Archive for the ‘Zivilgesellschaft’ Category

USA: Schluss mit der Straflosigkeit!

Freitag, Dezember 19th, 2014

“December 17, 2014 | The Brussels Tribunal

Stop Torture! Accountability: YES – Impunity: NO

On 9 December 2014, the US Senate released its CIA torture report. The investigation confirmed what globally has been known for many years: the US Central Intelligence Agency and US-outsourced national authorities in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere have been involved in an extensive range of torture applications.

Compelling evidence has become available, especially since 2001, the beginning of the Afghanistan war, through investigations by the European Parliament and national judicial authorities, as well as two major reports presented by Swiss Senator Dick Marty in 2006 and 2007 to the Council of Europe, on secret CIA detention centres in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.  

The US Senate report makes it clear that cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment of captives by the CIA and its collaborators have been carried out on a continuous basis. Such treatment cannot be justified in any manner, even if the US Government reservations with which it signed the UN torture convention in 1994 were to be taken into account.

CIA personnel and others willfully participated in following executive orders and directives thereby violating the UN torture convention and the Geneva Convention III. In this way they have committed serious crimes for which they must be held accountable.

The UN Special Representative on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson QC has reminded us that “torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction”.

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, said it is “crystal clear” under international law that the United States, which ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1994, now has an obligation to ensure accountability. He further added: “If they order, enable or commit torture, recognized as a serious international crime, they cannot simply be granted impunity because of political expediency”.

US President Obama must be aware that not holding the perpetrators accountable is a victory for impunity and will have far-reaching implications for global security.

We, signatories from all parts of the world, therefore urge the US Government and its Attorney General, to start a judicial process with a sense of urgency in compliance with principles of equality before the law. If they fail to do so, other international bodies, such as the International Criminal Court, will have the obligation under international law to assure that justice is done.

You can read about and sign the petition in the following languages: English, Swedish, Spanish, Dutch, French, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, Persian, Arabic.

You can sign the petition (instructions in German) here. “

 

(Quelle: Global Policy Forum.)

Ukraine: Machtproben in einem zerrissenen Land (HINWEIS)

Samstag, Oktober 25th, 2014

“Krieg in der Ukraine: Machtproben in einem zerrissenen Land

Eine alternative Sicht aus Russland – Mit Dr. Vadim Damier aus Moskau

von Connection e.V. und Bildungswerk der DFG-VK Hessen

Krieg in der Ukraine: Tausende sind gestorben, Hunderttausende auf der Flucht. Es gibt Zwangsrekrutierungen, aber auch Desertionen und Proteste gegen den Krieg. Europäische Union und USA mit der NATO auf der einen Seite und Russland auf der anderen Seite versuchen, die Ukraine oder möglichst große Teile von ihr in ihren Einflussbereich zu ziehen. Damit wird eine Fortsetzung des Krieges riskiert.

Die Europäische Union forderte die Ukraine mit dem Assoziierungsvertrag, der auch eine militärische Komponente enthielt, faktisch auf, sich zu Lasten der engen Beziehungen zu Russland an die EU zu binden. Die Bevölkerung im Westen der Ukraine verbindet dies mit Hoffnungen auf eine bessere wirtschaftliche Entwicklung. Im Osten hingegen orientieren sich viele nach Russland.

Nachdem der damalige Präsident Janukowytsch erklärt hatte, das Assoziierungsabkommen nicht zu unterzeichnen, löste dies Proteste gegen die Regierung aus. In einer späteren Phase des Majdan-Protestes mündete dies auf der einen Seite in die umstrittene Absetzung des Präsidenten, eine neue Regierung mit Beteiligung antirussischer Rechtsextremer sowie wachsende Gewalt ukrainischer faschistischer Gruppen. Auf der anderen Seite steigerte genau diese Entwicklung die schon vorhandene Unzufriedenheit breiter Bevölkerungsteile der Krim mit der Regierung in Kiew und eine Hinwendung zur Russischen Föderation, in der Folge zur militärischen Besetzung der Krim durch Russland. Forderungen nach Autonomie und Abspaltung in der Ost-Ukraine wurden mit russischer Hilfe zunehmend gewaltsam vertreten. Im September wurde ein Waffenstillstand vereinbart, mit ungewissem Ausgang.

Wir wollen einen anderen Blick ermöglichen, als uns die Medien vermitteln, und haben dafür Dr. Vadim Damier aus Moskau eingeladen. Er wird in seinem Vortrag eine alternative Sicht aus Russland darlegen. Er wird ausführen, welche Einflüsse und Allianzen es auf den unterschiedlichen Seiten gibt und welche Bedeutung und Folgen die Internationalisierung des Konfliktes haben. Er wird auch einen Blick auf die Situation in den Nachbarländern werfen.”

Veranstaltungsort:      AllerWeltHaus, Potthofstr. 22, 58095 Hagen

Veranstaltungsdatum:  Montag, 17. November, 19.00 Uhr

Veranstalter_innen:     Friedenszeichen Hagen und DGB Ruhr-Mark

 

Weitere Termine der Veranstaltungsreihe finden Sie hier.

Global: Don’t worry about your Government

Sonntag, August 3rd, 2014

“Civil Liberties in the Digital Age

08/01/2014 | Civil Liberties in the Digital Age

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:18pm

In the first half of the 20th century, Americans gained a new awareness of the malleability and manipulability of the human mind, and the result was a wave of concern over “propaganda” and other techniques of influence. Today we may be seeing a new wave of similar fears as we begin to wonder whether the ways we use and rely upon technology today are making us susceptible to new, dangerous forms of manipulation.

The first wave, in the 20th century, resulted from a number of factors. These included the discovery of a passionate, irrational unconscious by Freud and Jung, and a reaction against the seemingly mindless march toward slaughter in World War I, both of which fed into a broader disillusionment with the enlightenment rationalism of the 19th century and its faith that humans were ultimately orderly, rational beings. Other factors included the increasingly modernized advertising industry and its surprising success in manipulating consumers, and later the use of propaganda techniques by the fascists and communists in Europe.

The sudden awareness of human vulnerability to manipulation was embraced by some, but also sparked fears that the government would use it to control the beliefs of the population, rather than reflect those beliefs as it should in a democracy. Edward Bernays, considered the “father of public relations,” wrote a highly influential 1928 book entitled Propaganda, in which he argued that human manipulability was a good thing . He wrote,

    “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”

Bernays had the unrestrained faith in expertise and government that was characteristic of the era’s Progressives, but many were not so sanguine. In the first decade of the 20th century, fierce controversy and opposition was sparked by the hiring of press agents by government agencies (first by the Panama Canal Commission and then by the Forest Service and other agencies). In 1913 Congress banned the executive branch from using funds to employ “any publicity expert.” Later that decade Congress also enacted the Anti-Lobbying Act of 1919, which barred agencies from using funds “intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress to favor or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation or appropriation by Congress.”

These acts were largely unsuccessful. During World War I, the government created a Committee on Public Information, an agency founded for the explicit purpose of making the U.S. public enthusiastic about entering the war through propaganda techniques. In the 1920s, after public sentiment shifted toward the view that involvement in the war was a mistake, many viewed this agency as part of the problem.

Concern and controversies were still roiling after the Second World War. In 1947, for example, the Pentagon launched a launched a large-scale lobbying and public relations effort on behalf of Truman’s proposal to institute the draft, prompting an investigation into the issue by a House subcommittee, which charged in its report that the War Department and its employees had “gone beyond the limits of their proper duty of providing factual information to the people and the Congress and have engaged in propaganda supported by taxpayers’ money to influence legislation now pending before the Congress.”

In 1948, Congress enacted the Smith Mundt Act, which authorized the State Department to work to influence the attitudes and opinions of populations overseas via the Voice of America—but also banned the use of funds “to influence public opinion in the United States.”

A new wave of concern?

Concern over manipulation by government and companies has never really gone away, with fresh controversies emerging periodically, but today we may be seeing a whole new wave of concern—and of reason to be worried. There have been several stories in recent months highlighting ways that today’s technology could be used to manipulate and control. Foremost among them was the uproar over “experimentation” by Facebook, which manipulated the “mood” of posts seen by some users to see if it affected the happiness or sadness of the content posted by those users. An echo of the controversy took place a few weeks later when OKCupid wrote about its own experiments on users.

Not long after the Facebook story broke, Glenn Greenwald reported that the British spy agency GCHQ had developed a suite of methods and tools for manipulating internet content, such as spreading disinformation, manipulating the results of online polls, inflating pageview counts, and amplifying or suppressing content on YouTube.

The Facebook revelation sparked an immense amount of discussion, much of it focused upon things like informed consent, ethical oversight, Institutional Review Boards, and the potential effects on particular people such as depression sufferers (for example see these critical pieces and this defense of Facebook which, though ultimately unpersuasive, does a clear job explaining how Facebook filters content). But the most trenchant analyses looked past the ethics of experimentation to broader questions: what does this incident tell us about the growing power of institutions to manipulate and control individuals?

As Kate Crawford pointed out in the Atlantic,

    “some truly difficult questions lie in wait: What kinds of accountability should apply to experiments on humans participating on social platforms? Apart from issues of consent and possible harm, what are the power dynamics at work? And whose interests are being served by these studies?”

Putting her finger on what I think was the most significant thing about this story, she writes that it gives us a glimpse of “how highly centralized power can be exercised.”

Similarly, Zeynep Tufekci, writes,

    “these large corporations (and governments and political campaigns) now have new tools and stealth methods to quietly model our personality, our vulnerabilities, identify our networks, and effectively nudge and shape our ideas, desires and dreams. These tools are new, this power is new and evolving…. I identify this model of control as a Gramscian model of social control: one in which we are effectively micro-nudged into “desired behavior”…. Seduction, rather than fear and coercion are the currency, and as such, they are a lot more effective.”

The new wave of consciousness over our potential to be manipulated and controlled may also include the network neutrality issue, which is in great part about such fears.

There are two lessons we could learn from looking back at the earlier history of such fears. One could be that we’ll get over this as we did fears around advertising manipulation, and today’s new concerns will come to seem quaint as do some of the old ones. But a better lesson, I would argue, is that the fears that were identified last century were for the most part entirely legitimate and well-founded, that “techniques of influence” have been abused in many ways—not least by playing a key role in some of the greatest catastrophes of the 20th century—and now we have a new reason to worry and to insist upon checks and balances as our government uses technology in new ways, and as we allow manipulable technologies like Facebook to become ever-more-central to the way we communicate, gather information, and relate to others.”

 

(Quelle: ACLU.)

USA / Cuba: Kinder, wie die Zeit vergeht oder: Versprochen – gebrochen!

Mittwoch, Mai 21st, 2014


Activists Rally to Close Guantanamo and End Indefinite Detention as Part of Global Day of Action — Protests in 40+ Cities Worldwide

Protests come exactly one year after President Obama recommitted
to close down the detention facility

 

 

Washington, D.C. — On Friday, May 23, one year after President Obama once again promised to close the detention facility at Guantanamo in a speech at the National Defense University, Witness Against Torture, Code Pink, The Center for Constitutional Rights, World Can’t Wait, and more than 30 other groups are banding together to say “Not Another Broken Promise!” They are calling on President Obama make good on his commitment to close the prison this year.

The President’s pledge last May came amidst a mass hunger strike at the prison by men protesting their indefinite detention. Since then only a handful of men have been released from Guantanamo, where hungers strikes and brutal forced-feedings continue.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, says: “When I interrupted Obama’s 2013 speech to say that he had the power to free those Guantanamo prisoners already cleared for release, the President said my voice was worth listening to. With most of the prisoners still trapped in the hell of Guantanamo, I wish the President would listen to his own words and close the prison.”

“There is no excuse for keeping Guantanamo open,” says Jerica Arents from Chicago. “The President has the power to shutter the prison and needs to do it, or his promise is meaningless.”

Demonstrations will be held in Washington, D.C. (at the White House, 11 am); in New York City (Times Square, noon); in Chicago (Water Tower Park, 4:30 pm); San Francisco (Powell/Market 4:30 PST); and in 40 other cities in 8 countries, including England, Australia, and Germany. A Full list, with time and place info, is at: http://witnesstorture.tumblr.com/post/82873599205/may-23-2014-global-call-to-action-to-close-guantanamo

“In big cities and small towns, the outpouring of support for the Global Day of Action has been amazing,” says Witness Against Torture organizer Chris Knestrick. “Guantanamo continues to shock the conscience. The people of the world want it closed.”

At the protests, activists will wear black hoods and orange jumpsuits, update the situation at Guantanamo, and perform theatre to dramatize the ongoing abuses at Guantanamo.

WHAT: Global Day of Action to Close Guantanamo and End Indefinite Detention
WHERE: Washington, NYC, Chicago, Raleigh, London, Sydney, Toronto and other cities.
WHEN: Friday, May 23, 2014 (see tumblr link above for details)
WHO: Human Rights and Anti-Torture activists

 

(Quelle: Witnesstorture.)

USA: No-drone Zones

Dienstag, Oktober 1st, 2013

“Map: Is Your State a No-Drone Zone?

Nine states have already passed laws restricting drone use. See where yours stands.

By Dana Liebelson | Mon Sep. 30, 2013 3:00 AM PDT

In less than two years, the United States will open its commercial airspace to drones, allowing these “unmanned aerial vehicles” to zip over American cities along with planes and helicopters. Tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and law enforcement agencies are intrigued by the possibilities—burrito drones! And the roughly $6-billion-a-year drone industry has launched a lobbying offensive to ensure Federal Aviation Administration regulations are as broad and permissive as possible. But lawmakers and civil liberties groups are concerned about the privacy implications and potential safety issues, and at least nine states have passed laws restricting drone use by law enforcement, private citizens, or both.

While drones were never banned in the United States, up until now their use has been strictly limited, with the FAA distributing a few hundred permits to researchers and law enforcement. But Congress has ordered the agency to open commercial airspace to a wide variety of unmanned vehicles by late 2015. And when it does, drones are bound to proliferate. The FAA anticipates there could be as many as 30,000 drones hurtling through US airspace by 2020.

Civil liberties advocates worry this trend could lead to abuses, with law enforcement agencies conducting unnecessary surveillance, especially given the lack of federal regulation governing the use of drones for law enforcement purposes. (At this point, it’s not even clear whether police need a warrant to collect data on people using drones). “It’s a core value in our society that the government doesn’t watch us and collect information about innocent people,” says Allie Bohm, an advocacy and policy strategist for the ACLU. “We need rules so that we can enjoy the benefits of this technology without becoming closer to a surveillance state.”

Politicians on both sides of the aisle share these concerns, and the FAA has promised it will take them into consideration during the rulemaking process. It plans to test privacy practices as part of its six-state pilot program, which will begin after the sites are chosen later this year. In the mean time, states are forging ahead with legislation that bars police from using drones, or at least using them without a warrant. A few states, including Texas, have also passed laws restricting private citizens from taking photos or videos with drones, while allowing law enforcement and other groups, such as licensed real estate brokers, to do so.

Our map above — which we will continue to update, with help from the National Conference of State Legislatures and the ACLU — shows which states have passed laws restricting drone use. Other states have drone legislation pending, so check with your legislature to see if a surveillance drone is coming to your hometown anytime soon.”

 

DANA LIEBELSONDANA LIEBELSON, Reporter

Dana Liebelson is a reporter in Mother Jones’ Washington bureau. Her work has also appeared in The Week, TIME’s Battleland, Truthout, OtherWords and Yahoo! News.

 

(Quelle: Mother Jones.com)

Nachtrag

Siehe auch:

US-Army-Drohnen über Bayern

Turkmenistan/Oman: WikiLeaks-Enthüllung – Spionage-Software made in Germany?

Mittwoch, September 4th, 2013

Turkmenistan and Oman Negotiated to Buy Spy Software: Wikileaks

by Pratap ChatterjeeSpecial to CorpWatch
September 4th, 2013

Turkmenistan and Oman have been negotiating with a consortium of British, German and Swiss companies to buy “FinFisher” software to spy on phone calls and Internet activity of unsuspecting targets, according to a new trove of documents just released by Wikileaks, the global whistleblowing organization.

Previously released promotional materials for FinFisher – a suite of software products manufactured by Gamma International, a UK company – claim that it can track locations of cell phones, break encryption to steal social media passwords, record calls including Skype chats, remotely operate built-in web cams and microphones on computers and even log every keystroke made by a user.

The new Wikileaks release includes contracts with the two countries that appear to be drawn up by Dreamlab Technologies in Bern, Switzerland, and Gamma International offices in Munich, Germany. If the documents are real, they will confirm claims by activists and researchers that the companies have attempted to sell surveillance software to governments with a decidedly mixed record on human rights.

"The corporate surveillance industry works hand in hand with governments throughout the world to enable illegitimate spying on citizens,” said Julian Assange, the editor in chief of WikiLeaks, in a statement issued with the documents. “WikiLeaks is committed to exposing and educating about this industry, with the goal that together we can build the understanding and the tools to protect ourselves, and each other, from its gaze."

Egypt

Gamma first came to public notice when similar contract documents for its FinFisher software were discovered by Egyptian human rights activists inside the headquarters of former dictator Hosni Mubarak’s State Security Investigations service, which was notorious for repressing dissidents. The activists broke into the building after Mubarak was toppled in the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 and found Egyptian evaluations of Gamma technology stored alongside hundreds of police batons and other equipment used for torture.

While Gamma did not deny that the FinFisher technology had been tested by the Egyptian government, the company did release a carefully worded statement saying that it had never “supplied any of its FinFisher suite of products or related training etc to the Egyptian government."

The new Wikileaks documents shed light on two projects that appear to have gone much further.

Turkmenistan

According to the new company documents released by Wikileaks, Nicolas Mayencourt, the CEO of Dreamlab, took a trip to Turkmenistan in 2010 with Thomas Fischer of Gamma International, with the objective of helping the government build “an Infection Proxy Infrastructure and Solution applicable nationwide for all international traffic the Turkmentel and TMCell networks” ie a way to monitor calls on the national mobile phone network.

An initial proposal was submitted to the Turkmen government by the two companies on October 11, 2010, according to the documents released by Wikileaks, followed by a revised 61 page agreement between Fischer and Mayencourt dated December 13, 2010 titled “Infection Proxy Project 1.”

The documents include an invoice from Dreamlab to Gamma for 874,819.70 Swiss Francs ($789,000) for a custom designed hardware package of Cisco switches, HP computers and Intel adaptors to be installed in the country together with Gamma software named FinSpy and FinFly, that comprise the FinFisher suite.

It is not clear from the documents if Turkmenistan actually signed the contract.

But Bill Marczak, a fellow at Citizen Lab and a PhD student at the University of California at Berkeley, who has published several reports on government spying technology, says that his prior research showed that FinFisher software was deployed on a Turkmenistan ministry of communications server last August.

On September 3, 2013, Marczak ran a check that confirmed that the software was still in place, and reviewed the company contracts for CorpWatch.

“The Turkmenistan documents match our finding of a FinSpy server on a network belonging to the Turkmenistan government,” Marczak said. “Gamma provides spyware … that gets injected into downloaded files and viewed webpages. DreamLab provides the hardware and software components necessary for the injection to work: the "infection proxy" that actually performs the injection of the spyware by rewriting webpages and files on-the-fly (hence the name "FinFly"), and hardware and software to target people based on DSL/cable/dial-up account names, mobile phone numbers etc.”

What makes the software “sneaky” is that it allows the Turkmen government to inject spyware into trusted webpages that are otherwise benign, says Marczak.

Other data released by Wikileaks shows that Holger Rumscheidt, the managing director of Elaman, another German company that often collaborates with Gamma, made a four day trip to Turkmenistan this past January, and another two day trip in mid-June. (Gamma offers two annual maintenance visits as part of the annual license fee)

Turkmenistan’s surveillance of its citizens has been documented in the past. “Servers … registered to the Ministry of Communications operated software that allowed the government to record Voice over Internet Protocol conversations, turn on cameras and microphones, and log keystrokes,” notes the most recent U.S. State department report on human rights in the country.

In addition to tracking its citizens, Turkmenistan government has long occupied one of the lowest ratings in the world for human right, according to activist groups like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch. “The country is virtually closed to independent scrutiny, media and religious freedoms are subject to draconian restrictions, and human rights defenders and other activists face the constant threat of government reprisal,” says the New York-based Human Rights Watch in its 2013 report on the country. “The government continues to use imprisonment as a tool for political retaliation.”

Oman

Gamma and Dreamlab also apparently collaborated in Oman.

The Wikileaks documents also show that Mayencourt of Dreamlab sent Fischer of Gamma an invoice for 408,743.55 Swiss Francs ($369,000) on June 12, 2010, for a very similar project to be installed in the Middle Eastern country. Payment was authorized by Stephan Oelkers of Gamma.

A subsequent 41 page agreement between Fischer and Mayencourt dated December 21, 2010 lays out the details for the “Monitoring system for iproxy-project” in Oman.

Marczak says that while the documents make it clear that the system is up and running, he has not identified FinFisher technology on any Omani servers yet.

The Omani government has also been criticized by activist groups like Human Rights Watch, which reported that authorities “restricted the freedoms of association and assembly, both in law and in practice.”

The latest U.S. State department report on Oman says that 32 individuals “received prison sentences for directly or indirectly criticizing the sultan in online fora and at peaceful protests” noting that three individuals, Mona Hardan, Talib al-Abry, and Mohammed al-Badi were imprisoned for 18 months for Facebook postings and Twitter comments deemed critical of the sultan.

Formal Complaint


Spying Is Cheaper By The Dozen

Newly released Wikileaks documents provide a fascinating insight into the cost of tracking people with Gamma’s Finfisher software suite.

A 2011 price manual  offers governments FinSpy software at four price levels, starting at €80,000 ($104,000) for up to 10 targets at the entry level, but the price drops dramatically for the “open” level which allows clients to target as many at 500 individuals for €200,000 ($260,000).

Additional options include a voice recording server at €20,000 ($26,000) and several different kinds of five day “intrusion” training modules either in the customer’s country or in Munich, Germany, for two to four students for €15,700 to €20,250. ($15,700 to $26,325)

Gamma’s sale of surveillance software to repressive regimes is currently the subject of formal complaint to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) by Privacy International, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and Reporters Without Borders.

Unregulated trade with surveillance technologies in authoritarian states is one of the biggest threats to press freedom and human rights work on the Internet,” said Christian Mihr, Executive Director of Reporters Without Borders Germany when the groups filed their complaint on February 1 this year. “Exports of such digital arms have to be made subject to the same restrictions as foreign dealings with traditional arms.”

Email requests from CorpWatch to Fischer, Mayencourt and Rumscheidt, for comments on the Wikileaks documents were not returned by press time.

However, the company has responded to previous queries about sales to Turkmenistan. “The nature of our business does not allow us to disclose our customers, nor how they use our products and the results that are achieved with them,” Gamma International’s Munich-based managing director, Martin Muench, told EurasiaNet.org by email last August. Gamma “complies with the national export regulations of the UK, United States and Germany and has never sold its products to any states that are restricted.”

 

(Quelle: CorpWatch.org)