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The UK’s Guardian newspaper revealed on Monday that foreign politicians and officials had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted by UK security services whilst in London in 2009 for two G20 summits.
The information was said to have been obtained from top-secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the ex-CIA whistleblower who previously revealed details of the US National Security Agency’s PRISM programme, which monitored communication via direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants.
The newspaper accused the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) of a number of intelligence collecting techniques, including setting up internet cafés with email interception programmes and accessing the delegates’ BlackBerrys to monitor their emails and phone calls. The information collected was then relayed live to 45 analysts, whose findings were in turn being relayed to British representatives at the G20 meetings.
Whilst the PRISM programme was defended as crucial in the fight against terrorism, the Guardians claims that the spying at the G20 summits was “for the more mundane purpose of securing an advantage in meetings”.
The documents indicate that the operation was approved at a senior government level and that it ran for at least six months.
It seems likely that this will put a strain on the G8 summit, which began on Monday in Northern Ireland and includes delegates from countries who were present in 2009 and who will now no doubt have questions regarding the leaks for Prime Minister David Cameron.
More about: CIA, G20, Phone hacking scandal, USA
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An amendment to the NDAA passed the US House of Representatives on Friday. The pricey amendment doesn’t apply to the national defense of the United States, but that of Israel. … Read More
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American multinational corporation Google has announced a $5 million (3.75 million euro) effort to eradicate child abuse imagery online, which it described as “a global problem that needs a global solution”.
The company, which already uses “hashing” technology to tag child sexual abuse images, said that it was working to incorporate encrypted “fingerprints” of images into a cross-industry database.
This would allow law enforcement, charities and businesses to better collaborate to detect and remove such images, as well as to take action against the criminals.
The pledge includes a $2 million (1.5 million euro) Child Protection Technology Fund for the development of more effective tools to combat such content.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a not-for-profit US organisation, reported in 2011 that it had received 17.3 million images and videos of suspected child abuse. It said that behind these images are real, helpless children who are victimised through both the creation and distribution of such content.
Half of the images and videos reported came from outside the United States, demonstrating the need for borderless communication between organisations fighting the problem.
Google said on its official company blog: “We’re in the business of making information widely available, but there’s certain ‘information’ that should never be created or found.”
More about: Crime, Google, Internet, Protection of children, Technology
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Writing for British publication The Telegraph, Boris Johnson wrote that the UK must not use Syria as “an arena for muscle flexing.” “We can’t use Syria as an arena for geopolitical point-scoring or muscle-flexing, and we won’t get a ceasefire by pressing weapons into the hands of maniacs,” wrote Johnson. He joins a number of prominent British political and social figures in an attempt to dissuade Prime Minister David Cameron from sending arms to the Syrian opposition. “This is the moment for a total ceasefire, an end to the madness,” Johnson writes. “It is time for the US, Russia, the EU, Turkey, Iran, Saudi and all the players to convene an intergovernmental conference to try to halt the carnage.” Deputy PM Nick Clegg also warned Cameron of the dangers of supplying the opposition with weapons. He reasoned that the UK government had not deemed it necessary to send weapons before and saw no reason to change this policy. There has been speculation that Cameron is in favor of supporting Washington and sending weapons aid to rebels in Syria. The Obama Administration announced last week that the Syrian regime had crossed “a red line,” citing evidence that government forces had used the chemical weapon sarin in the conflict. The “intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year,” said Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes said in a statement. Russia spoke out against the US plan to aid the rebels, saying the Kremlin was “unconvinced” by the US evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces were using chemical weapons. The Syrian issue dominated bilateral talks between Moscow and London last week. Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Cameron last Monday, insisting that supplying the opposition with weapons would only serve to destabilize Syria further. Russia believes the conflict will only be brought to an end through negotiations. “I think you will not deny that one does not really need to support the people who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their intestines in front of the public and cameras,” Putin said, referring to a video footage on the internet of a rebel fighter apparently eating the heart of a government soldier. David Cameron, however, remains steadfast in his opinion that the root cause of the conflict is Assad. The “new evidence makes that clearer than ever,” said Cameron, citing the US’ claims of government forces using sarin gas. Washington is also reviewing the possibility of setting up a no-fly zone in Syria, US officials told Reuters. The no-fly zone would extend 40km into Syrian territory and would be used as a safe haven for refugees and a platform to train rebels. … Read More
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