Google, Microsoft, Vodafone and Yahoo! etc. - international privacy and censorship issues

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What effect, if any, will the promises made by Google, Microsoft, Vodafone and Yahoo! etc., regarding world wide human rights, privacy and censorship laws and policies, have on the WIkliLeaks.org project ?

Press Release from Business for Social Responsibility:

01/18/2007: Press Release from Business for Social Responsibility

Companies, Human Rights Groups, Investors, Academics and Technology Leaders to Address International Free Expression and Privacy Challenges

(CSRwire) January 18, 2007--A diverse group of companies, academics, investors, technology leaders and human rights organizations announced today its intention to seek solutions to the free expression and privacy challenges faced by technology and communications companies doing business internationally.

The process “ which aims to produce a set of principles guiding company behavior when faced with laws, regulations and policies that interfere with the achievement of human rights“ marks a new phase in efforts that these groups began in 2006.

Last year, Google, Microsoft, Vodafone and Yahoo!, with the facilitation of Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and advice from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, initiated a series of dialogues to gain a fuller understanding of free expression and privacy as they relate to the use of technology worldwide.

At the same time, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) was also convening technology leaders, investors and human rights advocates to discuss how to advance civil liberties on the Internet in the face of laws that run contrary to international standards for human rights.

Both processes benefited from dialogue, research and policy expertise on internet filtering and surveillance practices from the OpenNet Consensus, a coalition of academic institutions including the University of California Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and School of Law-Boalt Hall, the Berkman Center and others.

The new combined group, in addition to developing the principles, seeks to advance their effectiveness by establishing a framework to implement the principles, hold signatories accountable and provide for ongoing learning.

"Technology companies have played a vital role building the economy and providing tools important for democratic reform in developing countries. But some governments have found ways to turn technology against their citizens -- monitoring legitimate online activities and censoring democratic material," CDT Executive Director Leslie Harris said. "It is vital that we identify solutions that preserve the enormous democratic value provided by technological development, while at the same time protecting the human rights and civil liberties of those who stand to benefit from that expansion."

BSR CEO Aron Cramer said that the discussions over the past year have already proven valuable.

"Thanks to the extraordinary commitment of the companies and other participants in this process we've already learned a great deal about the obstacles we face and the ways business and other stakeholders can join forces to address those challenges," Cramer said. "This important dialogue reflects a shared commitment to maximize the information available via the internet on the basis of global principles protecting free expression and privacy. This dialogue could prove a key step in unlocking the communications potential of the internet."

Members of the group plan to complete the process in 2007. The following companies and stakeholders have agreed to participate:

# Amnesty International
# Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School
# Boston Common Asset Management
# Business for Social Responsibility (Facilitator)
# Calvert Group
# Center for Democracy and Technology (Facilitator)
# Committee to Protect Journalists
# Domini Social Investments LLC
# Electronic Frontier Foundation
# Enterprise Privacy Group
# F&C Asset Management
# Google, Inc.
# Human Rights First
# Human Rights in China
# Human Rights Watch
# International Business Leaders Forum
# International Council on Human Rights Policy
# Microsoft
# Reporters Without Borders
# Trillium Asset Management
# United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary-General on business & human rights (Observer status)
# University of California, Berkeley School of Law-Boalt Hall
# Vodafone
# Yahoo! Inc.


[...]

Will any of these companies help to fund or at least tolerate the WIkiLeaks.org project, or is it all just for the sake of giving a good public relations impression ?

Will any of these human rights and privacy organisations get involved with WIkiLeaks.org in an advisory capacity, or will they consider it to be too destabilising a project ?

[Hat tip: WanabeHuman]

Some blog commentary:

RConversation

About this blog

This blog here at WikiLeak.org (no "S") discusses the ethical and technical issues raised by the WikiLeakS.org project, which is trying to be a resource for whistleblower leaks, by providing "untraceable mass document leaking and analysis".

These are bold and controversial aims and claims, with both pros and cons, especially for something which crosses international boundaries and legal jurisdictions.

This blog is not part of the WikiLeakS.org project, and there really are no copies of leaked documents or files being mirrored here.

Email Contact

Please feel free to email us your views about this website or news about the issues it tries to comment on:

email: blog@WikiLeak[dot]org

Before you send an email to this address, remember that this blog is independent of the WikiLeakS.org project.

If you have confidential information that you want to share with us, please make use of our PGP public encryption key or an email account based overseas e.g. Hushmail

LeakDirectory.org

Now that the WikiLeakS.org project is defunct, so far as new whistleblower are concerned, what are the alternatives ?

The LeakDirectory.org wiki page lists links and anonymity analyses of some of the many post-wikileaks projects.

There are also links to better funded "official" whistlblowing crime or national security reporting tip off websites or mainstream media websites. These should, in theory, be even better at protecting the anonymity and security of their informants, than wikileaks, but that is not always so.

New whistleblower website operators or new potential whistleblowers should carefully evaluate the best techniques (or common mistakes) from around the world and make their personal risk assessments accordingly.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

The WikiLeakS.org Submissions web page provides some methods for sending them leaked documents, with varying degrees of anonymity and security. Anybody planning to do this for real, should also read some of the other guides and advice to political activists and dissidents:

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link: http://ht4w.co.uk

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)

WikiLeakS Links

The WikiLeakS.org Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

WikiLeakS Twitter feeds

The WikiLeakS.org website does not stay online all of the time, especially when there is a surge of traffic caused by mainstream media coverage of a particularly newsworthy leak.

Recently, they have been using their new Twitter feeds, to selectively publicise leaked documents to the media, and also to report on the status of routing or traffic congestion problems affecting the main website in Stockholm, Sweden.

N.B.the words "security" or "anonymity" and "Twitter" are mutually exclusive:

WikiLeakS.org Twitter feed via SSL encrypted session: https://twitter.com/wikileaks

WikiLeakS.org unencrypted Twitter feed http://twitter.com/wikileaks

Internet Censorship

OpenNet Initiative - researches and measures the extent of actual state level censorship of the internet. Features a blocked web URL checker and censorship map.

Temporary Autonomous Zone

Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ) by Hakim Bey (Peter Lambourn Wilson)

Cyberpunk author William Gibson

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us, UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond

Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Wikileaks.org - the controversial "uncensorable, anonymous whistleblowing" website based currently in Sweden.

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