharmaceutical business interests. Big pharma already have unchallenged power throughout the developed world. The TPP is guaranteed to deliver them even more power and combined with ISDS, there will be even less legal avenues of challenge for domestic governments to negotiate the best medical practices and medicine for citizens of their respective nation. Taking into consideration the nature of the Intellectual Property Chapter and ISDS, we believe this is extremely dangerous and has detrimental possibilities for the development of medicine and their availability through monopolistic ownership and unrealistic intellectual property retaining time-frames.

We will continue to oppose the TPP and fight for better outcomes for Australians, through implementation of local laws which are devised, presented, negotiated and debated in full public view with complete transparency. Political legislation should never be developed and negotiated in complete secrecy, as the TPP has been and continues to be with fresh negotiations of TPP-11 set to ramp up soon.

October 9, 2017 | Civil Liberties and Privacy More Important than Mass-Surveillance Expansion

Democratic Pirates Australia condemns the latest proposal by the Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to establish a national photo identification database.

Our Party remains concerned of the wider security issues that come as a result of any centralized national database.

We believe the database directly violates the rights to privacy of the citizens of Australia. There is no justification for the establishment of such an invasive program which questions its own legitimacy based on privacy rights.

We feel that there is every possibility that the database and its collected information will be integrated into more sophisticated programs operated by our intelligence agencies, with a possible extension of access to our international partners for further integration into the global mass-surveillance networks.

We know these mass-surveillance programs exist. We understand their role. However, we believe their existence and intended purpose is not a free ticket to continue to be expanded through further creation of new programs which aim to fill in the gaps of information on citizens that may currently be missing.

Democratic Pirates Australia will continue to push for the upholding of civil liberties and privacy rights and will always advocate that surveillance programs remain limited in operation, targeted and propose that further enhancements be made to their operations through increased oversight and transparency.

Only once an appropriate balance of oversight and transparency is implemented should we look at further enhancements and refinement to existing mass-surveillance programs. At the very core of our Party's principles, upholding civil liberties and privacy are our main concern over further enhancement of mass-surveillance programs under the deceiving blanket excuse of "national security" which is used much too often.

October 7, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Supports an Australian Space Agency and Increased Science and Research Investment

We support the establishment of an Australian-based national space agency. Exploration of space, our galaxy and the wider universe is key to human development and is a natural extension of our want for knowledge in science.

Space exploration - especially private space exploration - is a major growth industry and adds significantly to a nation's economy both directly through high-skill jobs creation and indirectly through the support industries that grow around it. Australia already hosts a number of space research facilities; what is missing is an agency to coordinate, manage and encourage participation in growing this field as a resource for the nation. We would support a significant amount of budget dollars to be placed into the initial and future investment of such center, to ensure it has the necessary funds readily available to make the significant scientific contributions that an Australian space agency could produce and to guarantee it operates at its full potential.

Australian scientists have made many contributions to astronomy through a range of projects and programs, both domestically and internationally. However, this has been limited in scope due to the current absence of a national-based agency.

We see a national space agency as a perfect solution to grow our academic science community. There is also the added benefit of spawning new interest in the STEM area of study. We see a space agency as a perfect incentive for young people to take a keen interest in this field of scientific study and the opportunities have the potential to reach far beyond simply astronomy and space.

We see a national space agency as key in keeping the STEM graduates in Australia and significantly contributing to economic growth. It would allow Australia to be an equal player in the multi-national space community, a peer to America, the EU and Russia.

Once a national space agency is established, we would like to see the CSIRO receive an increase in funding, a new focus placed on climate science and research and a working scientific relationship established between the CSIRO and a national space agency.

Democratic Pirates Australia supports the Government's efforts in bringing the concept of a space agency to the forefront of scientific focus.

October 1, 2017 | Unreleased Report of the European Commission and the Effects of Copyright Infringement (Piracy) on Legal Digital Media Sales

A previously unreleased European Commission report from 2015 revealing that piracy of digital media has statistically no impact to the majority of digital media sales, was placed into the public domain by Julia Reda, a member of the Pirate Party Germany.

The Report was accessed and released by a freedom of information request. If no request was ever filed, the the Report may never have been made available in the public domain. Democratic Pirates Australia commends Julia Reda for successfully requesting access of the Report and making it available in the public domain.

The Report, established by the European Commission and conducted by Dutch firm, Ecorys, was made final in 2015 and is based on 2014 data, across 6 European nations, including Germany, UK, Spain, France, Poland and Sweden. It consists of over 300-pages and is focused on the "relation between online copyright infringement (digital piracy) and sales of copyrighted content" of music, audio/visual, books and games.

The details provided in the Report paint a very familiar picture of what has been known and advocated by Pirate Parties around the world and many in the industry. Yet it seems almost too convenient that when details are illustrated to highlight lack of sufficient evidence to support the notion that piracy continues to be a major contributor to legal digital media sales, the true representative facts are suppressed, not highlighted in their true context or presented in mainstream commercial media to paint a different picture which is usually set to work in the favor of the commercial networks interests and advertisers.

The Report's Executive Summary concludes, "In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements. That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect. An exception is the displacement of recent top [cinematic] films.".

Essentially, it's safe to conclude there is no significant long-term negative effect to legal and legitimate sales of digital media, despite continuation of illegal access to pirated content, which is effectively copyright infringement.

Through the release of the Report, we hope to see questions being asked to the European Commission of why the findings were never released to the public once it was made final. Additionally, we also hope it regenerates the political conversation around the world, pushed by international Pirate Parties, that there is valuable, reliable and reputable evidence readily available that almost unanimously concludes to a large degree that declined sales in digital media is not the direct and sole result of continued access to pirated content.

The secret to preventing piracy is to make legal access cheaper than pirating. But it must also have the same level of convenience and flexibility of accessibility. Netflix and Amazon Prime have gone some way to achieve this. However, current services offered still fall shy in allowing downloadable content, audio and video, for ease-of-portability once legally purchased. There is still too many restrictions being imposed on legally purchased digital media. It's also significantly restricted by the mechanism of the streaming platform.

We reiterate the position of Democratic Pirates to express the lack of significant copyright reform. With the lack of suitable and effective copyright reform, accompanied by the fact that media producers and distributors still fail to deliver consumer media in technical formats free of digital rights management (DRM) and other proprietary technology which imposes restrictions on media flexibility, it has become obvious that piracy is the next most convenient step to fill the void of accessibility and flexibility that the media industry continues to ignore in its constant flame war on copyright infringement.

Copyright reform must also be always accompanied by fair-use provisions. We have for a long time advocated that fair-use be treated as equally important as copyright reform. Together, they can absolutely help foster a sustainable and financially viable creative media industry that works for providers, distributors and consumers.

Democratic Pirates will continue to push our copyright reform agenda as one of our major policy platforms of the Pirate Party, in addition to fighting to maintain open and accessible internet free of censorship.

August 20, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Australia Solidarity to Spain

Once again, Democratic Pirates Australia finds ourselves expressing our thoughts and prayers to our international friends in Europe and Pirate Party of Spain.

This weeks terror events that unfolded with striking similarity to previous European events of terror, have reminded us all that the threat of domestic or home-grown terrorism is not yet over.

The methodology behind these events and how they are carried out are cowardly and are always viewed as an attack on the very democratic values that we share and need to stand together to protect.

August 15, 2017 | Democratic Pirates Australia Marriage Equality #VoteYES Campaign

Today, we officially launch our #VoteYES campaign to help see marriage equality become reality in Australia.

Democratic Pirates Australia has a long standing Marriage Policy which in its entirety, promotes and advocates marriage equality for everyone, irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.

With last week's announcement from the Coalition Government that it will proceed with a voluntary postal plebiscite (also referred to as a survey), we encourage all Australian's who are not yet registered with the Australian Electoral Commission to commence to make immediate arrangements and register to become eligible to vote.

The choice of a postal plebiscite would not be our Party's choice of process to see the eventual establishment of marriage equality in Australia, however we do support any effective measure that go towards seeing any very real possibility of establishment of marriage equality, providing that it remains within the scope of our Party Policy and position that we take on such an important matter.

The postal plebiscite will be voluntary, but we urge all registered Australian voters to participate in this important and potentially historical decision for Australia and equal rights reform on marriage.

So please stand up, make your voices heard and make your vote count towards a more fair and equal system for marriage.

Democratic Pirates Australia supports Marriage Equality and urge all Australian's to #VoteYES

August 10, 2017 | Changes to Civil Servant's Social Media Guidelines are Draconian, Overzealous and Unjustified

The Australian Public Service Commission's social media guidelines have been amended. The new guidelines which appy to Australian Government civil servants include changes that must be taken seriously and are simply unfair, unjustified and downright overzealous.

The latest changes include civil servants facing possible disciplinary action if they simply 'Like' content on Facebook or other social media platforms if the content is critical of the Government in any way. That is just the beginning. The guidelines extend further to content and comments posted online by anyone else who also shares the same negative or opposing views of the Government. And if that very content is posted or shared to the civil servant's social media profile or page, then the guidelines instruct the servant to delete the content or otherwise be faced with the possibility of further disciplinary action taken against the civil servant who fails to comply.

There are many problems with these guidelines and our Party condemns the latest changes and deems them absolutely unjustified, ridiculous and completely unnecessary. We understand the necessity and intent behind implementation of social media policies. However, in this instance we believe the changes are much too strict and urge the Australian Public Service Commission to put an immediate halt on the new changes and implement a more simplified social media policy that is more understanding and fair to legitimate social media usage and reflective of civil servants' internet habits within Government departments.

The guidelines claim, "As members of the Australian community, Australian Public Service (APS) employees have the right to participate in public and political debate.". We believe this opening statement of the guidelines to be absolutely contradictory to the text of the guidelines. The Pirate Party always encourages political debate and questioning of the democratic values of Australia's political environment. By claiming employees have the right to participate in public and political debate and then following up the statement later in the text with guidelines that absolutely prevent that debate without the looming threat of retaliation as a response, is effectively shutting down the debate before it commences. It is essentially preventing employees from contributing in public and political debate and forcing them to share the view and political position of the Government of the day.

We are concerned that the guidelines outline the recommendation of adding a disclaimer to personal social media accounts to publicly declare any views expressed are solely the views of the social media account holder and not of that of the employer. We believe this is fair and reasonable and is currently common practice. But again, we see contradictory text in the guidelines that outlines the following, "It's a good idea to include a statement on your social media platforms, or in individual posts if necessary, to the effect that your views don't represent those of your employer. However, this won't always protect you from a finding that you have breached the Code." In other words, it is effectively saying that you are free to have a social media account and you are free to use it, as long as you promote the Government's political view points. However, you are not free to express your personal or political views through your personal account as it will be deemed as "anti-government", according to the guidelines.

Furthermore, it is expected that social media account holders take full responsibility to what is posted on their social media accounts and their associated social pages, not just from themselves but for that of other peoples comments and responses too. This is a ridiculous assumption that social media account holders can personally monitor each of their social media accounts and essentially filter and censor where required, any views that are deemed by the Government as opposite to that of the Government of the day.

Pirate Party President, Chris McGimpsey-Jones, makes his own position very clear on the matter, "It's absolutely absurd that social media guidelines of this nature can be implemented without any effective opposition. It's a ridiculous situation and I can't believe that this has been implemented as official Government supported guidelines for social media usage. It's effectively taking out the 'social' part out of the equation of the social media formula and instead implies that everyone must share the same view of the Government or you're not entitled to any view at all. Yes, it's absolutely crazy and I can't believe this is happening under a democratic political system. Our freedoms are vanishing. And vanishing fast, yet no one seems to care. To be frank, it really bothers me.".

Disappointed and somewhat angered by negative, yet accurate media coverage of the changes from ABC and specifically The Australian, the Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd, responded with a Media Statement and claimed, "The APSC consulted extensively with APS agencies and employees in late 2016. This consultation indicated that the policy settings did not need to change.". Mr. Lloyd added, "It is not more restrictive than previous guidance. Rather, it clarifies the parameters around what public servants can and cannot say, and should give greater confidence to APS employees when they are participating online activity.". Again, we must acknowledge to contradictory claims made by Mr. Lloyd. The guidelines are greatly limiting, restricting and are censoring the freedom of expression of civil servants and by making claims that indicate otherwise is simply false and unacceptable.

Democratic Pirates Australia firmly believes in civil liberties and the right to freedom of speech. This very right extends to the internet and digital realm. We view expressing your opinion and communicating online to identify as no different to a conversation with your mates at the local pub. Whether it be in the physical world or the cyber-world, communication is identified as exactly that - communication. Therefore, we absolutely oppose to the truest extent any form of Government supported documentation that attempts to censor communication and impede on our civil liberties and right to freedom of expression.

July 26, 2017 | Pirate Party Supporting a Murray-Darling Basin Inquiry

It has been reported on the Four Corners television program that water is being "stolen" by irrigators in the Barwon-Darling region of the Murray-Darling Basin. The television program detailed accusations of cotton growers stealing billions of liters of water from the Murray-Darling Basin, through methods of water meter tampering and other water delivery manipulative actions. Water that was purchased by taxpayers and was intended to be returned to the environment under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Our Policy has always stated that Democratic Pirates Australia would call for a review of the current Water Act 2007. However, this should not be taken out of context and we are absolutely in support of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and believe that control should remain with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. Democratic Pirates Australia President, Chris McGimpsey-Jones says, "Environmental matters are extremely important to us. Especially the Murray-Darling Basin, hence why we have a dedicated Policy towards the Basin. We believe the current Murray-Darling Basin Plan is the best option for water supply management and is necessary to ensure fair usage of the water from the Basin for commercial agriculture, irrigators and community purposes.".

Management of the Murray-Darling Basin is a difficult task and ensuring that all parties who have access to the Basin's water supply correctly understand and comply with the correct regulations, is a difficult and demanding task to enforce. Chris continues, "As with any system or initiative, it can often be open to abuse, overuse or illegal activity. Therefore, accusations and reports of water theft or any abuse of the provisions of the Murray-Darling Basic Plan and the Water Act 2007 must be taken seriously.".

Whilst debate is raging among politicians about what specific authority or government associated body should carry out any investigation into the accusations, The Pirate Party reiterates our commitment to our Policy on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and we echo the calls for an investigation into the matter.

We have no official Party position as to which authority or body should carry out any potential investigation, but we support the calls made by Senators Nick Xenophon and Sarah Hanson-Young, who both state that a Senate Inquiry with full Parliamentary privilege is the best course for investigative action.

July 19, 2017 | Warning Flags Fly High, as Australia Creates New Super Ministry for Peter Dutton

Democratic Pirates Australia condemns the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, for his decision to announce the combining of Australia's top intelligence and law enforcement bodies.

The announcement will see the intelligence agency ASIO, the Australian Federal Police and Border Force departments all combined into one mega-department and take on the official title of "Home Affairs".

The new Home Affairs department is being described as a super-ministry and will be placed under the control of current Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton.

If media reports are to be deemed as accurate, then The Pirate Party understands that the Cabinet, including key Liberal Ministers of the Liberal Party advised against the establishment of such a large super-ministry. Additionally, it has since been reported that some Government Ministers within the UK Parliament have also urged caution.

The cautionary advice has been ignored by Prime Minister Turnbull and it will proceed, against the advice by Cabinet Ministers and members of the UK Parliament. The new Home Affairs department is said to to be based on the same UK platform of "Home Office".

Democratic Pirates Australia can see no sense in the combining of various departments and agencies which will ultimately give Peter Dutton a massive amount of power and oversight responsibility. Our Party is not confident of the capacity of Peter Dutton to carry out his new responsibilities to acceptable and lawful standards.

Such establishment of such a large department within Australia, we believe, is unjustified, not required and will give absolutely no operational improvements or benefit to the current system of intelligence and law enforcement capabilities. Instead, The Pirate Party only sees increased opportunities for the Government to abuse the platform as a new breeding ground for increased mass-surveillance and a reason for the Australian Government to use the Home Affairs department as a means of justification for its increasing attacks on encryption and privacy encroachment. The Government is focusing its attacks on the big technology companies in Silicon Valley which continue to make efforts to safeguard our data by the use of encryption and other security measures - the same encryption and security measures of which the Australian Government is currently seeking to break.

Despite the attacks on Silicon Valley and encryption, Facebook has since stated its firm position on ensuring the safety of Facebook user's data and stated that it will refuse to comply with any legislation or requirements that attempt to break or weaken encryption of its software. We commend Facebook for taking a firm position on encryption and placing the security of its users as a priority.

The Pirate Party will not stand for attempts to weaken or undermine encryption and privacy and we will stand up for Australia and its citizen's right to privacy and digital rights.

June 25, 2017 | Pirate Party Supports Gonski 2.0, But Only a Starting Point for Greater Reform

Democratic Pirates Australia has major education reform in its scope. This will include fairly extensive improvements to the secondary school curriculum, greater improvements on the precise details of existing subject teachings and better funding which will go towards a more fair and improved network for the education system.

We commended the changes proposed to schools funding in our Budget 2017 Wrap-Up. Therefore, we support the Liberal Party's education reform package as it follows the David Gonski model of "needs-based" funding - dubbed "Gonski 2.0".

We still stand by our Party Policy of pushing for private schools to be majority funded by an appropriate private funding model, with the gradual withdrawal of Government funding which will see those funds directed back into the public school sector and with the growing continuation of the needs-based funding model for public schools.

We also urge that attention to wages for teachers must be a priority, as without teachers needs and skills being appreciated through reflective compensation, it will be school children's education that will experience the biggest effects of any fallout which will occur from teachers leaving the education sector in search of greater employment opportunities that reward their high-demand experience and skills. Investment in teachers must be seen as an investment in the education of the nation's children rather than a financial burden of the education sector.

After exhaustive debate, Gonski 2.0 has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate after support was given by Liberal Party members and the vital votes by crossbench Senators. Both Labor and The Greens unsurprisingly opposed the legislation and continue to complain about miniscule negative politics rather than offer beneficial alternatives to Gonski 2.0 which can realistically be fully costed and funded.

This is an excellent result and should not just be solely viewed as a win, rather a starting point for greater improvements and further reform of the education sector. The Pirate Party intends to push for greater improvements in a bid to see better results for Australian children in public schools.

Implementation of Gonski 2.0 is a great launching pad.

June 19, 2017 | Russian Interference in 2016 US Presidential Election

There are investigations currently underway by a variety of US Government associated departments and individuals, into Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential Election which resulted in Donald Trump becoming the new President.

There is lots of information available, some is speculation and some is fact. The most reliable source of information that we have viewed is the document released to The Intercept, by a NSA Contractor and Intelligence Specialist, Reality Leigh Winner.

Democratic Pirates Australia is disappointed by the very fast arrest and detainment of Ms. Winner and we are equally disappointed better security procedures were not employed that would have ensured this information was passed onto The Intercept in a more secure method which did not see Ms. Winner detected and identified with such apparent ease.

The Intercept have been much too quiet on the arrest and detainment surrounding Reality Leigh Winner. However, we understand there is potential legal issues that surround the matter and The Intercept could very well be limited in what comments or information they can reveal.

Democratic Pirates acknowledges that the leaking of the secret report to The Intercept was illegal. But we also believe it be an important document which is in the public interest. Therefore, we urge that this fact should be taken into consideration in any further legal proceedings against the whistleblower.

There is major problems which need immediate and greater attention to which we believe are currently being missed by all the ongoing political turmoil that surrounds the Trump Administration and potential interference in the 2016 by Russia.

While we do not refer to any specific nation in this instance, Democratic Pirates condemns any interference by any nation that carries out any activities that could have any influence, directly or indirectly, on the outcome and results of a democratic election.

We can not simply dismiss the documents that have been leaked and published by media organizations as simply speculation. At their face value, clearly the documents that Democratic Pirates has accessed and analyzed do demonstrate that actual tampering has occurred by Russian associates. Whether it had any actual influence on the outcome is a little more complex to make a certified determination. But some of the articles and stories that have been published to accompany these documents are speculation only. And in some cases, use references to sources that one could argue the very existence of. Everyone must go back to the source documents themselves and put them under closer scrutiny.

It is the job of any investigation team(s) to make determination of whether the activities of Russia have influenced the result of the 2016 US Presidential Election. This is a fast moving investigation and we believe more documents and information will undoubtedly surface before this chapter finds closure.

We must also take into account of potential Russian links to US President, Donald Trump. As we understand it, an investigation is underway into this matter. This will also be taken account with any final assessment that Democratic Pirates Australia make. We could possibly see a 'Constitutional Crisis' in the United States of America which involves the President and possible treason.

No conclusions can be drawn while both matters are still under investigation. Nor will our Party draw any conclusions until actual charges have been put forward.

June 12, 2017 | Democratic Attacks on Encryption Must Be Stopped

As the world's leading democratic powers of the United Kingdom, United States of America and Australia continue to accelerate their attacks on encryption under the predictable guise of increasing 'national security efforts in the face of terrorism', Democratic Pirates Australia publicly reaffirm our commitment to upholding the protection of encryption and the right to privacy through computer security.

In the weeks leading up to the UK election campaign, Conservative Leader Theresa May, released her Party's Manifesto which contained some very disturbing elements in relation to future plan for digital rights and security.

Democratic Pirates Australia has been combing over the UK Conservative and Unionist Party Manifesto 2017.

We had initially been alerted by alarming media reports on plans for the Party to implement a highly restrictive and government controlled internet across the country. As a Pirate Party which does take notice in international political matters of great importance, we felt the need to act.

We find sections of the Manifesto in the "Prosperity and security in a digital age" chapter quite disturbing and if implemented to the extent that we are led to believe, then Democratic Pirates must publicly condemn Theresa May and the UK Conservative Party for developing such intrusive and undemocratic digital age policy held under the banner of internet safety and security. We strongly urge the Pirate Party UK to apply immediate pressure on the Conservative Party and seek to reign in its overzealous and intrusive digital policy.

The UK already has some of the world's most intrusive surveillance operations, which has all been made legal through legislation which has been enacted in recent years, most recently with the "Snooper's Charter". The GCHQ is a primary operations hub for the world's mass-surveillance network and operates in collaboration with the National Security Agency (NSA) and its other intelligence partners within the 'Five Eyes' nations which is built up of the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

We are extremely concerned by some of the proposals that come to our Party's attention and aim to seek further information and better detail in an effort to understanding just how exactly the proposed measures would be introduced, what specific technology would be used and what specific techniques these so-called restrictions would implement.

As we continue to learn more about the plans to implement the aforementioned measures and gain a better understanding of its related proposals through our Party's international politics focus, we intend to call out and oppose any such measures which would impede on the freedoms that the internet enables. We will aim to ensure that any such changes do not have any immediate or future effects on net neutrality and also seek to ensure that the global mass-surveillance ring, assisted greatly by the operations of the GCHQ, does not get an increase in spying and surveillance powers other than what can be naturally justified as proper national security necessity.

Democratic Pirates is absolutely committed to protecting the right to privacy and will always advocate for the freedom of use of encryption in software and technical form, in a bid to protect the privacy of individuals and business.

We have contacted the Pirate Party UK and offered our support. We will continue to advocate that rights to privacy through encryption must be uphold on a global level. We oppose any measures will seek to impede, alter, challenge or block the use, development or implementation of encryption or any other measure of computer security.

As the world's most powerful governments continue to introduce legislation to legalize their extensive networks of mass-surveillance, encryption must not be used as a political tool to attempt to justify such overreach of parliamentary privilege.

May 22, 2017 | Alarm Bells Ring, Over UK Conservative Party's Outline for Digital Safety and Security

Democratic Pirates Australia is currently combing over the fresh release of the UK Conservative and Unionist Party Manifesto 2017.

We had been alerted by alarming media reports on plans for the Party to implement a highly restrictive and government controlled internet across the country, if it is re-elected in upcoming elections.

We find sections of the Manifesto in the "Prosperity and security in a digital age" chapter quite disturbing and if implemented to the extent that we are led to believe, then Democratic Pirates must publicly condemn Theresa May and the UK Conservative Party for developing such intrusive and undemocratic digital age policy held under the banner of internet safety and security. We strongly urge the Pirate Party UK to do the same and apply immediate pressure on the Conservative Party and seek to reign in its overzealous and intrusive digital policy.

The UK already has some of the world's most intrusive surveillance operations, which has all been made legal through legislation which has been enacted in recent years. The GCHQ is a primary operations center for the world's mass-surveillance network and operates in collaboration with the National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence partners in the 'Five Eyes' nations - USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

We are concerned by some of the proposals that come to our Party's attention and aim to seek further information and better detail in an effort to understanding just how exactly the proposed measures would be introduced, what specific technology would be used and what specific techniques these so-called restrictions would implement.

We are combing through the document in detail. When we establish and gain a better understanding of the aforementioned proposals, through our Party's international politics focus, we intend to call out and oppose any such measures which would impede on the freedoms that the internet enables. We will aim to ensure that any such changes do not have any immediate or future effects in net neutrality and also seek to ensure that the global mass-surveillance ring, through the operations of the GCHQ, does not get an increase in spying and surveillance powers other than what can be naturally justified as proper national security necessity.

May 20, 2017 | Sweden Drops Investigation into Julian Assange

Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia are continued supporters of the cause of Julian Assange and his continued, unlawful and unjustified detainment to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, England, in the United Kingdom (UK).

Last night, it was revealed that after 7 years of political stalemate, Sweden has declared that all avenues to pursue any pending investigation into Mr. Assange have been exhausted and have formally stopped any further potential for pursuit of investigation. This also results in any outstanding arrest warrant(s) from Swedish authorities be formally revoked.

The supposed sexual assault investigation against Mr. Assange has always remained flawed. We understand that the pursuit of Mr. Assange from Sweden was never about sexual assault allegations - it was political and an attack on Mr. Assange's activities with publishing organization Wikileaks, which he remains Editor-in-Chief.

Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia absolutely stand by Mr. Assange and will continue to support his cause, civil right to freedom and his extended publishing responsibilities.

Despite the dropping of investigations and arrest warrant(s) by Sweden, Mr. Assange remains detained to the Ecuadorian Embassy, by continued threats of immediate arrest by UK authorities if he is to leave the premises.

As a result of the looming threats of arrest by the UK, Mr. Assange remains detained.

Together, Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia unite and urge the UK Government to reconsider its threats of arrest, follow Sweden and allow for Mr. Assange to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy and guarantee free passage to safety.

Additionally, we urge the Australian Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Immigration Minister to support Mr. Assange's right to freedom and establish immediate dialog with the UK Government and its authorities, in effort to seeking a quick and safe resolution to the prolonged political stand-off, which will lead to a secure release of Julian Assange.

May 10, 2017 | Budget 2017 Wrap-Up

Yesterday, Australia's Treasurer, Scott Morrison, delivered the Budget 2017 papers, accompanied by his Parliamentary speech. Democratic Pirates Australia is quite impressed by the level of fairness that has been delivered by the Liberal Party.

Fairness does not have to written in black and white text. But our Party has fairness for all Australians at the very heart of all of our Policy. Furthermore, fairness is important to creating and maintaining equality among society and no democratic institute can move forward into a positive future, especially economically, if fairness can not be appropriately delivered by the government of the day.

Below, we have a complete Party wrap-up of Budget 2017 and outline a few key areas of importance. Most areas we commend the Coalition for their budget efforts. Yet, there are a couple of areas which probably did not get the attention and changes they require and rightly deserve.

Thank you to ABC News, The Australian and Herald Sun for the great coverage of Budget 2017 and providing our Party with the data and details for our analysis, through their various budget publications.

Public Broadcasting

Of great importance to Pirate Party is public broadcasting. We are proud to see that the budgets for ABC and SBS have not been touched or reduced any further. Albeit, they have not increased to a level which our Party deems necessary for the public broadcasters to operate to their full potential. But we do take solace that they have not received any further funding reductions.

Media Reform

We have already published a short post to our Facebook Page supporting the recent media reform announcements. The budget outlines further changes which will see the current free-to-air annual license fee abolished and replaced with a much reduced annual payment. This will result in potential savings of $90 million a year for the TV networks.

The changes will see free-to-air TV networks being able to better compete with digital mediums. Cable subscription TV networks will also have a better chance to bid for broadcasting rights of major sports events. There will also be additional funding provided which will go towards helping with the broadcasting of womens sport.

Also included in the changes is the expected ban on gambling advertising during live sports broadcasts.

Pirate Party supports most of the media reform changes. However, we do have a Free-to-air sports broadcasting Policy which would implement further changes and see free-to-air TV networks getting priority over cable subscription TV networks for major sports events.

We feel that current regulations and the proposed media reform changes don't go far enough to protecting free-to-air sports broadcasts and believe lots more needs to be done to prevent major sports events being swallowed up by cable subscription TV networks.

Education and College

Education reform and funding has been a major pillar of Budget 2017. We believe that the Coalition is on the right track to deliver better, appropriate funding and a more relevant funding model, whilst remaining effective and affordable.

The budget will see schools receive an extra $18.6 billion over 10 years.

The new model is backed by the reputable David Gonski and has charmingly been dubbed "Gonski 2.0". It lays out a plan to have schools receive funding based on ‘needs' data, whilst aiming to remain fair across the public and private school sectors.

We commend the Government for their efforts to education reform and funding as it is very much needed and well overdue for an improved and affordable funding model to be implemented, that respects the challenging economic climate that Australia still faces.

College education has also had some changes, which our Party supports. College fees will increase $2,000 to $3,600 for a standard 4 year course. Additionally, the income rate which needs to be reached before college debt must be repaid has been reduced.

There will still be no upfront cost for students to attend courses and college debt is only to be repaid once students are employed and reach an annual salary of $42,000+.

Although there is some initial public disappointment with the college education changes among some Australians and students, our Party believes that the changes will result in young people taking a more serious approach to college education following High School.

We also believe that it will result in those attending college, to take a more serious approach to the education provided and only students that truly want to progress in society and better their education and knowledge will take up the opportunity of attending college. This will eventually eradicate the scheme of students attending college for reasons of delaying entry into the workforce and refusing to contribute to society in greater form.

Big Banks

A new levy will be created which will see Australia's big four banks (National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and Westpac) paying more share of their exorbitant profits, in what is essentially a new tax.

Macquarie Bank is also set to be included.

The levy will commence on July 1, 2017. It will be aimed at generating $6.2 billion over forward estimates.

We support the changes and believe the new levy should be charged at a higher rate than the 0.06% being implemented. However, we support the levy in its proposed state and would support changes into the future which could see an increase in the levy % or simply changes that could be see the % rate based on the massive profits of the big four banks.

Welfare

We will be seeing some consolidation in welfare payments. This can only be a good thing and will result in recipients on Newstart and Sickness Allowance be rolled into the new JobSeeker Payment.

There are no changes to the payment rate, although there will be random drug and alcohol testing be placed on some new welfare recipients.

Welfare has probably been the biggest failure of the budget and Pirate Party believes that the Coalition has failed Australian welfare recipients, again. Furthermore, implementing random drug and alcohol testing on some recipients which the Government deem at risk of substance abuse is one step too far. It is impeding on the freedom and civil rights of Australians. By giving the Government permission to segregate specific persons and deem them at risk of substance abuse and place them into a basket of special category, will undoubtedly have a dramatic negative effect on the self-esteem of those who are already feeling socially vulnerable and at a low point.

Pirate Party supports the changes to payments which sees categorical consolidation. But we condemn the changes which will see welfare recipient segregation and making inaccurate assumptions based on the bad life choices of just a few. It is completely unjustified and has the potential to unleash a variety of legal issues and probable challenges.

Further changes include job seekers up to the age of 49 being required to attend approved activities of up to 49 hours per fortnight. Our Party also condemns these kinds of “approved activities" initiatives on the basis that we believe welfare recipient's time would be better spent on actual job seeking activities. Every hour spent on approved activities is an extra hour taken away from the recipient being able to use that time for proper job seeking activities.

NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Scheme will now be fully funded, which will be the result of changes to Medicare Levy payments by Australian taxpayers.

Although the changes will not come into effect until July 1, 2019, we support them and believe that the tiny burden put onto taxpayers is worth it, to ensure that the NDIS is fully funded and not be put at risk of tarnishing future budgets by being shortchanged.

First Home Buyers

The Coalition has outlined a new initiative in the budget which will see consumers have to ability to contribute through Superannuation payments to a special account which can then be used for a home deposit.

Pirate Party has been ahead of all other mainstream political parties and we have an entire Policy that would implement changes to Superannuation and allow limited and controlled access to funds, to be used for very specific purposes. Superannuation access for a home deposit is one access option of our Policy.

Although our own Party's Policy option includes access of existing funds up to a maximum of $25,000, we commend the Coalition for the proposed changes despite the slight variation of implementation method.

Defense and Intelligence

There are no changes to defense force funding. However, intelligence agencies are set to get a boost.

We believe current levels of Australian Defense Force funding is appropriate, however we do not believe that intelligence agencies require an increase, based on accessible information.

It's a difficult sector to develop Policy for, due to the secrecy involved in exact numbers of funding provided for ASIO and its intelligence partners. ASIO is set to receive an increase, although budget information does not reveal how much, obviously due to national security reasons.

Pirate Party urges more transparency in the area of funding that is provided to Australia's intelligence agencies. Additionally, we urge the Government to ensure that the increased funding is used to legitimate domestic and international intelligence operations that do not impede on civil and privacy rights of Australians. It must also ensure that increased funds are not used to simply expand ASIO already extensive mass-surveillance program, when any expansion would be completely unjustified.

Foreign Aid

Finally, foreign aid is set to be frozen for two years, from 2018.

Our Party Policy in the area of Foreign Aid is currently scheduled for review. It remains unclear at this early stage what exact details our Party would settle on for this area, however we would support a freeze on current foreign aid levels as we advocate that all foreign aid should remain for humanitarian reasons and Australia should always ensure that foreign aid funds are being used to improve local conditions in the region being provided and not for illegitimate purpose.

May 10, 2017 | Australian Federal Police Illegal Access to Metadata

Recently, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) were embroiled in turmoil, following the revelation that members within the Federal law enforcement agency had previously accessed the metadata of a journalist, without a warrant.

The Pirate Party points out that this is illegal. For AFP officers to legally acquire access to metadata, a warrant must be obtained. There are specific elements in relation to this report that stand out and are a serious cause for concern for the Australian public. Initially, it was being reported that the said illegal access was limited to one journalist. Since, reports and documents have been revealed by media organization The Guardian, which confirm that there are more claims of AFP illegally accessing metadata, than initially reported.

We condemn the AFP for this intolerable behavior and call for a proper investigation into the matter be carried out. We also call for any eventual Report into the matter be made accessible in the public domain, in redacted form if necessary. But we urge a specific element of transparency to be followed in relation to any potential investigation.

The Pirate Party is taking the opportunity for make the call for metadata laws to be reviewed, again, to determine what suitable amendments must be made to ensure this can not happen again in the future, and also strengthen transparency measures and increased oversight.

February 19, 2017 | Immediate and Future Safety of Julian Assange

Today, we are releasing a Joint Press Statement from Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia.

Through this Statement, both parties wish to publicly express our concerns for the safety of Julian Assange, who continues to be detained to the Ecuadorian Embassy, in London.

Our concerns lie with his future, after the result is declared for the upcoming Ecuadorian Presidential Election. Specific candidates have made public claims, on the record, that Mr. Assange will be asked to vacate the Embassy within 30 days shall they successfully gain entry to Presidential office as the new Ecuador President.

Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates have invested heavily in the veracity of Mr. Assange's advocacy, as Editor of Wikileaks, for the open release of information without prejudice. Our organizations do outline that his adamant partisanship during the US Presidential Election and the dubious provenance of the Democratic leaks, not disavowing the information as being unverified as far as source and content, have changed the tone to a certain degree, of public opinion towards Wikileaks from an impartial source to just another instrument of expression driven by Mr. Assange's personal beliefs.

Had Mr. Assange simply done as he has done in the past and released Wikileaks publications and documents related to the US Election without editorializing and with full disclosure of the provenance of the information, he would have remained a pillar of open information and source for journalistic research, with legitimate right to ask for sanctuary.

However, we wish to continue by stating our support for Julian Assange has not changed and the issue(s) we have are completely separate to that of his involvement with Wikileaks, rather are to do with his personal safety as a political refugee if he were to be 'requested', somewhat forcibly, to vacate himself from the Ecuadorian Embassy and into the arms of arrest by British law enforcement which keep 24/7 surveillance on the Embassy.

If Mr. Assange were to vacate the Embassy and following his arrest by British officials, he would undoubtedly be handed on to US law enforcement and immediately have his civil rights put to immediate scrutiny.

The question - Is he a legitimate political/journalistic refugee and how should his exit status be treated? This will be a test.

Whatever the result of the Ecuadorian Presidential Election, we urge all parties to continue the rightful path of dealing with the very unusual situation and stalemate that Mr. Assange is surrounded by.

We also outline that his detainment to the Embassy has been deemed illegal by the United Nations (UN) and request has previously been made by the UN to release Mr. Assange.

In conclusion, Freedom Publishers Union and Democratic Pirates Australia urges calm and responsible action to take course and all involved parties to respect all legal entitlements of Julian Assange and to also uphold his civil and human rights, which have so far been violated on too many occasions.

November 1, 2016 | Australia Continues Down the Road to Immigration Ruin and Torture

Again, Democratic Pirates Australia sees it fit to be expressing our firm condemnation of the Australian Government, on its policy on immigration and attacks on asylum seekers and refugees.

If media reports are to be correct, the Coalition led by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, will introduce new immigration legislation when Parliament returns to sitting next week. The new legislation is said to include harsher measures which will ensure those seeking refugee status in Australia and asylum seekers arriving by boat, never become citizens or be able to call Australia home.

The new legislation will also see those detained on Manus Island and Nauru face a very uncertain future. The time for closure of these centers is slowly ticking. However, the Government has not yet revealed any plans of how they will deal with detainees should any offshore detention center face closure.

Pirate Party President, Chris McGimpsey-Jones says, "Again, these poor people detained offshore have no clear indication of where their future is heading, or where they will be on 2, 5 or 10 years time. It's an outrage that the citizens of Australia continue to allow this to happen. This is a democracy, but it's quickly fading along with our 'fair-go' ethos. The citizens of this country need to seriously take a good hard look at who they are voting into power, and who they keep voting into power, despite continued attacks on our once great country's democratic values".

Democratic Pirates Australia's Chairman, Brett Brennan, who currently resides in the USA draws similar comparisons to the US system, "Just as in America, the laws passed by Congress are a reflection of those who elect them". Brett continues, "If Pauline Hanson can command a sizable minority of voters, if Australians aren't petitioning their MP and demanding that anti-immigrant legislation be banned from consideration, then we can't condemn the Government. Democracy means democracy. The People can be explicit with their demands or, by remaining silent, condone actions taken in their name. The new immigration laws are a reflection of both".

"This, and other issues, are not a direct fault of the Government in either country. Their actions are reflecting the desires of the people, both explicit and implicit. This is Democracy in action. If we want to change the laws, we first have to change the people.", Brett concludes.

The new legislation set to be introduced next week has been questioned on legality, in accordance with international law and several aspects of United Nations Declarations in relation to potential acceptance and treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.

Democratic Pirates Australia remains committed to our Party Policy, which welcomes legitimate refugees and those seeking asylum in Australia, who have legitimately fled persecution in war effected countries. We advocate that processing must take place on mainland Australia under close supervision by an oversight body and appropriate transparency enabled, which allows for journalists and media entities to monitor operations in any such center.

The secrecy must stop. Offshore centers must be shutdown, without delay. We will continue to advocate our stance and push our Policy as a viable alternative to current harsh immigration policy. Democratic Pirates has previously contacted the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton MP, and also the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. To date, all our requests for response and confirmation our correspondence has been received, has been ignored.

The silence from both Liberal and Labor on serious immigration reform is deafening. The noise being created for increased restrictions on asylum seekers and effectively allowing for the enablement of torture in offshore detention, and penalties applied to whistleblowers who expose misconduct, is equally deafening.

We call upon the citizens of Australia to wake up, speak up, take action and demand change and reform which works in favor or protecting those who are most vulnerable - Asylum Seekers and Refugees.

August 22, 2016 | Marriage Equality Plebiscite, Possibly Delayed

Although it has not been officially announced by the Coalition, it was reported on the weekend that the Government is to delay the plebiscite for Marriage Equality, until February 2017.

The Labor Party is pushing the whole "broken promise" point, which has become a disappointing routine for the opposition, whilst The Greens are condemning the delay and asking why the matter can't be dealt with inside the chambers of the Parliament.

Labor does have a valid argument, by stating that any plebiscite would be based on a marriage equality bill that no one in the public has yet seen. There is no draft of the bill (that we are aware of) and we are not yet convinced that any such draft of any marriage equality bill even exists.

Although the marriage equality issue could be dealt with accordingly through the usual Parliamentary process, inside the chamber, our Party would prefer the matter to go to a plebiscite as we feel it is a very important issue which should allow for all Australians to display their point-of-view.

Democratic Pirates Australia recognizes the issue at hand and its greater importance. Our Party calls for the Liberal Party to present the bill text, prior to any plebiscite given a set date and provide Australians a guarantee that the Party will proceed to support and implement the necessary processes to get the legislation into full effect and become law, allowing all couples to marry with equality and without judgement - assuming that the decision were to be a "YES" vote.

Democratic Pirates Australia would preference to abolish the existing Marriage Act and replace it with a Civil Unions Act. However, our Party is open to compromise providing the correct worded legislation is in-effect - will provide and ensure non-discriminatory, gender neutral and non-religion specific marriage equivalent equality is enabled.

June 13, 2016 | Democratic Pirates Australia Offers Condolences to US Pirates

Democratic Pirates Australia offers our sincere condolences in light of the latest mass-shooting in Orlando, United States of America. Of course, this extends to the friends and family of the victims.

Suggestions have been made that the man did have sympathetic views towards Islamic State terrorist group, but it does appear to be the work of a lone-wolf with extremist views and hatred towards LGBT individuals.

The mass-shooting has been dubbed the worst in the country's history, which has resulted in the deaths of 50+ people and another 50+ injured.

Democratic Pirates condemns the actions taken out by this disturbed individual and supports community integration of LGBT persons, without judgment.

Our Party offers the United States of America our sincerest condolences and solidarity for all Americans who have been affected by this horrific event.

March 29, 2016 | Democratic Pirates Australia Solidarity to Belgium

Democratic Pirates Australia expresses our Party's deepest sympathy to the people of Belgium, in light of a recent series of bombings in Brussels.

The bombings have been declared the work of terrorist organization, Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL).

Our Party condemns all actions of terrorism and views the bombings in Brussels as an extension of the growing attack on democracy and freedom within the Eurozone.

We offer the country of Belgium our sincerest condolences and solidarity for the people of a peaceful and democratic country.

November 18, 2015 | Democratic Pirates Australia Offers Condolences to Pirate Party of France

Democratic Pirates Australia reaches out to our friends at Pirate Party of France to express our Party's condolences in light of recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France.

Terrorism has no place in a modern, democratic and open society. Our own Party condemns such actions of these fundamental extremists and recognize all terrorist events should be condemned on a global level.

We would like to wish Pirate Party of France and the country all the best and hope that democratic principles prevail and succeed long into the future for France.

August 18, 2015 | Marriage Equality for All Australians

On Monday August 17, Liberal Party member, Warren Entsch introduced a same-sex marriage bill to Parliament.

The issue of same-sex marriage and marriage equality for all is under debate within the Australian political arena and within the community. There is understandable argument and counter-argument on both sides of the topic. Democratic Pirates Australia retains its position on the issue that no couple should be discriminated against, based on the their sexual orientation and choice.

Democratic Pirates Australia Policy on Marriage remains the same; we believe the Marriage Act should be replaced by a Civil Unions Act.

We must point out that although this remains our stance, our Party is open to discussion and conversation and would support a bill or other such move which allows for same-sex couples to legally unite in the same respect that heterosexual couples enjoy, providing the legislation eliminates all surrounding discriminative barriers in which same-sex couples currently face and therefore prevents them from a legal recognition of their union.

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FPUorg (v4.0)

#research

FPUorg was founded in mid-2014 and focuses on information research. We provide information consultation and research to publishers that require quality, detailed and accurate information.

Making a small difference, where we can.

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Tecseek Technology (v3.1)

#open-source #freedom #software #technology #linux #windows

DISCLAIMER

At Tecseek Technology, we always make every attempt possible to test all software we write about and recommend. In some cases, it may not be possible to test the application in-full, or at all. GC Media Publishing Management will not be held legally liable or responsible, in any way, for any discomfort/harm occurred to anyone or any form of damage/failure to any software/hardware as a result of using an application, product or service that we publish information on, have reviewed and/or recommended (or not recommended).

October 18, 2018 | [EXCLUSIVE] Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) Review

TALK HAS BEEN QUITE HUSHED surrounding the upcoming release of Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish). Not because it is bad. In fact, there's nothing negative about it. But we'll get to that soon. Rather, we believe there are two reasons why there has been minimal hype. First, the release earlier in the year of 18.04 (which has since been updated to 18.04.1) was just so damn good, any update following it would have a hard time surpassing its benchmark. Second, it's the stark reality that 18.10 really doesn't bringing anything to the table that we don't already enjoy. Still, we think its worth taking a peek at.

Tecseek Technology were treated with something really special. We were provided a special advanced copy of the final 18.10 build for testing ourselves. We also picked the brains of the good folks at Quadrant Computing who have been working hard pulling apart the development builds of 18.10. While they tell us that the final build is very stable, this was not the case with some of the development builds they messed around with. We mention this specifically, because throughout the entire development process of 18.04, all builds were well performing and very little in the way of obvious bugs made their way into working builds. According to Quadrant Computing, 18.10 did have some early bugs. They noted some problems with wireless network connectivity that prevented them from connecting to the network without switching Wi-Fi off and then back on again. They tell us that this problem was not present in the final build. Tecseek Technology can confirm that we didn't experience any problem either. We assume whatever was causing that niggle has been resolved. Quadrant Computing remind us that these types of things are all just part of the development process and is the very reason so much testing, updating, fixing and rebuilding is done before pushing build points out to the public. It's the final build that matters most. So naturally, it's only fitting that this is what Tecseek Technology will draw our conclusion on.

18.10 comes with GNOME Shell 3.30.1 and runs a Linux 4.18-10 kernel. While Bash and APT don't get any real love in the form of updates, developers will be pleased with code compilers receiving some notable revisions. Firefox is the very latest build too, with version 63.0 making its way into the final build. Underneath the hood are some pretty nerdy algorithm changes which won't make any sense to the average user without a mathematics college degree. Basically, the changes are supposed to improve compression of key components of the boot process. We're sure going to welcome any changes such as this, but we will have to take the word from the team at Quadrant Computing that the boot process was improved by the algorithm changes. In our own testing, while there may have been a slight increase in boot times, it is negligible at that.

The major standout is the brand new desktop theme and icons. They look fantastic. They are bright, vibrant, welcoming and really are the first thing that draws a reaction upon first boot. The wallpaper itself is slightly boring though. Some Ubuntu evangelists make a really big deal of the default Ubuntu wallpaper. Some, going to the extreme level of throwing parties to unveil the new wallpaper when it is first released during the development phase of each release. In the Tecseek Technology office, you will be hard pressed to find anyone here that gets too excited about it. Most of us find them slightly boring and swaying on the side of repetitive. We opted to change it. The selection of alternative wallpapers included is not great, but there is a gentle offering which will please most Moms and Dads. For the hardcore type, you will probably have your own prepared anyway.

Speaking of wallpapers, if you want a really cool desktop with a much better default wallpaper, then try out the XFCE offering of Ubuntu 18.10. Its default wallpaper is awesome! Along with the final build of Ubuntu 18.10 provided to us by Quadrant Computing, we were also supplied with a development build of Xubuntu 18.10. It includes the XFCE desktop and runs much faster than the vanilla version of Ubuntu which comes bogged down with GNOME Shell. We are split. We do like the innovative approach to the desktop which has been adopted by GNOME Shell. However, we kind of miss the good old days of a fast snappy system. We are very grateful that it is still possible to achieve this, largely thanks to traditional desktop environments like XFCE and MATE. Back when we used to run Windows 2000 and XP combined with some decent hardware, the desktop was fast and reacted quicker than your own reflexes. Now, when using Ubuntu and GNOME Shell it does more often than not feel like we are sitting back waiting for the desktop to process the requests and to catch up to the user. It's a waste of time and productivity and just unnecessarily annoying. Despite all the advances in technology and increased processing capabilities on the desktop computer, its being held back by the lagging performance of GNOME Shell. XFCE restores this lost confidence. We have not really thought about this too much, but we reckon that XFCE should seriously be considered as the default desktop for future versions of Ubuntu. We are leading in the direction of dropping GNOME Shell in favor of returning to something much more capable than what GNOME Shell is able to achieve. We are glad that 18.10 maintains X server instead of trying to (still) force Wayland on us as it does help maintain better performance in GNOME Shell, at the moment. But Shell does somehow feel limited and doesn't ever appear to get any lighter or effectively quicker as development moves along. We have taken quite a philosophical approach to this Review and this issue specifically. Again, we are not too sure how deep we feel about it yet and it remains nothing more than a thought bubble at this stage. But we believe that it is definitely something that does require more discussion among developers and those who make the important decisions for the future direction of Ubuntu as a Linux distribution.

We are not going to roll through and list all of the software applications included in 18.10. You know what's included already because its much the same as its predecessors. The only addition we found was the inclusion of GParted. GNOME Disks is already included and has been the default disk manager for a while. Personally, we have never liked GNOME Disks and have always found its behavior temperamental to the point it almost treats the user like an idiot. For advanced disk and partition management, it just doesn't stack up. GParted has always been the bigger much more capable brother package and we are glad to see it included by default. While GNOME Disks might format your shiny new USB drive just fine, don't even bother trying to get it to handle any serious kind of disk management. Take advantage of GParted instead.

So it's time to wrap things up and draw a conclusion.

If you already have 18.04.1 installed, we suggest you stick with it and keep it updated for as long as support is provided. It's a good release and as much as we enjoyed our time poking around the gorgeous new environment that makes up 18.10, there's nothing in there that you are going to miss if you don't update just yet. If you really get desperate and want the new theme and icons, then if you poke around hard enough we're confident you will be able to install the new theme on an existing 18.04.1 desktop anyway. However, if you find your hands holding onto a brand new system without an operating system installed (or Windows 10), then we recommend installing Ubuntu 18.10. It would seem ridiculous to install an older version of Ubuntu on a brand new build when you could instead complement a new build with a new operating system. Makes sense, right? Either way, to the user it will not make differene to be frank. 18.04.1 and 18.10 - the difference between the two is moot.

Published in collaboration with Freedom Publishers Union

October 8, 2018 | Replicate Winamp on Ubuntu, With XMMS2 Back-end and Promoe Front-end

WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR music, it's really important that you find a good audio player which you enjoy using as much as you enjoy listening to your tunes. There are a lot of mainstream options. Most of them are simply a front-end interface which utilizes the gstreamer media back-end. It works, but it has resulted in the mainstream options becoming a little stale.

What if you don't want to rely on gstreamer? What if you want a back-end which is a little more advanced and flexible? What if you want to accompany your back-end with a front-end of your choice? Tecseek Technology is here to show you exactly how to achieve this.

For our back-end, we are using XMMS2. And for our front-end, we are using promoe.

First, you need to decide which audio formats you require support for. Varied format support in XMMS2 is achieved through the installation of plugins which come as individual packages. This is a really neat option as it lets the user add/remove format support as they choose. To get us started we installed a base suite which will include support for MP3, MP4, OGG Vorbis, Opus, FLAC and WAV. This will be more than enough to support most user's requirements. You can always add support for others if required.

To install XMMS2 base package and the plugins, we need to use the following command on Ubuntu Linux:

$ sudo apt install xmms2 xmms2-plugin-mpg123 xmms2-plugin-mp4 xmms2-plugin-vorbis xmms2-plugin-wavpack

Now our back-end support is installed, we just need to install our front-end interface. We are going to install promoe.

This is as simple as running the following command:

$ sudo apt install promoe

Once installed, you might notice that promoe is missing an application icon. At least that was our experience when running it on Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS and GNOME Shell 3.28.3. To solve this problem, we had to manually allocate the application a custom icon. Once you download the icon you want to use, then you need to install alacarte. This can be done by using the following command:

$ sudo apt install alacarte

Launch alacarte, find the entry for promoe and then manually set your preferred icon. Your icon should now be set for promoe.

You should now be ready to play some tunes!

You can add custom skins to promoe. We decked out our own with a classic Winamp replica skin which included a custom logo. There are lots of skins available for free download on the internet. But before you can make them available, you need to ensure that the following directory exists:

~/.config/xmms2/clients/promoe/skins/

If it does not exist, then simply create it:

$ mkdir ~/.config/xmms2/clients/promoe/skins/

Now, you simply just extract the skins archive into this directory and then it will become available in promoe and can be applied.

Published in collaboration with Freedom Publishers Union

September 30, 2018 | Waterfox - The Third-Party Firefox Alternative Worth Consideration

ALTHOUGH GOOGLE CHROME AND ITS upstream cousin Chromium remain popular browsers, at Tecseek Technology we would argue that popularity does not make them the best browsers. We still prefer and swear by Firefox and believe it to be years ahead of Chrome in terms of user-customization - whether it be through the sheer possibilities of its out-of-the-box aesthetic configuration or by the use of extensions.

Although Firefox Quantum did effectively cull some of the most popular add-ons for Firefox, it certainly generated interest in third-party browsers. Lucky for us, the best third-party browsers are based on Firefox. So, if you do opt to go for a third-party browser, you will quickly feel right at home and you shouldn't struggle too much to make it your new central point of access to the internet.

When nerds talk about browsers, you can initially take on a pre-determined attitude of boredom. But it shouldn't be that way. Browsers are something that we use every single day. Let's face it, when was the last time you actually closed your browser window and didn't need to leave it running, iconified to the background? Not often we're guessing. Therefore, we believe if the browser is such an important piece of software on your system, then you shouldn't have to compromise on security, performance or the ability to customize it the way you want to.

That brings us to our third-party option. Today, we will introduce to you Waterfox.

While some browsers are heavy on features, Waterfox takes the opposite approach and offers the user a download of a basic web browser which is bare bones, open, sleek and fast. While the tweaks that separate Waterfox from the rest can effectively be done with vanilla Firefox, Waterfox takes your privacy serious and makes the right changes for you. In addition to the privacy tweaks, Waterfox boasts its multi-tasking abilities combined with the raw power of multi-processor support, to provide what the developers claim is the best in-browser gaming performance offered.

Sync support is offered and Firefox add-ons are supported in Waterfox. Also, support for legacy add-ons is supposedly under development. Tecseek Technology is not so sure the development team are going to be able to pull that off considering the code base for Waterfox is based on Mozilla Firefox. But if they do pull it off and get legacy extensions working, then it will be a great feature for those looking for a modern browser which does provide support for some of your old favorites!

We like it. It really is a bare bones browser though. But if you enjoy running naked, then you will be very pleased with its performance. If you are planning on going ahead and loading it up with add-ons, you're probably not really gaining anything and instead recommend you just stick to Firefox. We are not sure how Waterfox interacts with Firefox on the same system under Microsoft Windows 10, but running the two side-by-side on Linux is perfectly safe as Waterfox creates and operates from its own profile directory and does not tamper with your existing Firefox installation.

We recommend Waterfox for those who like Firefox but are looking for something a bit more focused on performance with the added bonus of a few security tweaks to boot.

Published in collaboration with Freedom Publishers Union

September 26, 2018 | Sony PlayStation Classic - Can Sony Get the Formula Right, Where Others Have Failed? We Hope So

THE LATEST GAMING COMPANY TO announce their expanse into the realm of classic gaming is Sony. The company responsible for the PlayStation console has announced it will soon release a PSX classic console, which will be called the PlayStation Classic. It will include 20 games pre-installed. Little is known which exact titles will be included upon release of the console on December 3, 2018, other than those officially announced by the company. So far, we know Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3 and Wild Arms will be included. But there is some skepticism of the quality of titles that have been announced so far. Tecseek Technology admits, with the exception of Final Fantasy VII, the titles are a little disappointing. Perhaps Sony has something really special up its sleeve which is yet to be revealed. Or perhaps not. But we certainly hope these titles are not the best on offer as we can't exactly describe them as some of the most memorable of our many days spent with the PSX console in the mid-to-late 90s.

Some technology websites have gone to some length to create lists of games they would like to see included. In a somewhat combined effort of keeping up with the rest of the technology publishing industry and being able to reminisce for a moment, these are just a few titles we would like to see included:

Sony released its first version of the PlayStation console, known as the PSX or PSOne, in December 1994. It was initially released in Japan. It would be almost one year later when the US and Europe would get their hands on it, in September 1995. Australia had to wait just a couple more months, when it finally reached the shores downunder, in November 1995. The PSX was a milestone for the console gaming industry and the PlayStation brand, which is today one of the world's most popular gaming platforms. It competes directly with the Microsoft XBox.

The Sony PlayStation has received significant technological advancements over the years, spread across many different iterations, upgraded versions and models. The PSX was succeeded in 2000 by the release of the PlayStation 2, or PS2 as it would be referred to as. That was then succeeded by the PS3 in 2006 and then finally - the current model - the PS4 in 2014. Sony is currently still working on the development of the successor. The actual console name hasn't exactly been confirmed, but the industry is referring to it as the PS5. Not much is known yet about the future update to the console brand, but it will be sure to improve on the PS4 and follow the traditional Sony release model of containing some of the best gaming hardware inside. While some technology analysists are pinning their hopes on a Christmas 2019 release, we believe that is slightly ambitious, albeit not impossible. A release date of mid-to-late 2020 or possibly running into the first quarter of 2021 is probably more likely. We're sure Sony will be watching what Microsoft does with the XBox Two very closely. And we have no doubts they'll respond accordingly.

Despite all the technological advances that games have made from the ever-popular era of the 1990s, for some reason gamers still enjoy the titles from the era of old. Tecseek Technology is not aware of any academic study which illustrates why gamers specifically enjoy and continue to enjoy the 90s era of gaming so much. But from our perspective, we believe it was the careful balance between graphics and gameplay that played a major part. There were some difficult and challenging titles. But the general consensus seems to be one of enjoyable gameplay, despite those challenges, which leads us to believe that games developers of the 1990s had found the right balance to hook gamers.

Gaming technology has come a long way. Some gamers are critical of the way the industry has gone. Some believe the gaming industry has developed into a 'Hollywood-style' market, where titles are treated like blockbuster movies designed for maximum profit, over providing quality and enjoyable gameplay for the player. In other words, they have the graphics-gameplay formula all wrong. Some gamers are even critical of how long it takes to get a game running now. Despite advances in technology, games are taking longer to load than ever before, often requiring several sign-in prompts to jump through and updates to download and apply before you can even get the game started. At times, it can become very cumbersome and has turned many gamers away. Some have turned to mobile gaming which is effectively less tedious. While others have simply given up gaming altogether, through disappointment in the industry. We feel their pain. We suspect this could most likely add to the attraction of the classic consoles that are being produced now.

In the 1990s, times were easier. Whether you owned a SEGA Genesis or a Nintendo or a Super Nintendo, it didn't matter. All platforms were fast, friendly and simple to play. It was a simple process - insert the cartridge, press the power button and within just a couple of minutes the game would be ready to play. We believe it is this level of well thought out simplicity that makes the retro era of gaming so appealing and a delight to return to. That, along with the strong focus on actual gameplay. That is why the release of the SEGA Genesis Classic and the Nintendo/Super Nintendo Classic consoles have been such a success.

While Atari has several iterations of the Flashback consoles available, they don't seem to have gained as much love as the SEGA and Nintendo versions. Then, Atari confused its fans (and itself) even more, with the announcement of the AtariVCS. The AtariVCS appears to be a good effort with good intentions. But the way the company has marketed it in the lead up to its scheduled 2019 release has confused many people as to what part of the gaming market it is actually intended to serve. I mean, it is meant to be a blend of modern aesthetic appeal while paying homage to its heritage. Again, we will criticize the company for its shocking marketing tactics of the AtariVCS, because we still do not understand the specifics of the technology that it will contain. What we do understand though, is it will be powered by AMD hardware running off a Linux-based operating system. We understand Atari will call it Atari-OS. The device will come pre-loaded with what Atari describes as a "ton" of classic titles, but it falls short of providing a list. It will also provide support for gaming using a joystick or a modern-style gamepad, which we certainly hope is not the only attempt it will make to blend modern with classic. There has to be more to it if it is to gain mainstream attraction. Otherwise, considering there are already Atari Flashback consoles on the market, it begs us to ask the question of where exactly is the AtariVCS meant to fit into all this? We remain confused.

The Commodore 64 Mini, or C64 Mini, has also been what feels like a lackluster attempt and falls short of the potential it could have had. The device is half the size of the original C64 from the early 1980s. Its selection of games was a little disappointing. Although it had a few respectable titles, some of the best games that made the C64 so memorable are notably absent. Perhaps due to licensing and legal issues surrounding redistribution, we're not sure. Tecseek Technology has not had a hands-on with an actual device, but most technology websites were in agreement that the build quality of it was sub-standard. It just didn't quite match the expectations that was placed upon it. There have been many different projects to try and revive the gaming legacy that the Commodore brand left behind. To date, all of them have simply felt like an attempt to cash-in on this legacy. Not for the love of the Commodore legacy and the brand, but for the love of money. Disappointing.

Tecseek Technology is feeling a positive vibe towards the release of the PlayStation Classic. It is difficult to pre-judge when the official games title list has not yet been released. There were so many memorable titles on the PSX. Whether Sony is able to license the right titles to include some of the best that the PSX is renowned for, will be the ultimate challenge to pleasing market expectations. So far, it looks quite promising. But this could be an easy one for Sony to screw up if not done right.

While traditional gaming companies press ahead with reviving their past through classic models of their previous success, where they fall short will continue to be made up by the hardcore classic gamers through the use of emulators and ROMS. Gaming companies do not like emulators or the redistribution of ROMS which do, rightfully, contain their product. It is actually quite a legally aggressive part of the industry, which has resulted in many ROM websites being forced to shut down. But much like movie and music piracy websites, where one shuts down, more open up shop. It's the hydra formula. This could be resolved by companies actually including titles that are wanted by players, rather than a bunch of titles nobody ever played and, in some cases, have never heard of, in an effort to sell the thing. The onus is on the gaming companies. They must lift their game. Otherwise, gamers will simply continue to get their fix from emulators and the continued distribution of ROMS.

Sony can learn from the mistakes of others. It's their time to do it right.

Published in collaboration with Freedom Publishers Union

July 2, 2018 | Linux Mint 19 "Tara" (Cinnamon) Review (Part 3 of 3)

We have reached the end of our journey with Linux Mint 19. The last desktop environment we're going to take a quick look at is Cinnamon.

Cinnamon has a similar founding to that of MATE. Cinnamon was also forked from earlier GNOME source code. It was forked due to discontent over the development path that official GNOME development was taking, which effectively resulted in GNOME Shell that we have today. Mint developers took Cinnamon in a different direction to GNOME 3 and instead decided to stick with traditional desktop principles.

How does Cinnamon compare to its XFCE and MATE sisters? Well, pretty average actually. Cinnamon is much more system resource intensive by nature. Visually, it looks just as stunning, but simple desktop usage offers a quick insight into its underlying focus on appearance.

Installation was all the same, with Tecseek Technology deciding to stick with BtrFS for our Cinnamon desktop. When you first boot into Cinnamon you will notice a small dialog box pop up which warns you of graphics running in software mode. This is one major contributor to the Cinnamon desktop being slightly slower than its sister desktops. You have two options. You can actually leave Cinnamon running in software mode and suffer the slight performance lag and extra strain it will put on your CPU. Or, you can jump into the Driver Manager and install the appropriate graphics driver for your hardware. Once the driver is installed, it will greatly improve the performance of Cinnamon.

Software selection as mentioned in previous Reviews of M19, is the same. Cinnamon does inherit support for desktop Extensions, which is all handled by the included tool in Cinnamon. There's also support for Desklets. You can simply right-click on the Cinnamon desktop and click Add Desklets. You will need to update the cache, but that only takes a few seconds. You can then scroll through a list of available Desklets to install. Personally, we like our desktop nice and clean and prefer to have minimal items in this space. But we can see the benefits of adding perhaps Google Calendar a the Weather Desklet. What we do like on our desktop is visual verbose feedback of system resources. We tried the System Monitor Desklet but found it didn't work. We received a warning symbol which detailed that the desktop has potential to crash Cinnamon. We tried it. While it failed to crash Cinnamon (a sign of Cinnamon's resilience perhaps?), the Desklet did fail to load. So we instead tried the CPU Usage Desklet combined with the top output Desklet. Together, they add an extra layer of spice to the system. We liked it so much we actually left them running. It kind of resembles Conky, albeit not quite as configurable as Conky's Lua ability.

We have a confession. When Cinnamon was first forked, our experience with it was horrible. There was a time when we just outright refused to use it, instead favoring MATE. Early versions of Cinnamon were horrible, slow, would not allow much customization and were just not very nice to use. Regular readers of our Linux reviews will understand by now that Tecseek Technology is quite harsh in our criticism and sometimes brutally honest. If we don't like something or think something is crap, we let our readers know it's crap. It's that simple. Lots of things have changed with Cinnamon. It's matured and been tweaked and is now actually quite pleasant to use. On previous iterations where there was just so much that the user was unable to customize, we're glad to see now it can all be changed. Right-clicking on just about everything will offer you custom options to change it. That's what we like in our desktops - choice. And we're glad Cinnamon is now ready to be seriously considered as a usable desktop, by Tecseek Technology.

The time has come when you may now be asking the question - So which desktop do I download and install for M19?

We have a couple of answers to that question. If you have the system resources to spare and download bandwidth is not an issue for you, then download all three and give them a try in Live Mode running inside Oracle VM VirtualBox. If this is not possible for you and you need to settle on a single option based on a recommendation from us, then we're going to recommend you install the XFCE desktop. Though, it must be understood that our recommendation of XFCE is based on our pre-existing love for the XFCE desktop environment. And this is exactly what we mentioned before. Your choice will most likely be based on previous experience you've had with a specific desktop environment. Because the truth is that all three desktop options for M19 are excellent and worth installing.

M19 is a great release. There are only a few quirks and niggles that are pulling on our annoyance strings, but they are easy resolved within seconds. What you are guaranteed to get is a very well performing, stable desktop, with the great backbone support of Ubuntu. Surely, that's enough to entice you to install Linux Mint 19.

July 2, 2018 | Linux Mint 19 "Tara" (MATE) Review (Part 2 of 3)

Tecseek Technology has already looked at the XFCE release of Linux Mint 19. For the second Review, it's time we take a look at the MATE desktop. Let's not waste anymore space on its introduction. Instead, we're going to jump right in.

The installer for the MATE release of M19 is the same Ubiquity installer used for all releases. The same installation process applies. Only this time, we paid more attention to disk partitioning and opted to install using BtrFS, instead of ext4 which we regretfully chose for the XFCE release. Installation using BtrFS was no quicker than using ext4 but everything worked without any issues. That's what matters.

The advantage of opting to install on a BtrFS partition over ext3/4 is you can utilize Timeshift to create system Snapshots so you can restore your system to a specific point if things go pear shaped. Timeshift has now been included in a few distributions that have rolled through the office of Tecseek Technology. As BtrFS becomes more mainstream as the default filesystem for Linux distributions, we predict to see more of them including Timeshift to complement the Snapshot capabilities of BtrFS.

Speaking of 'shifty' things, M19 also includes Redshift. It's a small utility which sits in the desktop panel and automatically controls the color temperature of the displays, according to the time of day and translated position of the sun in accordance to the time and location. As humans are gradually becoming more aware of the extended hours we as humans spend in front of our digital displays, tools like Redshift become more useful and more popular.

We were mightily impressed with how well XFCE performs with M19. The good news is the MATE desktop easily lives up to the same performance standards. And it looks every part as good too. There's not much difference between the two, actually. MATE was forked from the old GNOME 2 base source code. At the time GNOME 2 was in active development it's performance was relatively similar to that of the XFCE desktop environment. That performance baseline has continued with the development of the MATE desktop, with performance still impressive. Especially comparing it to the more interactive-esque modern desktops of GNOME Shell (or GNOME 3) and or even KDE Plasma, which is slowly becoming bloated. It's not quite there yet, but it's something the developers should be concerned about. But there is no such bloat worry with M19 and MATE.

The software selection is identical across the board with all desktop releases of M19. All the same major offerings apply on the MATE desktop too.

The only major difference in comparing MATE to XFCE (or Cinnamon) is that MATE uses Caja as its default graphical file manager. This is a moot point though, as their primary functions are almost identical.

We had some issues on the XFCE desktop with the updated Linux kernel not being pulled in with the rest of the updates when using APT in a terminal console. We performed the exact same routine in MATE and the same problem occurs. It's effectively a M19 problem, or odd intention. But the point is it is not a problem limited to just one desktop variation. Eventually, we decided to just perform the same routine and update process and pull the Linux kernel update in via the mintUpdate tool. Same routine, same result. Kernel updated.

As mentioned, there's not really a lot to look at with the MATE desktop that wasn't already present in XFCE. If you had to make a choice of which desktop environment to install, it wouldn't make the slightest bit of different which one you chose. It's the equivalent of flipping a dime with heads on both sides. You'll only get the same result anyway. We suspect that it will come down to desktop environment user loyalty. Believe us when we say there are such beings that exist. Some Linux users take their desktop of choice very serious and outright refuse to try anything outside of their first preference. That's fine. That's their right.

July 2, 2018 | Linux Mint 19 "Tara" (XFCE) Review (Part 1 of 3)

Tecseek Technology are long time fans of Linux Mint and we have vast experience in its use. Despite this experience, we willingly declare that the amount of attention we give it here is very unfair. It deserves more attention. That's why we are publishing three Reviews for the latest release of "Tara", by taking a look at the XFCE, MATE and Cinnamon desktops.

Linux Mint 19 (M19) is code named "Tara". We always have high expectations for Mint releases. But that's a benchmark that the developers have placed upon themselves. They consistently push out release after release which are of such great quality, we now expect it every time.

M19 is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, so M19 was always going to inherit a stable, quality base to work on, which almost guaranteed a path to satisfaction for its users. But how does the XFCE release fare? Let's take a look.

We installed M19 XFCE to an ext4 partition, which turned out to be a big mistake on our behalf. Why? Read on to find out.

The installation performed just fine. It was completed in an acceptable amount of time. Not the fastest distribution for installation. But still respectable to say the least.

Aesthetics are very predictable, yet pleasant for M19. The distribution has become famous for its traditional gray and green textures. It is its identity. We like it. It works well. M19 continues the tradition with a few minor tweaks, so there's not really a lot to talk about in this area. So we will move on.

Upon fresh reboot, the user is presented with a typical XFCE desktop, which remains clean and uncluttered. There's a simple Home icon, which takes you straight into Thunar. The desktop panel has Show Desktop, Firefox, Terminal Console and File Manager (Thunar). Just enough to get you started but not make the user feel too overwhelmed at the options. No doubt users will tweak all this stuff anyway, to their own preferences.

We immediately updated the system with APT inside a terminal console. We performed the usual routine of updating the repositories and followed with dist-upgrade to ensure we got all the latest packages. Everything appeared to be fine, so we assumed the system to be as up to date as it could be. But we noticed the update icon on the desktop panel was still active and complaining of available updates to be applied. Clicking on the icon took us into the mintUpdate tool, where we were faced with a Timeshift dialog box. This wasn't exactly what we asked for, but we continued. We were offered the chance to create a Snapshot of the system with Timeshift, prior to updating packages. We confirmed Yes but then realized Timeshift only works with BtrFS partitions. This was where it become clear that installing with ext4 was a mistake and an error of our judgment. Take note, if you want to take full advantage and see the benefits of Timeshift, then please install M19 on a BtrFS partition. Lesson learned.

Bypassing Timeshift, we saw there was a kernel update to be applied. We updated the outstanding Linux kernel update which brought the running kernel up to version 4.15.0-23. After it was updated mintUpdate offered us, through another dialog box, a chance to update our repositories server to a local server for quicker package downloads. This was silly because it should have been offered before updates being downloaded and applied. Not once they were applied.

This whole dialog box silliness which results in a clicking frenzy that we're not used to when updating systems, combined with the inability to update the system completely as intended by using terminal console and APT annoyed us to hell. It's all unnecessary and it makes no sense as to what on Earth is going on. To tell our readers the absolute truth, we're still puzzled by this oddity. We believe in choice and freedom. If this strange update behavior is intended, then it would appear M19 is forcing the user to perform a specific task a specific way. It's disappointing and definitely something we would like to see fixed in future updates.

We understand the issue surrounding codec installation is nothing new and a decision that was made some time ago, but we feel the need to bring it up. There was a time when Linux Mint was known as one of the best distributions for out-of-the-box codec support for audio and video files. No more. Although there is an automated tool to simplify the whole process, which feels like a legal compromise, it still seems like a step backwards for the distribution to still have the user perform such a mundane task just to listen to some music or watch a movie.

Software selection is all pretty standard now, with Firefox, LibreOffice et al all making their way into M19.

A fresh installation before any updates gave us Bash version 4.4.19 and Linux kernel 4.15.0-20. Once updated, you'll get 4.15.0-23. Not a major update, but some small improvements will be present nevertheless.

M19 is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. This translates to M19 being one super reliable release and super stable at that. M19 has one of the best selections of wallpapers of any Linux distribution we've seen. The options on offer are some truly spectacular photography, if that's the kind of backgrounds you like on your desktop.

M19 XFCE performs excellent, is extremely stable and we were happy with our experience. It truly is one of the best desktop environments if customization is your cup of tea. We made a few tweaks to our desktop and we were impressed with how good it can be made to look. That green is just, so, juicy and welcoming. But it not only has the good looks, it has the power to match. We have absolutely no reason to give it anything other than two thumbs up.

June 29, 2018 | Linux Lite 4.0 Review

There are lots of different Linux distributions available that claim to be "light" on resources with "lite" versions of the included packages. But do any of them live up to their claim? Actually, not many do. That's not to say they are bad projects or are actually making false claims. That seems a little harsh. We think it is the way that Linux users interpret the claims. We would all like to believe that we could have a fully functional Linux operating system using only ~50MB of our typical 8-16GB RAM equipped systems. But we need to be realistic. And we're sorry, but that is just unrealistic. Any Linux distribution that claims to be able to do this for you is most likely a shell based distribution or something that resembles Tiny Core Linux. Let's face it, both are unrealistic options for the modern era of consumer desktop usage. One cannot seriously believe that you could perform all your daily computing tasks inside a shell console without touching a graphical desktop environment and the mouse at some point. Tiny Core Linux doesn't make false claims. It is tiny, but is also very unusable for any kind of daily computing. It is intended for development and software engineers working with small embedded devices. That's most certainly not something we're willing to delve into today. What we are willing to delve into is a Linux distribution which does actually live up to its claims - Linux Lite 4.0, or LL as we charmingly refer to it as.

When LL dropped to us, we thought it was just another one of those aforementioned distributions which claim to be lightweight, but really just perform like any other desktop. We were skeptical, but willing to give it some love.

We booted up LL into Live Mode and were genuinely surprised by the professional looking distribution that we were presented. It is based on Ubuntu, but you would never know unless told beforehand. LL has well and truly etched out its own identity and resembles only itself. We can't compare it to any other distribution that has come across our screens. It's clean straight lines present a certain amount of elegance that is absolutely delightful to ogle at.

Immediately impressed by the attention given to aesthetics, we believed it was worthy of an installation on some actual hardware to give it the honest review that we thought it deserved.

We launched the installation tool, which predictably uses the Ubiquity installer. It has had some tweaks and theme applied and it matches the rest of the desktop. Sometimes developers spend lots of time and resources on making their projects look great, but then mysteriously ignore the installation package. It became immediately clear LL was a distribution which didn't follow the path of installer abandonment which is all too common nowadays, with the developer rush to push distributions out. Attention has been paid to every inch of the desktop. Impressive stuff and a massive kudos to the developers for their efforts.

Looking beyond appearances, Ubiquity on LL is as streamlined as it always is. Simple and requiring minimal interaction. Post-installation, we booted into the installed system. At first login the user gets presented with a "Welcome" dialog box. This is very useful, especially for beginners as it contains lots of useful information, links and also buttons which can perform some tasks for you. A nice addition, but not required. Thankfully, you can disable this with the checkbox and the system will just boot to regular desktop next time. Welcome dialog boxes are becoming more common on a lot of distributions these days. Sometimes they can be a little annoying, but if it helps the user find their feet then we guess it can only be a good thing and should probably be encouraged.

The desktop environment in LL runs XFCE, but it's heavily themed, albeit simplistically. It's a pleasure to use. To be perfectly honest, we had to delve deep into the desktop settings to actually determine which desktop setup LL was using, as it's so perfectly decked out that it is not immediately obvious. LL performance is brilliant. Running in Live Mode was great. Running on bare metal is top performance. We didn't do any kind of deep hardware usage analysis or benchmarks, but a quick peek told us RAM usage its at around 400MB. Considering our Ubuntu 18.04 LTS running GNOME sits at ~1.0GB RAM usage at idle, we find 400MB pretty impressive and very worthy of recognition for LL claims of being a "lite" distribution.

So what packages make up LL? Well, the main packages are pretty standard and not exactly what we would call lite versions. Firefox is used for web browsing, GIMP is included for image editing, VLC as the media player and LibreOffice for documents. They are all the usual offerings and rather bulky packages. If LL was to slim down the distribution further, it could be done by adopting a few replacements like Chromium Browser and Pinta, for a couple of quick examples. Admittedly, VLC is probably the best choice for media and is very light on system resources. There are office alternatives and much lighter packages that could be used as alternatives to LibreOffice. But we believe LibreOffice is the best office suite for Linux. Other alternatives get the job done, but do some strange formatting when using documents that have been pre-drafted using other programs or other formats. So we always stick to recommending LibreOffice. It can be effectively reduced in installation size by dropping unnecessary packages from the suite as a compromise.

As elegant and streamlined as the aesthetics of LL are, you could mistake it for a distribution aimed at Linux beginners. It could be identified as elegant and professional, or kindergarten newbie-like. This couldn't be further from the truth though. The fonts are chunky and large, but not over-sized and blend in with the theme as a whole. Very nice. We wouldn't change anything. When you dig deeper into LL, it doesn't take long to see that it is actually built for beginners and advanced users. All users will feel comfortable using it. In the Settings menu there's an extensive collection of tools and packages for advanced users. There's packages for disk management, firewall and third-party drivers (which worked successfully for us).

There's also "Lite" specific tools added into LL. There's packages for system info, network shares and software installation which makes it easier for installing Chromium Browser, Audacity, Caliber, Dropbox, Handbrake, Kodi, PlayOnLinux, WINE, Skype, Spotify, Steam, TeamViewer and Tor Browser. There's also help to install the Restricted Extras packages. LL has it all covered. In addition to making it easy to install the aforementioned packages, it's equally as easy to remove them with the same tool. So thoughtful.

There's still more too. There's tools for changing software sources (repositories), system report, user management and also an upgrade tool for upgrading the system to future versions. We could not test this out because 4.0 is the latest version of LL. So there's nothing to upgrade to, yet.

We particularly like the Lite Tweaks tool. It allows easy setting of common options which can sometimes be tricky to configure. That's if you even find the right setting at all! The Lite Tweaks tool can be your best friend, if you allow it to be. From the tool you can clean RAM, set the default browser, change hostname, install updated Linux kernels and remove them too. We tried to install the 4.17.0 kernel. Our attempts failed, after multiple attempts. Everything else is fine in LL, so we were a little curious as to why this one specific feature was failing. It had to be something obvious standing in the way. So we did some poking around and it turns out the update repositories for LL were down while we were trying to upgrade the kernel. Once the repositories came back online, it was sweet sailing from there.

If you find these software installation packages annoying and too simplistic, then Synaptic is also installed. Plus you also have the terminal console and APT, which we shouldn't have to go over the benefits of.

Inside the System menu we found a NTFS configuration tool, which does little other than enable/disable NTFS support for the system. We're not sure why this is installed as NTFS is enabled by default. We can't understand who on Earth would go ahead and disable it. Still, it's there if you wake up one morning and decide to be a NTFS hater.

Continuing, we found a resource usage package which effectively just opens htop inside a terminal console. Neat. But if you prefer a graphical tool, then you can use the Task Manager for that, which is included as part of the XFCE desktop environment. We prefer htop. But having the option of either is just another demonstration that LL is not set on one specific type of user. Instead, there are options and packages for everyone.

Finally, there's Timeshift. It's a neat tool which allows you to explore snapshots of the system. You can make use of snapshots with RSYNC or BtrFS. We didn't find any use for it for a new installation. But over time, we could see this being a handy utility to have at hand.

There's lots to love about LL. It's fresh, neat and elegant. Having the background support of Ubuntu is always a bonus when it comes to package management and availability. But other than using Ubuntu as a base, there's nothing Ubuntu-like about it. Linux Lite 4.0 is a real treat and much like a really well behaved and disciplined child who doesn't do anything wrong. It's just so enjoyable to be around and a genuine winner in our books.

June 19, 2018 | 3 Ways to Install DOS Prompt on Linux

There's nothing Tecseek Technology loves more than Linux and the terminal console. To some younger Linux users, you may not already know that there was a time in computing history when everything was done from a command line prompt. Yes, even on computers from an era way before Linux came to fruition! Unix and MS-DOS programs were all launched and managed from the command line. There was a time when computers never had graphical desktop environments. That is why we had the command line. It was central to controlling the entire computer system.

Before Microsoft developed its Windows operating system, its predecessor was called MS-DOS, an acronym for the Microsoft Disk Operating System. Despite the modern era of fancy graphical desktop environments and compositing window managers, there are still very legitimate reasons for using a DOS prompt, which is the common alternative to the Linux terminal console, often called just a "shell".

In today's article, we are going to run you through three different ways to install and run a DOS prompt on your Linux system.

1: FreeDOS

Our first option is FreeDOS. To run FreeDOS you need to first install Oracle VM VirtualBox. You might already have it installed. It is a virtual machine package which allows you to run sandboxed virtual systems inside Linux, without their operations affecting the actual host system - your desktop. It's a neat option and used very widely across the technology community and in the information technology industry, for a wide range of purposes. Please refer to third-party tutorials if you are unfamiliar with how to install Oracle VM VirtualBox. But from this point on, we assume you have it installed.

Once you have opened up VirtualBox, you need to create a new DOS virtual machine. Once you have created the new virtual machine, you need to head to the FreeDOS website which can be found at freedos.org. It is there you can download FreeDOS. Simply download the CD-ROM Standard Installer package. This will be used to install FreeDOS into your virtual machine.

Once the download is complete, you now need to fire up the virtual machine and select the FreeDOS package that you just downloaded and boot into the installer. It's important to note that when installing FreeDOS inside a virtual machine using VirtualBox you may very well run the possibility of hitting a vital error upon booting the installation media. We did. It is an unexplainable infinite error loop. We performed a quick online search on the problem and quickly found that it's a common problem with installing FreeDOS. Especially when installing it inside VirtualBox. Fear not, the workaround is very simple. You just need to hit TAB upon the boot prompt and enter "raw" without the quote marks at the end of the boot parameters. Hit ENTER and the FreeDOS installation will commence as normal.

The installation requires only minimal user interaction and will be complete in less than two minutes. Then, reboot the virtual machine and you now have FreeDOS installed.

2: DOSBox

If you find FreeDOS is too fiddly or much too complicated for you, then thankfully installing DOSBox is so much easier. Besides, most mainstream Linux distributions should have DOSBox available in their software repositories. For Ubuntu, this is as simple as running the following command:

$ sudo apt install dosbox

The installation of DOSBox should now commence. Once complete, you can launch it by running the following command:

$ dosbox

The best thing about DOSBox is it is very configurable by the user. You will find its configuration file in your ~/.dosbox directory, under the file name:

dosbox-[version].conf

Once you have made the necessary changes to your configuration file to suit your needs, you can re-launch DOSBox for the changes to take effect. If you launch DOSBox from the terminal you will probably see lots of annoying verbose output. This is normal. If you want to suppress it, you can launch it by using the following command instead:

$ dosbox &>/dev/null

3: WINE CMD

Our third and final method if installing the DOS prompt onto Linux is also very easy. It's actually included with the WINE packages. So once you install WINE on your system, WINE CMD also becomes available.

First let's install WINE, by running the following command on Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt install wine

Once WINE has completed installation on your system, it's always a good idea to make some quick configuration changes to suit your requirements. This is easily done by running the following command:

$ winecfg

Once you have configured WINE, you can now launch the WINE CMD prompt by running the following command:

$ wine cmd

You are now running the CMD prompt provided by the WINE package.

You have three different options to choose from of how to install a DOS prompt on your Linux system. Microsoft introduced the DOS prompt as part of the MS-DOS operating system back in 1981. In the years that followed, many other computer companies were to adopt DOS-type operating systems, including IBM, Apple, Commodore and Amiga. They all used the familiar DOS prompt for user interaction, many of them licensed from Microsoft.

Today, the reliance on the DOS prompt may no longer be of absolute necessity, but there's still keen interest in DOS and that familiar little easy-to-use prompt which provides so many happy memories for computer veterans and hobbyists alike. In an ever-increasing complex digital world, sometimes its simplicity is nice to still have around.

June 13, 2018 | Microsoft Acquisition of GitHub is Not the End of Open-Source Development

On June 4, 2018, the official announcement was made by Microsoft that it had acquired GitHub for $7.5 billion. Both companies posted press releases on their respective websites, making the announcement.

In the weeks leading up to the official announcement there was market talk on the potential acquisition.

Following the acquisition announcement, developers on the internet went into a frenzy of panic and in some cases, anger. Anger was expressed at both GitHub and Microsoft. The former was accused of betraying software developers and the open-source movement. While the latter was accused of attempting to shut out open-source software development through the acquisition. A claim proving to be absolutely unfounded and ridiculous.

In comments made by GitHub and Microsoft representatives on the deal, both have not only recognized the concerns expressed by developers, rather it was pre-empted by Microsoft.

By pre-empting the uncomfortable feelings some developers would have about the deal, it's a clear demonstration that Microsoft has good intentions for GitHub and also demonstrates they are very well connected and understanding of not only their current user base, but also the user base they would be inheriting.

Some developers have persisted with their unfounded discontent and have migrated their source code that was previously held on GitHub, to alternative services - GitLab being a popular choice. GitLab have reported massive levels of source code migration onto their service, since.

Tecseek Technology believes the discontent to be massively overstated and unfounded. They have made the commitment to leave GitHub as an open platform which will always support free and open-source software development, while reminding everyone of Microsoft's continued contributions they have already made and continue to make to open-source software development projects across the world.

We have reached out to GitHub and GitLab for comment.

Official Press Release - Microsoft

REDMOND, Wash. - June 4, 2018 - Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced it has reached an agreement to acquire GitHub, the world's leading software development platform where more than 28 million developers learn, share and collaborate to create the future. Together, the two companies will empower developers to achieve more at every stage of the development lifecycle, accelerate enterprise use of GitHub, and bring Microsoft's developer tools and services to new audiences.

"Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation," said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. "We recognize the community responsibility we take on with this agreement and will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world's most pressing challenges."

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. Subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close by the end of the calendar year.

GitHub will retain its developer-first ethos and will operate independently to provide an open platform for all developers in all industries. Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects - and will still be able to deploy their code to any operating system, any cloud and any device.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President Nat Friedman, founder of Xamarin and an open source veteran, will assume the role of GitHub CEO. GitHub's current CEO, Chris Wanstrath, will become a Microsoft technical fellow, reporting to Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie, to work on strategic software initiatives.

"I'm extremely proud of what GitHub and our community have accomplished over the past decade, and I can't wait to see what lies ahead. The future of software development is bright, and I'm thrilled to be joining forces with Microsoft to help make it a reality," Wanstrath said. "Their focus on developers lines up perfectly with our own, and their scale, tools and global cloud will play a huge role in making GitHub even more valuable for developers everywhere."

Today, every company is becoming a software company and developers are at the center of digital transformation; they drive business processes and functions across organizations from customer service and HR to marketing and IT. And the choices these developers make will increasingly determine value creation and growth across every industry. GitHub is home for modern developers and the world's most popular destination for open source projects and software innovation. The platform hosts a growing network of developers in nearly every country representing more than 1.5 million companies across healthcare, manufacturing, technology, financial services, retail and more.

Upon closing, Microsoft expects GitHub's financials to be reported as part of the Intelligent Cloud segment. Microsoft expects the acquisition will be accretive to operating income in fiscal year 2020 on a non-GAAP basis, and to have minimal dilution of less than 1 percent to earnings per share in fiscal years 2019 and 2020 on a non-GAAP basis, based on the expected close time frame. Non-GAAP excludes expected impact of purchase accounting adjustments, as well as integration and transaction-related expenses. An incremental share buyback, beyond Microsoft's recent historical quarterly pace, is expected to offset stock consideration paid within six months after closing. Microsoft will use a portion of the remaining ~$30 billion of its current share repurchase authorization for the purchase.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is acting as legal advisor to Microsoft. Morgan Stanley is acting as exclusive financial advisor to GitHub, while Fenwick & West LLP is acting as its legal advisor.

June 8, 2018 | BunsenLabs Linux (Helium) Review

When you're in a privileged position to be able to sit around among technology of all types, makes and models, hardware and software, and in software the myriad of available Linux distributions, it's always a pleasure to be able to write about the experience and present our thoughts with our readers. We never take it for granted. But it's not always fun and games and not all software reviews end well. We always try and bring our readers the best ones that do make the cut. The ones that don't, we simply don't waste our time by giving them the publicity they just don't deserve, frankly. We also do not want to waste the time of our readers by having them sit through what would result in a meaningless rant, if we were to publish.

When BunsenLabs Linux (BL) was dropped into the office, we were concerned that it might just be another amateur release of Linux that won't make the cut. We didn't really take it serious and was ready to dump it in the trash can before we even gave it a second thought. The most obvious reason we quickly jumped to this assumption is because it carried a branding we had not previously recognized. This may seem a little unfair, initially. But as we get a lot of 'unknown' distributions roll through the labs, we have to draw a limit somewhere as we only have finite resources and it would be reckless to expect us to be able to test absolutely all of them. Sometimes, just sometimes, a distribution will come along and put us back in our place. It serves as a nice reminder that there are some genuine development efforts still happening out there in the Linux ecosystem, which to be honest is a little flooded of releases. Still, we'd rather it be flooded than become a drought. So we encourage the flood.

Where did BL come from? It is a community developed distribution which evolved from the now defunct CrunchBang Linux and is based on Debian 9 (Stretch). The latest release was announced in April 2018, under the release name of "Helium". We booted into BL not really knowing what to expect. It is clear from the installation that it is Debian-based. The installation was pretty standard Debian-esque - basic, fast and minimal effort required to get the system installed.

Once installed, we rebooted to be presented with a really cool looking desktop. It runs on Linux kernel 4.9.0.6 and Bash 4.4.12 for the default shell. Package management is handling by APT 1.4.8, as expected, being a distribution based on the Debian base. This is a distribution running on top of the Openbox window manager. The first thing you notice is the system information on the right-side of the screen. Below that is some desktop keyboard shortcuts hints, for assistance. The desktop is made up of Openbox, a custom top panel and Conky. The latter package is used to display the system information text on the desktop. Conky is a funky kind of tweak tool that Linux users like to utilize to customize their system. Some users spend an incredible amount of time coding their Conky configuration in Lua, and the level of attention paid to the code to produce their desired results is often worthy of much respect.

We will make a couple of points and then attempt to clarify each one of them in a bit more detail, based on our experience with BL. Opting for Openbox is cool. The menu that comes shipped with BL is terrible. Adding Conky is cool. It's implementation is pretty good, but needs a little attention and polish. The entire design concept is clear, but the developers have fallen short to deliver on their intention, we believe. But bare with us, it gets better.

Let's touch on Openbox first - It's a lightweight window manager which can be used inside a graphical environment or solely as a window manager. BL have opted to just stick with the latter choice. It's a good decision as it keeps the desktop light on baggage. The tricky part of using Openbox as a sole window manager which also serves as the desktop environment for the user is having a suitable desktop application menu to complement it. This is the biggest failure of BL. When you right-click on the desktop and bring up the menu, it displays quite possibly one of the ugliest, messiest and disorganized menus we have had the displeasure of focusing our eyes on. It's that bad, it burned our retinas. How it is written, laid out and organized (if you can call it that) is just all terrible. There's nothing to complement. In a somewhat half-hearted attempt to try and throw a positive spin into the works, we will say that among the mess, we think we can see what developers were aiming for. Necessary packages are installed and some extras are present too. For the packages that are not included out-of-the-box, there are menu entries to assist in installing them. We tested a couple of these and they appear to symlink to pre-written scripts which bring up a terminal console and prompt APT to install the required package(s), with the user's consent. Quite neat and effective actually. It's a great idea, it just requires better implementation inside the menu.

We don't want to harp on about how bad the menu is any further as we think you get the point. But we think that it was at this stage we started to realize this was a Linux distribution for the advanced user. You know, those type who are not afraid to get their hands dirty inside Emacs, hacking configuration files. Let's repeat that and make it very clear - BunsenLabs Linux is NOT a Linux distribution for beginners. Period.

We dug deep into the menu and tried to work out its structure. We brought the configuration file up in the included BL Text Editor in an effort to hack and chop away at the file to bring it to a point it could all make sense and have some kind of logical layout and structure. The more we looked inside and the deeper we dug, the more we began to conclude that it would be best if it were just rewritten. Well, a majority of it anyway. That is what we did. We removed almost everything, opting to reduce our menu to just seven entries. This included Run Program, Web Browser, File Manager, Text Editor, Terminal, Lock Screen and Exit. For us, that was enough. Openbox and its menu is best when kept minimal. If we find we need something at a later date, it's easy enough to add to the menu's configuration file.

Now that the application menu has been taken care of, it was time to pay some attention to Conky. We like Conky, but we wanted to simplify it and to just clean things up a little. We wanted it to be a little more informative, yet simplified. We opened up the configuration file in BL Text Editor. Let the hacking begin!

We removed the keyboard shortcuts section completely as we felt it was unnecessary for us. We also think it just takes up too much screen real estate without serving any real purpose. We changed the System Info text to display the distribution name of "BunsenLabs Linux" instead. We also added some display text to display the current Linux kernel installed, date and time and fixed some of the hardware feedback output. Specifically, we altered the CPU core output so all cores were displayed rather than just the average used across all cores.

Our hacks for Conky were relatively simple, yet effective. And it makes a huge difference to the overall desktop aesthetics when everything is much more clean and streamlined.

So, we need a final result. A conclusion.

BL is awesome. To come to the conclusion of awesomeness is to be prepared to hack away at it, post-installation. Once you do, it's a fine performing desktop and truly one of the most beautiful and powerful Linux operating systems we've used. We fell in love with it. The more time we spent staring at the final results, the more we fell in love. We felt like we were having an affair with another Linux distribution. Sure, the developers have a lot of work to do to polish things up a bit for future releases. But if you're not afraid to step up and do the work the old fashioned way with a bit of hacking, then you will be greatly rewarded by a cool, awesome, beautiful and gorgeous desktop which is sure to turn heads in the office from those walking by.

If you're an advanced user who likes their desktop to look and feel good, then this is the distribution for you. If you're a beginner or office user who is looking for something that just works out-of-the-box, this is most definitely not the distribution you should be considering. BL commands your attention. When you're finished with it, you will be the one doing the commanding. We can't express enough how rewarding it is.

Some Linux veterans will argue that modern Linux desktops have gone soft by trying to make life easier for the user, by trying to do everything for them. Developers and early adopters of Linux will remember a time when it was really up to the user to get their hands dirty and hack their systems to get things just right. In many cases, hacking was required to get things to just work! I guess by comparison you could say modern Linux desktops have made life much easier, but they are much less configurable than they used to be. That is at least true for mainstream distributions which choose to run mainstream desktop environments. BunsenLabs Linux is a breath of fresh air and a nice reminder that the desktop is yours, therefore it must be owned by you. It makes you work for it, but the satisfaction when complete is the reward. We're still basking in the glow.

June 4, 2018 | OpenSUSE Leap 15 Review

It's like Christmas time at Tecseek Technology when we are presented with new releases of the big three Linux distributions - Ubuntu, Fedora and OpenSUSE.

First, we should probably explain the version number change, just to help clear up any possible confusion. The previous version of Leap was 42.3, which we reviewed here at Tecseek Technology. The version number for this release is 15. Confused? Initially, so were we. Ultimately it was a decision made by the OpenSUSE Board with an aim to match Leap with its enterprise-grade counterpart, which is precisely where OpenSUSE pulls its packages from. Some versions of packages get updated to more recent versions, but this is only done where it is deemed necessary. There's plenty of discussion online about the decision to change version numbers (again), some of them extremely lengthy and running into multiples of hundreds of responses. We don't want to waste too much space here going into a rant about it. We just want to boot it up and see what it offers. Let's take a look at the distribution itself, see how it performs and see how it stacks up against the latest versions of Ubuntu and Fedora.

Our Ubuntu testing was performed on a pretty standard hardware configuration. We threw quite a bit at Fedora, which really shined once we dumped it into a quad SSD RAID0 configuration. We thought we would try OpenSUSE Leap 15 in a similar kind of RAID0 setup. We tried it on a dual SSD RAID0 configuration, without success. There was no way could we figure out how to configure the partition tool included with the Leap installer to actually commence installation on our RAID0 setup. We had the setup right, the drives were formatted, partitioned and ready to go. But nope, we had no luck. After too many attempts, we simply took a step backward and opted to install it on a single SSD setup instead. We skipped any further RAID attempts and Leap 15 installed flawlessly. It must be noted that there didn't appear to be any actual problem or bugs anywhere in the partition tool or the installer. Rather, Leap 15 seems extremely fussy on how its partitions are configured. If everything is not set just right and according to what Leap 15 believes the perfect setup should be, it chucks a tantrum and throws up warning box after warning box. In the end, we just got too annoyed and the result was our labs team resorting to just keeping things simple. I guess sometimes KISS really is the best philosophy to follow. Moving on.

Once installed, we were blessed with the always beautiful KDE Plasma 5 desktop. It's a beautiful desktop and if you are a real fan of KDE, then OpenSUSE will most likely be your first choice of distribution as they certainly know how to ship a KDE equipped desktop. It is just perfect and gorgeous to look at, from all angles.

We were testing Leap 15 with a dual display configuration with both displays being recognized and displaying resolutions correctly, without any tinkering with display settings required. The biggest gripe we have with KDE is the Kicker Application Menu. It's become too bloated, confusing and just has way too many levels before you actually get to the application you want. And that's even if you find the right application in the right category after you finish navigating through its multiple levels of sub-menus. It's unnecessary and a complete waste of our time. The search function is brilliant and makes it so easy to simply enter the application that you want, but we still believe that any application menu should remain simple, have minimal layers and be easy to find the right application in no more than a couple of seconds. On a busy day at the office, the last thing you want to have to worry about is trying to remember which menu and sub-menu(s) you last saw that obscure, yet necessary application that you need to boot up. We advocate to return to KISS standards, again. So that's what we done. We hacked away at some settings. We removed the favorites icons on the side of the menu which we found unnecessary as we prefer to have favorites placed on the Plasma desktop panel instead. We also enabled the option to Flatten menu to a single level. This rids the menu of all its sub-menu entries in favor of keeping things down to just two levels, maximum. We also disabled the Show recent applications and documents options, which reduces that extra clutter we feel is a little bit useless. These small changes result in a very minimal, clean and simplified application menu which we would prefer to see rolled-out as default in future Plasma iterations. However, we accept the very high probability that this is not going to happen in a mainstream KDE release such as OpenSUSE Leap. We must admit though, we remain glad that the developers make it so damn easy to configure almost every aspect of the desktop's functions and appearance that you can think of.

Upon booting up a terminal console and running zypper to update the system, we were a little surprised to see ~150MB of updates available. Our copy of Leap 15 arrived one day after the official release date, so to see this high amount of updates so shortly after shipping, was a surprise. Nevertheless, we updated the system which included a Linux kernel update too, which brought the current running kernel up to 4.12.14. It is a little behind that of Ubuntu and Fedora, staying in tradition with their usual patterns, but OpenSUSE is closer to its enterprise counterpart than the other two desktop offerings are. Still, it's stable and there are no outstanding issues despite the slightly older kernel. So it's not a big problem.

If there's one thing that separates OpenSUSE from the other two mainstream distributions, it's the size of the installation ISO. Leap 15 comes in at the heavier end of the scale, @ ~4.7GB. While the latter distributions come in @ ~1.0-1.5GB. While neither choice is a real problem, it is obvious from the very moment you boot up Leap 15 that it is aimed to have everything ready for you, post-installation. We love the fact you get a choice to install KDE Plasma, GNOME or a Server instance, during installation. We equally love the software selection and believe some of its inclusions should be included in more distributions. But we also have some reservations about the necessity of others. Regular readers of Tecseek Technology will know we're always ranting on about how GIMP should be included. Well thankfully, Leap 15 keeps it right where it belongs. Nice to see. Fist pump in the air for that one fellas.

There is literally software included for everything. Other inclusions are KDE Marble, an alternative to Google Earth which is fantastic for research and reference. It features a range of globe views including classic map, OpenStreet, a range of satellite views and historical maps too. And if Earth isn't enough for you, you can switch views and look up instead, at the Moon. There's only one simple viewing option for viewing the Moon. But all of the rendering of the Moon's surface and reference information available is all based on scientific and astronomical data, so it could prove to be a vital resource for the academic nerds.

Taking a look at other software applications, we see a bunch of tools to complement GIMP. There's digiKam, Gwenview and Hugin for creating panoramic images from your digital photos. Vector based graphics packages include only LibreOffice Draw. There's also a few extras for scanning and viewing PDF files and other documents. Internet applications include Firefox and Kmail as your default offerings.

We have to admit, when Ubuntu 18.04 LTS dropped onto our desk, we were so impressed that we honestly didn't believe that any Linux distribution due to be released in 2018 could match its impressive performance. We don't usually like to make too many comparisons between distributions, as we feel each individual distribution should be tried, tested and judged on their own merit. But 18.04 LTS was so impressive, we believe that it set a new industry benchmark for quality of a Linux distribution. Most distributions are close to the same standard, but Ubuntu does seem to have the upper hand. However, that was until Leap 15 came along. As was predictable, it is free of bugs, has some of the finest polish on its aesthetics we've seen and is an absolute delight to become acquainted with.

To separate Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and OpenSUSE Leap 15 and declare one 'better' than the other would be extremely unfair. So we're not going to do it. Instead, we would say they're both on the same level and sitting on the high perch looking down at other distributions, wondering how long it will take other Linux distributions to catch up and join the new standard of the Linux desktop operating system. Because it's come a long way. We are excited for the future and can't wait to see how Ubuntu and OpenSUSE top these quality releases in their future revisions. Because it's going to be difficult.

May 22, 2018 | Fedora 28 Review

There seems to have been very little media coverage surrounding the development and release of Fedora 28 (F28). We're not exactly sure why, but it could be because F28 has been overshadowed by the hugely popular release and hype surrounding Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. The attention on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is well deserved, but F28 equally deserves the same level of attention. At least that's what Tecseek Technology believe.

Now, we say there's not much to talk about with F28 and we stand by this rather narrow assessment. During our testing, we experienced numerous problems with Anaconda, the system's graphical installation tool. On repeated attempts, we experienced random freezing, which we were unable to debug to a specific problem. We were able to reproduce the problem upon fresh installation attempts, multiple times. However, it seemed to happen at random stages of the installation process and not really reflective of a specific problem that left us with a choice to change our configuration settings or attempt to bypass the buggy stage. Instead, we were left baffled as to it's cause and relied on luck, really. We didn't keep record of the number of times we attempted our installation. But we can tell you, we find it unacceptable that F28 was pushed out in this state. Clearly there is a problem somewhere and this should have been noticed and fixed before it went gold. Eventually, we were able to get an installation complete and had a F28 GNOME desktop presented on screen, ready.

We found F28 to be quite sluggish. There's not really any reason for it to be, as it is quite a bare bones distribution out-of-the-box. We did get much better performance by logging out of the default Wayland session and changing to X display server. There's also the GNOME Classic session available, which is also much snappier than Wayland. One specific feature that we pointed out the benefits of with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS was its continued use of X display server. We recommend you stick to X with F28 too. Wayland is just too slow and creates unnecessary drag on your system's response frame rates. It creates for a horrible experience and one that can be avoided.

Dissatisfied with the performance, we wanted to see what else we could do to tweak the system and attempt to get things running a bit smoother. Specifically, the desktop frame rate lag annoyed us so we wanted to investigate further to find out what the heck was really causing it. Here's a spoiler; we held back publication of this Review awaiting results back from further testing. This Review now reflects all extended test results.

Someone in the office initiated on a hunch, that installing into a RAID0 configuration would resolve the problem. That hunch was taken literally and we reinstalled F28 to a two-disk RAID0 configuration. To our dismay, it worked! RAID0 and running F28 using X display manager, combined with the latest kernel update literally eliminated all performance lag. Still not satisfied, we went a little more hardcore. We reinstalled it again, this time opting for a four-disk SSD RAID0 configuration. This time, we left it running under Wayland and with no further kernel updates, it still worked. We had resolved our performance and lag problems. It's all very strange because although using RAID0 will always give you some added performance benefits, these benefits will usually only ever be beneficial and noticeable when the hard disk are being utilized. The only time this would occur is if the system was low on RAM allocation, it would result in the SWAP space being thrashed. The system was not low on RAM and the hard disks were not being thrashed, according to both hardware and software disk usage monitors. It's all very strange to us and to be honest with you, we have no real technical explanation which can explain it logically. We do not suspect this to be something that Red Hat/Fedora Developers have missed. Rather one of those simple technical quirks that goes down in the records as 'just weird'.

The default setup includes the 4.16.3 Linux kernel and a GNOME 3.28.2 desktop environment. We noticed within days of it going gold there was a kernel update available. In fact, as we go to press there has been a couple of kernel updates pushed out already, giving us a system running Linux 4.16.8. GNOME has not changed and most major software has remained the same, with the exception of Firefox which has been updated to version 60.0. The GNOME desktop in F28 has replaced Shotwell with Photos, for image management. This is a good decision as we never liked Shotwell anyway. Nautilus is the graphical file manager included in GNOME and is as boring as ever. It gets the job done, but we always advocate that Linux users should learn to rely on the console terminal more for file management. For more complex tasks, you can break out Midnight Commander, or mc, as the package is known by. The Software application is a bit horrible. We find it quite cumbersome and unnecessarily bloated. Again, it's just no match for the terminal console and we suggest you stick to using dnf for software management. It's much quicker.

We have tried to find something in F28 to get excited about. But we just can't. Other technology sites seemed to have found a lot of interest in something called Usage. From what we can see, Usage is effectively just another built-in graphical system monitoring package. We searched our system for this supposedly fantastic tool, but found nothing. At first we couldn't make sense of why our system didn't have it installed. We proceeded to search the available packages and quickly discovered that it is not installed by default. We went ahead and installed it, out of interest. We were left disappointed by it. We will not point fingers at the specific publications which touted how brilliant this package is, but we will say that it was more than just one publication. We're not sure what drugs their lab's team members were taking, but there's a reason that Fedora have not inluded this package by default. It adds nothing to the system that isn't already available. There's plenty of this type of software already out there. In fact, there's already an included graphical task manager and system monitor, ironically, simply called System Monitor. And it does a much better job than Usage anyway. Graphical system monitoring packages might be a nice addition to any F28 system, but we still prefer console tools for system monitoring, such as htop or glances. For disk usage monitoring, we recommend iotop. We might be taking the old fashioned route here by using and recommending console based tools, but we believe in the right tool for the job is always the best route. Usage is not worth the bother of installation. It's plain, useless and uninformative.

There's also great interest by software developers with the new modular repository. At the time of testing, we were stripped of resources here in the office and under pressure of time constraints. Therefore, we were unable to really test out this new feature. Developers seem excited about it. Essentially, the modular repository allows the user to run an alternative version of a particular package whilst the rest of the system is up-to-date and running the very latest available packages. It sounds interesting and extremely useful for developers. The more we read about it, the more we became disappointed that we didn't have the time to dig deeper into this feature.

Aside from some added value for developers, we feel there's not much else to present. As always, it's best to add the RPM Fusion repositories, as they've been updated to accommodate F28. Or if you prefer, you can just stick with the free and open-source offerings. We would really love to be presenting you an awesome review which tells you that F28 is great and well worth taking a look at. It just isn't happening this time around. We imagine F28 as a boring statue in the museum corner that everyone takes a quick glance and then continues walking simply because there's nothing worth stopping for. If you're looking for an upgrade for your Linux computer, we recommend you opt for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS instead. If you're a die hard Fedora Linux fan, then by all means go for F28 because you probably have the experience to deal with any problems you will encounter and also make the necessary changes to make it an exciting system. It has potential, but needs lots of work. We are giving this one a miss. If you really want to avoid Ubuntu (for whatever reason), then try another Linux distribution for a year or more and then perhaps revisit Fedora when 29 comes knocking.

April 28, 2018 | Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Review

At Tecseek Technology, we have been using Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) for several weeks, relying on development builds. Although this is not recommended for mission critical systems, we had plans in place to avoid any loss of data as a result of something going awry. Yet we are glad to say that it has not been required that we roll-out our emergency recovery plans we had set aside, as this latest Ubuntu release has been rock solid stable for us for the duration of the final stages of development.

We started testing 18.04 early so that it had a chance to prove itself against what we consider high expectations of what produces a good Linux distribution. We have high standards. Probably some would deem them too high. But we believe that by having high standards, it is providing a better benchmark to measure against which will ultimately help to determine the good distributions from the bad and the plain old boring ones. However, as you read on you will soon find out that 18.04 exceeded our standards, with ease.

We are running two systems with 18.04 physically installed. Sometimes we rely on virtual machines for our testing, but this time around we have returned to doing things properly and keeping things more traditional by relying on actual computer hardware. We use Intel CPU chips on both systems while AMD and Intel handle the graphics. One system is connected to the network by ethernet and utilizing a VPN. The other system connects to the same network by wireless connectivity and also utilizes the same VPN service, but a different server location.

18.04 is a Long Term Support release. So you are guaranteed updates from the Main repository right through until April 2023 - 5 years from the date of release - for Desktop, Server and Core versions. While other official derivatives get a shorter support life of only 3 years. Ubuntu Studio only gets 9 months of support, for some strange reason.

We are using the XFCE desktop on our main system which is running Xubuntu. Additionally, we are running vanilla Ubuntu which uses the default GNOME desktop, on our laptop. We can safely report to our readers that both releases work superbly. We chose XFCE as our main desktop of choice because we wanted something a bit more customizable and an environment that sticks to traditional desktop usage principles. This is one of the greatest strengths of XFCE. Whilst our Lenovo laptop has some fancy extra buttons and functions, we chose the vanilla version of Ubuntu and GNOME to ensure that we have maximum support for Secure Boot and all our nice little extras. The laptop originally had Windows 10 pre-installed, but we ditched it in favor of Ubuntu. Once we entered the UEFI/BIOS and disabled Secure Boot, we were able to install Ubuntu without any problems. Post-installation and upon reboot, we found everything worked as intended. This included bluetooth, Wi-Fi and all our extra function keys.

When Secure Boot was first implemented, the free software and Linux development community threw their arms up in a state of panic and were quickly concluding that Linux would lose out to Microsoft Windows 10 on systems where the latter was pre-installed. Although the concern is completely justified, in our experience Secure Boot poses no realistic problem anymore once it is disabled. There are various implementations, hacks and workarounds that have been developed by the Linux development community which now properly cater for Secure Boot and are doing their job just fine. There is now suitable compatibility for Secure Boot from Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and commercial Linux company, Red Hat, which extend their compatibility to their community developed projects of CentOS and Fedora.

If you put the two desktop versions we use side-by-side, XFCE remains the snappiest of the two. But we don't take anything away from GNOME as to be fair, it is running on a system with slightly lower specifications than our XFCE system. XFCE is running on an effective 8 cores while GNOME is running off just 2 cores. The total amount of RAM installed also plays a major part in performance. The XFCE system has an extra 2GB on top of the GNOME system, which will give XFCE an undisputed advantage. So our comparison is to be taken as a guide only, rather than any serious technical comparison or benchmark.

If anyone had actually been taking notice, they would have realized that the official 18.04 package repositories were updated the night before official release date. We updated our systems the night before and received some final updates, which included a kernel update. Then we attempted another update the next day, once it had officially been released yet APT reported that all packages were up to date.

Technically speaking, 18.04 comes with Linux kernel 4.15.0-20. Considering the official latest stable kernel available from kernel.org sits at 4.16.5, we remain pretty happy with the version included with 18.04. Actually, considering this is a LTS release, it's a rather aggressive approach compared to traditional inclusions of the Linux kernel in releases with extended support. If you're really keen, you can always roll out the latest Ubuntu Mainline kernel anyway. Or any custom kernels that you might prefer to install.

We don't feel the need to delve too deeply in what versions of software are included. Instead, we prefer to focus on how the desktop as a whole performs. One word is all that is required to summarize our experience - Excellent. We are extremely happy with the stability of this release. Both the XFCE and GNOME desktops perform well and look great. The default wallpapers are a little bit of a let down, but there is plenty of beautiful options to choose from in the desktop settings if you want to change it. We changed them. We also made a small change to the window buttons by bringing them back to the left. But that's up to you what you prefer. While changing this on XFCE is as simple as heading into the Settings Manager, it is a little more tricky on GNOME and required us to jump into APT and install the GNOME Tweak Tool. Although this is not difficult to do, we believe a simple tweak like this should be simplified for GNOME users. But that is just getting picky. We also made another small tweak and changed the window move button to ALT, instead of Super. We believe this change is a no-brainer and the ALT key should be default for moving windows with the mouse and not Super.

Our couple of small critiques aside, the Bionic Beaver is one heck of a release. It still runs X display server as default, with Wayland provided as an option at login. We're not too sure where Wayland development is at, but to be frank, we don't care. We stick to X on every Linux distribution that gets dropped onto our desk, regardless. We have experienced too many stability problems with Wayland so far and just see no reason to pursue trying it any further. To be honest, we're not really sure why Ubuntu Developers seem so insistent on pursuing its development, as it continues to pose problems and continues to be pushed back and delayed all the time. So we're glad that X display manager is still used as default. According to the official Release Notes provided with the arrival of 18.04, the included version of Wayland is still a Technical Preview. Our advice, steer clear of it and don't even bother. Just forget that it's even there. We advocate that if there is nothing wrong with X display server (which there is not), then why go developing any form of replacement that offers nothing that can't be done already with X. So stick with X, please.

LibreOffice is included, obviously. It's a nice update too, with the inclusion of version 6.0.3.2. Firefox Quantum is the latest version at 59.0.2. There's plenty of updates included in Ubuntu Server, but we didn't touch that variant this time and have no intention to. But reading through the Release Notes we can see some nice updates to Apache, Nginx and PHP. All useful for system administrators intending to roll out the 18.04 update on a web server. These would be welcome.

This is a release of Ubuntu that we can really appreciate. Sometimes Long Term Support releases can be a little uninspiring and you're made to feel like you need to upgrade anyway. But this time it feels different. It actually has the cool factor attached to it. It actually makes Ubuntu a cool Linux distribution, again. Powerful, if you will. For a while, the Ubuntu brand name was heading on a path that we feared it could never return. A path which resembled an old man saying, 'I'm old, comfortable and don't feel the need to be cool anymore'. Tecseek Technology believes that in the world of Linux, that's nonsense. Thankfully, Ubuntu has jumped off that path and onto a new path with a more positive future.

With the release of 18.04 it seems everyone is again talking about Linux and everyone wants to install Ubuntu. We believe it's a good thing. If you want to install Linux, then you must install Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver). You just have to!

February 14, 2018 | Setting Up a Smart Home Theater Network in Your Home

So, you've gone out and bought yourself a new large screen TV. While you were at the store, you decided to splurge out and also purchase a new Windows 10 laptop. Sure, your new TV might have been sold to you as a "Smart TV", but in our experience, these over-hyped "smart" units are only as smart as the media that you feed into them.

For modern consumer media consumption, there's no denying that digital wins over having to plug in old fashioned DVD players and other external set-top units. Realistically, everything can now be done from your new laptop by using the new smart TV as an extended display. There's no real need to have all those ugly external units sitting beneath the TV when that wasted space could be better reserved for placing that ugly vase that your Nana passed down to you.

We're going to really modernize the way you watch and listen to your digital media. We make the basic assumption that you already have your video and audio files on your hard drive.

To get started, we simply need to install some basic media player software on the Windows 10 laptop. For video files, we're going to install SMPlayer. For audio files, we recommend foobar2000. Additionally, we also install Spotify. If you do not use Spotify, then you can skip its installation. The problem we continuously see with modern smart TV sets is the format support for files is always much too limited. Some recent models still do not support H265. We have also experienced some problems with playing older DivX files on brand new units. Our choice of software is deliberate for the simple fact that between SMPlayer and foobar2000, you'll find that you will be able to watch and play any file format that you throw at them.

Once you have installed the software on your laptop, we need to connect it to the smart TV with a HDMI cable. This is all that is required as HDMI handles both the audio and video signal of the data transmission. Some HDMI cables even support ethernet connectivity inside them. But that's not relevant to this project. Once connected, select the HDMI source on the TV and you should now be able to see an extended screen which is generated from the laptop. Initially, you will still need to control it using the laptop, but now you are able to listen to all your favorite music and watch all your favorite movies through your new smart TV, powered by the laptop.

Allowing the laptop to handle the processing power of media delivery through the smart TV is much better. Specifically, for video files. You will achieve greater picture clarity, sharper and smoother video playback than if you were to play it directly through the smart TV. This is simply because laptops and computers have much better and much more capable processing hardware. The decoding hardware included in smart TV units is sometimes outdated at the time of purchase and the actual parts used to assemble these units is of questionable quality from the time of assembly.

We recommend you just don't bother allowing your smart TV to try and prove its level of intellect to you. Trust us, you will only be disappointed. Allow the laptop to be the smart one. Selling TV units to consumers as smart devices is somewhat misleading and really requires further review into what defines them as "smart". They're usually just units that operate on outdated versions of Android and have an ethernet port on the back or Wi-Fi capable connectivity.

Now that you have the laptop powering your smart TV, there is no reason to go any further if you don't want to make things any more complicated and if you're not confident. But you might find it a little inconvenient that you have to control everything from the laptop, rather than having a remote control at your fingertips. We have a solution to this problem. You can install the Unified Remote server onto the laptop and install the equivalent app onto your smartphone. Once installed on the laptop, set it to run on Windows startup and then all you have to do is launch the app on your smartphone and it will automatically synchronize with the laptop's Unified Remote server. The smartphone app is effectively a remote control for the laptop, by allowing you to access a virtual keyboard, mouse emulation and a simple media player remote control. The options on the media player remote are basic, with buttons for Volume Up/Down, Mute, Forward/Back skip, Play/Pause and Stop. The best thing is, it's completely compatible with SMPlayer and foobar2000. Inside the app, you can install additional components. One of them is a remote for Spotify. Brilliant!

Now that we have a full working remote control for our media setup, we need to think about how we can make our media more accessible in the house and not so limited to just the one unit in one room. We have installed a media server. Essentially, this is a basic headless PC desktop unit. Believe it or not, Windows 10 does a brilliant job of acting as a server. As our media server is also running Windows 10, it's pretty much guaranteed to eliminate all network connectivity issues as Windows 10 systems always play nice with their own kind.

Once you have setup your media server, you simply need to attach your media files to the network. We have our media files residing on an external USB hard drive which plugs directly into the server and then we share the folders across the network and make it accessible to everyone. This can be useful for large families with children, who can now access media on the server. It's free movies and music for everyone in the house!

What type of connectivity you opt for is really up to you. You may find Wi-Fi is sufficient for you, but you will most likely find the network slows greatly when multiple people try to access your media server. We actually do not recommend Wi-Fi. Only on very rare occasions. And this is one of those cases that if you can, always stick to running your systems on the network with ethernet connectivity. The most important system to ensure it connects via ethernet is the media server. Run the media server through a suitable network switch connected to your gateway router and the media server should be freely accessible to others on the network.

The last step is to install ES File Manager on your Android smartphone. It's a brilliant file manager and has the ability to access files over the local area network (LAN). Once installed, you no longer need YouTube, as you can now stream your own movies and favorite music tracks to your smartphone, directly from your own media server over your own network.

January 4, 2018 | Bitcoin Simplified Explanation

Bitcoin is described as a "cryptocurrency". It was created under the developer alias of Satoshi Nakamoto and the source code released as open-source, in 2009. It differs to other forms of digital currency like PayPal, because it is not owned, operated or controlled by one single person or organization.

One of the first concepts of a cryptocurrency was suggested by cypherpunk and software engineer, Wei Dai, back in 1998. It was said by Dai that cryptocurrency is "money which is impossible to regulate". Core concepts of Dai's cryptocurrency "b-money" were actually implemented into Bitcoin. It is claimed that Wei Dai and British cryptographer, Adam Back, were two of the first people contacted by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 when Bitcoin was still under development.

The real identity of Satoshi Nakamoto has never been revealed. There has been speculation and claims by a few people of being the 'real' Satoshi, however none of these claims have had enough evidence to substantiate and verify their claims. Therefore, they've all been disputed. Many technologists and software engineers suggest that Satoshi Nakamoto is actually a team of developers and not just one person, as originally believed. This is suggested because the source code is thought to be much too complex to be the effort of one sole individual. Tecseek Technology believes this to be a very plausible explanation. It is most likely a group of developers who wish to see their work adopted and spread organically, yet remain anonymous.

Essentially, Bitcoins are created by sophisticated computers processing extremely complicated math problems. The math problems are so complex, it is the intention that it become extremely difficult to create fake Bitcoins. To date, the technology has been relatively effective and it appears it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

While solving the math problems, the computers are also confirming transactions on the network. The entire Bitcoin public ledger of transactions is known as the "Blockchain". The Blockchain is kept by all miners. The result of the Blockchain is a distributed public ledger. This allows the Bitcoin public ledger to exist without any centralized or controlled server. It can be described as a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency network.

At the time of writing, the Blockchain is [1]145GB+ in size and grows larger every time a new block is solved and added to the Blockchain. [Source: [1] https://blockchain.info/charts/blocks-size]

"Mining" is the term used to describe the process of adding transaction records to the public ledger. A "mining rig" is the term used to describe a single computer or server system dedicated to performing the necessary and complex math computations for the "mining" process.

Pool mining and Individual mining:

"Pool mining" is where a bunch of people pool their computers together to mine and then the pool operator divides the rewards evenly among all the miners in the pool.

"Individual mining" is pretty self-explanatory and describes an individual person using one individual computer system to mine.

The kinds of math problems aren't the normal problems that we studied at school. Math problems in this case refers to the SHA-256 secure cryptographic hashing function, created by the NSA. It is used as a tool to secure the network, confirm transactions and create secure Bitcoin addresses. To wrap your brain around it, think of a Bitcoin address as a Bitcoin account. The network is not used to process real world math problems which will produce a result. It's about cryptography and security within the network. These math problems are bundled together in groups called "Blocks". These problems ensure that no one miner can just jump in and confirm all transactions for themselves and claim the reward. The math problems are the miner's "Proof of work".

When a block of these math problems is solved, Bitcoins are issued to the miner that solves the block of problems. The miner also receives the transaction fees of all of the transactions that were processed in that block. (Bitcoin users pay a transaction fee every time they want to send payment.)

If you have a mining farm (a bunch of computers solving these math problems and processing Bitcoin transactions) that solves a block, you will get the reward. So, you would get current Bitcoin rate plus all transaction fees that were paid for the Bitcoin transactions in that block. This goes on and on and on. Once a block is solved and the coins issued, all of the work being done by miners goes into a new block.

Assuming blockchain and Bitcoin technology is still around in 123 years from now, the last Bitcoin will be mined in the year [2]2140. [Source: [2] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Controlled_supply] From that point onwards the miners will only earn the transaction fees for the mining. You can think of this whole process like an automated accountant.

The purpose:

1) Process Bitcoin transactions on the network.

2) Limit the supply of Bitcoins so that they are not worthless.

3) Serve as the "Proof of work" that a miner was actually processing the mining for the network the entire time.

4) To create the public ledger of all transactions that takes place on the network.

A special thank you to Senthil Kumar, who also contributed to this article.

December 31, 2017 | Lack of Education of Alternate Operating Systems is Failing Our Students and the Industry

There is the very real potential for a global shortage of qualified and quality computer and software technicians.

There are so many great alternate operating systems in the public domain, some in a constant state of development, some readily available and stable. Many public high schools still have extremely sub-standard information technology classes. These public classes usually only focus on the sole usage of the Microsoft Windows operating system. In some cases, there may be some teaching using the Mac OS platform. But generally, Windows is still assumed to be the default of most users. To educate students on one or two platforms, whilst ignoring all the alternatives, is much too limiting and does not nearly do enough to take full advantage of the range of operating systems that are available.

It would not be uncommon to survey teenagers still studying in high school, asking them to list the operating systems they are familiar with and find a majority response would be the same two platforms listed - Windows and Mac OS. We would not at all be surprised if the result of reply with these same two answers would be very close to 100%. This lack of knowledge of what alternate operating systems are available and in most cases completely free to download and use, is not the fault of students. It is a direct failing of the public high school curriculum. Public education policy makers must start to pay attention and stop ignoring this issue which has the potential to cause many problems in the not too distant future. And it may not be limited to just a few nations among the developed world. It could quickly expand into a global problem and affect many countries.

We need to start teaching our teenage students about the advantages and disadvantages of different operating system platforms, who created them, why they were supposedly created and their potential to fill a void in the marketplace.

We need to look deep into the development ecosystems of alternate operating systems and at different platforms, looking beyond the Windows, Mac OS and even the Linux/Unix camps. There are third-party projects out there which get almost no attention. Are they worth the attention? Absolutely, yes. Why do they not get the attention they deserve? Lack of education.

Windows and Mac OS are limited in scope, due to their commercial closed-source nature. Linux and BSD have brilliant mainstream offerings, but they have equal brilliance beyond the mainstream projects which might be the default go-to of the platform. Sure, FreeBSD is great. But what is even better and more fun to learn, is NetBSD. If you like the familiarities of Windows, then give ReactOS a shot. Or if you prefer the command-prompt environment of Windows, then that's no problem either as you might enjoy FreeDOS.

Students need to be encouraged to be more open minded and be given opportunities to explore the different options. Not just in their spare time, but as part of their education curriculum.

We need to encourage installation of these operating systems. We need to harvest and take full advantage of what modern software allows us to do. Grab hold of the capabilities to essentially sandbox your operating system testing to Oracle VM VirtualBox and VMWare, or any other virtual machine software. We live in an era of technical and software brilliance that literally hands everything to us on a silver platter. Nobody gives a second thought to how that silver platter was constructed or if there is a different variation of the silver platter available to deliver your goods.

All of the above is what we need to encourage students to do, plus more. Installing new operating systems, trying them, testing them, encouraging them to break things and attempt to fix them when they break. All of these things are of great importance and of equal importance to each other.

Despite the negative attitudes towards proprietary and commercial software from open-source advocates, closed-source software does have its purpose in the market. As does open-source software. But it does not honestly have a place in technical teachings of operating systems. Education spawns with the use of free and open-source software. The free and open-source software community does an amazing job of spreading the word, the knowledge, their skills and the software itself in binary and source form. But it is no longer solely up to the community to do what high schools should be doing. Because it should never be underestimated of the what further skills can be learned by literally heading into the unknown. The result can be new skills learned, developed and improved. If enough interest is generated, then it opens up a very wide door which has the potential for further development - whether it be a fork of an existing open-source project or something completely new. It's what the industry needs to breed and develop new thoughts, new technology and new interest. Only through planting the seeds to grow this interest can we begin to learn what potential we have at our disposal and begin to hone this interest into further skills and areas within the information technology sector that these skills will be of benefit most.

December 22, 2017 | Vaporware Worries Growing, as Atari Delays the Release of Ataribox

It was way back in July that Tecseek Technology first brought you some detailed hints of the Ataribox. It's now December and the end of 2017 is fast approaching, but the Ataribox is still yet to make an appearance.

Since our initial write up on what the Ataribox could potentially be and what specifications it could contain on the inside, we've learned that the unit will run on a Linux-based operating system, will contain Atari classics games as well as some inclusions by indie developers. Additionally, Atari has released a few preview images of the system's joystick, which can be viewed on their Instagram.

At Tecseek Technology, we are a little disappointed that Atari hasn't provided much more information on the technical specifications of the unit. According to the scarce details on the website, the unit is powered by what Atari is calling Open Linux OS. It remains unclear whether this is a customized version of a Linux-based platform developed by Atari in-house specifically for the sole purpose of gaming, or whether it's a modified Debian (or other) release. It's also unclear how the games will be launched by the user interface.

A stimulating thought to ponder is whether Atari have figured out how to run the games natively on top of Linux or whether the unit will simply run the games from a pre-installed emulator. Unconfirmed information available to Tecseek Technology suggest that the Atari games will be run off an emulator, while users will have complete access to the underlying Linux operating system to install additional games. If this information is confirmed, then we suspect that the hardware inside will be very similar to a low-end PC. There are reports that the Ataribox will run on a customized AMD CPU with Radeon graphics adapter. There is also the very real possibility of the unit including HDMI connectivity, multiple USB ports, ethernet networking and an SD card slot for extra storage. How much flexibility there will be with the hardware and the operating system is impossible to speculate. Therefore, it remains speculation until we can cite confirmation by Atari.

The eventual cost of the unit is also unclear and has not been confirmed by Atari, but there are hints that it may be between $249 to $299 mark. Assuming that the hardware will be similar to a low-end PC, this price point sounds like it's heading in the right range. Most likely towards the top end of that price range.

Atari sent out a press email on December 12, with brief details revealing that the Ataribox would be available for pre-order on December 14. But then on December 14, we received another press email titled "Launch Delay". The new email stated that the unit had been delayed. The given reason by Atari was so the company could take "more time to create the platform and ecosystem the Atari community deserves". It's a very vague reason and does not really leave any hint as to when the unit will be available.

Various online reports now suggest that it will most likely be delayed until the second quarter of 2018. We hope it does eventually arrive and sincerely hope that the entire project doesn't turn to vaporware. The Atari and retro gaming community are expecting something pretty special from the company, with the upcoming release of the Ataribox. We certainly hope the company can deliver on its promise and live up to the hype and expectations of the gaming community that awaits.

December 16, 2017 | Fedora 27 Review

The time between the release of Fedora 26 and 27 (F26 and F27, respectively) was very short. You could be forgiven for taking a position to believe the release of F27 was not the full 6 month release cycle. It must be noted that in what was literally just a few months following F26, F27 was not released early. The close time frame between the releases was the result of F26 being delayed. But F27 is nowhere, it's running, so let's take a look at it.

Our initial thoughts follow on from F26, really. This is a good release. It's very sharp and nimble in operation. We have had it installed since its release and it's never gave us any problems since the initial installation. It's also an attractive release. But it doesn't just have good aesthetics, it has some solid goods underneath which make the release worth the real estate on your hard disk.

F27 comes with a Linux kernel 4.13.9 and GNOME Shell 3.26. The best feature in this release is that it comes pre-loaded with Firefox Quantum - the latest update to the popular Firefox web browser. We believe Fedora 27 is the first version of a Linux based operating system to have Firefox Quantum included out of the box. Obviously, any other distribution can update the Firefox package to Quantum. And the next versions of all the mainstream Linux operating systems will include Firefox Quantum also. Still, it's great that F27 had the timing right and was able to include Firefox Quantum, which we must stress is well worth the upgrade. There are still some reports of some extensions not working correctly with Firefox Quantum. So if you're a heavy user of extensions, you might want to do your research to ensure they will work correctly under Firefox Quantum. By the time this Review goes to press [delayed, due to unforeseen circumstances] most popular Firefox extensions should have been upgraded to work with Quantum.

Everything else inside the final F27 package is pretty standard stuff. There's not a lot of custom stuff that is visible to the eye ball. But it has the true feel and spirit of Fedora, where it counts. We recommend if you're already running F26, make the jump to F27. There's many good releases of Linux based operating systems available now. It's becoming difficult to differentiate one distribution from the other. But that's alright. Because if they're stable and they're secure, then we have no problem recommending any of the mainstream distributions to new Linux adoptees. Thankfully, Fedora is fast, secure and its development and funding is backed by Red Hat. Therefore, we place it towards the top of the Linux recommendations camp.

December 16, 2017 | Securing Windows 10 Doesn't Have to Cost You Money

Windows 10 is pretty impressive in its security, when compared to its predecessors. The firewall is resilient and stays out of the way whilst doing its job. And the default inclusion of Windows Defender is a nice security addition. Unfortunately, the Windows operating system platform does still suffer from being a prime target for hackers and virus writers. While it is possible to run Windows 10 without antivirus software, as many advanced users do, we don't recommend it unless you have serious knowledge and understanding of the underlying file system structure of Windows and the system registry and you're confident you can resolve any security issues that might infect the system while running naked. If you're not confident, then please install an antivirus program. Which one and how? Tecseek Technology is here to help.

Let us first start by saying that although there are some reputable commercial antivirus software packages available for purchase, many of them are extremely overpriced, overrated and bloated with unnecessary features that simply slow down your system and duplicate the same features already included within Windows and your web browsers. There are many free antivirus options available, but you need to be cautious about your choice. As with commercial packages for purchase, there are also some free options that you should avoid.

This article is not a round-up of all the free options available. There's plenty of those articles already on the internet. We're not going to flood the internet with even more of the same thing. Today, we're focusing on Kaspersky Free.

Kaspersky security software has been around for a very long time. But Kaspersky Free only emerged as an offering in 2017. Please note, it is offered for free on a non-commercial basis. Other than this limitation, there's not much that has been chopped from the free service. Kaspersky Free offers a full antivirus service which takes care of your operating system security, with additional security features which extend to files, web, instant messages and email. Independent third-party security testing demonstrates that Kaspersky holds its own when compared to its competition, consistently rating at the high end of the scale. Despite some allegations that Kaspersky has links to the Russian Government, the allegations have never been proven and remain just that - allegations. Therefore, we are not taking this into consideration with our recommendation.

The features that are not available in Kaspersky Free are extended application control, firewall, private browsing, webcam protection, anti-banner, network attack blocker, system watcher, anti-spam, application manager and a feature called safe money. Whilst these all sound like brilliant features, many of them are taken care of by features built-in to your web browser and the Windows operating system. The only missing piece which we recommend you need to pay attention to is malware protection. As good as Kaspersky Free is, there will be specific types of malware that will not be detected. This is common with antivirus services and by no means unique to Kaspersky Free. This is something that is easily resolved by installing Malwarebytes, which is also free. As with antivirus software packages, Malwarebytes offers a premium service. But we don't recommend you upgrade to any premium packages. The simple fact is if you are running Kaspersky Free plus Malwarebytes Free, combined with the existing Windows Firewall, Defender and the internal security features of Windows, then your system is going to be pretty difficult for viruses/malware to break. Albeit, not impossible.

With software and computer security, there is no such existing solution that will secure a system 100%. It's not technically feasible to demand 100% security. But installing the aforementioned services won't cost you a penny and is easily up to the task of keeping you and your system safe.

It's not just software that keeps you safe, it's also your own computer habits that you must pay attention to and improve in areas you know are failing. There are simply too many occasions where computer users start blaming their computer and its software for letting them down when things go pear shaped. But those that work within the computer security and service industry will tell you that in just about every case we review, it's the user that is at fault but is simply unwilling to accept the blame for their often unintentional and innocent stupidity. Stay away from pirated software and do not visit websites that you know to be a risk to your system, or have any possibility to pose a risk. There are so many free and open-source software choices now available for Windows (and Linux), there is no excuse for users to be running pirated software.

Upgrade your Windows operating system to Windows 10, patch your system with the latest updates, install Kaspersky Free plus Malwarebytes Free and you are sure to have one of the most secure home computer systems in your street.

October 20, 2017 | Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) Review

Before we delve into the release that is Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark), we need to make a disclaimer. The staff at Tecseek Technology have vast experience in testing and reviewing lots of different free and open-source software and Linux distributions - especially Ubuntu. If you search our website for previous Ubuntu reviews, you might notice there is a severe absence. What you will find available to read on the website is limited. Our limited coverage of Ubuntu is a result of a major data loss event that we experienced recently. The data loss was not the result of anything malicious, rather the sole result of our own malpractice through a combination of hardware failures and data migration between servers. Therefore, despite our vast experience in publishing reputable Ubuntu reviews, we are unable to present to you our previous efforts. We apologize and is disappointing for us. But we are looking forward to the future and taking this latest Ubuntu release as an opportunity for a reboot.

Now with that out of the way, let's get to work and get rebooted in an attempt to restore the faith our readers once had in our Ubuntu reviews, which were always very much anticipated upon release of a new Ubuntu version. Read on loyal minions.

Equal to Tecseek Technology using this release as an opportunity to reboot, the release of 17.10 is a fresh start for the popular distribution. It's the first release which utilizes the GNOME Shell as the default desktop environment. Ubuntu has decided to ditch the relatively unpopular Unity desktop in favor of the much better developed and supported GNOME Shell. It was a great decision, we believe, as we absolutely loathed Unity and thought it was just unworkable. And no matter how many additions, changes and tweaks Unity received, it just never quite felt like it was workable as a desktop for daily usage. So we're really happy that Ubuntu has adopted GNOME Shell. That is the biggest update for 17.10.

We will happily declare that we've always had a soft spot for Ubuntu. It really is the darling of Linux distributions that is well deserving of the love that it receives from the open-source community. We instantly fell in love with 17.10 from the moment we began testing the development builds. Visually, it's so fresh and appealing. We love the aesthetics - the background, GNOME Shell and the semi-transparent side-bar and top navigation bar.

We commenced testing 17.10 from the earliest of the daily builds. As development has progressed, we witnessed 17.10 evolve into one of the finest, most polished and reliable desktop Linux distributions available at this very moment. The world of Linux and the rapid progress of distribution development and releases makes it really hard to pin-point the ¿best' distribution at any point in time. If we were to choose one right now, Ubuntu 17.10 would undoubtedly be our first pick.

At the time we go to press, we are using a completely updated build of 17.10 with the latest packages running on GNOME Shell 3.26.1 and Linux kernel 4.13.0. To be honest, we're really surprised to find such a recent kernel in a Ubuntu release. Traditionally, the focus has been on stability and as a result of this focus, the sacrifice has usually been made to drop back a couple of kernel version numbers for something a little more proven. By choosing to use a very recent kernel version it doesn't mean there's any sacrifice in stability. We put 17.10 through some pretty keen testing and experienced nothing that could take points away from any such stability rating.

The only issue we can take with the default behavior of 17.10 is the window control buttons. The developers have chosen to move them back to the right. Yes, you read that correct! The decision for Ubuntu to move them to the left was taken way back in 2010. Although it was controversial at the time, the decision was made on the basis that it was more natural and also allowed for less mouse-drag due to application menus also usually being located on the left of an application's graphical interface. It all made sense, really. Since the move, we have actually adapted very well to having them on the left and find it very natural indeed. So natural that when we use a Windows-based system, we habitually move the mouse over to the left. But we quickly find ourselves flicking over to the right, because Windows likes to stick to tradition.

Well, seven years on from the initial decision by Ubuntu to move them to the left, tradition wins over innovation and they've moved back to the right. We could go ahead an write a ten thousand word essay on the advantages and disadvantages of the specific location of the window control buttons on an operating system. Yet at the end of the day, it's going to come down to personal choice and what feels natural for the user in front of the screen. To us, we're sticking with our declaration that the left feels more natural and still makes sense. Therefore, switching them back to the left was one of the first tweaks we performed upon fresh installation of 17.10. This was easily achieved by one simple command in the terminal console. An annoyance, for sure. But certainly not a problem to resolve.

We don't want to focus too much on what applications you'll find pre-installed. But rest assured that all the usual applications are present. There's enough to get you going right out-of-the-box. For those software applications and packages you like to use that are missing, they can obviously be quickly installed in the terminal console in just minutes, using APT.

There's everything to love and nothing to hate with 17.10. It's by far the most attractive Ubuntu release to date and the switch to GNOME Shell has made it even more enticing. Whe