French Government report on abortion aims to silence pro-life internet presence

French Government report on abortion aims to silence pro-life internet presence

A report on abortion prepared for the French Government by the High Council for Equality Between Women and Men claims abortion rights are being threatened by the existence of pro-life information and websites available online. The report even accuses famed search engine Google and free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia of unjustly favouring pro-life websites — merely by making these websites available. This report is a clear and straight attack on freedom of expression and information. It is an attempt to explore ways to silence any pro-life voices that oppose the already excessive abortion agenda.


The basis of these allegations is unclear. In fact, according to the 36-pages report (officially titled “Rapport relatif à l’accès à l’IVG”), pro-abortion websites are more frequently visited than pro-life websites: as of September 2013, the most visited abortion-related website accessed via Google is a “pro-choice” website of the French Government. In fact, the report indicates that of the top 10 most visited websites, as examined by the High Council, five are pro-abortion and two are pro-life. The remaining three websites are merely publicly-edited websites (such as Wikipedia) or one of several online forums. 

Nevertheless, the fact that some pro-life websites are being accessed through Google, and that pro-life information is being made available at Wikipedia, has led the Government’s High Council for Equality Between Women and Men to conclude that such online organizations are unfairly supporting a pro-life agenda.

Although the report also acknowledges that no study exists demonstrating any link between the information available on the internet and the number of abortions performed, the High Council warns of the threat posed by the easy availability of pro-life information on the internet.

BitTorrent ethics: Punishing piracy or criminalizing sharing?

BitTorrent ethics: Punishing piracy or criminalizing sharing?

If you live in a densely populated modern city, there is a strong chance that wireless network transmissions that are in breach of copyright law could be around you at this very moment.

  The decentralized network architecture known as peer-to-peer  (P2P) communications allows files of all kinds to be shared over  the internet with other users without monetary exchange, and  millions utilize this technology on daily basis. To some, this  kind of exchange represents a new paradigm shift in sharing arts  and culture that has the potential to empower new content  producers who would have otherwise been consumers, while giving  rise to a new decentralized economic model. To those who have a  stake in maintaining the pre-eminence of copyright laws over the  means of distribution, the millions who utilize these new habits  of consumption are likened to renegade sea-bandits in arms –   pirates – and they need to be stopped.  

  Most file-sharing is utilized through BitTorrent, and involves a  host website that supports an index of .torrent files that can be  downloaded in separate client applications. The content itself is  not stored on a single centralized hard drive, but rests on the  individual hard drives of millions of users who share their files  through a P2P network, making file-sharing very difficult to  regulate. The kinds of files that are shared range from films and  music to software and e-books. All of it is done without monetary  exchange, just as one would share the same kind of content with a  friend. Much like the printing press, cassette recorders, VCRs,  cable television, mp3 players and the like, the film studios of  Hollywood and the recording industry view such innovations as an  existential threat to their industries – and file-sharing has  become the present day object of a witch-hunt led by the Motion  Picture Association of America (MPAA) and its counterpart, the  Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).  

  Internet 2.0

  Before the digital age, information was exchanged through bulky  bundles of paper and plastic discs. The internet was originally  developed as a means to circumvent these physical limitations by  creating a decentralized network that would allow users to  connect to each other irrespective of their physical location.  From the perspective of the file-sharer, the internet is  functioning exactly as it was intended to. For the intellectual  property industries that are bent on punishing offenders of  copyright law (people who exchange copyrighted files), the  internet cannot be allowed to exist as it does now. As a result  of massive lobbying efforts, trends are emerging among lawmakers  to develop far-reaching regulations to govern the internet and  inalterably change the way it operates. The bottom line is that  industries and the corporations that control them want to pass  regulation to give the private sector sweeping central authority  over the internet and its content under the guise of protecting  intellectual property rights, while vastly expanding the duration  of existing copyrights. 

Photo by Steve Rhodes /

Photo by Steve Rhodes /


  The unregulated internet is arguably the most representative and  democratic feature of industrial societies, and the ideology of   ‘copyright fundamentalism’ threatens this medium of exchange.  Because file-sharing is done through private means and  decentralized networks, copyright law cannot be enforced without  violating the privacy of individual users through mass  surveillance that would monitor sharing habits. What could the  regulated Internet 2.0 look like? Based on the fine print of  bills that have failed to become law, a few ideas come to mind.  Websites and blogs can be taken down without court order over the  most marginal cases of copyright infringement; file-sharers would  have their bandwidth cut for using P2P and be subject to pay  steep fines; invasive hard drive searches by police and  immigration officials at airports, and more. The end-game for  corporate lobbyists is to persuade governments to deregulate and  liberalize markets and economic space while regulating  communication mediums like the internet to protect the  deregulation of the economic space that protects corporate  monopoly profits. It’s liberty for the markets. Not for you.

NSA harvesting hundreds of millions of personal email contact lists – report

NSA harvesting hundreds of millions of personal email contact lists – report

The National Security Agency is logging hundreds of millions of email and instant messaging contacts belonging to Americans and others around the world, according to a report based on documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The data harvesting program, first reported by The Washington  Post Monday, collects address books from email and instant  messaging service in an apparent attempt to map social circles  across the globe. Online communication services frequently expose  an individual’s contact list when that person signs onto their  account, sends a message, or connects a remote device – such as a  cell phone – to a computer.

An internal NSA PowerPoint presentation indicated that the NSA’s  Special Source Operations collected 444,743 email lists from  Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from  Gmail, and another 22,881 from other services. The documents note  that those numbers show what the NSA collects in one day, meaning  the intelligence agency could collect more than 250 million lists  each year.

The NSA is capable of collecting approximately 500,000 so-called  buddy lists from live-chat services and the “in-box”   displays from web-based email services, according to the Post.

Two NSA sources told the Post the intelligence agency uses the  data to identify international connections and then find smaller,  more nefarious connections between suspected criminals. The  collection relies on secret deals with foreign telecommunication  companies, with NSA agents monitoring internet traffic outside  the US.

The sources refused to estimate how many Americans are snared in  the dragnet but did admit it could number in the tens of  millions. An unnamed official was careful to mention the  collection comes from “all over the world,” and “None  of those are on US territory.”

Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of  National Intelligence, said the NSA “is focused on discovering  and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence  targets like terrorists, human traffickers and drug smugglers. We  are not interested in personal information about ordinary  Americans.”

Want to Evade NSA Spying? Don’t Connect to the Internet

Want to Evade NSA Spying? Don’t Connect to the Internet

Since I started working with Snowden’s documents, I have been using a number of tools to try to stay secure from the NSA. The advice I shared included using Tor, preferring certain cryptography over others, and using public-domain encryption wherever possible.

I also recommended using an air gap, which physically isolates a computer or local network of computers from the internet. (The name comes from the literal gap of air between the computer and the internet; the word predates wireless networks.)

But this is more complicated than it sounds, and requires explanation.

Since we know that computers connected to the internet are vulnerable to outside hacking, an air gap should protect against those attacks. There are a lot of systems that use — or should use — air gaps: classified military networks, nuclear power plant controls, medical equipment, avionics, and so on.

Osama Bin Laden used one. I hope human rights organizations in repressive countries are doing the same.

Air gaps might be conceptually simple, but they’re hard to maintain in practice. The truth is that nobody wants a computer that never receives files from the internet and never sends files out into the internet. What they want is a computer that’s not directly connected to the internet, albeit with some secure way of moving files on and off.

But every time a file moves back or forth, there’s the potential for attack.

And air gaps have been breached. Stuxnet was a U.S. and Israeli military-grade piece of malware that attacked the Natanz nuclear plant in Iran. It successfully jumped the air gap and penetrated the Natanz network. Another piece of malware named agent.btz, probably Chinese in origin, successfully jumped the air gap protecting U.S. military networks.

The Rosa Parks of Internet Freedom, Lavabit Founder Ladar Levinson

In this video Luke Rudkowski interviews Lavabit founder Ladar Levinson, about the private email client that Edward Snowden used, the U.S government’s attack on Lavabit and the ethical decision Ladar had to make ending his company. Ladar goes into details about how the U.S government tried to intimidate him and forced him to shut down when they requested to spy on Edward Snowden’s emails.

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