26 May 2012

Good reasons to get paranoid... By Mahijok

The ACTA treaty (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is actually negotiated by around 40 countries including the USA and the EU. The negotiations started in 2006 undercover and Wikileaks published a first version of the text in May 2008. The official negotiations started the same year and despite all the protesting the treaty was signed in October 2011 by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States. In January 2012 by the European Union and 22 states of the UE, including France and the UK however Germany did not sign, even though the European Parliament was against it all along. Still no one has ratified the text. The aim of the text is to completely change the laws on copyrighted content. Basicaly we would not be allowed to exchange copyrighted content anymore and a new international body would be given the means to spy on each and every internet network and organise massive censorship campaigns on the whole internet. With this treaty, websites like Youtube could become empty shells but, even worse, some words or sentences could be copyrighted and thus deleted from the Internet. And knowing the power of this wonderful tool to inform people on basically anything, this is a very frightening threat...

AFP (Agence France Presse) is the biggest and oldest press agency in the world. It was founded in 1835 in Paris. This agency gathers information from around the world then sends articles to their clients. However, we can consider it as the only source for major information broadcasting in France especially TV. The agency claims to be independent and to give truthful information. However, on the board of this agency we can count, among the 15 members, 5 named by the French Government: two representatives of the Government-owned radio and television and three representatives of the Government named by one by the Prime Minister, another by the Minister of Finance, and a third by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. There have been suspicions of favouritism or manipulation over the years and there is one case of clear misinformation. On the 9th January 2012, the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a speech with the Iranian dictator Ahmadinejad. During the speech Chavez made a joke saying: "Vamos Ahmanidejad y yo casi que de los sotanos de Miraflores a afinar la punteria rumbo a Washington y que van a salir de aqui unos cañones muy grandes, y unos misiles, porque vamos a atacar Washington!" that is: "As if, from the cave of Miraflores (Government House), Ahmanidejad and I were to come out with big canons and missiles to target Washington!” But the AFP translated it like this: Ahmanidejad et moi, depuis le perron du palais présidentiel viserons Washington avec des canons et des missiles, parce que nous allons attaquer Washington."

The final example is, in my sense, the most worrying one: the Echelon Network. It was created in the 60s to monitor diplomatic and military communication in the Eastern Bloc. Since the end of the Cold War it has been recycled as a means to research information on drug dealers and terrorists. The USA, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada have signed the Echelon treaty. A French equivalent exists: Frenchlon. The Echelon network is the surveillance of all commercial satellites that belong to the countries in the said treaty. This means that all of the Internet and GPS communications are already monitored plus most of the Mobile phone communications. The recording system is triggered by a list of words if detected and causes the whole data to be recorded permanently and all of the data that goes through Echelon is kept for 24 hours...

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