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Freedom Publishers Union (v17.0)


#freedom #transparency #privacy #mass-surveillance #civiliancasualties #civilrights #digitalrights #netneutrality #openinformation #copyright #censorship


Freedom Publishers Union is the premium masthead of the GC Media Publishing Management family of digital publications.

Supplementary mastheads:

• Mumbai Press Center
• Salt Lake City News
• Moscow Press
• Quality Publishing Works
• The South Rover
• Open House for Chile Journalists
• Tecseek Technology

Mastheads of Spruik Plus:

• The Canberra Reflection
• Political Independent

blood#1a web-banner-#1 blood#1b

Embrace the publishing sub-culture. We do not lie. We do not deceive.


- in collaboration with Seeded Alternative -






Brett Brennan (Custodian and Honorary Member)

Sub-Editor - Freedom Publishers Union

Brett is a custodian and honorary member of Freedom
Publishers Union, which comes from the unanimous
decision by his colleagues through the trust he has
attained and the amount of dedication he has placed
into the organization and the freedom movement. His
expertise, unwavering support and contributions without
ever seeking public attention go unmatched, along with
his continued financial lifeline offered to the project.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones (Puppet Master)

Chairman and CEO - GC Media Publishing Management
Co-Founder, Business Principal and Chairman of the Advisory Council - Freedom Publishers Union
Commissioning Editor - ABC Integrated
Editor - Tecseek Technology

Chris is a software developer, anarchist, cypherpunk
and the "Puppet Master" - the essential conduit of
Freedom Publishers Union operations. He is a relentless
and fearless writer, publisher, freedom of information
activist and political activist. According to his colleagues
he has always been and remains the absolute lifeblood, soul
and gatekeeper of Freedom Publishers Union.

Dinesh Raja (Praetorian Guard)

Co-Founder and Public Representative - Freedom Publishers Union

Dinesh is a co-founder who continues to support in principle the
fight for freedom of information. Dinesh does not have a day-to-day
role in the operations of Freedom Publishers Union, however he
remains a valued supporter and Public Representative. He is regularly
called upon for advice on crucial decision making.

Senthil Kumar (Praetorian Guard)

Co-Founder and Co-Owner - Freedom Publishers Union

Senthil is a co-founder and shareholder who continues to
contribute and offer support to Freedom Publishers Union.
He focuses much of his attention on advocating for Linux,
free and open-source software and technology.

Amit Gautam (Praetorian Guard)

Spokesperson - Freedom Publishers Union

Amit is the longest serving Spokesperson for Freedom
Publishers Union and accepts his responsibilities with
the highest degree of respect. He is equally fearless
and dedicated to upholding the ethics of freedom of
information and transparency.

Advisory Council

Gokul Kannan
Saikat Basak
Enock Seth Nyamador


July 5, 2019

Base website updated to version v44.1.0.0.build3.0


June 6, 2019

More problems associated with our email aliases has been identified and it has driven our administrators to take action. Our [now previous] domain name registar GoDaddy has AGAIN deleted ALL of the email aliases associated with Freedom Publishers Union, for unknown and unexplained reasons. This is the second occurance of the same nature which has been taken against Freedom Publishers Union by GoDaddy.

Late last night it was decided by our administrators that we were to dump GoDaddy for domain name and email services, with immediate effect.

All relevant changes have been made to the website. We apologize for any problems this may cause with communications, but our administrators felt that urgent and serious action was required and we could no longer endure our services with GoDaddy, due to their unjustified, unpredictable and unreliable business acts.


April 4, 2019

Freedom Publishers Union would like to congratulate our Co-Founder and Public Representative, Dinesh Raja, on his recent engagement to Thanga Meena. Dinesh is one of the Praetorian Guard's of our freedom movement and a very important and respected colleague.

We wish Dinesh and Thanga the best for their happy future together, and hope that their health and well-being serves them well. ♥



It must be recognized by our readers and supporters that this Facebook Page that claims to be associated with us, is not us and is false. NO masthead associated with GC Media Publications Management has ANY social media account active, on ANY platform. This was made very clear in a Press Statement released on this website on June 17, 2018. The Page in the image displayed above is the result of the refusal by Facebook to take down a Page which is giving a deliberate false and misleading impression that it is associated with us. Well, it is not. It's that simple.

The Press Statement we released on June 17, 2018 can be seen below:


It was drawn to our attention that this website is claiming to be us. This is not us and is another false representation of Freedom Publishers Union. We remind our readers again, NO masthead associated with GC Media Publications Management has ANY other website in operation other than this one. There are websites on the internet claiming to be us or associated with us. Be very careful of fraudulent imitations.


May 4, 2019 | Julian Assange Sentencing in the UK

FREEDOM PUBLISHERS UNION IS VERY disappointed with Julian Assange being jailed for 50 weeks for the UK bail breach, however we believe it was inevitable. Whether we like the decision or not, it is the law. The remaining concern now is the extradition hearing, which is still to take place and will be opposed by Freedom Publishers Union and should be opposed by everyone else.

As Freedom Publishers Union has been a constant - and remains a constant - supporter of Mr. Assange we feel that we must always express our disappointment with any negative developments surrounding his difficult fight and complex situation. However, as much as it pains us, we must also acknowledge the legal conclusions of the law of the UK and it was effectively broken by Mr. Assange's actions, which were acted out by him as a means of desperation to avoid being unfairly extradited to the US, possibly by Sweden.

There has always been no doubt that Mr. Assange would face an unfair trial in the US and there are also ongoing genuine concerns for his immediate welfare, and future welfare if any efforts to extradite him to the US are successful.

Detainment conditions of Mr. Assange have also become a pressing issue, as reports suggest that Mr. Assange is being detained inside his prison cell for a total of 23 out of 24 hours a day. This would be defined as solitary confinement if proved to be correct.

These reports are unconfirmed by Freedom Publishers Union, but we determine the possibility of their accuracy to be very plausible based on the ongoing treatment and detainment of Chelsea Manning.

If the law defines Mr. Assange is not a journalist, then what is the law defining as a 'journalist'? It's that simple. Yet so undefined. That is what Freedom Publishers Union, supporters of Mr. Assange and media observers are struggling to understand.

Mr. Assange is doing much the same as other journalists, yet being targeted and dissected as not a journalist. Why? Because through Wikileaks he published some stuff people don't like. So what. Not only is it the view of Freedom Publishers Union that this is unfair and unjustified, but it's very bias. And whether Mr. Assange's publications are bias or not, again, who cares. That should have no effect on the label associated with him, especially a label applicable by the law or any case against him.

We believe Julian Assange to be an honest human being and is certainly capable of making a mistake, and he has tried his best to be transparent and non-partisan. The same claims cannot be applied to the justice system which he is facing, possibly in multiple countries.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones - Commissioning Editor, Co-Founder, Business Principal and Chairman of the Advisory Council
Brett Brennan - Sub Editor

April 11, 2019 | Julian Assange Arrested in London

AS WE GO TO PRESS, Julian Assange has just been arrested by British law enforcement authorities inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, in London.

Early unverified video vision of Mr. Assange's arrest appears that he was arrested and removed from the premises against his will and by significant force.

Wikileaks and the activities of Mr. Assange have always enjoyed a large amount of interest from Freedom Publishers Union. It's absolutely fair to conclude that both subjects have probably enjoyed more interest from us than any other topic or subject that we have turned our attention to.

We are extremely alarmed by the arrest of Mr. Assange - publisher of Wikileaks.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to offer our absolute dedicated support to Wikileaks and Julian Assange.

Preempting the many significant stories that will undoubtedly be published in the news following the arrest of Mr. Assange, Freedom Publishers Union felt it appropriate that we declare our intention to refrain from all expressions of opinion, instead pledging to adhere to our strict editorial process and fact checking procedures.

Due to the natural high level of global interest in the arrest and subsequent legal occurrences that are yet to eventuate in relation to Mr. Assange, it's fitting to assume that global news media will have an unfortunate temptation to publishing questionable information and details which cannot be guaranteed as credible in the immediacy. Therefore, Freedom Publishers Union will make sure that anything we say or publish is accurate and factual.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones - Commissioning Editor, Co-Founder, Business Principal and Chairman of the Advisory Council

Video of arrest of Assange (MP4)

Assange Indictment-March 6, 2018 (PDF)

Assange Indictment (Superseding)-May 23, 2019 (PDF)

Sweden Reopens Assange Investigation (PDF)

Video of statement from Assange's legal team (YouTube/Sky News)

Visit Wikileaks

Defend Wikileaks



Please note that items posted to the Scrapbook are not subjected to our strict editorial processes and may contain views and opinions contradictory to that of Freedom Publishers Union. They are simply snippets of information and links which we believe our readers may find interesting.

Political Notes and Other Items

June 15, 2019 - Intelligence agency could be used for 'offensive cyber' operations in Australia

Australia's electronic intelligence agency could smash the computer networks of criminals domestically using "offensive cyber" operations presently confined to overseas targets under proposals being discussed among national security officials. More...


June 10, 2019 - Australia is a world-beater in the secrecy Olympics

It comes as no surprise that the Australian Federal Police has begun to raid journalists. The events of last week are the culmination of nearly two decades of lawmaking by our national parliament. More...


April 12, 2019 - Julian Assange Q+A: Wikileaks founder arrested in London

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, has been arrested in London and charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion over his alleged role in the leaking of classified United States Government documents. More...

Security and Privacy Items

February 19, 2019 - 'Five Eyes' in hunt for hackers

An international cyber hunt involving Australian, US and British intelligence agencies has been launched. More...


February 18, 2019 - 'State actor' makes cyber attack on Australian political parties

"A sophisticated state actor" has hacked the networks of the major political parties, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told Parliament. Recently the Parliament House network was disrupted, and the intrusion into the parties' networks was discovered when this was being dealt with. More...


February 18, 2019 - A state actor has targeted Australian political parties - but that shouldn't surprise us

The Australian political digital infrastructure is a target in an ongoing nation state cyber competition which falls just below the threshold of open conflict. More...

Items Requiring Immediate Public Attention

April 11, 2018 - Extensive 'spying operation' discovered against Julian Assange, WikiLeaks reveals

WikiLeaks has discovered an extensive "spying operation" against Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, gathering data that was used in an extortion attempt, WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson has revealed. More...


August 1, 2018 - Assange may finally leave Ecuadorian embassy in London as health worsens

Julian Assange, who has spent more than 2,230 days in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, is expected to leave the building soon with his health deteriorating, sources say. This latest information about the Wikileaks founder, who was already expected to leave the embassy "in the coming weeks," was broken Wednesday by Bloomberg which cited "two people with knowledge of the matter." More...


July 21, 2018 - Ecuador will imminently withdraw asylum for Julian Assange and hand him over to the UK. What comes next?

Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno traveled to London on Friday for the ostensible purpose of speaking at the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit (Moreno has been using a wheelchair since being shot in a 1998 robbery attempt). The concealed, actual purpose of the President's trip is to meet with British officials to finalize an agreement under which Ecuador will withdraw its asylum protection of Julian Assange, in place since 2012, eject him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and then hand over the WikiLeaks founder to British authorities. More...

Moral and Ethical Injustice

January 2, 2019 - Yemen: Houthi rebels' food aid theft only tip of iceberg, officials say

The theft of food aid in Yemen by Houthi rebels might be only the tip of the iceberg, officials believe, as questions multiply over international relief efforts in the famine-ravaged country. More...


October 16, 2018 - World has been slow to wake up to Saudi depravity

It's reassuring to see that the Western world still has the capacity to be outraged at the abuse of human rights. Specifically, a government that appears to have murdered a journalist. More...


September 15, 2018 - Australia is reported to UN human rights council over illegal detention of asylum seekers

United Nations body has condemned Australia's arbitrary detention of three asylum seekers, one of whom has been held without charge or trial for nearly nine years. The UN working group on arbitrary detention - which reports to the human rights council, on which Australia sits - said in its annual report it was concerned by "the rising prevalence of deprivation of liberty of immigrants and asylum seekers" worldwide and "the growing use of detention in the context of migration". More...


All research is performed by FPUorg. Occasionally, if relevant, research material and information is shared with Freedom Publishers Union for publication.

Any material and information shared by FPUorg is published with the intention of establishing truthful information based on documentative proof available to us and in the public domain. Where documentative proof is not possible or doubt exists, Freedom Publishers Union will clearly outline the resources and information we have used to limit existing doubt and specify how we have reached our conclusion with confidence.

9/11 - World Trade Center Attacks - Pentagon - "Flight 93"

#research #911 #wtc #pentagon #flight93

Research area of focus 1

Overall dissatisfaction with final conclusion of 9/11 Commission Report and supplementary Reports released by FEMA and NIST. Major concerns over the claimed accuracy of series of events which led to the claimed hijacking and crashing of planes into WTC 1 and 2 and the collapse of WTC buildings 1 and 2. Overall dissatisfaction with final conclusion of cause of collapse, specifically of WTC building 7.


Research area of focus 2

Overall dissatisfaction with claimed accuracy of series of events which led to claimed hijacking and crashing of a plane into The Pentagon. Major concerns over the claimed accuracy of series of events of "Flight 93".


Research area of focus 3

General dissatisfaction with intelligence gathering procedures and failure to act on known intelligence prior to event and secrecy surrounding follow up investigations by the CIA and FBI.

Titanic Inquiry

#research #titanic

Research area of focus 1

General dissatisfaction that public never received the conclusive and definitive explanation of the failures of engineering of the Titanic, which led to the sinking of the vessel as a result of damage incurred by iceberg.


Research area of focus 2

Concerns that all applicable safety requirements were not met and the lack of safety training of the staff members of the vessel.


Research area of focus 3

Concerns over the lack of appropriate safety procedures and whether they were followed by staff members of the vessel to a satisfactory level.

Raid on Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad Compound

#research #osamabinladen #abbottabad

Research area of focus 1



Research area of focus 2



Research area of focus 3


Death of Osama bin Laden

#research #osamabinladen

Research area of focus 1



Research area of focus 2



Research area of focus 3


UFOs and Aliens

#research #ufos #aliens

Research area of focus 1



Research area of focus 2



Research area of focus 3


Unexplained and Paranormal

#research #paranormal

Research area of focus 1



Research area of focus 2



Research area of focus 3




Opening the gates of freedom of information and transparency. Making the internet and open-source software more accessible. We publish articles, documents and files on topics of interest related to, but not limited to:

Politics is everywhere. It influences our lives all over the world, whether intentionally or unintentionally. You can not ignore the influence of politics and the effects that political decision making has on citizens in every country in the world.

At Freedom Publishers Union, our political view is largely libertarian, who believe in fairness and democracy. There's no denying that democracy is by far the best form of governance. But we accept that it is not the only form of governance. Irrespective of the governing model of any country, we advocate fairness, transparency of government and peace.

Politics also play a major part on the stories that we cover and the articles that we publish. We publish information based on real facts, along with the politics that surround the story. This is primarily why we have adopted a basic set of core political values, which we not only declare as being fair, open and democratic, but we will always consider these core values when it is necessary for us to take notice of political influences in a story.

Core political values:

Additional focus:

Australia - Due to our strong operational presence in the country of Australia, we pay specific attention to four political issues:

Additional notes:

The outlined political views of Freedom Publishers Union are based on the data and facts available to us at any given time. If the facts change over time, our political views may change to reflect this. However, regardless of future information, our political views will always support ensuring that people everywhere have the best information and the freedom to understand and act upon it, as individuals working toward the common good of man.



Spokesperson, please send to

Public Relations Department, please send to

Virtual Offices and Mastheads:

To associate our publications through appropriate jurisdictions and locales which are most relevant to the information and documents being presented, we distribute through our controlled network of internally directed, national and international virtual offices and mastheads which are used as publishing portals.


With the gradual emergence of frequently used terms of "fake news", "post-truth" and "alternative facts", Freedom Publishers Union wants to make a brief Statement to reiterate our commitment to our readers.

Freedom Publishers Union is absolutely committed to ensuring our writing and publishing strictly adheres to our internal publication principles. We will always ensure we remain non-bias and remain as neutral as possible. We will only present fact based content which we believe to be authentic, genuine, accurate, well-researched and fact checked, against sources we believe to be the best and most reliable and reputable in the media and publishing industry.

The President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, has shaken the traditional media landscape. Some media organizations have succumbed to falling to the same low-level remarks, commentary and views that Trump assumes. Whilst the more respected media organizations have remained true to their publishing principles and continue the practice of true journalism and publishing.

Freedom Publishers Union will not be moved by Donald Trump's erratic and intolerable commentary and behavior. We, along with our US-based media partners, will not be moved by any such media reforms, bans, blockages and/or censorship that he attempts to implement which may potentially impede on freedom of the press in the United States and any after-effects it has in the global circuit. We remain committed to publishing exactly what our moto states - "Publishing what is right and what is important". We will always operate within the boundaries of the law. Yet, as a representative of the free press, we also have an ethical responsibility to publish content that is in the public interest, regardless of whether its legally questionable according to Donald Trump's media reform(s) or own political agenda.

If we see journalism and publishing is under threat, then we will respond accordingly through our publications, regardless.


Freedom Publishers Union is absolutely adamant that we maintain strict editorial and publishing standards and will always ensure our process remains open to public scrutiny, as much as possible.

The following list of websites are our trusted sources of news, information, facts and research material. We consistently rely upon and use these sources for research, data gathering, comparison, fact checking and to ensure source diversity.

We use all of the information gathered from these sources on a specific story or topic and create a basis for our own publications to ensure fact, accuracy and reliability remains at the forefront of publishing importance.

Despite our 5-tier ranking system which rates our media sources according to fact-based, accurate and reliable information, all of our sources are among the most trusted media sources in the world. If you do not see a specific media source on the list, it does not mean that we believe information from these 'outside sources' to be incorrect. It simply means that we take a cautionary approach to information received from 'outside sources'.

(In alphabetical order)

We specifically rely on our careful selection of media sources as our prime basis, as many of them are among the few outlets that still employ their own reporters, so their stories aren't going to be 'rip-and-read' from a wire service or web aggregate service that simply drops the breaking headlines onto the wire.

These sources are almost always guaranteed to report with an 'eye-witness' point of view, not some third-party being re-quoted repeatedly. Because of their private news teams, they tend to each pick up something different about a story - slightly different details and perspective.

Further, because they aren't in the 'first to print' mode full-time, they tend to publish detailed follow-up stories withing 48 hours that more thoroughly sort the facts and clarify verified information from rumors.

Then we proceed to review all of our other sources on the same story for several days after the initial story goes to press. If all are reporting the same core facts, then those are most probable to be true, or at least perceived to be true from several perspectives.

We use internal editorial categorization techniques of liberal and conservative sources and determine if their publications echo the same core facts as what we consider our master sources. Then we can make an assessment to conclude that everyone saw the same thing. We then look for the starkest differences between the baseline, left and right sources. These are what we call the bias indicators.

On rare occasions, we use source information from media entities and individuals not listed above. We call these 'outside sources'. When we use outside sources, we take the information and will always attempt to back up the information we receive with our trusted sources, in accordance to the standard process.

During the entire process, we also rely on independent media outlets for either document source or source information to accompany our publications.

The entire process is not streamlined in a strict sense, as we allow for much flexibility during the writing and editorial process. But we are always extremely careful to ensure that at the time of publication, all information and material that we publish and release remains as accurate as possible, based on all available information that we have access to, through our media sources.

We are always open to challenge and scrutiny from our readers. If you believe we have made an error or published wrong, incorrect or defamatory information then we recommend that you contact our office so that we can rectify any actual errors or misinformation that is determined to be a legitimate mistake.



Share truth

Honor truth

Encourage truth


Adopted by Freedom Publishers Union, August 24, 2018


We consistently exercise our ethical and moral responsibilities to press and advocate on various important international issues:



We regularly rely on the information and expertise of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Free Software Foundation (FSF) and other key advocacy groups. Additionally, we regularly collaborate with the Council Body of Research and Study, David Institute for Politics and Science and FPUorg, among others. Our relationship with the aforementioned organizations, among others, is limited to the specific purpose of information gathering, fact checking and/or source information verification. The final details published on Freedom Publishers Union are applicable to Freedom Publishers Union only and are not reflective of the views, opinions or positions of the organizations we collaborate with.


June 21, 2019: We need to consider and make a final determination on the position of Freedom Publishers Union and the necessity of a Bill of Rights, in Australia.
June 7, 2019: We need to begin to explore options for the development of better media freedom protections, in Australia. Any such development would complement our existing calls for implementation of a "Whistleblower and Journalist Protections Act".
-----June 13, 2019: In the development of better media freedom protections, it is really important that public consultation is part of the process, along with consultation with representatives of mainstream and independent media organizations.


No information published.


Q. What is the scheduled release date for Ubuntu 19.04?
A. October 17, 2019

Q. What is the codename for Ubuntu 19.04?
A. "Eoan Ermine"



Topics: USA/UK/Australian Government, War, 9/11, Terrorism, Torture, CIA, FBI

Pentagon Papers (offsite)

JFK Assassination Records (offsite)

Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After 9/11

The 9/11 Report

The 9/11 Report (28 Pages)

FEMA World Trade Center_Building_Performance_Study

NIST World Trade Center_Investigations into Buildings 1, 2 and 7

(Bush administration) Executive Order 13440-Interpretation of the Geneva Conventions Common Article 3 as Applied to a Program of Detention and Interrogation Operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

CIA Interrogation Abu Zubaydah 2001-2003

CIA Torture Report

CIA Review CT Detention and Interrogation

CIA Interrogation Guidelines

(UK) Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament Detainee Mistreatment and Rendition Report(s)

Human Rights Watch Report - Getting Away With Torture (The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees)

"Globalizing Torture" Report into CIA Secret Detention

Osama bin Laden Dossier (Al Jazeera compiled)

(UNAMA and OHCHR) Treatment of Conflict Related Detainees (Afghanistan)

Human Rights Watch Report - Hiding Behind the Coalition (Failure to Credibly Investigate and Provide Redress for Unlawful Attacks in Yemen)

UN Human Rights Council Report - Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar

Royal Commission Report into Protection and Detention of Children in NT


Topics: Mass-surveillance, Dragnet surveillance, Government spying

(Bush administration) Executive Order 13292—Further Amendment to Executive Order 12958, as Amended, Classified National Security Information

Unclassified Report on the President's Surveillance Program

Full Report on the President's Surveillance Program

EFF Report - NSA Mass-Surveillance Programs-Unnecessary and Disproportionate


Topics: Trump, Russia

NSA Report into Russia Spearphishing

(Pre-US President) Confidential Document on Trump's Russia Activities

Appointment of Special Counsel to Investigate Russian Interference

GOP Memo (Memo #1)

Democratic Memo (Memo #2)

Intelligence Community Assessment - Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence - Report on Russian Active Measures

Russian Targeting of Election Infrastructure - Summary of Initial Findings and Recommendations

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence - Summary of Initial Findings - Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections

Attorney General William P. Barr - Summary of Mueller Report

Mueller Report (Redacted)

Robert Mueller Letter to Attorney General William P. Barr


Topics: Media, Copyright, Digital Rights, Computer Security, Privacy

Competitive Neutrality of the (AUSTRALIAN) National Broadcasters Inquiry

ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry-Preliminary Report-December 2018

Estimating Displacement Rates of Copyrighted Content in the EU

State of Digital Rights Report 2018

Bitcoin technical paper

Meltdown security paper

Spectre security paper

MeltdownPrime and SpectrePrime security paper


Topics: Economics, Global Trade, Environment

Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry Royal Commission Report

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)-Full text

Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission Report

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - Global Warming of 1.5c


Topics: Titanic Inquiries

Titanic Inquiries-Combined archive



October 8, 2018 | Letter to the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton MP

To Peter Dutton MP;

Freedom Publishers Union upholds the principles of civil liberties, which includes the right to privacy. It is this right to privacy which extends to digital rights. Encryption is key to the success of maintaining digital rights and privacy. Freedom Publishers Union will always oppose efforts which seek to undermine encryption and which permit and enable unjustified access to digitally secured information of citizens.

We refer the points of interest in this letter to be applicable to our review of the Australian Government's proposed "Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018" legislation.

While the proposed legislation may sufficiently meet the basic requirements of information access justification principles through the requirement of obtaining a warrant, it falls short of a broader justification of requirements for the legislation to become law in Australia, in its current form. Freedom Publishers Union believes the impacts of the legislation are much too broad in application and extend beyond Australia's jurisdiction to impact the operations of international technology companies.

It is unacceptable for Australian policy makers to be developing any law that has international repercussions, for the purpose of Australian law, and is completely undemocratic.

Freedom Publishers Union can see no immediate requirement or any such urgency for the passing of such legislation which has the potential for such large implications. More industry consultation should ensue and revisions should be made to the current proposal which can meet the concerns that have been expressed from those in the industry that will be affected.

The proposed legislation is misleading. It attempts to portray its primary intention as voluntary. It is actually compelling, and not voluntary. It threatens technology companies with excessive penalties in the form of monetary value if they do not comply with the request(s). It is not voluntary via request and therefore should not be portrayed as such.

Certain digital rights organizations have expressed concern over the potential of "forced backdoors" being implemented by technology companies as one method of complying with requests. If this were to eventuate, it would be a violation of the privacy of citizens which would be of great concern to us. Freedom Publishers Union is satisfied that the legislation is not forcing implementation of backdoors or breaking encryption. However, it fails to clearly define how it is expected technology companies can assist Australian law enforcement authorities and meet the requirements of the legislation without such methods of backdoors or encryption manipulation. It could possibly be this lack of better technical clarification with the proposed legislation which is fueling misinformation and misleading reports being published in the media.

We reiterate that further industry consultation must be carried out, so concerns can be addressed and the legislation be amended to better define what is precisely required from technology companies to meet assistance requirements.

In its current form, Freedom Publishers Union cannot support the proposed legislation. However, we do not directly oppose it and believe although we have questions over its necessity, we believe with significant amendments it can be developed into a fair, balanced and reasonable piece of legislation suitable to be passed as Australian law.

Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations Department

Update: March 1, 2019 - Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations Department received a response from the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs - National Security Policy Branch. The response letter can be viewed in its entirety here.

August 30, 2018 | Ms. Chelsea Manning entry to Australia

To David Coleman MP;

Freedom Publishers Union is receiving strong indication that Ms. Chelsea Manning may be refused entry to Australia and have her visa cancelled, under Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958.

We ask you to take serious consideration to the following points of attention, in making your decision, with the intention to permit Ms. Manning entry to Australia.

Freedom Publishers Union have supported Ms. Manning through her acts of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, which we deemed to be in the public interest. We continued to support her cause and defense through her legal case which placed such significant stress on her mental well-being that it resulted in multiple suicide attempts while she was detained in solitary confinement.

Whilst you consider your decision on the entry of Ms. Manning, we ask you to take further consideration into the fact that her sentence was commuted by former US President, Barack Obama.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support Ms. Manning for the principle reason of responsibility of ethics.

The Migration Act 1958-Section 501(1) outlines:

"(1) The Minister may refuse to grant a visa to a person if the person does not satisfy the Minister that the person passes the character test."

The list of subsections and provisions which can affect the decision made by the Minister for Immigration is extensive. We have no precise knowledge of what exact subsection(s) or provision(s) will affect your decision. However, we do wish to outline that former criminals that have committed much more heinous acts than that of Ms. Manning have previously been granted entry into Australia. Additionally, based on our independent advice, we believe there is no reason to draw to the conclusion that Ms. Manning poses any threat to Australia's national security, national interests and/or poses any threat to Australian civilians.

It is on these points of interest that we draw to your attention that we strongly conclude that Ms. Chelsea Manning should be granted entry to Australia.

Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations Department

February 23, 2018 | ABC Management and Editors Must Stand Up Against Government

To ABC Management;

Freedom Publishers Union is an independent publishing organization that operates primarily out of Australia, with co-operation from a limited number of international media groups which assist to extend our media reach and publication locale.

On February 20, 2018, our Asia/Pacific Press Office published quite a strong worded Editorial which made accusations against the ABC network, of giving in to government pressure on stories that it deemed critical against government economic policy.

Our Editorial was mainly directed at the ABC's handling of two recent stories publishing by Emma Alberici - One of which was removed in its entirety and another which was highly edited, critical analysis removed before the highly edited version was re-published.

We now understand that the story that was removed has also since been re-published to the ABC website but has been drastically re-written by Alberici.

We believe this comes as a result of pressure Emma Alberici was put under by the ABC Management, which was unacceptable for a senior journalist of her experience and journalistic integrity. If media reports are to be believed, then we understand Alberici has sought advice from lawyers following bad treatment in this instance, from ABC Management. However, we can not confirm this information which is being reported in the media.

Freedom Publishers Union are staunch advocates against government interference and editorial tampering, with Australia's free and open press. Our same advocacy and free press principles that we protect extend to all countries in the world.

The ABC was once known for its tough nature in dealing with government criticism against its publications. We feel the recent handling of Alberici's stories by the ABC, which saw multiple government complaints and resulting in the ABC making drastic editing of the stories in question, has tarnished the reputation for the ABC and has given the network a new alternate reputation that it will act upon government requests through official complaints made to the network.

The ABC has publicly claimed that the specific reasons for the changes that were made on Alberici's stories was for editorial reasons, and not the direct result of political interference through the complaints that were lodged. Freedom Publishers Union disputes this official explanation. Our dispute is echoed throughout the media industry.

This is a concern for us, as Freedom Publishers Union has always been committed to supporting public broadcasting in Australia, including directly campaigning for protection of the ABC and SBS networks.

We remain committed to supporting Australia's public broadcasting sector. But we would like to urge the ABC to stand up against governmental attempts at editorial interference and tampering.

Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations Department

August 15, 2016 | Changes to ABC Transcription Service

To Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC);

As the Director of a small independent publishing business, I write to you today expressing my genuine concern over media reports, published today at The Guardian, which outlines future changes to ABC and its transcription service.

I can not possibly explain how disappointed I am that the ABC has made the decision to either reduce the service of providing timely transcripts of important news and current affairs programming, whilst abruptly proceeding with the discontinuation of others.

Transcripts provided by the ABC are a crucial source of reference and citation for publishers and journalists. Through my work with GC Media Publishing Management and other associated roles within the publishing business, I personally will be affected by this latest decision, by the ABC.

I use the transcripts on a weekly basis from a range of different ABC programs. They are used for a variety of roles within our business and their discontinuation will place a major hurdle in our publishing operations as our staff would be forced to source other references of source media, which we believe to be more biased, less accurate, less reliable and less reputable than what is currently provided by the ABC.

It would be a massive loss for so many Editors and Journalists and the industry as a whole, which already fights many challenges in the digital era of media - a sector GC Media Publishing Management understands very well. The decision by the ABC is unjustified and will be devastating for the public broadcasting sector.

I would like to see the ABC review its decision, without further delay. I believe the consequences will be devastating for the accuracy of information in the publishing and media landscape of Australia, if this decision is to be implemented as described to the best of our understanding.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones - Director


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[Filed from MOSCOW] June 10, 2019 | [OPINION] Erosion of Australia's Free Press Pushing Island Nation to the "dark edges of totalitarianism"

AUSTRALIA IS CURRENTLY GRAPPLING WITH one of the most politically sensitive problems the country has faced in its relatively young history, with very real negative consequences for the future of its freedom and democracy if a proportional response is not devised which respects the serious nature of the problem.

As associates of Freedom Publishers Union, working in whatever capacity, we have a responsibility to advocate for freedom of the press and we have an ethical mandate to fight hard for this responsibility. The responsibilities of an Editor-in-chief might be carried out from an obscure and discreet office from Berlin (Germany), but we are a globally focused organization and said mandate fighting for and protecting the free press extends way beyond our own European borders.

Australia's legislative response to a rapidly changing and increasingly dangerous global political climate by consistently introducing national security legislation has been very aggressive and has been dangerous for its democracy. Australia has introduced more pieces of national security focused legislation than the United States and Britain. Tallies indicate numbers in excess of 70 pieces of individual legislation.

Local representatives of Freedom Publishers Union have expressed concern on multiple occasions that legislation passes with too much ease, without proper oversight, without review processes and with the support of the opposition political party. One might argue Australia's firm legislative response has been necessary and is what has kept the island nation safe from any major terrorist attacks like the ones that the United States and Europe have been exposed. But Australia's legislation has had nasty implications, as gradually each legislative piece has eaten away at the civil liberties and the freedom of the press. This has now become so publicly evident with the unjustified actions by Australia's Federal Police agency which has raided the home of a journalist and the office headquarters of the nation's public broadcasting news agency. The raids were so serious, it drew international media critique and raised legitimate questions of how a democratic nation as Australia could allow this to happen. The alarm bells should be ringing.

Since our proud independent media organization was established, we have constantly warned of the toxic side-effects that national security legislation has on civil liberties and many other rights. We have a strong operations presence in Australia, but we also have a presence across Europe and other regions too. Even from within the constraints of Berlin, we cannot remain silent when we see a world leading nation of peace and freedom shift to the dark edges of totalitarianism.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

Written by Sara Koch. 🤖

[Filed from MUMBAI] June 6, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] Raids on Media Confirm Australian Journalists Are No Longer Safe

AS FREEDOM PUBLISHERS UNION WAS going to press yesterday our office was alerted of a second raid that was being carried out by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on the Headquarters of Australia's leading public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), in Sydney.

The raid has sent shock waves throughout the Australian media landscape and occurred the day after another raid at a journalists residence, after she published a story in a News Corp paper (April 2018) which exposed Australia's involvement in killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan during the war.

The actions by the AFP has sent extremely cold chills down the spines of journalists and some of the nation's largest media organizations. The raids have also grabbed international attention of the BBC and New York Times.

The outcry and condemnation of the raids by the AFP has been widespread, and rightly so. Freedom Publishers Union joins the united chorus of condemnation and we share the same fears for the future of the press freedom in Australia as everyone else.

Our warnings on the consistent erosion of press freedom in Australia have been present for a very long time. We warned about this type of government initiated tracking and intervention of public interest journalism and the lack of effective protections for journalists, sources and publishers.

Our warnings have unfortunately become reality and we fear that the latest actions of the AFP raids have become the new norm for Australia's press.

It serves as a grave reminder of the importance of privacy tools and the usage of encryption services. There are particularly concerning legal loopholes which the Australian Government will undoubtedly attempt to exploit to defeat increased use of encryption services and communications. But at present, encryption still acts as the best defense against government interference of the free press.

Freedom Publishers Union recommends that all journalists and publishers take heed and pay much better attention to the benefits of encryption services.

Australian journalist and publisher of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been subjected to unfair detainment and charged with crimes that are designed to serve as a warning to all journalists that press freedom is under attack. The raids this week act as an alarming reminder that journalists are no longer safe - within Australia's borders or within international jurisdictions.

Raiding journalists and attacking the free press must stop, right now.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

[THE CONVERSATION] June 6, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] Why the Raids on Australian Media Present a Clear Threat to Democracy

THE AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE HAS this week conducted two high-profile raids on journalists who have exposed government secrets and their sources.

On Tuesday, seven AFP officers spent several hours searching News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst's Canberra home, her mobile phone and computer. The AFP linked the raid to "the alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret".

This stemmed from Smethurst's 2018 article, which contained images of a "top secret" memo and reported that senior government officials were considering moves to empower the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) to covertly monitor Australian citizens for the first time.

Soon after, 2GB Radio Presenter Ben Fordham revealed he had been notified by the Department of Home Affairs that he was the subject of a similar investigation, aimed at identifying the source of classified information he had reported regarding intercepted boat arrivals.

And then on Wednesday, the AFP raided the ABC's Sydney headquarters. This dramatic development was in connection with the 2017 "Afghan files" report based on "hundreds of pages of secret defence force documents leaked to the ABC". These documents revealed disturbing allegations of misconduct by Australian special forces.

The reaction to the raids was immediate and widespread.

The New York Times quoted News Corp's description of the Smethurst raid as "a dangerous act of intimidation towards those committed to telling uncomfortable truths". The Prime Minister was quick to distance his government from the AFP's actions, while opposition leader Anthony Albanese condemned the raids.

But to those familiar with the ever-expanding field of Australian national security law, these developments were unlikely to surprise. In particular, enhanced data surveillance powers and a new suite of secrecy offences introduced in late 2018 had sparked widespread concern over the future of public interest journalism in Australia.

The crackdown of the past few days reveals that at least two of the core fears expressed by lawyers and the media industry were well-founded: first, the demise of source confidentiality and, secondly, a chilling effect on public interest journalism.

Source confidentiality

Upon finding out he was the subject of an investigation aimed at uncovering his sources of government information, Ben Fordham declared,

"The chances of me revealing my sources is zero. Not today, not tomorrow, next week or next month. There is not a hope in hell of that happening."

Source confidentiality is one of journalists' most central ethical principles. It is recognised by the United Nations and is vital to a functioning democracy and free, independent, robust and effective media.

One of the greatest threats to source confidentiality is Australia's uniquely broad data surveillance framework. The 2015 metadata retention scheme requires that all metadata (that is, data about a device or communication but not, say, the communication itself) be retained for two years. It may then be covertly accessed by a wide array of government agencies without a warrant. Some reports suggest that by late 2018, some 350,000 requests for access to metadata were being received by telecommunications service providers each year.

The government was not blind to the potential impact of this scheme on source confidentiality. For example, obtaining metadata relating to a journalist's mobile phone could reveal where they go and who they contact and easily point to their sources.

This led to the introduction of the "Journalist Information Warrant" (JIW). This warrant is required if an agency wishes to access retained metadata for the direct purpose of identifying a professional journalist's source.

So, access to a professional journalist's metadata in order to identify a confidential source is permitted, provided the access has a particular criminal investigation or enforcement purpose and the agency can show it is in the public interest and therefore obtain a JIW.

This week's raids suggest that either JIWs could not be obtained in relation to Smethurst, Fordham or the ABC Journalists, or the journalists' metadata did not reveal their sources, or the AFP did not attempt to access their metadata.

Alternatively, if metadata had identified the journalists' sources, it is less clear why these dramatic developments took place.

After 2015, journalists were advised to avoid using their mobile devices in source communications. They were also encouraged, wherever possible, to encrypt communications.

But in 2018, the government went some way to closing down this option when it introduced the complex and highly controversial Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018.

As well as expanding computer access and network access warrants, the Act provided a means for government agencies to co-opt those in the telecommunications industry to assist agencies with their investigations. This could include covertly installing weaknesses and vulnerabilities in specific devices, circumventing passwords or allowing encrypted communications to be decrypted. A warrant would then be required to access the device and communication data.

It is impossible to know whether Australian journalists have been targeted under the Act or had weaknesses or spyware installed on their personal devices. This week's raids suggest the AFP would be prepared to target journalists under this framework in order to identify journalists' confidential sources.

However, this could only be done for some purposes, including in the investigation of a secrecy offence.

Secrecy offences

In June 2018, the government introduced a suite of new espionage, foreign interference and secrecy offences. This included an offence of current or former Commonwealth officers communicating information, obtained by virtue of their position, likely to cause harm to Australia's interests. This offence is punishable by imprisonment for seven years. If the information is security classified or the person held a security classification, then they may have committed an "aggravated offence" and be subject to ten years' imprisonment.

This week's raids reveal just how common it is for public interest journalism to rely on secret material and government sources.

But the journalists themselves may also be facing criminal prosecution. The 2018 changes include a "general secrecy offence", whereby it is an offence (punishable by imprisonment for five years) to communicate classified information obtained from a Commonwealth public servant. Fordham's radio broadcast about intercepted boat arrivals was, for example, a clear communication of classified information.

Again, journalists are offered some protection. If prosecuted, a journalist can seek to rely on the "journalism defence" by proving that they dealt with the information as a journalist, and that they reasonably believed the communication to be in the public interest. The meaning of "public interest" is unclear and, in this context, untested. However, it will take into account the public interest in national security and government integrity secrecy concerns as well as openness and accountability.

Protecting media freedom

Australia has more national security laws than any other nation. It is also the only liberal democracy lacking a Charter of Human Rights that would protect media freedom through, for example, rights to free speech and privacy.

In this context, journalists are in a precarious position - particularly journalists engaged in public interest journalism. This journalism is vital to government accountability and a vibrant democracy, but has a tense relationship with Australia's national interests as conceived by government.

National security law has severely undercut source confidentiality by increasing and easing data surveillance. National security laws have also criminalised a wide array of conduct related to the handling of sensitive government information, both by government officers and the general public.

And these laws are just a few parts of a much larger national security framework that includes: control orders, preventative detention orders, ASIO questioning and detention warrants, secret evidence, and offences of espionage, foreign interference, advocating or supporting terrorism, and more.

JIWs, and the inclusion of a journalism defence to the secrecy offence, recognise the importance of a free press. However, each of these protections relies on a public interest test. When government claims of national security and the integrity of classifications is weighed into this balance, it is difficult to see how other interests might provide an effective counterbalance.

One of the most disturbing outcomes is not prosecutions or even the raids themselves, but the chilling of public interest journalism. Sources are less likely to come forward, facing risk to themselves and a high likelihood of identification by government agencies. And journalists are less likely to run stories, knowing the risks posed to their sources and perhaps even to themselves.

Against this background, the calls for a Media Freedom Act, such as by the Alliance for Journalists' Freedom, have gained significant traction. It may take this kind of bold statement to cut across the complexities of individual laws and both recognise and protect the basic freedom of the press and the future of public interest journalism in Australia.

Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, Senior Lecturer, The University of Queensland

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

Further reading: Media raids raise questions about AFP's power and weak protection for journalists and whistleblowers | Media freedom joins the current 'freedoms' agenda

[Filed from MUMBAI] June 5, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] Australia's Press Freedom is Under Attack, Right Now

FREEDOM PUBLISHERS UNION HAS PREVIOUSLY warned of the erosion of press freedom, which is happening at a rapid rate throughout Western democracies and directly in front of the eyes of citizens. We have focused much of our warnings on the erosion of the press freedom on Australia. More than any other democratic country.

What is equally as disturbing as the erosion of the press freedom is the lack of protections for journalists, their sources and whistleblowers. It has been a long time position of Freedom Publishers Union calling for the implementation of a "Whistleblower and Journalist Protections Act".

Freedom Publishers Union is particularly concerned on the state of press freedom in Australia because of our strong presence in the nation, where we have three offices and two associated mastheads operating.

An incident on June 4, 2019, grabbed the specific attention of Freedom Publishers Union and again placed our organization into a difficult position of having to express our disappointment at the Australian Government and its actions of using the nation's federal crime fighting unit to attack some of the most critical pillars of the country's free press.

The aforementioned June 4 incident saw Australia Federal Police (AFP) raid the residence of News Corp journalist, Annika Smethurst. Freedom Publishers Union understands the raid to be an aggressive response to a publication that was published April 2018 by Smethurst, in The Daily Telegraph.

The controversial story which has resulted in the AFP carrying out the raid on the journalist's residence in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) had suggested that one of the country's most prominent intelligence gathering agencies, Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), was seeking an extension of their legal powers to permit the intelligence agency to spy on Australian citizens without their knowledge.

Any extension of spy powers could include obtaining access to a target's internet access data, email communications, bank records and cell phone text messages. The publication by Smethurst also included details and images from top secret documents which were marked as AUSTEO, which identifies as Australian Eyes Only.

Currently, Australian law does not permit the Australian intelligence agency to spy domestically on its citizens. However, there remains loop holes in the Intelligence Services Act 2001 which can be exploited and effectively permit the ASD to provide technical advice to the AFP and Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) if those agencies have obtained warrants which enable their investigations.

In 2013, it was revealed in documents provided by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, Edward Snowden, that Australian intelligence agencies were illegally sharing data on Australian citizens with its 'Five Eyes' partner intelligence agencies.

There has been no repercussions for any of the Australian intelligence agencies that may have acted outside of the law on intelligence operations including the spying on domestic citizens. Since the release of the documents, Snowden has been forced to live in self-imposed exile in Russia, relying on diplomatic protections provided by the Russian Government.

On the same day as the raid on Smethurst's residence, radio host on the 2GB network, Ben Fordham, revealed that he is now part of an inquiry being led by the Home Affairs Department, which Freedom Publishers Union understands has been the result of reporting on the Monday - the day before the Smethurst raid - that six asylum seeker boats were currently in their way to Australia. Allegedly, the boats originated from Sri Lanka.

Freedom Publishers Union is concerned the inquiry into Ben Fordham is another attempt at curbing Australia's press freedom, specifically on government-related matter of interest.

These attacks on press freedom come after the passing of changes to Australia's espionage and foreign interference laws, one year ago. The changes saw the inclusion of public interest defense provisions which the Australian Government was pressured into implementing after representatives of Australia's media and journalists raised alarms that the laws did nothing to protect press freedom.

Freedom Publishers Union warned in an editorial published by Mumbai Press Center that the so-called 'protection' provisions should not be interpreted as protections at all. We stated that the changes were simply a relaxation of some of the existing most restrictive measures included in the espionage and foreign interference laws. We also warned that the line of what is considered public interest and what the Australian Government determines as an unacceptable publication and to be a national security risk, is extremely blurred and unclear.

Freedom Publishers Union has continued to warn of inadequate media protections for journalists, their sources and whistleblowers in Australia.

Freedom Publishers Union have also previously warned of the potential for alternative motive creep of legislation. We have been unable to confirm, but understand the raid on Smethurst was applied under the Crimes Act 1914 and not the espionage and foreign interference laws. However, our warnings remain applicable and we can not rule out further government-initiated attacks on press freedom in the future using a combination of laws, which may also include the espionage and foreign interference laws.

The possibility of combining laws which can be used to justify execution of warrants on raiding journalists to curb press freedom concerns Freedom Publishers Union and only adds to the confusion of what can safely be considered to be in the public interest, by journalists.

According to a press statement released by the AFP, they claim "The activity [the raid] is in regard to an investigation into the alleged unauthorized disclosure of national security information that was referred to the AFP. This warrant relates to the alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret, which is an extremely serious matter that has the potential to undermine Australia's national security.".

It is unclear at present whether the Home Affairs Department had made the initial referral to the AFP, or whether the referral came at the direction of the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who many are accusing of being the initiator of efforts to curb Australia's press freedom, with the cooperation of the head of the Home Affairs Department, Peter Dutton. Both members of the Liberal Party and Coalition Government have been long-known staunch advocates for increased government secrecy and their ministerial activities are continuously contrary to government transparency.

President of the Press Gallery, David Crowe, says "Democracy suffers when journalists are raided for reporting on governments". Crowe continues, "The police raid is an attack on press freedom and a danger for the wider freedoms of all Australians.". Freedom Publishers Union agrees with the comments by Crowe and they precisely reflect what we have previously warned.

In light of the most recent attacks on press freedom, the Government has been questioned over what further protections it would offer journalists in existing legislation. It should be no surprise that Government representatives have stonewalled the questions and provided no response. It is further evidence that the Australian Government has protection for journalists as a very low priority, and curbing press freedom as a very high priority.

Shortly after the publication of the original story by Smethurst in April 2018, Dutton, said "as for some claim that there's going to be some spying taking place on Australian citizens, it's complete nonsense.". Freedom Publishers Union debates Dutton's comment, as the documents published by Smethurst are direct and indisputable proof there was discussion of the broadening of intelligence gathering powers.

There was apparently enough concern on the legitimacy of the details inside the story among political circles in Canberra it spawned the Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfuss, into action and he raised concerns with the Government and indicated that if further documents or information is leaked to the public about details of domestic spying then it could be damaging for national security. Freedom Publishers Union debates the concerns of Dreyfuss too.

We have independently assessed all the details of the story and consulted with David Institute for Politics and Science. Upon consideration of our own assessment and their advice, we have concluded that there was never any threat to national security and the story was absolutely in the public interest.

Freedom Publishers Union protects press freedom and civil liberties. There is no valid argument that justifies the activities of domestic spying en-masse. We are not suggesting that is what the Australian Government is doing through utilizing the powers of its intelligence and security agencies. But we do urge the Australian Government to be more transparent about any domestic spying activities. If activities are being carried out on Australians, then we need a clear legal framework that permits it to occur within the constraints of targeted spying which is executed only after a warrant is obtained.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center/FPUorg/David Institute for Politics and Science

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones. 🤖 📈

Citations: David Crowe and Peter Dutton.

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] May 27, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] USA vs Assange Case Will Test the Constitution

I THINK THE [Julian] ASSANGE CASE - if he ever physically makes it to the US, instead ending up in Sweden - will be an important test for not only the validity of purpose of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America (USA), but it will test the strength and effective power of the Constitution as a whole. Is it truly a powerful document offering protections which are the launchpad for further freedoms and liberty? Or, a worthless piece of paper which serves as an indicative agenda only but actually is powerless to protect?

This will be a landmark case for the Supreme Court. And, I'm very much afraid, Wikileaks will allow the supremacists in America to do what every other dictatorship in the world has done: criminalize the exposure of government corruption.

Remember: the Supreme Courts - in pretty much all countries, even Russia, Turkey and Venezuela - decides how to interpret the Constitution, the fundamental framework that gives a country legitimacy. And that interpretation changes over time as culture and economics change the context surrounding the Constitution.

Internet and social media have changed the way people communicate, making many Constitutional assumptions invalid. The First Amendment of the Constitution of the USA envisioned a society of villages and rough territories that had an economic consistency. The freedoms enshrined in it assumed that there would always be dissenting voices, but moderated by a media that fundamentally supported America. It assumed it took time for dissent to propagate and be examined by the press, which would ultimately weigh the voices if the multitude and present government with a distilled result.

It did not envision the ability for an image, rumor, or even a political position to bypass the media entirely and instantly become part of the entire country's dialogue. Where thought leadership could be usurped in a moment by an opposing or even anarchistic voice.

Assange is the test for how America and the world handle this in the future. Unlike Nixon and the New York Times and Washington Post, which filtered and released leaked information as stories based on facts and data, making the stories both more damaging and believable, but without the blatant public display of 'secrets'. On most occasions, Wikileaks just publishes the raw data without filtering. This didn't include the work the newspapers did to research and interpret the data, which it can be argued that this is a defining hallmark of true journalism. But nobody can outright deny that the Wikileaks publishing model challenges traditional media operations, therefore challenging the ability of the law to interpret the legality of its operations, who is classified as a source and who is classified as a journalist.

Wikileaks comes at a bad time for journalists and First Amendment rights. Between the publishing of raw intelligence, the environment of 'fake news' and overt bias, the near-reactionary composition of the Supreme Court, and attempts by Conservative politics to create a one-party State, the result of a First Amendment case built on Assange's actions is definitely going to cause some forms of free speech restrictions.

But what can be done to preserve free speech, not only in America, but around the world? How do we defeat lies, bias and exaggeration - or at least deliver a counter argument of equal weight? It is time for journalists around the world to address these issues head-on.

Or maybe this is something only Revolution can fix.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News/FPUorg

Written by Brett Brennan. Edited by Sara Koch. 🤖 📈

[Filed from SYDNEY] May 20, 2019 | [OPINION] Liberal Party Wins Australia Federal Election. The Polls Were Wrong. And I Was Wrong Too.

ANY AUSTRALIAN THAT DID NOT follow the extensive election television coverage on the night and instead relied on the news headlines on Sunday morning for the results could possibly first think that they were reading the wrong headlines on the wrong day. Most were expecting to see a Liberal Party wash-out. Instead, we all saw something odd and quite unbelievable. As early as one hour after the voting booths had closed and the counting commenced, the results actually defied what all polling had been suggesting during and before the election campaign - the Liberal Party had won and the Coalition would reform government.

Most people like Scott Morrison. He appears like a decent human being. But it was thought that most didn't like the Liberal Party he stood for. But on Saturday night it become much clearer that all the assumptions and indicators of people's trust in the Liberal Party were all so wrong, specifically in the State of Queensland. Scott Morrison, the man who almost campaigned for an entire party by himself, had got the Liberals over the line and made history.

Former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was unable to fend off the determination of independent candidate, Zali Steggall. She trumped over Abbott with the help of the aggressive left-wing lobby group GetUp and took the seat that has traditionally been enjoyed by Abbott with a comfortable margin. The seat is no longer to be considered 'safe'. There is no doubt that Abbott was the source of a personal campaign designed to attack him as an individual, rather than his political philosophy. Abbott may have strong opinions and a political philosophy defying mainstream which made some people cringe, however that does not make him a bad person. He was subjected to some ugly political attacks which on too many occasions became personal. Abbott has been an outstanding member of his community with a long list of community accomplishments and volunteer efforts to boot. He has served as a Prime Minister of Australia. He deserves respect for his contributions to public life and subjecting him to personal and political attacks of the scale he was, has been unacceptable. The loss of Abbott is not only a loss for the Liberal Party, but it is a valuable loss for the Parliament and Australian politics. However, I do not wish to take anything away from the new elected independent, Zali Steggall. I am sure her own contributions will be appreciated and her fresh political views will be much appreciated in the House of Representatives.

On my own predictions - I, like so many thousands of others, got it wrong. I had personally predicted a close result. As late as yesterday morning, I had concluded that it was my belief that the result would be so close that the possibility of a hung Parliament could not go unacknowledged. Many other political commentators had also motioned the same view. Labor's performance was dismal and it is no surprise that after six years of running the Labor Party in opposition Bill Shorten has quit. It was the right thing to do. The party must refocus and renew its base under a new leader. Although there are a few names put forward at present of who will contend for the leadership of an injured Labor Party, I believe Anthony Albanese - or 'Albo' as everyone calls him - would be the most likely future leader. He is a fine minister and a true gentleman. Whether in a position of Opposition Leader or future Prime Minister, I believe Albanese to be a man of great integrity and respect, and one that would put Australians and the national interest above all. But I will stop myself short of placing that prediction in stone. As we have just learned over the course of the weekend, what you think is an informed prediction can quickly become embarrassing and flawed.

Political Independent

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

Publication notes

[Filed from SYDNEY] May 18, 2019 | [OPINION] Australia Federal Election 2019. Labor Party Most Likely Prospect to Form Next Government

ELECTION DAY HAS ARRIVED AND I have a confession - I was going to publish this column yesterday, but instead chose to delay it until today. Also, I was going to make it much longer, but I felt it unnecessary as there's been enough media coverage every single day of the election campaign from all the major Australian mastheads to keep you entertained. So instead, I will keep this short and just say a few final points before Australia heads out to vote.

Polls keep suggesting that it's a close race between the Liberal and Labor parties. But the polls paint a false picture, really. They ignore the fact that for the Coalition to actually win the election and (re)govern in its own right, it would have to actually gain seats. This is a highly improbable scenario. Liberal have been on a hot campaign trail to gain seats, sure. But a more accurate description of their campaigning would suggest they've been out to save the seats they already have, because they cannot afford to lose any of them. Not a single one. Polls also suggest there is still public dislike for the Labor Party leader, Bill Shorten. However, I would conclude that the public will look past their dislike for the Labor leader and the Labor Party will win. But I also don't believe that people who do vote for Labor will be voting Labor because they don't like Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Polls suggest he is actually well liked and rates much more favorable to Bill Shorten. But Liberal voter revolt will ensue simply because the public are unforgiving towards leadership spills. Voters were disgusted by the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd leadership swapping while Labor was last in office. So they voted in the Liberals and the Coalition formed government. Voters were thinking things would be different and the believed the Coalition could save the country from any further leadership embarrassment. Well, sadly, history tells the story of nothing but further embarrassment. In six years of a Coalition government, we've seen three different leaders - Abbott, Turnbull and (current Prime Minister) Morrison. Again, I think the public will express their disgust once again and swap their votes back to Labor as a means to punish the Liberals for their stupidity. I believe Labor will win, however I do believe it will be by a relatively small margin, and I wouldn't actually rule out a hung Parliament. That is a very real possibility and should be considered.

The Liberal Party has senior ministers in some interesting and seemingly now-fragile seats. The ministers have for a long time appeared quite comfortable by the margins they enjoyed, whatever that margin may be. But this election campaign has really brought to light the fragility of the Liberal Party as a unit, and more so of some of its most senior minsters in office. To hand pick a few - Josh Frydenberg, Christian Porter, Peter Dutton, Greg Hunt and Tony Abbott are all facing voter revolt and losing their seats is a very real possibility. It is sure to be playing on the minds of those in the Coalition. Also, there's the wild-card influencers that need to be considered too. When the public are fed up with mainstream party antics, they will look to outside representation. The Greens appear to be unable to grow their support base, but it's not evaporating either. It remains steady. The much loathed Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson camps have ups and downs and the possible influence either of these parties will have on the election results is even more difficult to predict. Then we have a feast of independent candidates, which usually have significant influence in the Senate - the Upper House. Some argue that the Senate has become a much too hostile environment come as a result of such diverse choice. But who could argue that diversity is a bad thing. Whatever happens today and whichever party wins the election and forms government, does it really matter? Of course it matters. But remember to remain grateful that Australia is the lucky country and by you being able to peacefully walk into the polling booth and vote for the party or candidate you want to form government, is the best prize of all.

It is only fitting that as a former party member of the Queensland branch of The Greens, and supporter of The Greens political philosophy, I'm going to advocate for the party. However, I'm not writing this column today to tell you who to vote for. All I ask is that if you are displeased by the continued antics of the Liberal and Labor sides of politics, then please do consider the green side.

Political Independent

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

[Filed from MUMBAI] May 17, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] The Greens Provide a Policy Platform for a Better Australia

AUSTRALIAN VOTERS HEAD TO THE polling booths tomorrow to decide on which major political party they believe is best fit to form the next government of Australia. Australia has two major parties - Liberal or Labor. The former runs a Coalition with The Nationals party. The latter has no official binding agreement with any other party, however they have in the past traditionally formed a close alliance with The Greens and it is widely accepted that when political stalemate incurs, Labor call on The Greens for support.

It has been suggested that the election campaign has been "dull" and "boring", by media and political commentators. While the election campaign may have escaped any major controversy from any specific candidate or party, there has been dirty tactics used by some by digging deep into the archives of social media posts of candidates to find posts which may be either controversial or counter to the policies and political position of the candidate and/or their party. While digging through social media posts of candidates to find content and comments posted four or more years ago might be regarded as dirty and distasteful, it also reflects the lows that political candidates and their campaign staff now engage in, in the modern era of politics.

The economy has been a central focus from both parties in their policy pitches, used as an effort to secure the votes of Australians. Forward Thinking Australia assessed the Liberal Party of Australia as the best party to continue stable economic management. Traditionally, the Labor Party of Australia has failed at sensible and stable economic management. However, if voters are to believe the promises made by the Labor Party this election, Labor has basically matched the Liberal Party when it comes to economic policy proposals. While there is absolutely no doubt that if Labor are to win the election tomorrow by any margin of majority, then Australian's will endure higher taxes which will go on to fund Labor's promises of massive spending schemes. Some economic analysts have commended the Labor Party for their proposals. Others have referred to the tarnished fiscal history of the Labor Party which proves that despite the promises of a better managed economy, spending has commonly blown out beyond budget lines and the Labor Party has failed to reign in spending and manage the economy properly. But the Liberal Party has failed in its own areas of funding too. Forward Thinking Australia recommend the Liberal Party for economic management, however they also express reservations with budget management associated with social welfare, health, education and public broadcasting - the latter, a specific area the Liberal Party and the party's ministers in the past have proven hostile to. The Labor Party has previously been more compensating to the public broadcasting sector and have promised to restore some of the lost funding under the Liberal Government. Forward Thinking Australia believes that the lost funding not only needs to be restored, but funding for public broadcasting needs to be increased too. Definitely a call supported by Freedom Publishers Union as we have been key advocates for protecting Australia's public broadcasting sector.

Climate and energy has received a significant amount of interest too. And it rightfully should. Forward Thinking Australia believes that The Greens are the only party that has policy that will "implement effective changes to establish an affordable and stable supply of energy, with the ultimate and increased focus on clean energy generation through investment and transition to renewable energy.". Australia's transition to renewable energy has stagnated under the Liberal Government. There has been absolutely no effective policy that has come from the Liberal Party which promotes any positive focus on climate change and reducing emissions, or any initiatives that will truly drive economic investment in renewable energy. Australia must take climate change serious and begin its transition away from traditional energy sources like coal. Australia has become much too reliant on coal (and coal exports) and is ignorant to the environmental and economic benefits offered by increased investment in renewable energy sources. Australia has the potential to be a world leader in renewable energy generation and infrastructure. Freedom Publishers Union acknowledges that the Labor Party at least has active climate and energy policy. However, it is sometimes confusing and unclear of Labor's position on specific environmental and energy issues. Freedom Publishers Union have always opposed the Adani coal mine which is seeking to commence operations in the Galilee Basin, once all environmental approvals are passed. Currently, the approvals are being held up by the Queensland State Government. Freedom Publishers Union has been specifically concerned about the mismanaged and confusing position of the Labor Party on the Adani coal mine and mining in the Galilee Basin, generally. When questioned about their position, Labor Party leader and potential next Prime Minister, Bill Shorten, has been confusing in his response and fails to explicitly point out whether the Labor Party supports Adani or will move to block the commencement of its operations. Forward Thinking Australia believes that The Greens are the only party which has had a considered, consistent and sensible position on Adani, and the broadened scope of climate and energy policy for Australia's future.

Border security policy, inclusive of the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, has been almost absent from discussion during the election campaign. The position of the Liberal Party is clear. Their strict and harsh policies which directly affect the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees is set to continue. The Labor Party has also made a commitment to continue the harsh policies of the Liberal Party. They have indicated no changes. The policies of Australia are harsh, break international law and are internationally condemned, and possibly violate the human rights convention of the United Nations. The harsh policies result in innocent lives being sent to and locked up in offshore detention centers. Manus Island, Nauru and Christmas Island are all detention centers (or zones) with varying degrees of operational status, at present. But they are remain and stand ready to become fully operational at a moments notice by order of the government. There is no concern for the lives, physical or mental health of those detained by the Australian Government. Freedom Publishers Union has been critical of the harsh policies of Australia, many times. As we have also been critical of the operations of offshore detention centers, operated by third-party contractors under the watch of the Australian Government - a move designed by avoid direct responsibility for the continued abuses and human rights violations of detainees. Forward Thinking Australia has an uncompromising position, as does Freedom Publishers Union. At our core, we aim for protection and legal treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, in accordance to international law. Forward Thinking Australia believe that "immediate removal of detainees - adults and children - out of detention centers on Nauru, Manus Island and Christmas Island" must proceed. They also call for the "cease of all Australian operations of these centers and procedures for permanent closure must be the final goal". Freedom Publishers Union echoes their position and believe that the closure of offshore detention centers should be an immediate priority. Freedom Publishers Union have our own set of core political values, which are aligned with that of independent political lobby group, Forward Thinking Australia. Our position advocates that a "processing center should be established on the mainland", or a series of centers if necessary. We also advocate for increased transparency and independent oversight of immigration department operations. There has been too much secrecy for much too long. The only way to ensure the system genuinely improves is by transparency and independent oversight. As a result of the failures of the Liberal and Labor parties, it is inevitable that Forward Thinking Australia support The Greens, a party sharing the same values.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by Steve Adams. 🤖 📈

Citations: Forward Thinking Australia.

[Filed from SYDNEY] May 15, 2019 | [OPINION] Unemployed and Renters Being Ignored by Political Parties During Federal Election Campaign

BESIDES THE ECONOMY, CLIMATE CHANGE and all the usual predictable policy areas that you'd expect politicians to dish out false promises for, neither of the two major parties - Liberal or Labor - have made any mention of, or paid any attention to, the collective of common Australians - unemployed and renters. Yes, this collective do exist and the alarming link between employment status and renting often goes unrecognized. Renters are good people too and there is a rental epidemic in Australia that requires much closer attention.

Politicians are all ignoring the pleas for help by renters. When Liberal or Labor party members are faced with questions of what they will do to help renters, their answers sometimes flag the positive indicators and provide hope that something will be done to ease the strain of high cost rents in Australia. Yet no action comes nor does any real assistance to renters ever eventuate. Instead, we continue to see semi-passionate acknowledgment that there is a big problem. But that seems to be the limit. Those affected by rental strain will often look outside of the two major parties for political support. But the story runs the same - acknowledgment of a problem and no real action.

Rental prices in Australia are exorbitantly high and the problem continues to get worse. Rental prices continue to climb, yet wages are stagnant and what increases do make it through the industrial relations system are simply not keeping up with the rise of rental prices. Many renters face financial difficulties when they do not have sufficient employment, are unable to find employment or simply cannot find employment that suits their family arrangements and other commitments. No two situations are the same. Under employment, lack of employment and unsuitable employment all have additional problems that can be introduced too, which can then place increased pressure on renters and their financial situations.

Under employment has become commonplace in Australia with the increase in casual employment. Casual employment is always appreciated by the employees that fill the roles, however it does come with the insecurity of employment instability and often have to endure unpredictable working hours. In some cases, unsatisfactory workplace requirements are forced upon the employee. This places the employee in a difficult situation where they are forced to comply, otherwise they are subjected to retaliation from their place of employment which all too often results in work hours being reduced - a cruel form of employer retaliation which can hit employees hard. It can also result in bullying of the employee by management and supervisors. All of these problems place employees into the uncomfortable position where they feel they do not have any choice to compromise and negotiate a suitable employment agreement for fear they will lose work hours, have less income and will then be unable to meet their rental payment commitments.

The poverty experienced by so many Australian due to unemployment is a huge problem which is simply not realistically represented by any data graph or pie chart. Ridiculously high rental prices are absolutely out of reach for many unemployed people who rely on government welfare in the form of Newstart Allowance and young adults on Youth Allowance. The amount of funds provided by Newstart and Youth Allowance is unacceptable. Even for a single person, it is extremely difficult to find rental accommodation which can be afforded while unemployed and receiving either of the welfare payments. Australia's three largest cities - Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane - have exorbitant rental prices which make renting an impossibility. Even moving out to the suburbs of these cities can prove a challenge, even before taking in the consideration of reduced employment prospects the further you move away from the city.

Smaller (yet growing) cities like the popular Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are also becoming difficult to find rental accommodation while unemployed. On the Gold Coast, a most basic two bedroom apartment is ~$350.00 per week in the suburbs. Newstart and Youth Allowance payments do not cover rental payments alone, before basic living expenditures are even considered among other basic living costs including clothing and food.

There is no compromise here. The basic payments of Newstart and Youth Allowance is unacceptable and impossible to live on. It is impossible to live even the most simple of life. It is creating situations where single people are often forced to move in with family members, which is not always a suitable arrangement. Particularly in broken families. Single people with children find it extremely difficult and find they have to either rely on family and friends for financial assistance, or share their bedroom with their children and rent out the second bedroom to a stranger. This practice is sometimes not accepted by many rental agents, however it has also become a necessary and common step taken by so many renters as a means of basic survival. Large families are of particular concern because their situations can become much more complex. Finding suitable accommodation is difficult and expensive. Things get further complicated when school arrangements and childcare requirements have to be considered.

So many renters are being placed on, or below, the poverty line and the ignorance of politicians towards renters has become infectious. Renters feel ignored, have become frustrated and can see no improvement in their situation regardless of which major party forms government after the Federal Election concludes.

Newstart and Youth Allowance are too low and must be increased. But they require a major increase. A small increase of $20-30 per week is not enough. Any increase must be substantial. But we must not be complacent with simply increasing Newstart and Youth Allowance and walking away proudly and falsely believing the crisis his suddenly resolved. More attention must also be focused on reducing rental prices. If rental prices are unable to be reduced, then the government must immediately begin to explore options for rental subsidies so that people can actually afford to pay their rent without living in poverty. Perhaps they may actually then be able to afford food, clothing and everyday essential items that provide them with the dignity everyone deserves.

Supplementary payments of various types are offered to some recipients on top of Newstart and Youth Allowance. This can include energy rebates, family tax benefits or rental assistance payments. The amounts that these supplementary payments provide is a pittance. It often equates to only an additional ~$30-40 on top of their Newstart or Youth Allowance. It is just not enough. For politicians to use supplementary payments as an argument for the justification of such pathetically low welfare payments is insulting.

Unsuitable employment is a huge problem too which is often ignored. Any politician can make the weak and cowardly argument of 'get a job'. It's a weak argument and it's offensive. To assume which such confidence that simply 'getting a job' solves all problems is not only showing their lack of acknowledgment of the real problems faced by unemployed and renters, but it's ignorance towards the inability of political parties to develop real policy that implements real reform. Employed people have real-life situations they have to deal with outside of the workplace. Many people have children they must drop off and/or collect from a childcare center or school. Many people have elderly people they are caring for and checking up on outside of work hours. The scope of real-life situations and commitments of people if infinite and cannot be ignored. There's certainly no objection that it remains important everyone finds employment. But we must ensure workplace and industrial relations acts guarantee the rights of employees to negotiate with employers so that personal situations of everyone can be respected and catered for by the workplace, without discrimination.

The ignorance of politicians and political parties in Australia is shameful. Australia can do better than this. We are treating the unemployed and renters like a problem. They are not a problem to society, but do become a problem when they are ignored and faced with situations which are simply impossible for them to escape and tolerate. There is little doubt evidence would suggest that it's a major source of stress, mental health problems, domestic violence and sadly, suicide.

First, Australia need to abolish the Centerlink welfare delivery and management system and implement a bold new system from the ground up, to eliminate and resolve the seeming unsolvable problems that have plagued the Centerlink system since its inception. We must abolish Centerlink and start again. Plus, and second, a Universal Basic Income (UBI) must be implemented. A UBI would be indiscriminate and fair. Australia can afford it and any argument against that is plain wrong. Freedom Publishers Union believes the economic and welfare benefits that would be provided by implementation of a UBI would be substantial. A UBI in addition to an increase to existing welfare payments would assist greatly in alleviating the financial burden of so many facing financial difficulty. Australia would see increased creative development because a UBI would provide the basic society platform required for new ideas and projects to be developed and would create a more equal society where everyone has creative freedom and opportunities.

Come Saturday's Federal Election, who do unemployed and renters vote for? Well unfortunately, as was mentioned at the beginning of this editorial, none of the political candidates are talking about these issues. To be fair to the Labor Party, they have indicated an increase in Newstart Allowance is likely, following a formal review. However this will be minimal and will do nowhere near enough to assist unemployed and renters. More will need to be done. Tweaking the system and pushing through a few increases doesn't solve everything. Greater reform is needed. We need all politicians and all political parties to start taking these issues serious. We need the voices of the smaller parties to back needed reform too. Independents have their voice too, yet their influence can be limited in scope. But they must join a united chorus and expand on their agenda and also call for reform.

Independent lobbying group, Forward Thinking Australia, indicate that the Liberal Party are the best party for economic management. This is probably an accurate endorsement for the wider scope of economic management. But the specifics of the economy that affect the unemployed and renters are areas where the Liberal Party of Australia has failed. From a certain aspect, their decision making has accelerated the problems significantly. They fail to acknowledge there is a problem in the rental sector and fail to advocate that all problems are solved by 'getting a job'. Forward Thinking Australia have recommended The Greens as the party best placed in a position which could support policy areas that are important to the lobby group. The Greens have been a force behind calls to increase Newstart and Youth Allowance for quite some time. While the suggestion or implementation of a UBI is not a policy pitch at this election, the concept is traditionally not entirely out of the realm of the political ideology of The Greens.

Political Independent

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones. Edited by Sara Koch. 🤖

[Filed from SYDNEY] May 11, 2019 | [OPINION] Media Bias is Real. "Finding the right balance has become the responsibility of the reader."

THERE'S LOTS OF MEDIA CHATTER and commentary at the moment about the bias of News Corp. The two major Murdoch mastheads of The Australian and The Daily Telegraph have gained particular attention with the bias accusations. Please don't fret, I'm not about to jump on the wagon and join the assault against Rupert Murdoch and his influential media empire. I'm way past all that. Rupert may not have the same influence he once did, but it's becoming more evident that his son Lachlan is sure making his own presence known. And let's face it, News' mastheads probably are very focused on promoting right-wing Liberal political philosophy and will almost always take up the opportunity to kick the left in the guts. It's not morally right, but it's always been that way.

Bias often becomes more noticeable during election season. More so as we enter the final week before Australia votes. The bias of News' mastheads has reared its head like usual, helped much by the controversial article published in The Daily Telegraph which used Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's Mother as the focus of the story. It was tacky, yeah. Should they have used Shorten's Mother as the focus of the article during election campaigning? Absolutely not. Would we expect anything better from The Daily Telegraph? No. Should The Daily Telegraph be condemned for it? No. Why? Because we live in society which is and should always remain tolerant of the views of the free press. We may not always agree with the views and opinions of one particular article, masthead or an entire media empire for that matter. But we have choice. News Corp. don't have 100% media ownership over everything you read and watch. They have a large chunk, but it's far from 100%. The power and influence held by News Corp. is all too often overstated.

The media of the left, traditionally the The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, have a bias instinct too. Although I will argue that they have curbed their left bias somewhat since the Nine takeover. Many were critical of the Nine/Fairfax merger when it was first proposed. Myself included. It was thought that the merger would have negative impact on the overall media landscape in Australia and that the independence of the mastheads would be blown out the window. As it turns out, things are shaping up pretty good so far. Actually, I believe the mastheads have improved under Nine and reporting is overall very fair.

In an opinion piece published to The Guardian on May 9, Tony Koch does go a little extreme with his views of The Australian where Koch says, "If it is not anti-Labor it is anti-Green or, quite ridiculously, anti-ABC.". It's a fair assessment. Yes, the paper is anti-Labor. It is most definitely anti-Green and anti-ABC. Many of the leading columnists at The Australian make it a weekly habit to subject their readers to their public declarations of hatred towards The Greens and the ABC. Still, it's nothing compared to the rubbish that comes from Sky after dark - notoriously known as the Liberal echo chamber. A fitting label. Unfortunately for Tony Koch of The Guardian, the rest of his opinion piece was quite extreme and what can be described as an overreaction. This can be quite common from contributors at The Guardian. Take Van Badham for example.

Bias - who cares. If anyone is to understand media, then they will understand all media is bias to a certain degree. If there was no such thing as bias, then bias indicators would not exist. It's not the existence of bias that should concern readers. In an era of 'fake news' and 'mistruths', it's the accuracy of information that should be the main concern for readers. Finding the right balance has become the responsibility of the reader. Arm yourself with a copy of The Australian in the morning, but make sure you grab a copy of The Age too. Be sure to also grab a copy of the Australian Financial Review while you're at it. Between the three mastheads, you're essentially taking readership balance back into your own hands. So rather than throw your hands up in the air and ranting and raving that the Murdoch empire is selling you lies and right-wing ideology, do something about it.

While The Australian is traditionally bias to the right, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald will sway to the left. The Australian Financial Review sits somewhere in the middle and is usually considered to be fair and balanced. Much like the ABC. Once you're finished with the mainstream mastheads, make it a habit to check in with the independent mastheads and public broadcasters. But don't be naive to think they won't favor a certain political persuasion too. The Guardian's claims of non-bias becomes questionable all too often. And while the ABC does appear to favor the left slightly more than the right, most of the time this is a result of the refusal of those on the right to respond to ABC's enquiries. The Liberal Party, Coalition and right-wing thinkers have become hostile towards the ABC. Despite its slight lean to the left, it's still the most non-bias of them all.

Political Independent

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

[Filed from MUMBAI] May 1, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] Australian Labor Government May Be Inevitable, But the Australian Economy Will Suffer

COLLATION AND ANALYSIS FROM A variety of sources of political polling data has for a long time suggested that the public are more trusting of the Australian Labor Party over the Liberal Party of Australia. While polling data which focuses specifically on the preferred Prime Minister reflects quite differently and suggests the public prefer Scott Morrison as Prime Minister of Australia, over the leader of the opposition Bill Shorten.

The most recent polling data produced this week has suggested that the public might be warming to the concept of a Shorten-led Labor government, which Labor may soon be presented the opportunity to form if elected. The constant flow of big promises are coming with a potential big price tag to complement, which will be sure to have a major hit to Australia's economy, according to independent lobby group Forward Thinking Australia.

Before official campaigning commenced it was predicted by political analysts Bill Shorten might lead this trend of big spend campaigning. The Labor Party always do it. It's been done by previous Labor Party leaders, so it was always logical to conclude that a Shorten-led campaign would continue Labor's tradition.

Previous big spend Labor promises have not become a realistic problem for Australia's economy in the last 6 years because the Liberal Party has retained office and has actually been able to do a reasonable job of maintaining good health of Australia's economy, while it continues to grow. It should be recognized too that the Liberal Party has somehow managed to keep economic management quarantined from its internal party turmoil which has engulfed the party and resulted in Scott Morrison becoming the third Liberal Prime Minister in the last 6 years, following the party assassination of Malcolm Turnbull, and Tony Abbott before him.

Labor is infamous for bad economic management. Historical fiscal data leaves little room for denial. When the Liberals came into office, led by then leader Tony Abbott, the Australian economy was in a bad state and was the sole result of the bad Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard Labor Governments before it.

It is fair to acknowledge that Australia also suffered from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) which admittedly hit the world's economies deep. Australia was never going to be immune to its crippling effects. Some economists commend the then Labor Government for sustaining Australia's economy through the global chaos with minimal damage.

That is a fair assessment and they should be commended for it by all, irrespective of where one sits on the political spectrum. Still, they continued to spend too big and continued to mismanage Australia's finances and Australia had officially left the previous years of big surpluses and a healthy economy, which was produced by the fine efforts of the previous Liberal Government which was led by the former Prime Minister John Howard and his Treasurer Peter Costello.

The Liberals unfairly inherited a sick economy and the country was burdened by heavy foreign debt - debt which is still being paid off with high interest. Forward Thinking Australia has recognized the good economic management of the Liberal Party, through the Coalition, and it is their assessment that the Liberal Party is best fit to continue to manage the economy. However, Forward Thinking Australia does fall short of supporting the Liberal Party on other policy areas. In their lobbying efforts, Forward Thinking Australia are paying specific attention to the "Economy and Public Broadcasting". While the group recognizes the Liberal Party for good economic management, it is scathing in its assessment of the party on its lack of support for public broadcasting, and is extremely critical of the continued funding cuts to the public broadcasting sector despite promises cuts would not be made.

The scope of support Forward Thinking Australia offers remains limited, albeit it must be understood that lobbying and supporting a particular political party of influence is not its goal. Instead, it has a mandate to support fair and balanced policy.

Forward Thinking Australia officially recognizes Liberal Party of Australia, The Nationals, Australian Labor Party and Australian Greens (The Greens). While they do recognize smaller parties in the Australian political sphere, Forward Thinking Australia acknowledge that the influence of the smaller parties (and independents) is usually limited to the Upper House - the Senate. This is by no means any kind of oversight of the power of the influence of the smaller parties, as the sometimes hostile Senate environment is considered by many to be a chamber which can 'make or break' the path of even good legislation.

Forward Thinking Australia departs from supporting the Liberal Party on other policy areas. It is their belief that the Liberal Party has ultimately failed on policy areas, specifically on climate and energy. Freedom Publishers Union does not support or advocate for any specific technology for energy generation, but we are aligned with Forward Thinking Australia and also believe that the Coalition has failed miserably in this area, with no distinguished plan for the future.

This may be an election with a core focus on the economy, however, opinion surveys have suggested that the Australian public is very keen to see real action on climate and energy. Forward Thinking Australia specifies that energy policy must focus on two key issues - affordability and renewable energy generation. Both issues the Liberal Government has failed to properly fix, despite their rhetoric of claimed action.

Forward Thinking Australia do acknowledge that the Labor Party may offer a slightly better solution to the aforementioned issues, but they have determined that The Greens are the best party to support and the only party which truly has the motivation and will to develop suitable climate and energy policy for Australia.

Forward Thinking Australia does not form a specific position on coal mining in the Galilee Basin by the Indian-owned Adani Group, or the Murray-Darling Basin, but representatives express off-the-record to Freedom Publishers Union they are issues that they are watching closely and do not rule out forming a more formal and public position on these issues in the future. Most likely after the Australian Federal Election.

Freedom Publishers Union draws attention to the reckless spending promises of the Labor Party. In an analysis piece published by respected journalist Phillip Coorey of the Australian Financial Review late on April 28 [2019] titled "Shorten spends $230m a minute", he throws out some figures which although we acknowledge their limited scope sticking to a 30 minutes time-frame, they do reflect the wider and overall spending promise habits of Labor Party leaders. Coorey says, "In one 30-minute speech, Shorten pledged $6.9 billion over the next four years to ease the cost of living - $4 billion in increased childcare subsidies; $537 million in pay rises for childcare workers, 96 per cent of who are women; and $2.4 billion to provide 3 million aged pensioners and Commonwealth Seniors Card holders $1000 in free dental care every two years.". Freedom Publishers Union does not dispute the legitimacy or good intentions of any of the promises. But Coorey says, "This sort of spending and its obvious appeal to the recipients is what Labor is hoping will overwhelm the anger caused among various constituencies from its proposed tax hikes.".

It appears that history is destined to repeat itself with the Labor Party. During the Labor tenures of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard we saw huge amounts of spending which there really was actually no funds for. The original development and roll-out of a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) National Broadband Network (NBN) was costed at around ~$80 billion. David Institute for Politics and Science believes this figure to be modest for the plan that was originally put forward. They say there is little doubt that it would have went over budget. How was the Labor Party going to pay for it? The introduction of a mining tax was the original planned source of revenue. Ultimately, the mining tax implementation failed and it failed equally to generate the intended revenue. This left a massive shortfall in budget dollars.

The NBN ultimately never came to fruition in the form of its intended design by the Labor Party, but at the very least, the Liberal Party was motivated to improve network speeds and efficiency for a much lower cost and in a much shorter time with improvements largely relying on existing copper networks and rolling out more copper where it believed could accommodate required improved network speeds.

David Institute for Politics and Science has expressed concerns to Freedom Publishers Union at the apparent free thinking philosophy of the Labor Party's campaign, led by Bill Shorten. David Institute for Politics and Science say that the continued promises of expensive policies is concerning while also pointing out that the Labor Party appears to be in a race to implement every promise they are making. Many times, Bill Shorten has been observed claiming that policy X and Y would be implemented within the first 100 days of office, if the Labor Party were to win the election and form government.

David Institute for Politics and Science says that some may appreciate the public demonstration showing Bill Shorten's motivation to get things done, it is not always best to rush through legislation that is not properly developed with appropriate industry and public consultation. David Institute for Politics and Science use the encryption laws which were rushed through at the end of 2018 as an example. They say the encryption laws which were rushed through with careless support from both of the major parties are one of the finest examples in the democratic world of rushed legislation being pushed through a parliamentary process, without proper consultation. Still referring specifically to the encryption laws, they say the legislation should have been provided more time, allowing for more consultation which would in-effect have allowed it to be developed properly. Instead, it was pushed through with a 'implement now-fix later' mentality. It's not how democracy should function. Instead, it turned out as one of the best examples of how democracy can fail.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

Citations: Forward Thinking Australia, Phillip Coorey, Financial Review and David Institute for Politics and Science.

[Filed from SYDNEY] April 16, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] Pirate Party of Australia Near Silent on Real Social Issues

THE PIRATE PARTY OF AUSTRALIA is Australia's sole representative political party that practices the loose style of pirate politics. But questions are beginning to be asked whether the party is able to maintain relevance to the modern society of Australia. Some argue that its the very style of pirate politics itself that is the problem. Freedom Publishers Union, publisher of Political Independent, argues very differently. It is not the style of pirate politics itself. It is the problem of those that pretend to represent and uphold the standards of pirate politics, instead prefer to be content with publicly being associated with the political philosophy that has become synonymous with fighting for digital rights and copyright reform.

The Pirate Party of Australia is a legitimate registered political party. Admittedly, this is not a difficult feat to achieve in Australia. But their activities and level of advocacy on real social issues appears to be extremely limited, almost non-existent in the public eye. The party has been been near silent on all matters of political debate so far, with the Federal Election due on May 18, 2019. The last public message from the Pirate Party of Australia was released on their website March 16, 2019, and was simply a message of solidarity in response to the Christchurch massacre. Before that, February 19, 2019, they released a message endorsing an idea proposed by some obscure Queensland 4WD group on modifications to vehicles. The message was confusing and unfocused, but it appeared to call for "mutual" national recognition of motor vehicle modifications while also acknowledging that each Australian State has their own laws and regulations. Strange and somewhat contradictory. Political Independent spoke to one person who resides in the State of Queensland and they told us they had "never heard of that 4WD group" and that "whatever legislation the pirate party is talking about doesn't seem to be anything the public is interested in with the federal election campaigns now underway".

To the party's credit, there were two posts for the month of December 2018 which were of direct relevance of civil liberties and website censorship. In November 2018, there was nothing more than what appeared to be a blog post on the party's website which told a personal story of a transgender transition, published by their Senate Candidate for New South Wales, Sara Joyce. Again, strange and not exactly the platform for such a personal story. In the months before there were just a few posts on some copyright stuff and announcements of their support for Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning - which were natural party reactions to events that were unfolding at the time. But you get the point.

The Pirate Party of Australia has lost its direction, does not appear to have any sense of political values and their policy focus can only be described as unstructured and scrambled. They have a modest attitude towards digital rights and copyright reform. Their activities closely resemble that of a digital rights organization like Electronic Frontiers Australia and Digital Rights Watch, rather than a political party.

Independent political lobby group, Forward Thinking Australia, points out three core areas of political policy that have generated much public interest during the campaigning for the upcoming Australian Federal Election. According to Forward Thinking Australia, they are focused on Climate and Energy, Economy, and Border Security. None of these issues appear to be on the political sphere of interest for the Pirate Party of Australia. Without taking any significant interest in any of these core issues, the party has almost nil chance of getting elected to the Australian Senate.

Member discontent within the party appears rife too. Political Independent spoke to two separate individuals - one a former insider of the party and the other a former member. In separate conversations, we are told that the internal structures of the party are largely dysfunctional and do not provide for democratic dialog and contributions from members and the community, and are either brushed off or simply outright ignored. Both of the two people that spoke to Political Independent are no longer associated with the Pirate Party of Australia. One claimed to have left due to frustration by the lack of accepting community concerns and input. The other person claimed the reason they left was because they joined the party believing that their fellow pirate party members would share the same passion they did for reforming digital rights in Australia, but was disappointed by the lack of actual action by the party.

Political Independent has been unable to verify the stories and views shared with us by the two people who both claim to be formerly associated with the Pirate Party of Australia. However, their stories corroborate with each other and their views are aligned with that of a third-person that we come into contact with during the compiling of this article. Our third person was able to prove their former association with the pirate party by showing us proof of their former membership. The third person told us they previously had access to those with "significance influence" over the internal structure and its operations. They also told us that internally, the Pirate Party of Australia likes to give the impression of transparency and democracy within its operations, but realistically, it's operated like a dictatorship. "There's certainly no fair treatment of members of the Oz Pirate Party.", we were told.

As we go to press, Political Independent has provided the Pirate Party of Australia the opportunity to respond to the information that we are publishing in this article. If our office receives a response it will be published as a footnote to this article.

Our observations indicate that the Pirate Party of Australia has become immune and intolerant to the core political issues that Australians are truly interested in and concerned about.

The absence of a truly focused Australian-based pirate party that is equally interested in common social issues, while remaining true to the digital rights philosophies has not always been the case. In 2015, Democratic Pirates Australia was born out of frustration with the many fundamental failings of the Pirate Party of Australia. Democratic Pirates Australia was active from 2015 through to the end of 2017. In just two years, it had grown from just an idea, into a very structured political party platform which was on the verge of positioning itself to begin to foster enough public support to register to become a registered political party in Australia. The platform was built on the foundations of pirate politics, but the difference between Democratic Pirates Australia and the Pirate Party of Australia was that the former had built an extremely strong focus on extended social policy. Democratic Pirates Australia had come to the realization that as important as digital rights and copyright reform are, social policy is equally important and could not be ignored if a political party is to remain relevant to the Australian public.

For the duration of its base establishment and operations, Democratic Pirates Australia actively and aggressively engaged in political dialog and advocacy on many core elements of digital rights and copyright reform. They contributed by making several important public submissions, engaged with international pirate parties and even made an attempt at becoming recognized through Pirate Parties International. We understand it was unsuccessful as a result of a major failing of understanding on certain correspondence aspects between Democratic Pirates Australia and Pirate Parties International. Although its recognition through Pirate Parties International never came to fruition, there was genuine motivation to succeed and the passion was fierce to push the limited boundaries of domestic pirate politics to something more broad and with strong international relevance than what is currently offered by the Pirate Party of Australia.

So if the motivation and structures were in place, what went wrong? Nothing actually did go wrong. Democratic Pirates Australia was founded by Chris McGimpsey-Jones who is also one of the Co-Founders of our publisher, Freedom Publishers Union. December 2017, a deal was made by all the administrators for Freedom Publishers Union to acquire Democratic Pirates Australia. Based on the grounds of a possible conflict of interest, Chris was not part of the voting process. At the time of the acquisition, Freedom Publishers Union declared it as "a proud moment" and that "the data and website assets that we receive through the acquisition is extremely rich in political value".

Since the acquisition of Democratic Pirates Australia, Freedom Publishers Union has no doubt been further enriched with political value. However, it did leave a major dent in the presence of an effective and dedicated pirate party in Australia. One would have hoped that the absence of Democratic Pirates Australia would push the Pirate Party of Australia to broaden their political philosophy and place additional focus on social issues, as Democratic Pirates Australia had done. Fighting for digital rights and copyright reform is important. It's what Democratic Pirates Australia done. But they went that one step further and paid further attention to the majority of the Australian people, rather than focusing on the niche.

Following the acquisition of Democratic Pirates Australia, Freedom Publishers Union have carried on the political advocacy and continuing the difficult fight for digital rights, copyright reform and many other important Australian political issues. Freedom Publishers Union are dedicated to continuing the cause. But it is not a political party. There still remains room for a second pirate party in Australia. The question must be asked, is anyone up to the challenge of embracing the unique style of politics, become a pirate and sail the high seas of bitter Australian politics? We'll see.

Political Independent

Written by Steve Adams.

Update: Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations made repeated attempts to contact Pirate Party of Australia. Despite their repeated attempts, Pirate Party of Australia was not willing to respond and refused to comment.

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] April 5, 2019 | [OPINION] Facebook Challenges 'Old Media' Formula

FACEBOOK CONTINUOUSLY GETS LASHED BY the media. Data breaches, failures to remove hate content, political advertising potentially influencing international politics - well, it's not fair, but then nothing at this level is. That this is sucking up news space at all is a problem.

On data breaches specifically, these are highly technical issues with telco-level equipment. There's nothing the average person can do or say about it. A problem that exposes credit card data to theft: that's a problem people need to be aware of. Anything else is a witch-hunt, but only because panicking people about data security is a profitable topic for the media.

I'm becoming increasingly pissed off at mainstream media and the editorial choices that are being made on what is presented to the public. Most of American news is just reality TV without the humor. The internet is actually working in reverse to the data mining information that we're so afraid of. Rather than tailoring your news feed to your real concerns (like more local issues), media is going for the lowest common denominator, an approach that was first perfected in the early twentieth century. When the BBC leads with a Donald Trump story - while the country's Parliament turns into a circus of sound bites in the most important event that faces the country other than a world war - it shows that the editors have completely lost perspective.

The New York Times is one of the very few sources that keeps its local audience at the center of day-to-day reporting. It covers the major stories in an obligatory way, but still manages to have local news above the fold, even inside the app. Australian media is good here too, but I'm not sure if that's because Australian folks don't care about the rest of the world, or the local politics is better than any TV sitcom on its own.

Everyone (meaning the media) wants to blame Facebook for their loss of thought leadership. Zuckerberg recognizes that Facebook is screwed regardless of what it does. The consensus is that the media wants Facebook to lose their revenue stream by having the governments fine it out of them. Governments are seeing a 'Facebook tax' opportunity (and Google, Twitter, Amazon etc.) which is likely the real motivation here. Everyone that got in early on social media has made their money, and the advertisers are obviously doing well, as they've moved their advertising spend from television and print to mostly social media.

So Zuckerberg sees the writing on the wall - he's going to get pilloried no matter what - and those people yelling loudest for protection are the same ones using Facebook most heavily.

This leads to my final statement. If social media is do dangerous, damaging and loathsome, why do people still flock to it? Seriously, the issues and dangers are in the news world-wide daily. People have been informed. If the general populace actually believed what politicians and media leaders are saying, wouldn't they stop using Facebook?

This is the problem and I've been saying this for a long time. Social media is wrecking 'old media' by stealing advertising, because advertising on social media works. Yes, they mine your information, which pisses off the old media because they've been trying to do this same thing for over a century, unsuccessfully. When they had a chance to invest in and grow social media before it took off, old media blew it off. They felt nothing would ever displace network television. Forgetting that only 30 years earlier newspapers had said the same thing about radio and television. And at the same time, networks, newspapers and magazines were discovering that cable TV had snuck in through the wall and stolen their customers.

For media, it's not hate speech or violence - it's all about the money.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

Written by Brett Brennan.

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] April 3, 2019 | [OPINION] Gun Violence is Beyond Simple Legislative Reform. Media Must Accept Responsibility

IN 1984, MYSELF AND SOME friends were walking around the Westwood neighborhood in Los Angeles. We walked into a bar, ordered some drinks and went up to the roof patio for about an hour. When we walked out, there were injured people, police and medics up and down the sidewalk outside the bar. We learned that literally as we walked into the bar, a car had raced down the sidewalk mowing people down in the crowd. The incident killed 1 and injured 54 more. The incident wasn't considered terrorism back then. It was just an angry, crazy guy who decided to take revenge on the LAPD for what he felt was persecution.

Guns are used in a disproportionate number of violent acts. But guns aren't the reason for the violence. That is rooted into our societal structure. Often, as in this case, it is triggered by a perception of injustice or persecution that is inflamed indirectly by the way society dictates our actions and norms and by the way media present these subjects.

In 1968, a Federal Gun Control Act was enacted to suppress the import, manufacture and sale of a variety of guns, which included so-called "Saturday Night Special" hand guns, which at the time were responsible for a majority of American gun crime. These were inexpensive small caliber weapons that were cheap enough for anyone to purchase. The legislation passed and there was initial indications of a dip in gun crime. However, the demand for these weapons continued, resulting in the creation of new gun companies that specialized in making guns that met the same requirements without being illegal. Gun crime again rose in volume. Amendments were made to try and close the loopholes, but for every change a new solution was created.

America has approached the ban of firearms by using a variety of flawed legislation. In and of itself, the legislation has been successful in its narrow intent; specific weapons and entire categories of guns have been successfully removed from new sales. In fact, the laws have been so successful that Colt, Browning and Smith & Wesson have been faced with varying levels of financial challenges. But foreign manufacturers and aftermarket companies have thrived in the vacuum.

With today's technology, making a deadly accurate and functional gun is within reach of nearly anyone. It's possible to build a rifle out of mail order and 3D printed parts. In fact, you could build a cache of weapons. And magazines and receivers can provide ultra-capacity and semi-automatic operation to weapons that didn't come from the factory with that feature.

The public tend to get caught up in gun violence every time there's another "massacre" in the news. What we as people always forget is that gun violence really isn't that big a problem in the larger context. Gun deaths - not just guns used against others, but all ways guns kill people - are a larger problem, but are still less than automotive accident deaths, preventable medical mistake deaths, cancer, heart disease and countless other medical problems - including lack of medical care because of poverty.

For media, gun deaths are exciting, dramatic and thrilling. This is a hangover from the tabloid journalism of the 1920s, where violence was elevated to entertainment. But suicides aren't exciting or entertaining unless they're a result of another gun crime.

If we could solve suicide, we'd solve most of our gun deaths and twice as many non-gun suicides. Investing in proper quality control in hospitals would save an equal number of lives. Increasing funding for medical research would save millions more.

Yet, instead of investing in saving lives wholesale, we argue over spending many, many times the money to solve what amounts to a second-tier threat to our lives. Yet again, because the data presented to us as citizens is skewed and disingenuous. It is not provided to inform us, but as a third-handed way to get someone paid.

Fix the problem with the news media and we'll fix a lot of problems. Even gun violence.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News/FPUorg

Written by Brett Brennan. Edited by Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

[Filed from MUMBAI] April 1, 2019 | [OPINION] Snowden Leaks Were From the NSA, Not the CIA. Please Get it Right!

WHEN JOURNALISTS GET THE FACTS wrong, corrections must be made and a clarification of any necessary changes noted. Freedom Publishers Union has strict editorial processes in place to eliminate the chance of errors being made by our writers. And we also have procedures in place to deal with errors if they do slip through and get published. We are bound to the "PRO-TRUTH PLEDGE" and the "CHARTER OF EDITORIAL QUALITY AND ACCURACY ASSURANCE". Any sensible media organization should have an equivalent set of editorial processes in place. To not have these mechanisms is editorial irresponsibility at its finest and ultimately hurts the masthead's reputation and that of its publisher.

I was naturally alarmed this morning when prominent journalist and columnist Chris Mitchell, who writes for The Australian newspaper, made a critical error in his column titled "Russiagate a bonanza for media but a blow to journalistic credibility". Now, If Freedom Publishers Union detect errors in anything we have published, the Pro-Truth Pledge to what we adhere that ensures truthful and factual information gets published by us also prompts further action if we fail. When prompted to act on detected errors, we are bound by the last item of our editorial assurance Charter. It states, "We declare a public commitment to strive to uphold these principles to the best of our ability and pledge to never knowingly violate them. Should we fail in this commitment, we pledge to quickly and honestly report our errors, explain how we came to make the error, and describe the actions and process we will undertake to prevent repeating the failure in the future.". While it is detailed and sometimes not all of the steps are necessary to rectify errors, it does prompt for errors to be corrected, period.

In Chris Mitchell's column published in The Australian, today, he said:

Readers of Freedom Publishers Union will already be familiar with the Edward Snowden leaks and will already be aware that the leaks originated from the National Security Agency (NSA) and not the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as claimed in Chris Mitchell's column. The CIA claim could be just a simple lazy error. That's fair enough. These things happen in journalism. But it's also fair to say that a correction should be made and changes should be clarified at the bottom on the column.

I had intended to personally contact Chris Mitchell by email and advise of the error in his column. It might appear to be a small insignificant error, but it could have significant implications. Despite Edward Snowden living in relative freedom provided by the immediate safety of Russia's borders, he is still wanted in the United States of America. So making the clarification that the leaks were sourced from the NSA and not the CIA, as Chris Mitchell claims, is very important.

I must express my frustration which heightened when I discovered that there is no email address provided to contact Chris Mitchell. Through Freedom Publishers Union, I am provided a subscription to The Australian, which allowed me to publish a comment to the column:

It was not my preferred method of contact to request a clarification, but with no email address provided for Chris Mitchell, it was my only option.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

Citations: Chris Mitchell and The Australian.

[Filed from SYDNEY] March 31, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] Al Jazeera Investigation Exposes Pauline Hanson's One Nation for its Real Political Intentions

THE AL JAZEERA INVESTIGATIVE DOCUMENTARY titled "How to sell a massacre" places Pauline Hanson's One Nation party under negative political spotlight, and is a brilliant compilation of investigative journalism.

The natural defense mechanisms of Ms. Hanson have reacted, with her own defensive attacks being targeted at Al Jazeera. She has been critical against the media organization and claimed that Al Jazeera is an illegitimate organization backed by Middle-East bodies with an intention of influencing Australian politics. These are false claims.

The Al Jazeera network is a globally recognized world news service and is acknowledged as one of the least biased sources, on international matters. Freedom Publishers Union, publisher of Political Independent, rates Al Jazeera with a top rating on its 5-tier ranking system - a system employed by them which rates media sources around the world "according to fact-based, accurate and reliable information". A top rating identifies Al Jazeera as a "Trusted" source. Therefore, Political Independent would assess Ms. Hanson's comments as uninformed and having no merit.

The investigation focuses on the activities by One Nation's Chief of Staff James Ashby and the Queensland Party Leader Steve Dickson. The investigation was compiled with the complete cooperation of Rodger Muller, who posed as the Founder and President of a gun lobby group called Gun Rights Australia.

Gun Rights Australia was specifically set up for the purpose of the Al Jazeera investigation, but had every appearance of a legitimate lobby group with proper operations set up to achieve their cause. With Mr. Muller acting as the President of Gun Rights Australia, he accompanied Mr. Ashby and Mr. Dickson on their trip to Washington D.C. Gun Rights Australia had a purported agenda to fight for gun rights reform in Australia, which would see the easing of Australia's tight gun restrictions. This was also a policy being pursued, aggressively, by One Nation. Gun Rights Australia and One Nation were the obvious suited pairing.

The Washington D.C. trip would see the trio attend gun conventions and visit gun shops. It also involved a meeting with representatives from the powerful American gun lobby group, the National Rifle Association. The group is more commonly known as the NRA and has known ties to pro-gun politicians.

The trip also involved attending a meeting with representatives of the notoriously wealthy Koch Industries. The motivation of One Nation was to seek donation funds in the form $20million (AU). Sums of 10-20 million were continuously repeated by Mr. Ashby and Mr. Dickson throughout the course of the investigation.

Koch Industries is very wealthy and very influential, politically. They are continuously criticized for the secrecy of their business activities and regularly accused of channeling funds for political influence through deliberately complex onion layers to reduce the ability to trace the origins of payments. It is the secretive nature of the business and political activities of Koch Industries that Mr. Ashby and Mr. Dickson appeared to be fascinated.

The seeking of donation funds by One Nation was also accompanied by claims by Mr. Ashby and Mr. Dickson that if One Nation were able to secure the amount of funds they sought, they would be able to manipulate the way Australia's democracy functions and have a larger influence of the voting powers of both Houses of the Australian Parliament.

There are many immediate and pressing concerns that have come to the public's attention as a result of the Al Jazeera investigation.

Ms. Hanson's motivation and passion for pushing for the easing of gun rights in Australia has now been placed into the public domain - a motivation that is actively being exercised by One Nation's Chief of Staff and Queensland Party Leader.

During the course of the investigation, it appeared on many occasions that Mr. Ashby and Mr. Dickson were under the influence of alcohol. On almost every occasion and meeting shown, the pair were within close proximity to, or holding, bottles or glasses which appeared to contain alcohol.

Since the investigation was published by Al Jazeera, the admission has been made by Mr. Ashby that the One Nation pair were under the influence of alcohol, on some occasions. He has also claimed that the comments have been taken out of context and were the result of excessive alcohol consumption.

The investigation also produced interesting insight into the secretive operations of the powerful gun lobby group, the NRA. The group does not currently have an official presence in Australia but there are indications that the group are very interested in Australian politics and how it influences American policy. There appears to be a natural curiosity by the NRA on how gun rights in Australia could possibly be eased and how citizens could get easier access to high-powered guns.

Despite the attempts by Mr. Ashby and Mr. Dickson to lobby the NRA for donation funds, there is no evidence to suggest that the NRA has provided any funds or any other donations to One Nation.

Foreign donations to Australian political parties has been banned. Therefore, any donation(s) by the NRA or any other international entity would be illegal.

It was evident in the investigation the representative of the NRA made it very clear of the reservations the NRA had of providing any donation funds to an Australian political party. They appeared to be very cautious of the laws surrounding foreign donations and how it could also be perceived as America trying to influence Australian politics. It was obvious that the NRA does not want to publicly appear to be influencing foreign politics, especially through providing illegal donation funds. However, it was also obvious that the NRA could be more encouraged to do so if the law permitted it.

The investigation produced by Al Jazeera has been crucial in informing the public of the true intentions of Pauline Hanson's One Nation party. Specifically on gun rights in Australia. Intentions that appear to have fostered the absolute support of party members.

Since the broadcast of the investigation by Al Jazeera and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Ms. Hanson has publicly defended her party by holding a press conference, flanked by Mr. Ashby and Mr. Dickson, offering her continued support to her two closest associates. On a separate occasion. she has congratulated them for their alcohol-fueled lobbying efforts in Washington D.C., claiming the meetings were productive.

Political Independent acknowledges that Ms. Hanson was not present at the meetings held in Washington D.C. We understand from the investigation that she remained in Australia, acting on her personal feelings that her security may be compromised if she were to visit the United States of America.

Her comments on the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania that occurred in 1996, which ultimately led to then Prime Minister John Howard's historic gun reforms, were also a subject of focus in the Al Jazeera investigation.

Ms. Hanson has personally been subjected to negative media attention for her suggestion that the massacre that occurred in Port Arthur was a government-sponsored conspiracy and an event that needed to happen for significant gun reforms to pass through the Australian Parliament.

The comments by Ms. Hanson suggesting there was a conspiracy are disturbing and appear to be unfounded, since she claims she cannot recall the exact title of the book she read which spawned her conspiratorial ideology, claiming nothing more than "it had a blue cover".

How much negative influence the details revealed in the investigation will have on One Nation at the upcoming Federal Election is difficult to assess. But there are indications that it may turn away potential new supporters, while there are indications existing One Nation supporters will stand by the party and have not been influenced in any negative way.

Pauline Hanson is on the public record for claiming that One Nation would not seek or accept foreign political donations. The evidence which is presented in the Al Jazeera investigation appears to be contrary to her claims.

Also, Ms. Hanson claims that she does not support any kind of international influence of Australian politics. Again, the Al Jazeera investigation appears to be contrary to her claims.

One Nation have actively sought foreign political donations which would undoubtedly subject the party to foreign influence, with the encouragement and cooperation of One Nation's leader, Pauline Hanson.

Political Independent

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

Citations: Peter Charley and Al Jazeera.

[Filed from MOSCOW] March 28, 2019 | [OPINION] The European Union Just F**ked the Internet

A NEW COPYRIGHT DIRECTIVE JUST changed the future of the internet. The European Parliament voted in favor of the new copyright directive, with two specific Articles drawing international attention - Article 13 and Article 11.

Article 13 prohibits uploading any content within the European Union (EU) if complete copyright licensing is not obtained by the uploader. This may also include licensing for things in the background of images and videos which may include pictures and even music being played. The compliance requirements are broad and the directive effectively holds the website responsible for doing complete license checking before the uploaded content goes live. Due to their market dominance, a large chunk of this responsibility will fall on Google and Facebook, period.

Article 11 prohibits quoting more than individual words from linked content and prevents snippets. This will effectively force news websites to just post naked URLs unless they have a specific license to use a larger quote.

Many have assessed that the scope is so broad that no company - even Google and Facebook - could possibly comply. Google is especially hit hard by Article 11 as it will completely break their search function in its current state. Any search result that has more than one or two words from the link is potentially a violation and Google will have to remove text snippets to be completely compliant. Article 11 will also break all other search engines and Wikipedia, advertising content etc.

The most likely response is that big technology companies will simply stop serving the EU and remind users that virtual private network services are available.

Article 13 and Article 11 combined, effectively f**k the internet. At least from within EU jurisdictions. It's quite ridiculous actually. To a large degree the directive actually overrides existing licenses and terms of service agreements that websites currently use. Often the existing license and terms of service agreements go unenforced and the agreements are reliant on mutual recognition. But they do act as some kind of legal guidance and clearly outline how the website's owners would prefer the user to use its services. Despite the lack of legal enforcement of the aforementioned agreements, generally it's sufficient. Article 13 and Article 11 go one step too far and are draconian by intent.

The directive means that EU members now have two years to pass legislation that implement all provisions of the directive and make it law.

Over the course of the next two years, we will continue to work with Freedom Publishers Union and continue to watch the passing of legislation by EU members. But our immediate response to the directive is an expression of disappointment and we believe that it has set a dangerous precedent for further tough EU copyright restrictions, which will undoubtedly threaten internet freedom for Europeans even further.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

Written and edited by Brett Brennan and Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

[Filed from REYKJAVÍK | International Media Group] March 24, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] Containing Hate Content and Protecting the Internet Will Require a Sensible, Collaborated Response

THE HORRIFIC EVENT DUBBED THE "Christchurch massacre" has spawned political debate around the globe, with debate focused on multiple angles. Quality Publishing Works has paid specific attention to the immediate concerns of censorship. We believe it's important that Quality Publishing Works make the clarification that we do not, and never have, condoned or encouraged the viewing or sharing of the video of the massacre which showed the gunman enter two mosques and kill 50 innocent civilians, and injuring more.

The censorship debate focuses not so much on viewing the video, but on the sharing and distribution of the video. Many have been critical of the social media networks for the amount of time it took the moderators to take the video down, which was originally streamed live on Facebook then spread throughout all the social media networks. To accompany the gunman's motivation and video was a manifesto written by the gunman and posted to the 8chan website. We do not pay particular attention to the exact claimed number of times the video was viewed prior to it being taken down. The exact numbers are not important in the wider debate. Also, we have no possible way to verify the actual numbers and have reason to believe that the claimed numbers are much lower than the actual number of times it has been viewed across all social media networks combined. Therefore, the numbers are to be dismissed.

It's important to make it absolutely clear that Quality Publishing Works does not specifically express criticism towards one platform over another in any debate. That is unjust and the social media ecosystem should be treated as one entire entity, when applicable to the debate. This is one instance. Generally speaking, in our view, we genuinely believe that social media networks are doing their best to deal with the types of problems that are being seeded by the exposure and spreading of hate content. However, we equally believe the despite their best efforts, social media networks are failing. Our own assessment of the failures of the social media networks is based on a whole range of issues and examples and is not limited to just the Christchurch massacre.

If any existential problem is present, then the precise problem - or series of problems - need to be closer examined. It needs to be identified specifically and a solution sought. There is little arguing against the particular fact that social media networks are challenged when it comes to dealing with hate content. To put the challenge into perspective, just need to look at amount of active users the social media networks have. We have analyzed numbers applicable to Facebook because the information proves more accessible than most other networks, due to its scale. FPUorg analyzed statistics from three different independent sources and were able to assess that Facebook has at least 2.2-2.3 billion active users as of December 2018. According to official figures provided by Facebook, there are 2.32 billion active monthly users. That figure could possibly be as high as 2.7 billion when you integrate monthly active users from right across the Facebook services portfolio which also includes Instagram and WhatsApp. But FPUorg assess the figure of 2.2-2.3 to be the most accurate representation. How many people Facebook directly employs also needs to be considered. According to official figures provided by Facebook, there are 35,587 employees. There are many more thousands which the company claims it works with by using third-party contractors to assist in moderating its platform. It proves difficult to assess any precise figures of how many third-party contractors work with Facebook, with confidence. But a simple assessment by FPUorg of the amount of direct employees Facebook has compared against the number of active users proves an equation which can only be summarized by one word - challenging.

On the challenges faced by the social media networks, Andrew Quodling from Queensland University of Technology says, "Content moderation is a complex and unenviable responsibility. Platforms like Facebook and YouTube are expected to balance the virtues of free expression and newsworthiness with socio-cultural norms and personal desires, as well as the local regulatory regimes of the countries they operate in.". He continues, "People might reasonably expect platforms like Facebook and YouTube to have thorough controls over what is uploaded on their sites. However, the companies' huge user bases mean they often must balance the application of automated, algorithmic systems for content moderation with teams of human moderators.".

It's a fair assessment to say that Mark Zuckerberg has created a monster which is proving difficult to tame. Could it ever be tamed? It's difficult to determine. And it's difficult to foresee where this will go and how much influence any potential government intervention will have. Rather than trying and devise a plan which attempts to eliminate the problem of the spreading of hate content on social media networks, we must take a step back and take a different approach - a more realistic approach. Can any of the social media networks truly eliminate hate content being shared on their platforms? Probably not with 100% accuracy. But it could be minimized or quarantined. It must be a combined effort of utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and good old fashioned human interaction. AI has benefits, but it has problems too. AI is certainly not the answer to all technological challenges as it is sometimes portrayed to be.

One feature of social media networks that is becoming increasingly popular is live streaming. It is particularly popular with the younger generation of users. It was the live streaming feature that allowed the gunman to stream his actions to the internet. Some proponents of social media reform argue that live streaming should have a broadcast delay. This could be done and is already an existing feature sometimes used with live television broadcasts. If implemented into social media networks' live streaming features, it could play a vitally important role to potentially allow social media networks enough time to intercept a live stream, or minimize the exposure time, which portrays harmful, violent or other illegal activity.

Quality Publishing Works believes that the proposal has merit, but also believes the benefits to be minimal, at best. It would be difficult to assume that social media networks would implement a delay mechanism voluntarily and it is quite possible that it would need to be legislated, to force the social media networks into acting. But that route poses an entire new set of challenges.

It may be accurate to say that the social media networks do hold a large degree of responsibility for the spreading of hate content on the internet. But they do not hold all the responsibility. The internet is an extremely vast network and a complex network. It is often forgotten how much technology is connected to the internet and the additional software that complement it. Users browse the internet with software called a web browser. But it's very likely they're using additional software within the web browser in the form of plugins or add-ons that help perform additional tasks that are not traditionally a default function of the web browser. It's an important factor which needs to be considered because it is often incorrectly assumed that sharing content on social media networks is simply achieved by the user clicking that innocent little 'Share' button. But this is not the only way content can be shared. There are tons of additional ways to share all forms of content. To truly tackle the spread of hate content on the internet, all the technology, methods and procedures of how it is spread must be analyzed and understood.

The live streaming feature provided by social media networks is just one way for a user to distribute video content. Though there is another problem. Once it has been uploaded, there's many tricks and software that users can (and do) use that actually download the video content to their hard drive for local storage. Irrespective of the specificity of the content, this has benefits when there is genuine validated concern that the content is to be removed from a particular service or platform. If users want to ensure that content will not simply 'disappear' from the public domain, they will download it and archive it to their hard drive. There is absolutely nothing unethical about this practice, referencing generally.

It is exactly what has happened with the Christchurch massacre video. As late as just yesterday, at the time of writing, the video was still available in some of the darker corners of the internet. Quality Publishing Works was able to source it within about 2 minutes of connecting to a popular file sharing network, using Tor Browser. A quick search brought up the results we sought, for example.

As illustrated in our screenshot, the Christchurch massacre video was still available and free to download from multiple sources. If you note the traffic statistics next to each entry, it proves there is still genuine interest in the video content. Quite alarming, actually. The keen level of interest became even more clear when we discovered that some users have taken it to another level by bundling the video, the gunman's manifesto and music into a compressed ZIP archive, making it available for download.

Quality Publishing Works believes it is important to clarify that none of our staff accessed the video, the manifesto or any other content related to the Christchurch massacre. We do not have any copies of the video or the manifesto and do not advocate for anyone to access or share the video or the manifesto. Quality Publishing Works simply demonstrate its accessibility for example and demonstration purposes, for this article.

Information was sent to our publisher, Freedom Publishers Union, on March 22 that suggested New Zealand and Australian internet service providers were blocking specific websites that were hosting the Christchurch massacre video. At the time of going to press, Quality Publishing Works have been unable to compile or verify a definitive list of websites that are or have been reportedly blocked. The information and examples that were provided to Quality Publishing Works by our publisher suggested that some of the websites being subjected to censorship through blocking were legitimate websites that serve a genuine and legal purpose of content distribution.

The fact legitimate websites were being subjected to censorship through blocking quickly drew our attention. It is still unclear whether the action was taken voluntarily by internet service providers or whether by order from the New Zealand and Australian Governments.

One of the reported websites to be subjected to a New Zealand block was the file sharing website, Mega. The Mega block specifically drew the attention of our publisher because Freedom Publishers Union relies on Mega for assisting in the delivery of some of the content published to its website. At the time of writing, Freedom Publishers Union has confirmed to Quality Publishing Works that Mega is still accessible within Australia. However, we have been unable to confirm its accessibility within the New Zealand borders.

Meera Kaushik is the External Communications Advisor at Vodafone New Zealand and she says, "Where material is identified the site is temporarily blocked and the site is notified, requesting they remove the [Christchurch massacre] material". She reiterates that blocks are temporary.

Quality Publishing Works finds it particularly concerning that internet service providers hold the power to control access to specific websites and exercise their power at will. It resembles something of a modest version of an internet kill switch. The latter reference is an entire different issue, but it does not make the level of access control of internet service providers any less concerning.

Quality Publishing Works would never argue against the right of website administrators exercising the removal of specific content from their websites or networks. We also would never argue against governments or any other entities making content removal requests. However, when governments and internet service providers begin to take the policing and effective governance of the internet into their own hands, we have a problem and everyone should be concerned. Quality Publishing Works will react.

It must be clear, we do not support internet censorship. All content on the internet should always be open to question and the right to have it scrutinized should always remain. Website administrators and web hosts should retain their ability and right to remove content, with due notice. But those responsibilities should remain solely with the administrators of websites and with web hosts. The internet should not be assumed to be a platform for government interference or a reason to start censoring specific content at their own discretion. Quality Publishing Works will always consider that a step too far.

The effect of censorship action must be questioned too. Human and technological resources are wasted on pointless censorship techniques. Most of the time website blocking is easily bypassed. It can be bypassed by many different techniques, in fact. Sometimes it can be as simple as a DNS server change in the network configuration. Sometimes it may require connecting to a VPN server first, to access specific websites. Or, another popular method is to connect to the Tor network, using Tor Browser. Whatever the method employed, the fact remains that internet censorship is often pointless and limited in effect when there are ready-made techniques that can easily bypass censorship attempts.

Quality Publishing Works is motivated to protect a free and open internet. Illegal content must be sought by the law enforcement authorities and removal requests be sent to website administrators and web hosts, where necessary. We believe that original websites, social media networks, file sharing networks and content distribution platforms of all types should not be subjected to censorship and mechanisms that implement blocking.

There is also an additional underlying belief that much of the responsibility of hate content distribution and sharing lies with the users that actually initiate the distribution and sharing. If you upload hate content, then you are responsible for that content. If you choose to share hate content, then you are responsible for its distribution too.

Internet users must begin to take responsibility for their actions, instead of recklessly and disrespectfully sharing 'everything' without consideration to thought and then simply laying the blame on technology platforms. The foundations that make up the internet exist to promote and enable creativity, interaction and communication. It was never developed with the intention of creating and distributing hate or any other harmful content. That has come as the result of disturbing human behavior.

It is now be up to the technology experts to develop a blueprint for action which is reasonable and fair, but does not interfere with the foundations of the internet platform as it was originally developed. Freedom Publishers Union President, Krishna Dattachaudhuri, says, "It is not up to Freedom Publishers Union to develop the future plan for the internet. Instead, we and our partners will continue to promote our core values which include freedom of speech, privately and publicly, without threat of retaliation, digital liberties inclusive. We are committed to defending the internet's founding design principles, the freedom it enables and will push against any attempts to control it. This is very clear and we have never remained silent on such important issues.".

Quality Publishing Works - International Media Group - Reykjavík Press/FPUorg/Freedom Publishers Union

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones. Edited by Sara Koch.

Citations: Andrew Quodling, Meera Kaushik and Krishna Dattachaudhuri.

[Filed from MUMBAI] March 8, 2019 | [OPINION] MH370: A Modern Aviation Mystery Still Unsolved

IF YOU SEARCH THE ENTIRE Freedom Publishers Union website for the term "MH370" or "Malaysia Airlines Flight 370" you will find absolutely no reference to it. None whatsoever. This is not because of any failure of a publisher's duty to publish articles of great public interest. In the case of the MH370 mystery, it is in truth a deliberate absence.

I have a deep interest in MH370 and have been researching and assessing the known details of the mystery since the plane vanished, without leaving any obvious clues about its precise whereabouts. My research is unrelated to my work with Freedom Publishers Union so I'm not going to share it here in this article. It is carried out purely out of a personal interest and is unorganized and amateur in its presentation.

A side-effect of the lack of closure which is indisputably a direct result of the failures to locate the wreckage of MH370 has resulted in many conspiracy theories being seeded. Some of them plausible. Yet some of them are just so outright ridiculous they don't deserve any recognition. But the point remains without any wreckage or a known location site of the wreckage, there cannot be closure for the families of those onboard MH370 that most probably perished so innocently and for the public that have a thirst for a conclusion which defined the fate of MH370.

There has been a couple of oceanic searches for the wreckage. Nothing has been found. Some pieces of plane debris have been found in various locations in the Western Indian Ocean and along the shores of the African coastline and its islands. The pieces of debris have been identified as parts of the MH370 Boeing 777-200ER aircraft with varying levels of scientific conclusion. The searches have focused on South-East Asia and the Southern Indian Ocean. The latter is where the search should be focused, I believe.

Let's be honest, this part of the ocean is deep. According to information provided to the public domain by the CIA, through The World Factbook, parts of the Indian Ocean are more than 7 kilometers deep. And it's vast, covering 68,556,000 square kilometers.

Finding the wreckage of MH370 in such complex waters is going to prove difficult if any future search is to succeed.

Although I am not yet convinced of the validity of any specific conspiracy theory, nor can I personally offer any better possible alternative theory, I do have serious questions for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) who have deliberately continued to suppress information related to its investigation into MH370.

The Australian newspaper has been one of the leading Australian mastheads in publishing articles and commentary on MH370. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has been good too. The Australian has actually gone to the extent of proceeding with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to the ATSB, only to have them rejected by the information requested being denied.

There is no apparent explanation as to why the ATSB continue to suppress the information and keep it secret.

It is widely thought that the Malaysian Government has also been involved in the deliberate withholding of critical information in the form of raw data obtained from military radars.

Again, I want to make it very clear that I do not support any specific conspiracy theory. But it is not unreasonable to expect the ATSB and the Malaysian Government to release the information that many academics, researchers and journalists seek to obtain access to. If access was provided, it would allow investigators and researchers in the private sector to continue their own research and potentially make an important finding that has yet to be identified based on the selective information provided by those who have unrestricted access to all the information. It could be interpreted as a deliberate attempt by the ATSB and the Malaysian Government to hamper investigations into MH370.

We must ask further questions about what the Malaysian Government is afraid of if the information being kept secret, with obvious cooperation with the ATSB, were to be released.

Some conspiracy theories are plausible and should not be so easily dismissed.

At one point during my own research on MH370, which is ongoing, I had developed my own theory about what happened to MH370. I won't share my theory at this point for two reasons: One - I do not have evidence to support my theory and I do not wish to add fuel to the accelerating conspiracy theory fire. Two - My theory frequently changes based on new information and facts that I read and access, and how I assess it.

If I were to share my theory it could be viewed that I have made a final determination of just what exactly happened to MH370. That would be wrong and it would be unfair. My journalistic and editorial qualities know better.

But I will close by saying this - a search for MH370 must resume. It is sourcing the funds to pay for it which continues to challenge potential new candidates to conduct a search. The Malaysian Government don't appear to want to throw any more money into continued searches. Perhaps they have a particular unspoken reason and preference for the MH370 to remain 'unsolved'.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

[Filed from GOLD COAST] March 2, 2019 | [PUBLIC RELATIONS] Tribute to Australian Journalist, Mike Willesee


FREEDOM PUBLISHERS UNION IS DEEPLY saddened to learn of the passing of the well respected Australian journalist and TV presenter, Mike Willesee.

Mike Willesee earned legendary status among those in Australian media and accomplished much during is very extensive career. He is most known for working for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) with the "Four Corners" program. He then went on to work for the Nine Network with another news affairs program, "A Current Affair". He then switched networks again by heading over to the Seven Network with the program "Willesee At Seven".

Mike Willesee may have switched between networks several times throughout his career (not uncommon for journalists), but the one thing that remained unchanged was his unique interview style of prominent politicians and powerful figures - which has been said to make them feel quite uneasy and often feeling compelled to reveal more information than originally intended.

Mike Willesee achieved so much throughout his career, but it never went unnoticed and was never not appreciated. He earned the respect from those in the circles of Australian media and was one of the most recognized journalists of the era of his prime.

He passed away just yesterday (March 1, 2019) at the age of 76 after a battle with throat cancer.

Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations Department

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

[Filed from MUMBAI] February 28, 2019 | [OPINION] Relevance of Suppression Orders and Journalists' Tolerance of Censorship

THE COURT CASE AND VERDICT of prominent Catholic George Pell is curious, and disturbing in so many ways. I have to admit I feel strange that I was penning a column for The Sunday Roast - a column with no association with Freedom Publishers Union - back in December 2018, which mentioned that George Pell was the named subject of the case that was being censored in Australian media at the time. Despite media reporting it was a secret court case, it was not. It was a case which a suppression order was applied, also known as a gag order.

I understand that by even mentioning "George Pell" by name in my column I was breaking Australian law. I acknowledged that very fact in the column at the time. I never knew any of the specifics of the case, obviously, other than it was a case where sexual abuse allegations had been made against George Pell. I knew he was the subject of the story. That was it.

The entire theater show surrounding George Pell and the Catholic Church should bring into question the relevance of court suppression orders in the era of the internet. I get their intended purpose. I truly do. But that doesn't mean I agree with it. By the application of the suppression order against the case of George Pell, it prevented Australian media from being permitted to report about the case, its details and George Pell. Therefore, it was censored. Let's stop avoiding the use of the word and call it for what it is.

If I personally was able to identify the subject of the case that was being censored with such minimal effort and in a relatively short amount of time with the addition of some logical thinking, then I'm going to safely assume that anyone else who wanted to know probably sought to find out too, leaving no doubt they found their own success.

What's my level of interest in this specific case? Absolutely nothing. What's my level of interest in George Pell? Absolutely zero. Why am I still talking about it all? Because it absolutely astounds me that so many Australian (based) journalists have written opinion pieces about the case yet so many of them are still either missing or brushing over the vital issue at hand - censorship.

As someone who is closely aligned with independent media and can take advantage of the many benefits that it accommodates, I can offer some level of leniency to these journalists as they are working for respected news mastheads and hold a responsibility of accountability to their employers and must always write to protect the reputation of the masthead.

I broke the law, this is true. But I stand by my decision. My decision was considered though. I knew and understood the potential legal consequences of my decision. But to tell you the truth, I am always willing to bare the consequences of my actions, and especially when censorship is applied to a matter of public interest.

Mainstream news mastheads may buckle, but I can assure you that I will not, and I will not allow Freedom Publishers Union to.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

[THE CONVERSATION] February 25, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] Part 2 of 2: Venezuela - A Humanitarian and Security Crisis on the Border with Colombia

AS THE CRISIS IN VENEZUELA continues, aid trucks are being blocked at the border with Colombia. But this development isn't only about the two men claiming to be the country's rightful president: it's also about the borderlands themselves.

The Colombia-Venezuela border is home to some of the worst violence and organised crime in the region. Aid blockages can be seen as yet another manifestation of these problems, with armed groups playing power games at the expense of vulnerable local people.

Concerns that Venezuela's instability could extend beyond its borders have already materialised - 3m citizens have left the country. Most of them are "absorbed" by borderland communities, pressurising already strained governance systems.

As our research shows, the pressure on basic services in these communities that have been deficient anyway - health, access to food and jobs - fuels crime, prostitution, and begging, and deepens social tensions. Together with the xenophobic discourse of right-wing politicians, this becomes an explosive mix.

Venezuela's crisis is also fuelling the expansion of criminal networks that have ruled the region for decades, as they take advantage of the economic crisis along the border.

Take cocaine production, for example. Colombian coca cultivation has increased, especially near the border with Venezuela. As one civil society leader from Colombia told our research team, a "labour force from Venezuela is arriving at the coca cultivations".

The money Venezuelans can make in coca farming exceeds normal salaries back home, and may be the only income option available. This constant availability of labour then allows armed groups to keep the cocaine business going.

Yet this is not just about drugs. As I show in my new book Borderland Battles, the Colombia-Venezuela border features many illicit flows, including of weapons, gasoline and people. These are boosted by the crisis, with more Venezuelan women and children being trafficked.

Furthermore, according to interviewees from the Venezuelan state of Táchira, it is increasingly common to hear Mexican accents in Venezuelan border towns. This reflects the steady expansion of Mexican drug cartels into the region, intensifying violent competition over the business.

Risking peace in Colombia

Upheaval in Venezuela has also intensified the cross-border violence related to Colombia's armed conflict. While Colombian guerrillas have used Venezuela as a safe haven for decades, their presence in the country has now become more complex.

Despite Colombia's peace deal with the leftist guerrilla group, FARC, there is ongoing conflict with the ELN rebels, who are believed to operate in 12 Venezuelan states. At the same time, FARC dissidents have expanded their control over gold mining in southern Venezuela, and Colombian right-wing groups occupy Venezuela's border regions. They gain strength in Venezuela to strike Colombia, while adding to Venezuela's internal violence as they clash with state forces.

Further afield, incidents such as the US national security advisor writing "5,000 troops to Colombia" on his notepad serve only to escalate tensions.

Back in 2012, a human rights defender in Venezuela explained to me that the country needs to prepare itself for a US invasion, which would start via Colombia. For that reason, there are some who would welcome a FARC presence in Venezuela - as a "buffer". Such a scenario was engraved in many of my interviewees' minds, exposing the irresponsibility of reviving such fears.

Meanwhile, bodies of Venezuelan nationals killed in combat between Colombian state forces and guerrillas reveal that young Venezuelans in search of a better future have become easy recruits for the ELN, FARC dissidents, and other Colombian armed groups. Moreover, Venezuelan "colectivos", radical left-wing groups, have expanded into Colombia's border region.

Further violent escalation in Venezuela may give rise to a messy cross-border conflict, rather than civil war. Instead of the emergence of clear front lines, the Venezuelan state forces might fragment into factions loyal to Maduro, others supporting Guaidó, and yet others picking their own local leaders whose illicit business interests do not stop at the border, as the aid blockages may indicate.

With Colombia's peace on shaky grounds and the ELN's armed struggle continuing, both organised and "disorganized" violence could develop across the two countries.

Border control

The need for action is clear, but there are no easy fixes. Shutting Venezuela's borders to avoid insecurity from "spilling over" would be irresponsible.

At long borders with rough terrain, such as the Colombian-Venezuelan one that extends 1,378 miles (comparable to the 1,954-mile US-Mexican border), porous areas are inevitable. Violent entrepreneurs use them to their advantage, while suffering people are stuck. This happened in 2015 after Maduro closed the border: illicit flows kept thriving, but people's needs remained unmet.

Even a complete border closure serves to incentivise more illicit cross-border activities, because with increased risk comes increased prices and profits. Instead, curbing people's insecurity amid Venezuela's turmoil requires a dual approach.

In Venezuela, calls for unity and democracy need to extend to the military to contain violence effectively. In the borderlands, humanitarian assistance to Venezuelan refugees must be combined with long term support for communities to "absorb" them by stepping up the provision of services and sustainable job opportunities.

Sadly, violence knows no borders. But nor do humanitarian principles and solidarity. Venezuela's political future may still be uncertain, but one thing is sure: turning a blind eye to the border region is no longer an option. Borderland communities' security must come first.

Annette Idler, Director of Studies and Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

[Filed from SANTIAGO] February 25, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] Part 1 of 2: Peaceful Resolution for Venezuela Crisis Must Be Sought, Before Irreversible Escalation of Violence Becomes Inevitable

COULD THE GLOBAL POLITICAL DIFFERENCES surrounding the crisis in Venezuela be the trigger that causes World War III? Let's just step back for a second and leave that bleak sounding hypothesis inside its quarantined thought bubble for now. We do not dispute the possibility entirely, however the tensions need to be kept in their current perspective and the facts lined up. The first consideration to evaluate is the series of events that built up and led to World War I and II placed against the situation of Venezuela. They are so perplexingly different that it's mind boggling that anyone can make a direct comparison to the crisis facing Venezuela. But an escalation of violence could be inevitable.

A more plausible comparison would be to Syria. Venezuela has not quite entered to a state of civil war, but without clear and peaceful resolve, it's looking more likely that civil war could be the next step of expression of discontent by the Venezuelan populous. The Syrian regime is undemocratic and does not support or enable freedom to its citizens. Sound familiar? Although the internationally declared illegitimate President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, will preach democracy and freedom for the people of Venezuela, reality tells a different story. The election which saw Nicolás Maduro assume the presidency was manipulated and fixed. It was an illegitimate election and smashes to pieces all claims of governmental legitimacy and democracy for Venezuela.

Syria is widely condemned for the repression of its citizens. Venezuela is fast becoming criticized for the repression of its citizens. Its repression has been a large source of discontent in Venezuela. Combined with terrible economic management, fraudulent government, mass corruption and power seeking among the elite, the citizens are suffering. Economic downturn has crippled the nation along with the ability for its citizens' means to survive, by even the most basic of living standards.

Direct comparisons to Syria are credible when you focus on international alliances. When you break it down to the most focused and influential alliances, Syria is supported by Russia and Iran. Syria is being attacked by a Coalition of forces, primarily led by the United States of America (USA) and Israel. Despite the confusions over future missions in Syria by the USA, it is believed that Israel will continue to bomb inside Syria. This is being interpreted as a proxy nation doing the military dirty work for the USA. It's not an academically accepted conclusion, but a fair one at that.

The USA is supporting and officially recognizing Juan Guaidó as the Interim President of Venezuela and declared the presidency of Maduro as illegitimate. The USA quickly fostered the support of some of the world's most powerful nations including, Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Israel, Brazil, Argentina and Peru. More nations are undoubtedly still considering whether to throw their support behind Guaidó. And some may choose to remain neutral and prefer to not interfere with geopolitics that are of no interest to them. However, it was very predictable that once the USA had declared support for Guaidó, Russia and China would be quick to announce their support for Maduro. This was obviously a two pronged response to the decision of the USA. Both Russia and China rarely side with the USA on geopolitics. And both Russia and China have significant economic interests tied into Venezuela. They would not be willing to allow their interests to be compromised in the case of the USA taking a firmer position towards Venezuela with a goal to resolve the political crisis.

The current crisis engulfing Venezuela is one of the most serious to hit South America for a long time. Despite his desperate attempt to cling onto power showing signs of fraying, Maduro has still maintained the support of Russia, China, Cuba, Iran and Turkey.

It is difficult to ascertain with complete confidence in accuracy which exact countries support the recognition of Juan Guaidó as Interim President of Venezuela, to compile a list at the time of going to press. Freedom Publishers Union has used internal research information combined with research information provided by FPUorg to best present the information which we conclude as the most accurate. But readers should understand the countries we have noted may or may not have changed their position by the time we go to press. General references indicate it is more than 50 countries that support and recognize Juan Guaidó.

Freedom Publishers Union has never declared an official position on the crisis in Venezuela nor have we officially declared support for either party. It's a complex situation and accuracy of information can sometimes be difficult to verify. Therefore, we do the best to detail what we can and what we believe to be the most accurate. However, we refrain from declaring any formal position other than declare our commitment to the telling the truth.

The response from the United Nations on the crisis in Venezuela has been limited. The United Nations, along with all nations which have associated themselves into the crisis, can mostly agree that a peaceful resolution must be sought. In a Statement released by the United Nations Spokesman for the Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric, on February 24, 2019, it says, "The Secretary-General is following with increasing concern the escalation of tensions in Venezuela.". It continues, "The Secretary-General appeals for violence to be avoided at any cost and for lethal force not to be used in any circumstances.".

From the geopolitical position of the USA, Venezuela is considered to be right on the doorstep of North America. The USA wants a stable Venezuela as it would certainly not want a war right on its borders. Naturally, the USA's interest in finding a quick and peaceful resolution to Venezuela's crisis is potentially huge for them. Freedom Publishers Union would urge the USA and its allies to work with the United Nations to seek a peaceful resolve, free from further violence.

One could argue that the USA could just send in the military and effectively direct a peaceful transition to a new democratically elected government. If only it were that easy. The USA is facing defiance from the Maduro regime, which currently enjoys a majority of the support by his military. Despite coaxing of Guaidó with support from the USA and other nations, attempting to convince the military into supporting himself and to distance themselves from the illegitimate regime of Maduro, defiance ensues and Maduro remains in power.

Maduro's hold on power and control over the majority of the military is strange and unpredictable.

Beyond Venezuelan domestic challenges, the USA faces further opposition from Russia and China. So powerful are the economic interests of the two countries, that their ties with Venezuela is effectively holding the USA to ransom.

The European bloc which have declared their support for Guaidó tried giving Maduro an ultimatum calling for fresh elections to be held. That ultimatum failed miserably, despite the aggressive European tone. The world watches to see the next move.

It is currently unclear how this will be resolved, peacefully. With Venezuela on the immediate brink of civil war, the USA threatening a military invasion, Russia and China threatening retaliation if the USA invade, along with Maduro threatening to order his military to defend against any future USA invasion of its "sovereignty", you have a nasty three pronged heated pot of political tension which threatens to boil over at any moment. It may ultimately be up to the cool-headed Europeans (with the exception of Russia and Turkey) to sort out the mess. Not because they have particular geopolitical interest in a South American crisis, but they see it fit to avert potential military conflict which could roll out the red carpet for many more international parties to become involved - World War III.


By the time this article was compiled and went to press, the Venezuelan crisis escalated on its border with Colombia. To include updated information on the crisis that could not be included in Part 1 of the publication by Freedom Publishers Union, we have published Part 2 of the publication by The Conversation.

South American Press Office - Open House for Chile Journalists/FPUorg

Written by Steve Adams.

[Filed from MOSCOW] February 22, 2019 | [OPINION] Acquisition of Red Hat Makes IBM Best Placed to Protect and Support Fedora Linux and CentOS

WHEN I FIRST READ THE story published to the Wall Street Journal newspaper on IBM acquiring Red Hat, like many of my fellow Linux geeks, I was shocked. It read like an April Fools' Day joke story. I now have to admit, it took a few minutes to digest the news. But I soon come to accept that this was actually going to happen. The Linux community was wise to ponder the question of what could be the possible interest IBM has in Red Hat that warrants such a large takeover, amounting to US$34 billion.

IBM want exclusive access to Red Hat's extensive and advanced cloud software. They make no secret of this and it's outlined in the original Press Release which announced the acquisition. IBM Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty said, "The acquisition of Red Hat is a game-changer. It changes everything about the cloud market," and "IBM will become the world's #1 hybrid cloud provider, offering companies the only open cloud solution that will unlock the full value of the cloud for their businesses.".

IBM are proud to tout their long history supporting Linux while noting their previous history of collaborating with Red Hat. IBM have been in the game a very long time and were early supporters of the Linux platform in the corporate sector. IBM integrating the portfolio of Red Hat into that of IBM will, once complete, create one powerhouse of a player in the crowded cloud market.

It's pretty safe to assume that there will not be any major alterations to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It is a crucial part of the Red Hat portfolio and there can be no benefit to IBM discontinuing its support and development. A re-branding to better acknowledge IBM could be justified, but the core source code will remain much the same.

The Linux community is still worried that once the acquisition has passed the regulators and finalized, IBM will decide to drop development and funding for the Fedora Linux and CentOS projects. If the projects are left without their major injection of funds which has been traditionally provided by Red Hat, it will then be left to the community to find a viable funding solution. If that were to occur, it could be a big problem as there is already a flooded market of Linux distributors all fighting for funding dollars. Adding more to the mix and expecting the community to come to the rescue just might not be enough to save both Fedora Linux and CentOS. So can they both survive under IBM? We think so.

In an article published to OSRadar on October 29, 2018 written by my colleague Brett Brennan, assured that Fedora Linux and CentOS are integral parts of the Red Hat ecosystem in that they provide the inventive spark for extensions to compete with Ubuntu and SUSE. IBM will almost certainly continue their support and possibly even increase it, while continuing to embrace the wider benefits the the open-source community of developers can offer.

Remember, IBM already offers many variations of Unix/Linux operating systems for IBM mainframes: AIX - developed off of the AT&T Unix source code in the mid-to-late 1980s. z/OS - a more recent development from IBM that emerged in the early 2000s. z/VSE - a widely adopted system designed for secure online transactions and batch workloads. z/TPF - a sophisticated system aimed to deliver very high transaction volumes at near real-time. Linux on Z and z/VM - these services are not operating systems in a traditional sense, it's the IBM Z Linux platform and hypervisor, respectively. This enables open-source Linux distributions to take full advantage of IBM's mainframe capabilities, while the hypervisor can run thousands of Linux on Z virtual machines on one mainframe and can host z/OS, z/VSE and z/TPF systems too.

When you look at the advanced options that IBM already offers to complement their Z mainframes, it does become crystal clear that IBM didn't acquire Red Hat because it needed an operating system. That is a certainty.

As has already been pointed out before, Red Hat to IBM is a strategic business investment that adds to IBM's portfolio, and takes Red Hat preemptively out-of-play for potential acquisition by Oracle, Microsoft, Alphabet or Facebook. IBM is actually placed in a very good position to protect Red Hat and guarantee support for its entire portfolio, rather than drop anything, which has been the leading worry of the Linux community. Still, the discontent continues to bubble like soup.

One possible factor triggering the discontent - and my colleague Brett Brennan touched on this in the aforementioned article - could be the Linus Torvalds meltdown that called into question the stability of licenses in the free and open-source community. You can argue until your heart bleeds dry whether Linus' meltdown was justified or a complete overreaction and somewhat reflection of his personality and automatic defense mechanism to all potential and sometimes non-existent threats to Linux. I guess it's his right to defend his creation, so he should not be crucified for it. Whatever your assessment of his tirade, there can be no doubt that Linus Torvalds hold significant influence over the Linux community hoards. To some, he's a God worthy of worship. But remember IBM has ownership of much of the old AT&T Unix source code and patents, so if any licenses of Linux any components is challenged, then IBM has the legal expertise and resources to defend, motivation amplified further by its acquisition of Red Hat.

Given the questions over license control, ongoing support for development - IBM and Red Hat combined make huge contributions to Linux development - and their need for hybrid cloud technology extensions and revenue drawn from contract support, IBM's acquisition of Red Hat actually makes perfect sense and should be considered a protective measure to preserve one of the world's most recognizable and respected platforms of Linux against legal and financial challenges. Since the community projects of Fedora Linux and CentOS are identified as such integral slices to the Red Hat pie, support for them must surely continue. Red Hat actually benefits massively from the community developers that make Fedora Linux and CentOS possible and it would be reckless for IBM to throw away those free benefits, which come with potentially high reward.

IBM has been around the blocks of Silicon Valley for a very long time. Before it was even dubbed "Silicon Valley", actually. The company's habits of developing and buying technology which will support the long-term viability of their existing portfolio is one of the key factors of why they are still around today and remain one of the most crucial and influential companies. IBM may not have the college-esque flare or reputation of cool that some of the more recent entries to Silicon Valley have fostered, but IBM has the respect. Their expertise in an industry they helped shape, goes unmatched. Mainframes are an integral part of their business and company earnings. Mainframes have been the core of IBM for over 50 years and remain the core today. It's difficult to pinpoint where the shift away from mainframes started, but it is slow and it is gradual. However, mainframes will remain the core of IBM business for as long as I can foresee and they do it better than any of their competitors. Everything, and I mean everything, IBM now develop and acquire is centered around integration with existing technology which almost always come back to its mainframes. IBM's focus on hybrid cloud services and increased integration will extend out to the portfolio of Red Hat, which is also very extensive in its own right.

IBM was founded in 1911, over 100 years ago. It's a century plus old company. They service 177 countries and have 367,000 employees. To put the figures into perspective and to really appreciate the corporate power of IBM, we compare it to Oracle which has 137,000 employees, Microsoft has 135,000, Alphabet has 99,000 and Facebook has 30,000.

(Employee figures are not precise and are rounded off to simplify context for illustration purposes.)

IBM is truly one of the darlings of Silicon Valley, yet is absolutely under-appreciated for its value to the technology sector and often goes without recognition for the advances in research and development they continue to make, almost silently in the background and with minimal public attention. IBM was huge before. Its acquisition just made it even more huge. That's why the industry continues to refer to the company as "Big Blue".

European Press Office - Moscow Press, in collaboration with OSRadar

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones. Edited by Sara Koch.

Citations: Brett Brennan.

[Filed from MOSCOW] February 18, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] The Spy Game: America, China and a Company Called Huawei

THE STRICT FOUR ELEMENTS OF editorial processes applied to content by Freedom Publishers Union is what the organization prides itself on. We consistently remind our readers of our strict and unrivaled processes to foster reader trust. Where opinion is presented and the content matter tests the boundaries of fact, we clearly mark these published pieces with an "OPINION" tag.

Freedom Publishers Union believes that the unfair international case building against Huawei is illegitimate, unjustified and largely a case of American paranoia. Freedom Publishers Union will continue to publish as our strict processes permit, even being applied to our coverage of Huawei related information. Unfortunately, much of the reporting by some of the world's most respected mastheads has been deliberately misrepresented, misreported or constructed to portray a message favorable to American patriotism which in-turn supports unjustified attacks against foreign-owned companies and international business rivals the American Government sees as a threat.

Propaganda campaigns always result in accusations being recklessly thrown around like grenades - spying, espionage, theft etc. The only problem is the same can be caused by one company losing a contract to another. Huawei has many large government contracts at low cost. Some of these big contracts which would frustrate Huawei's competitors. Throwing some live spying and cyber-war grenades in the direction of Huawei raises the obvious question of "why?". From the perspective of Huawei, nothing would be gained from crippling their biggest customers through jeopardizing large government contracts.

There's no benefit in any form of war - trade or otherwise. Sure you want to get more of the pie, but if you ruin your customer's economy, who's going to buy your goods and services. Effectively, the 'Five Eyes' network of nations are holding a loaded grenade in their hands with every intent of throwing it in the direction of China when the opportunity presents itself. The suggestions that China wants to ruin America, Australia and all the rest as customers just so China can conquer them and then get stuck bailing them out and fixing the damage is a ludicrous proposition, really.

And what would the equivalent retaliation from America be, poison their soy beans? Make their airplanes fall out of the sky? Only Americans are stupid enough to think that way, because that's what they do on TV. Don't underestimate the effect of fear delivered through TV entertainment. Humans are controlled by the psychology of fear. There's a very valid argument that invocation of fear is what makes religions so effective. If you can control your followers through fear under the guise of faith, and warn of nasty repercussions if they do wrong, then everyone falls into line. Fear is easy to invoke and control once it has been established. But it can get out of hand and bite back really quickly. The unrest in America is all on the American people. Not some Chinese communist plot.

Here's an economic example of what happens when you confuse lack of competitive motivation with an overt threat. The dominance of American trucks and lack of sedans isn't because Americans only want trucks. It's because Americans won't buy the overpriced low-quality sedans from Detroit when they can get better value from Seoul or Shanghai. And rather than fix the problem (compete head-to-head and win), we blame the competition and rig the game against them. This reiterates the earlier argument - deliberate misrepresentation of facts favorable to American patriotism. Now Nissan, Honda, Toyota etc. build good quality vehicles here in America with the same American workers that make the low-quality sedans from Detroit. So it isn't that lower costs and poor conditions that improve pricing, the way its deliberately misrepresented.

Still, there can be very little doubt that the 'Five Eyes' have a strategy to cripple China. The question is, when they're done with Huawei, what's next?

The real question is, of course, what else does America see as a 'threat' from China? Spying, sure. Of course America has been up to these same tricks for decades, if not a century. Up until the end of the century, AT&T was 'the world's telco'. Nearly all of the wire and fiber networks were built on AT&T designs and usually a majority of AT&T hardware.

We learned from the leaks from Edward Snowden that AT&T networks are infested with hacks to aid in the interception of messages and the remote control of the networks. We also know the National Security Agency (NSA) operated a secret room inside AT&T's offices at 611 Folsom Street, San Francisco (CA-USA). The room is known as "Room 641A". However, internal AT&T documents referred to the room by the cryptic name of "SG3 [Study Group 3] Secure Room". Obviously this was done to avoid suspicion of what the room was used for.

The existence of Room 641A was exposed by former AT&T technician Mark Klein, in 2006, after Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) launched legal action against AT&T. Mark also revealed that this was not the only room used for interception of communications by the NSA. The rooms are known as "Black Rooms" and according to information provided by Mark, Black Rooms are located in multiple locations across the United States of America (USA) - all used for surveillance purposes. It has been claimed that AT&T never had access to the room, yet it completely cooperated with the NSA by allowing them to control complete access to Room 641A and what the NSA used the room for. AT&T never asked questions.

But there are additional reasons that can explain the sudden hostilities to Chinese products. There are actually three good reasons for blocking Huawei in the English colonial hegemony.

China's tech superiority

China has surpassed America in technology innovation in the past one-to-two years. This is primarily due to the methodology of 'copy and improve' - to a certain degree, reverse engineering. It's what everyone does to learn about a market and how to disrupt it. This is the kind of piracy that concerns the Americans to such a great degree. It's not stealing Disney films off the internet or the bad manufacturing of Prada purses that scares nations, but the leap forward that reverse engineering can offer late entrants to a market.

Now China has moved into a market leading position by leveraging open-source and generic license technology to become cost and volume leader in these key technology areas. Thanks to the 5G specifications being available for years - and the proprietary responses from American and European companies being well documented - Chinese technology companies were able to get to market more rapidly than their Western rivals. This is a key reason Huawei has some of the best 5G networking gear and has such large market share. Thanks to the competitive environment in America, there are only a handful of hardware technology leaders left in America - Intel, the companies led by Elon Musk and Boeing, to name a few. And because of their monopolistic position and shareholder greed, they aren't investing in innovation as they did in their earlier days. Their complacency has begun to bite.

Protection against tit-for-tat hardware hacking

When America held technology leadership by a generation or more, hacks could be introduced supporting covert intelligence gathering without any suspicion. Now that leadership has been lost to China, it's fair to say there is a very real possibility of the same types of hacks being used against America. Until America catches up with technology (which will involve the same 'copy and improve' process America object to) they will remain vulnerable to hardware hacks.

Further gamesmanship in the USA-China trade conflict

America has been dogging China for over a decade about its attitude toward intellectual property (IP) theft. America is losing the IP battle. Some experts argue it's been lost for good and that technology IP rights could never return to previous American dominance. Along with the loss of the IP battle, it is losing the ability to conduct balanced trade. Kicking China in the teeth of its latest technology win may cause pause and rethinking of balancing trade values, even if it involves accepting less desirable products from America in order to cement the lead.

Then there's the President of the USA who needs no excuse to threaten nuclear war to get a discount. But the Trump-tantrums are having less global effect as they once did in his early stage of Presidency. However, he notably still holds significant influence over economic matters. China's tariff concessions that has unfolded during all the Huawei drama may reflect that it's simply easier to give Trump one thing he wants than fight over any of it. Once he gets distracted by something else - such as border wall funding - the whole Huawei issue may disappear. It's happened repeatedly before.

Back to the 'Five-Eyes'

Freedom Publishers Union staffers William Young and Charles Pittman, in an Editorial published December 7, 2018 titled "Could the 'Five Eyes' Agreement Survive without America Continuing to Pull the Strings?" stated that "countries that implement bans on Huawei (or any other Chinese owned technology company) are doing so without presenting any kind of evidence which justifies the ban.". They concluded, "It's pretty clear what is going on here. The Americans have a large amount of global influence. Actually, they have a massive amount of global influence.". And, "America has become scared about the potential of international political abandonment. Largely, this is the result of the unorthodox behavior of its President, Donald Trump. But whatever the reason, the Americans are trying to hold on with a very firm grip whatever alliances and agreements they have.".

So, is the Huawei security issue (we hesitate to place any emphasize on the term "security issue") simply America using its bully pulpit to get weaker allies to back an American play, as has been suggested? Given the way President Trump is treating European allies, we'd bet yes, America is calling the tune here. Especially after we've baited Russia by tearing up the nuclear disarmament treaties and left North Korea in full possession of all their atomic assets. Australia is especially vulnerable to any potential North Korean threat, although the actual level of threat is a point of important debate. And having Australian foreign policy on Asia continue to frustrate China means they certainly aren't going to step in front of a missile sent to Australian territory.

So the 'Five Eyes' are beholden to America for their protection and they'll do what they're told. We genuinely wish there was better news to assess.

Isolating personal views towards China, their business practices and politics, it must be accepted that Huawei is a legitimate business. And despite international accusations (as we've established already, it is primarily led by the Americans) nobody has tabled any shred of evidence to justify the accusation that Huawei is spying on its customers or is a legitimate immediate threat to anyone's national security.

The threat level must continue to be monitored and assessed on credible plausibility. Freedom Publishers Union believes Huawei has been caught up in a game of 'China bashing'. But we also believe that laying this at the feet of the 'Five Eyes' is simplistic and probably only part of the story, albeit a large part at that.

There is a strong sentiment that this has more to do with owning the technology for 5G network manufacturers. That is, where do the labs and patents reside. China is the 'Radio Shack' of the world. All electronic stuff is eventually going to be made in China because that is the 'Detroit of electronics'. But who profits from the IP rights is more important than who executes it.

England is protective of ARM. They don't actually make any chips themselves. Indeed, they don't even design the circuitry. Instead, they are and remain the architects who define the designs and charge licenses to the companies that execute the designs, who in turn license foundries to manufacture the chips, who in turn sell them to companies like Apple, Qualcomm and yes, Huawei.

Huawei is an architect of 5G networking technology, competing with Qualcomm and others for the idea of how the platform fits together. And they are proud of the fact. Because China has been at the forefront of developing the hardware for cell phones and has been a key participant in the standards process, they have the ability to leverage all this into a commercial advantage. Now, this doesn't eliminate any potential security risk inherent in Chinese 5G designs. Controlling the process from research to product does provide China a realistic opportunity to subvert the design to include possible exploits. Freedom Publishers Union is certainly not claiming that is what China has done. But the fact of open possibility must be acknowledged, as must we accept every open possibility that the 'Five Eyes' would gladly do the same if they wanted to.

To get a better understanding of current and future spying and espionage possibilities, we need to look back at history. It's bleak, really.

1993, the NSA promoted the "Clipper Chip", officially known as MYK-78. It was a microchip designed by Mykotronx and fabricated by VLSI Technology Inc. to be used for voice and data transmission. By design, the chip included a backdoor, which could be legally exploited by the NSA. It was promoted by the NSA and Bill Clinton's Administration. Together, the NSA and the Clinton Administration promoted the chip by claiming it was necessary for law enforcement, by allowing them to have better access to changing technology and to ensure national security. The encryption algorithm used by the MYK-78 was top secret and known only by the NSA. It was called Skipjack.

The fact that the algorithm was kept top secret and could not be reviewed by security analysts provided ample ammunition for consumer backlash. With almost nil interest for uptake of MYK-78 by the technology industry and consumer hostilities to government overreach and potential for mass-surveillance programs, MYK-78 was defunct by 1996, just three years after its inception. Two years after that, the Skipjack algorithm was released to the public, in 1998.

October, 2018, Bloomberg published an alarming investigative report which detailed server motherboards manufactured by Supermicro had been identified to have strange and unexpected microchips attached to the boards. It is alleged that a third-party contractor working for Amazon detected the anomalies on the boards, prior to Amazon acquiring the company Elemental Systems.

Elemental Systems specialized in high-end servers for big data. The motherboards are manufactured by Supermicro. Apple was also a notable customer of Supermicro, using their boards through their extensive network of data centers. Supermicro boards are in widespread use, utilized among many USA Government agencies and intelligence agencies, including the CIA. The Bloomberg report suggests that Amazon was cooperating with USA Government investigators, in response to the discovery. It has also been claimed that when Apple had learned of the existence of the microchips, any servers running Supermicro boards were replaced within weeks. Possibly 7000 or more of them.

Both Amazon and Apple deny the discovery and existence of the microchips and also refute the Bloomberg report. Amazon also denies cooperating with any specific government investigation and the USA Government does not appear to be prepared to reveal the existence of any investigation.

There are many conflicting details which have led many to believe that the Bloomberg report was not completely accurate in its entirety. In response to the claim that Apple replaced the Supermicro boards inside their data centers, Apple denies that too. However, the Apple insiders that were part of the Bloomberg investigation claim the program that saw the removal of Supermicro boards was known internally as "Going to Zero" and was only known by a select few within the company. Very likely.

Apple confirms they are no longer working with Supermicro, yet their reason for parting ways with Supermicro have been vague at best and Apple appear to be unable to provide any specifics. When Supermicro was asked of the reasons of why Apple was no longer a customer, it was much the same response with Supermicro claiming there was lack of agreement over pricing.

The secrecy over Apple's departure from working with Supermicro can only add to the speculation that something went awry with Supermicro. Therefore, Freedom Publishers Union believes this adds increased credibility to the authenticity of the Bloomberg report.

The Bloomberg report sent the information security industry into a state of alert and confusion. While some disputed the accuracy of the Bloomberg report, it could not go entirely ignored. Because if it was proven to be accurate, then it would be a pretty major hardware hack that would not want to go unchecked. Most likely the biggest in history.

As the dust settled from the first report, roughly one week later another report emerged from Bloomberg. This time, it was claimed the Co-CEO of Sepio Systems Yossi Appleboum had detected these same strange microchips on Supermicro boards. Yossi claims he witnessed strange network traffic which suggested two network streams of traffic were originating from the one Ethernet device. After physical examination of the server, he detected what he claims was an additional microchip attached to the Ethernet adapter of the board. One that was definitely not meant to be there. Yossi makes an additional claim that it is not just Supermicro boards coming through with strange microchips attached that are not part of the factory design, he says he has seen them on other manufacturer's boards too. He does not mention the other manufacturers out of respect for non-disclosure agreements he is legally bound.

If we trust the details in the Bloomberg reports, then we understand that the microchips work by altering the server board's core operating instructions on startup, enabling it to ping another system and then wait for further instructions. This could be a local system, remote system or government sponsored system in another country. The specifics are unknown.

Freedom Publishers Union understands that the microchips do not appear to have a standard. Details suggest the microchips come in different sizes, shapes and are located on different sections of the board and attached to different components. This would appear to suggest the installation of these secret microchips is applied on request and would appear to be customized for specific purposes, perhaps for specific customers.

The assessment by Freedom Publishers Union on the accuracy of the Bloomberg reports remains inconclusive. We have every reason to believe the reports and no reason to not believe them. Bloomberg have a very credible record for publishing accuracy. However, we have reservations of determining the reports as credible for the simple reason that we are unable to find any other source of information that differentiates its source information from that of Bloomberg. All additional reporting and information almost always refers back to the Bloomberg article. This could be due to Bloomberg's sources agreeing to only speak with Bloomberg exclusively. In that case, it's definitely an exclusive and explosive story if determined to be the truth.

Freedom Publishers Union staffers involved in the compiling of this editorial did question why there did not appear to be any existence of any photographic proof of the microchips to complement the reports. Dissatisfied with the lack of any conclusion in our determination, we turned to the opinions of two of the world's most respected security researchers, Bruce Schneier and Brian Krebs.

Bruce Schneier accepted the story was plausible, yet also noted the absence of any photographic evidence. He concluded by saying, "I have no idea what's true. The story is plausible. The denials are about what you'd expect. My lone hesitation to believing this is not seeing a photo of the hardware implant. If these things were in servers all over the US, you'd think someone would have come up with a photograph by now.".

Brian Krebs provides a lengthy, dribbly and largely irrelevant blog post on the topic. His thoughts are best noted by him saying, "I heard similar allegations earlier this year about Supermicro and tried mightily to verify them but could not. That in itself should be zero gauge of the story's potential merit. After all, I am just one guy, whereas this is the type of scoop that usually takes entire portions of a newsroom to research, report and vet. By Bloomberg's own account, the story took more than a year to report and write, and cites 17 anonymous sources as confirming the activity.". While not an explicit declaration of adding his support to the Bloomberg article, Krebs is suggesting that it is entirely plausible. And then Krebs throws in this added comment, "Still, the issue here isn't that we can't trust technology products made in China. Indeed there are numerous examples of other countries - including the United States and its allies - slipping their own backdoors into hardware and software products.".

Finally, Freedom Publishers Union contacted CCTA, a specialized cyber-threat analysis firm. They concluded, "The specified details in the Bloomberg stories might be very difficult to consume and digest, but that doesn't make it less possible or less important. It is of the view of CCTA that because the Bloomberg stories provide such significant amount of information and detail, then it deserves a majority support and should therefore be considered credible and truthful. Unless we are provided a reason to believe anything to the contrary, then we must accept the report for its face value and assume it to be correct.". A rather decisive conclusion by CCTA.

Freedom Publishers Union was specifically asked by an outside observer why we had not published an editorial on the Bloomberg report, considering that we specifically make a public declaration that "Computer Security" is a topic of interest to Freedom Publishers Union. It's a good question we feel we should provide an answer to. When the original report was published by Bloomberg, we considered a swift editorial response to the details in the report. However, we were stopped when we were unable to satisfy all of the editorial requirements that Freedom Publishers Union employs which ensure the accuracy of our own publications. Therefore, we were placed in the frustrating position of not being able to publish an editorial on this specific topic. We do consider the conclusions and opinions of the security industry as important. Based on the responses by Schneier, Krebs and CCTA, we would determine they all reasonably concluded that the Bloomberg reports are what we could determine as correct.

Huawei is also effectively in trouble for trading with embargoed countries like Iran and North Korea. This is kind of a gray area. If China is a signatory to the boycott, then Huawei's trading is a violation that China needs to deal with. That's the problem with Huawei's executive detained in Canada and facing extradition to America. It's the Iranian sales rather than anything to do with alleged spying from Huawei. The threat is understood but it's important to understand the difference of the two problems that Huawei are facing.

If Freedom Publishers Union were to make a public declaration right now, based on the knowledge, information and understanding we have, then we seriously doubt that Huawei would incorporate spy features in their technology, in the form of backdoors. At least nothing beyond the 'spying' that is required as a legitimate function of network management, which is another aspect of digital communications that most non-technical people have no clue about. The problem is that most people hear one negative story, intentionally or unintentionally, misinterpreted by the media then they immediately assume that they are personally being targeted. Especially if you combine "China" and "jobs" in the title, used as click-bait.

Freedom Publishers Union has not viewed, accessed or ever been presented anything specifically pointing to Huawei posing an immediate security threat. Therefore, we're inclined to attribute the attacks on China, and specifically Huawei, to protectionism and market defense. We stated this early in the article and stand by our position.

Without government intervention, telecommunications companies will buy the most advanced technology that's extensible and available right now. Huawei has that technology and has market appeal and value. Early wins in 5G deployment means that Huawei will have the revenue and install base to continue to lead the 5G market for many years and stay ahead of their competition. This effectively pushes all the other manufacturers back a generation, meaning they've got ten years before the 6G (or whatever successor to 5G emerges) technology will give them a chance to compete again. They'll be able to compete in secondary markets, like upgrade components and extensions, but competitors will be paying royalties to Huawei to use or to plug into their designs.

European telecommunications companies aren't as competitive as American companies. Because of the European Union, they adhere to agreed upon standards that generally slow uptake of technology until the standards are established. This is why all cell phones sold in Europe work everywhere in Europe seamlessly. In America, we note there are many areas that are poorly served because incompatible technology is dominant in that area. Most other countries don't have this problem and is yet another reason that Huawei's potential dominance in 5G would be seen as bad for America.

A single standard adopted by all would eliminate the compatibility issue that keeps prices variable, meaning that all the American carriers could compete on is price. T-mobile is already leading the price war because it leverages the rest of the world for hardware and market. You can buy a phone in Germany or Italy and just switch SIM to be completely on T-mobile in America. Those phones only partially work in AT&T and don't work at all on Verizon or Sprint. With Huawei 5G, all cell phones work on all networks, meaning you simply shop for the cheapest SIM when you visit America.

Freedom Publishers Union Sub-Editor Brett Brennan, adds a personal perspective on Huawei. "While I'd call bullshit on the US attack, there may yet be some unpublished facts on security [of Huawei]. No, I'm just going to call bullshit and leave it at that.".

Chairman of the Advisory Council Chris McGimpsey-Jones, adds some notes too. "I have been extremely supportive of Huawei from the beginning. I keep saying this. Huawei has been nothing but transparent and open to scrutiny of its hardware through examination and security research testing. Whether it be through government sponsored research programs or Huawei setting up a research center in X region, they should be commended for their continued cooperation despite the ongoing international hostilities towards its business. They could not possibly be more open. I completely understand their frustrations. I really do. I keep saying this too. If the US has any evidence or security advice which suggests Huawei's hardware is a threat to national security of any nation, then present the damn security advice to the public domain. Until they do, I just can't see how the US and its allies can justify their position. This is serious.".

Editor-in-chief Sara Koch, thinks it's too early to draw conclusions, but closes with her own thoughts. "Here in Germany, I thought we were going to stay away from the Huawei bashing. But as we speak, Germany's ministers are currently talking about whether to ban Huawei. However Germany appears to be taking a different approach and is considering a ban on Huawei based on their belief that the company is too close to the Communist regime of China. Whereas America and its allies cite security advice for their bans on Huawei. Whether Germany has access to the same security advice or not, we do not know. It's too early to say. In fact, it's still too early to draw the curtain on this issue and declare which party you're siding with. The most difficult thing to do is to separate personal opinions of Huawei and China, ones views of politics and the facts. Sure, I have personal views on all that. But as an editor, I have to pay attention to the facts and ignore my opinions. At the moment, despite consistent citation of security advice from America and its allies, they still have not presented any of this advice to the public. And the absence of any security advice to cite ourselves is posing a conflict with my thoughts.".

The best solution could be one proposed by Frank Sieren, a writer for Germany's Deutsche Welle news. Frank makes the suggestion, "The world urgently needs an independent international telecommunications authority to foster transparency in the industry". Sounds like a reasonable proposal, because it's only through an independent international cooperative regulatory authority that disputes of this nature can be approached and resolved by a fair and non-biased process.

European Press Office - Moscow Press, in collaboration with US Press Office - Salt Lake City News/Correspondence USA - New York/FPUorg/PEAK Projects/CCTA

Written by Sara Koch. Additional contributions by Chris McGimpsey-Jones and Brett Brennan.

Citations: Bloomberg, Bruce Schneier and Brian Krebs. | Permission to republish | Donate

[Filed from MUMBAI] February 15, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] Australia Delivers Damning Report into its Banking Sector. Complacency Among Banks Remains

MISCONDUCT, CORRUPTION AND CORPORATE GREED within the banking sector are a global problem. Much of it came to a head, specifically in the Unites States of America, with the Global Financial Crisis which has been dubbed the "GFC" for simplistic historical reference purposes.

The world's leading democracies continue to conduct countless reports and investigations into banking practices, with some kind of hope that a miracle will eventuate from the findings and banish all forms of misconduct and corruption. Instead, it usually follows a common trend of a report being presented, politicians and the public condemning the sector once the findings are determined and released then ends with politicians making baseless and disingenuous promises to 'clean up' the sector. What actually eventuates, is deep-set complacency. Then everything settles down for a while.

Australia has launched several inquiries into the country's banking sector in previous years. Although we are certain the information collected and collated is appreciated and does go some way to providing insight into the sometimes questionable practices of the sector, none have really presented the deserved critique to really push the politicians to place serious reform onto the agenda. And we mean real reform. Not amendments to existing pieces of banking law. Australia's politicians will argue different, but the changes that have been passed over the years have always been amendments to existing legislation.

The latest Royal Commission provides some hope. Commissioner Kenneth M Hayne has finalized and presented the Royal Commission Report into "Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry". It's the most critical and extensive report to date, which looks into the banking sector and extends to present the ethics and misconduct across the banking, superannuation and insurance industries. The overall conclusion is understandably critical of all the sectors.

Public reception to the Report has been mixed, as is the reception from Australia's political parties. Despite the mixed reactions, there is one common agreement that has come to fruition - reform must happen and be made a priority.

Supporter of The Greens, Chris McGimpsey-Jones, released a Press Statement in response to the release of the Report. In his Statement, he assesses "it is of my own conclusion that the Australian Parliament must act to address the recommendations.". Although, there is some skepticism as to whether the recommendations go far enough. He says, "The Greens have expressed a certain level of disappointment of the conclusion of the Report. The Greens believe that these industries require much more than just legislative reform and although we would all like to see the Parliament act on the recommendations, we admit it will only slow down the continued high level of misconduct and will most certainly not eliminate it or prevent it from reoccurring.".

The Liberal Party has been reasonably upfront about the requirement to implement significant reform which can best address the recommendations in the Report. The Liberal Party is confident and pledged their commitment to addressing all of Commissioner Hayne's recommendations. However, this could be a baseless commitment as there are serious doubts as to whether the Liberal Government will be reelected at the Federal Election which is believed, yet unconfirmed, to be held in early May (2019). Political polls conducted by Australia's leading mastheads consistently indicate that the Labor Party will win the election and become the majority party elected to form the country's next government. This essentially opens up another can of worms for Australian politics and shuts down any plans the Liberal Party may have, due to obvious time constraints.

Since the release of the Report by Commissioner Hayne, the Labor Party has been almost silent on their plans on how to address the recommendations. During the country's latest session of Parliamentary debate this week, the Labor Party has called for the sitting calendar to be extended to allow for extra sessions to be held before the election. This is a key point of debate between the nation's two major parties - Liberal and Labor. The Labor Party claim that the extra sessions for sitting could be used to develop legislation that will address the recommendations presented by Commissioner Hayne. However, the Liberal Party (the current Government) argue that the two extra sitting weeks that Labor is calling for is nowhere near enough to develop what will effectively be extremely complex legislation to be capable of proper and effective reform necessary. Freedom Publishers Union agree with the Liberal Party. For the Labor Party to expect sufficient and effective legislation be developed within the course of a couple of weeks is ridiculous and unrealistic. If the Liberal Party continues to deny the request for extra sitting sessions, then it will be up to the post-election government to develop the required reform which can address the recommendations of the Report.

Referring back to the Statement by Chris McGimpsey-Jones, he concurs. "It is of my opinion that the Parliamentary sitting calendar should not be extended prior to the Federal Election for any reason(s) related to drafting legislation in relation to the recommendations of the Report.". He continues by saying, "Future legislation that is drafted to address the recommendations of the Report must be carefully considered and drafted properly. If legislation is quickly drafted as a rash response to the recommendations of the Report, then pushed through both Houses of Parliament prior to the Federal Election, I believe that the legislation will be insufficient in its content and fail in its effect to properly address the problems they intend to solve.". Then Chris concludes his Statement with the following, "The small legislative changes that will inevitably and gradually be implemented may go some way to perhaps improving financial services misconduct, but will be limited and fall short of the major reform required to restore confidence in the banking, superannuation and financial services industries.".

In comments separate from that provided in his Statement, Chris tells Freedom Publishers Union, "My closing comments in my Statement could somewhat be determined as a reflection of the report in its entirety. Don't take that out of context. It's a great report and the Commissioner has done a fantastic job. It's a complex issue. But I think a lot of people are disappointed that the Commissioner was not harder on the industries and the people involved in these irresponsible and unacceptable financial practices which need to stop, frankly.".

Chris McGimpsey-Jones is the Chairman of the Advisory Council for Freedom Publishers Union. A complete copy of his Statement as a Supporter of The Greens was provided to Freedom Publishers Union for citation.

Freedom Publishers Union has published Commissioner Hayne's Report.

We commend the hard work of Commissioner Kenneth M Hayne. Politically, we believe that serious reform is required, but it will take time. This is a global problem, however Australia's focus on reform must remain limited to Australia's financial sector. Other reform measures must continue to get the attention required too, such as multinational tax avoidance which continues to pose major challenges for the world's biggest economies. However, it must be accepted that is a completely separate issue and was not part of the terms of reference for the Royal Commission Report titled "Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry".

Following the release of the Report, National Australia Bank Chairman Ken Henry and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Thorburn, announced their departures from the bank and saying they were "deeply sorry". The announcement of their departures came just several days after ABC News reported that the day after the release of the Report, the banks were trading well on the share market, "Financial stocks are having their best day on the share market in nearly a decade", Michael Janda said. Commissioner Hayne's Report was released on a Monday. On the Tuesday that followed, Australia's biggest fours banks surged ahead in valuation. According to figures published by ABC News, Westpac was up 7.4%, ANZ up 6.5% CBA up 4.7% and NAB was up 3.9%. It was certainly a good day for the banks considering the release of a damning report the day before made direct accusations of serious misconduct, which should have theoretically had a negative effect on the stock values of the biggest four banks. It didn't.

The increase in their stocks is an indicator that the level of complacency of the bank's conduct, which the banks appear to believe is just fine, extends to that of their shareholders which are clearly holding equal complacency and satisfaction of their bank's conduct. This is indicative of severe and deep cultural problems within the sector.

In addition to legislative reform, further oversight could be key. When speaking with Leigh Sales on ABC's 7.30 program, Australia's Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said "one of the recommendations of Commissioner Hayne is actually that we set up a new oversight body of both ASIC and APRA" and that "the Government has accepted that recommendation. They [a new oversight body] will look at the effectiveness and the performance of those two bodies and report to government.". It's kind of an ironic duplication of oversight considering that ASIC and APRA are already primarily tasked with regulating the corporate and financial sectors. Effectively, the Treasurer is saying that they should establish a new regulator to oversee the two existing regulators. This would be a consideration ripe for political debate.

Freedom Publishers Union is critical of establishing further oversight bodies. They already exist and we believe that if the existing bodies are failing, then we must look into the cause of the failures and identify the problems present so solutions can be found. Establishing additional oversight bodies is just unnecessarily adding extra layers of bureaucratic complexities, increases the chances of repeated failures of oversight procedures and adds increased costs to the public purse, which can be avoided.

There are other suggestions which may have more merit. Founder of Crikey Stephen Mayne, suggests that banks be subjected to regularly scheduled Royal Commissions, paid for by the banks. On ABC's QandA program on Monday night, Stephen says, "I think that probably the better solution is we need a Royal Commission into the banks every 7 years.". Ambitious. But the concept is worth serious consideration if we continue to see the failure of banks to improve their own conduct and refocusing their services to benefit clients first, over profits. Stephen believes that the banks have simply got complacent. He says they've adopted the attitude of "We got away with it, business as usual.". Stephen's opinion of bank complacency is much aligned with the opinion expressed earlier by Supporter of The Greens Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

In an article published to The Conversation, Andrew Linden and Warren Staples from RMIT University, observe that it's all cyclical. They say, "Every 10 to 15 years it's the same." And, "There are two particularly striking things about the 10-15 year cycle. One is the rhythm of public inquiries followed by reports, then sometimes trials, then books, then almost everyone forgetting only for problems to resurface later. The other is that the times between have been punctuated by government-commissioned banking and financial system reviews. Each either missed or downplayed the links between poor governance, industry structure, systemic misconduct and prudential risk.". They conclude, "Commissioner Kenneth Hayne's 1000-page final report hasn't gone far enough to end this cycle.". And finally, they make a startling comment which many experts agree is at the very core of all other problems - vertical integration. Andrew and Warren describe the banks as "one-stop shops" that are "very profitable" which means "they [the banks] are very focused on shareholder returns" - profits.

We must consider too that Australia's banks have donated large sums of money to both political parties. Freedom Publishers Union is definitely not suggesting there is anything unethical or illegal about that. But it is in the interests of the banks to do so, as it is in the interests of political parties to accept the donations, with an unwritten mutual understanding that reform will do nothing more than tweak the system, appear to the public that 'something' is being done to pull in the banks, while the effect of any tweaks remains minimal and does absolutely nothing to really hurt them into any forced change to improve their conduct.

Freedom Publishers Union believes that it's safe to back the conclusion by Andrew Linden and Warren Staples from RMIT University - these things are all cyclical, which "means we are once again 10 or 15 years away from systemic misconduct resurfacing as big banks seek to become more profitable.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center, in collaboration with DLYDWire/FPUorg/PEAK Projects

Written by Steve Adams. | Permission to republish | Donate

[Filed from MUMBAI] February 9, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission Report Released. Freedom Publishers Union Still Supports Authority and the Plan

THE MURRAY-DARLING BASIN ROYAL Commission Report has been released into the public domain, conducted by the South Australia (SA) State Government. It has been provided to Freedom Publishers Union. We are currently circulating the 750+ page Report around the appropriate internal channels of communication, in addition to publishing the complete Report on Freedom Publishers Union.

Freedom Publishers Union has always supported the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and the Basin Plan. Although we have not yet completed our internal assessment of the final Report, we remind the public that our ongoing support of the Authority and the Plan does not mean that we are placing ourselves in a position where we will not critique the Authority or the Plan, where critique is justified, based on our assessment of the Report.

The political position of Freedom Publishers Union on this issue has always been very clear. It is outlined on our website and it states, "The Murray-Darling Basin is of crucial importance to Australia's long-term water plan. We want to ensure that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority continues to hold control over management of the Basin. Additionally, we call for a complete review of all details of the Authority's management legislation to ensure that all management and operations details remain accurate, to provide the best results to enable and allow for a coordinated, efficient and sustainable water and resources delivery for the Murray-Darling Basin. All water allocations must be based on a priority delivery mechanism, whilst guaranteeing a fair and balanced system for agriculture, irrigation, domestic and recreation.". We believe our position is politically justified and reasonable.

As Freedom Publishers Union continue to assess the Report and collaborate with ESA, we discredit any suggestion that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority be dissolved and replaced by a new oversight body. ESA believes, "This would be counter-productive, simply unnecessary and would just duplicate the intent and purpose of the existing Authority, under a new title.". There is no sense in such bureaucratic duplication and then initiating the dissolving of a pre-existing government department because of the failings of the pre-existing department - failings which can be rectified to eliminate a future repeat of those precise failings. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority is the right government department to be providing the management and oversight that is required for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to be successful and viable. However, according to ESA, "Clearly there are issues that require immediate attention. This is illustrated inside the Royal Commission Report.".

Early observations by Freedom Publishers Union led us to conclude, albeit not definitively and not on the basis of evidence, the problems which have resulted in the Basin enduring such poor health and being classified a critical environmental priority are the subject of a combination of failures with the Plan and the management of the Plan, by the Authority. We have continued to make calls for a review of the Plan, to ensure that the timetable for the Plan's roll-out was suitable and to compensate, where necessary, for frequently changing environmental conditions. Freedom Publishers Union maintains, "All water allocations must be based on a priority delivery mechanism". It is our principle belief that the environment should remain top priority. However, it has become increasingly clear and obvious, backed by evidence released from investigations conducted by Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Four Corners, that the critical condition of the Basin has been the large result of the mismanagement of the delivery of water allocations, worsened by cotton farmers abusing their allocations. In some cases, reporting evidence suggests that some farmers have actually engaged in illegal water storage and water meter tampering in an outright attempt to intentionally hide their illegal, excess water use habits.

We will continue to assess the Report's details, its conclusions and its recommendations. Freedom Publishers Union's final assessment will provide us with a determination of whether there are any necessary changes to be applied to our existing political position on the Murray-Darling Basin.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center, in collaboration with ESA

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones. Edited by Sara Koch.

[Filed from MUMBAI] February 5, 2019 | [OPINION] Liberal Party Ministers Quitting to Maintain Their Political Integrity

THE RECENT EXODUS OF GOVERNMENT ministers from the Liberal Party of Australia, with speculation from political observers that more will exit before the Federal Election, is a sure sign that there is genuine panic among the ranks of the Liberal Party of the forthcoming predictions of dire consequences for the party. All predictions and credible political observations point to absolute decimation, with the Government sure to lose power and along with it, many seats. Among them, seats traditionally considered safe and thought to be impenetrable.

Political polls should always be interpreted as a snapshot of a moment in time and indicator only, rather than an actual reference for any accurate representation of what the national result of an election could be. But if the polls are any kind of accurate indication, then the Liberal Party may face a humiliating defeat. The defeat may come as a result of Labor Party candidates taking seats, a possible strong result from The Greens or they could even be stolen from independent candidates.

The Australian public remains angry over the political dysfunction of Australian politics. There is encouraging signs that independent candidates could gain much support, which would effectively be a protest vote against the two major parties. Freedom Publishers Union believes that the Labor Party is almost guaranteed a majority win and will form Australia's next government.

Current serving ministers know all of this. Despite negative public opinion of politicians being stupid old gray-heads that have not much intellect, one must understand they are actually very well educated individuals and are able to foresee a sinking ship. They can see it much the same way the Australian public can see it. Those ministers that are choosing to quit to move to the crossbench, retire from politics or depart on good terms to engage in family time, are doing so to maintain their ministerial integrity. At least when the ship does sink, they have assured themselves that they will have reached safety first. Those that choose to stay, well, they're not staying because they are stupid (like some people mistakenly assume). They know they are facing a possible humiliating defeat in the House of Representatives. But they are staying because they have political will to fight for their party and for their core political values and beliefs. That should be commended and not laughed at.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

[Filed from MUMBAI] February 3, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] Lobby Groups Potentially Changing the Course of Australia's Future

AS THE STORM CLOUDS OF another important national election in Australia continue to build, newly formed political lobby group, Forward Thinking Australia, is looking more likely to support left politics, while still acknowledging the importance of the right on economic management.

Forward Thinking Australia is a new political lobby group which was founded late last year (2018). The group claims to be "funded and supported by like-minded individuals, business and enterprise who share the same core values" they advocate.

As a result of so much political disunity and dysfunction currently playing out in Australian politics, there has been an influx of new political activist and lobby groups that have been formed. There is little doubt it is the result of citizen frustration with the country's hostile political culture. Some of the groups have a specific persuasion of the political spectrum they set out to protect, or a specific candidate. However, Forward Thinking Australia differs as it was founded to not support the left or the right, or any specific candidate. Rather, its focus is on good policy. That is proving difficult. Forward Thinking Australia have declared on their website that no determination for party recommendation has been been decided by the group. But they are making progress, as they have recently declared and officially offered their support to The Greens, specifically on climate and energy policy.

Despite its offer of support to The Greens on climate and energy, Forward Thinking Australia depart from Greens politics on management of Australia's economy. Freedom Publishers Union understands that the group will officially offer its support to the Liberal Party of Australia early next week, possibly as early as tomorrow, on economic policy. We also understand that it will be directly calling out the Liberal Party of insufficient funding of the country's public broadcasting media sector and will urge the Liberal Party to restore full funding if they are re-elected.

Forward Thinking Australia is running their lobbying campaign on the policy areas of just three core issues, of which they claim are important to the future of the nation and its citizens. The third policy area is that surrounding border control and immigration. Although the group has stated that it has not yet officially decided which party to support and engage with on this issue, based on its declared position on the issue of border security, all indicators point to either the Labor Party or The Greens. The latter being the most likely.

Freedom Publishers Union takes great interest in Australian politics and continues to engage with appropriate channels, to advocate on a range of important policies. The latest series of political activist and lobby groups that have been founded to advocate on political policies and in support of candidates (and in some cases to have a sitting MP unseated from their electorate) is welcoming and should be encouraged.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by Steve Adams.

[Filed from MUMBAI] January 28, 2019 | [OPINION] China Must Release Yang Hengjun

WHEN I FIRST LEARNED OF the story of fellow Australian, Yang Hengjun, 'disappearing' in China I immediately knew this would become an important and much larger story than was originally publicized. I also knew that I would feel compelled to break out of my usual responsibilities to Freedom Publishers Union and pen this piece, in support of Yang Hengjun.

Yang Hengjun is a former Chinese diplomat, writer and advocate for democratic reform of Chinese politics. Although, at the time I pen this column, Chinese officials have not revealed the precise specifics of the reason he has been detained. But I do however know he is facing espionage charges. It is suspected that his advocacy for democratic reform is the most likely reason - a reason completely unjustified.

Recent critique expressed by Yang Hengjun has been modest. Announcement of a pending China visit to those closest to him saw expressions of concern raised for his safety and he was advised to not proceed. Although I'm sure the advice was acknowledged and appreciated by Yang Hengjun, he chose to go ahead as planned, ignoring the advice of others.

As I understand it, Yang Hengjun was immediately detained upon arrival in China. Initial consultation with China by Australian officials saw the usual predictable Chinese denial of any involvement and pleading of ignorance by claims that the whereabouts of Yang Hengjun were unknown. Chinese officials delayed their admittance to detaining Yang Hengjun. I have no doubt at all that this was intentional, to buy Chinese authorities more time to get Yang Hengjun to a secure location which at the time of writing, remains a secret. China claims he is under "house arrest". It is widely understood this is a polite term for "being detained in a secret location", stripped of visitation rights by lawyers and family.

China must take responsibility for delaying admittance they had detained Yang Hengjun and disclose the location of where he is being detained, without further delay or intentional secrecy. Additionally, Yang Hengjun must be allowed access to consultation services with Australian officials who can then ensure his safety and welfare, and apply diplomatic pressure that humane treatment remains a priority concern for Australia.

I hold hope that Australia will assist Yang Hengjun as much as diplomatically possible. China has proven to be difficult on matters of international relations and ensuring the welfare of international citizens it detains for unjustified reasons. I am also concerned that Australia will take on a position of complacency. Australia does not have a very positive and encouraging history of assisting its citizens when they experience legal challenges on foreign soil. Julian Assange has practically been abandoned by his government and any association with Australia, through lack of any support and assistance offered by Australian officials. I certainly hope that Yang Hengjun receives the assistance he deserves and doesn't become another ignored Australian detained abroad facing international injustice.

I will urge Freedom Publishers Union to take on an official position and call for the immediate release of Yang Hengjun and allow for free passage to return to Australia. Freedom Publishers Union should also strongly advise that any Australian citizen traveling to China do so with extreme caution and understand the risks that China poses to international visitors.

With increasing tensions between China, USA, Canada and now, Australia, ultimate safety of international visitors can no longer be assured for those traveling to China. China continues to demonstrate absolute disregard for international law, deprives citizens and visitors of fair justice and is continuing to increase political hostilities with democratic nations.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

[Filed from MUMBAI] January 23, 2019 | [ANALYSIS] Piracy Still Thriving, as Streaming Services Flood, Fragment and Complicate the Market

EARLY JANUARY, WE WERE SENT an article by Associated Press, which touched on rising consumer challenges for streaming services. Digital media access has morphed many times, each time with the ultimate goal of making it more accessible. But above all else, make it legal and hope to rid the industry of piracy.

Digital media piracy gained traction in the mid-to-late 90s, largely with the introduction of Napster. Napster allowed anyone to access, download and share music and movie files with fellow users through a network sharing method called peer-to-peer networking. While file sharing programs and the underlying technology has changed since dramatically since, the underlying problem of piracy still exists, despite the many streaming services that are now accessible and make digital media access completely legal. Naturally, the question must be pondered - why do users still pirate? As you will read below, there is actually a very legitimate reason of why some internet users still pirate.

It's not a field of flowing sunflowers for everyone connected to the internet. Some people have access to super-fast corporate connections, others have fast connections at home and then there is the other end of the spectrum which sadly, sees many in third-world countries still without any real reliable way to connect to the internet for reasons ranging from terrible investment and lack of infrastructure, government corruption and greed, or simply because they cannot afford a device to access the internet along with the associated costs of access.

For those privileged enough to have access to fast, stable internet connections which enable streaming services, there are a whole new range of challenges that are beginning to emerge. As more companies begin to see the benefits of offering their customers streaming services, the consumer is facing ever-changing streaming offerings being thrown at them from all corners of the internet.

Disney owned and produced content used to be a boon for Netflix. Since Disney announced they were launching their own streaming service, its content has gradually been pulled off Netflix, leaving Disney fans feeling somewhat 'empty' as they search for new ways to watch their favorites from one of the world's most respected studios, which includes the massively popular Marvel arm of movie franchises and Star Wars franchise. It's becoming an extremely fragmented marketplace, with WarnerMedia and HBO also looking to separate their libraries and set up their own streaming services. As Mae Anderson of Associated Press puts it, "Just as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime tempted people to "cut the cord" by canceling traditional cable TV packages, the newer services are looking to dismember those more-inclusive options.". Anderson continues, "Individual channels, such as Fox, ESPN, CBS and Showtime, are also getting into the act.". Undoubtedly, as more big commercial networks release their own streaming services, it will add even further fragmentation to an already heavily fragmented market. As Anderson states, Netflix and other streaming services which currently enjoy large catalogs of licensed content from their "soon-to-be rivals" are going to have to make the difficult decision of what content they believe justify the license fees which will no doubt increase over time as more services come online. Or, Netflix can aggressively pursue the alternative of producing their own content for their own platform. They have done this already with relative positive results, but at huge dollar expense.

We begin to wonder, as more services come online, is there enough room in the streaming sector for many more services. A much more focused thought bubble would be can service owners genuinely operate their streaming services, maintain financial viability and actually generate worthy profit. We don't believe so.

It's difficult to break down the growing market. The streaming services market was once dominated by Netflix and Spotify. Sure, Amazon Prime shook things up a bit along with Hulu. But everyone knows Netlix and Spotify are synonymous with 'streaming'. But as new entries are establishing foothold, it will continue to place increasing pressure on both Netflix and consumers. Services do not just offer a one-fee-one-level service. Often, there are multi-tier options available with the same streaming operator. With multiples of streaming service choices and multiples of tier options available, you can see that a once simplified market is growing into a very complicated and potentially expensive market.

Where consumers would have their cable TV subscription fee and perhaps an additional fee for Netflix and Spotify each month to fill in the gap that their traditional cable was unable to offer, has now become a subscription nightmare with consumers now having to choose from a messy choice of streaming services to complement their cable TV subscription. More importantly, it doesn't matter what choice they opt for, they're probably going to miss out on a library that belongs to a different operator anyway. Unless, they choose to pay for multiples of streaming services, which will undoubtedly see their monthly subscription fees quickly accelerate beyond what most would consider affordable.

All these consumer challenges are associated around cost. But cost is not the only factor which internet users must consider with streaming services. There is another consideration which which often overlooked. You must ensure that you have the internet connection speed that is fast enough and stable enough that can support enjoyable streaming. This is a particularly prevalent problem with high-definition and especially 4K video. Audio streaming can often get away with relatively slow internet speeds as any lag is often compensated by the buffer. But when you're dealing with high-definition/4K video, it's an entirely different scenario.

TV manufacturers are also struggling to meet consumer demand for the inclusion of apps and other streaming capabilities into the latest smart TV devices. We are skeptical that manufacturers can meet demand, due to the fast pace that the streaming market is evolving. What works one week is certainly not guaranteed to work the following week. This could be due to legal fights which production studios always seem to be engulfed in, combined with legal question-ability of included streaming apps on smart TV devices upon purchase, all complicating an already complicated market.

Introduction of these complexities was always predictable and has been observed by industry watchers for a long time. Some have the opinion that it will actually increase piracy rates. The horrible combination of increasingly varying services, different specifications and separate costs for each service are all going to result in people jumping off the streaming ship and back into pirate waters. That's before you even touch on the increased challenges all the coming changes and fragmentation of services will be for TV manufacturers who are already struggling with keeping up with consumer demand. At the moment, it's horrible. And it is an area which looks like it could get much worse still.

Consumers have short fuses. This is an observation all too often overlooked by the media industry. Put simply, if something doesn't work as it should and doesn't offer benefits over an already existing process, then consumers will react, irrespective of the legalities of their actions (in relation to piracy). And that reaction will often be reverting to a previous process which will leave companies with less business dollars as a result of negative consumer reaction. The late Steve Jobs was a brilliant mind and was able to identify all this before anyone else had considered it. Consumers want things to be easy and accessible. Nothing more. Nobody wants to mess around anymore. If it's complicated, then it's not going to work. It's what the iPod offered music lovers and it's what the iPhone brought to the smart cell phone sector - simplicity balanced with good design.

What does this all mean for streaming? It means that if consumers conclude that streaming has become too hard and just not possible on their internet connection, then they will most likely revert the the previous process that worked best for them. Guess what that is? Piracy.

There's many myths and inaccuracies of information when it comes to piracy. Most, is spread by the ignorance and intolerance of production studios, combined with misinformed journalists, who in some cases are tasked with covering the issue of piracy with no background information or knowledge on the subject. Sometimes they are forced by their superiors to put commercial interests first, to work in favor of production studios and advertising dollars, ignoring the actual reasons of why users revert to piracy.

When digital media piracy was in its infancy, there was a certain amount of 'cool factor' attached. Everyone pirated. And everyone's friends pirated. It was just normal, and common language around the issue had become, 'everyone does it'. It really was the beginning of an irreversible downward spiral which saw the sale and collecting of traditional music CDs and movie DVDs reduced to a niche market. It's just the way it was. What started out as a casual trend though, actually had real genuine motivation for change behind it. It was the very seed of what would soon become an international thirst for digital media which was more easily portable than traditional physical formats, which were not exactly considered 'portable'. Portable cassette and CD players worked for their intended generation, but were never going to become something that could transition into the next era of digital media.

When the global transitional was forced into play, by piracy, piracy itself was not initially a really big problem. But it was quickly declared a problem by production studios who - incorrectly - saw no benefit for consumers storing their music and movies in portable digital formats on digital devices. Consumers also embraced the sharing culture, which was also quickly stamped on by the studios who declared their non-compromising position of opposition to sharing. Largely, history tells the story. Consumers ignored the studios and potential legal ramifications, as did developers of encoding/decoding and file sharing programs and peer-to-peer networks. The war continues to this day, between consumers and production studios. The position of the studios has barely moved. On the consumer-side, their cause for war has transitioned into a fight for copyright reform which includes fair-use provisions - a fight that Freedom Publishers Union is actively embroiled in, along with many other hordes of digital rights activists.

There was a point in time where piracy was a legitimate problem. Not quite to the extent that production studios like to exaggerate, but it was a problem. It wasn't the act of the majority of those who pirated, it was the behavior of a few that pirated and distributed en-mass which gave the act of piracy a bad name for those who pirated for simple means of entertainment.

Thankfully, technology and accessibility progressed, despite the staunch argument and immovable position of production studios. So, who still pirates? Well those who still resort to piracy believe they have a valid argument to justify their behavior. One casual consumer Freedom Publishers Union spoke to who lives in Australia - a country notorious for increased levels of piracy - but preferred to remain anonymous for fear of being wrongly portrayed as someone who promotes piracy, justified their actions by explaining why they still rely on pirated content. "For me personally, I gave up on streaming a while back due to pathetic, insufficient and unreliable internet infrastructure in Australia. With the introduction of NBN [National Broadband Network], things have gone from bad to absolutely bloody terrible and fucking slow. Try to watch ABC iView? No chance. Try Netflix? Forget it. YouTube is barely tolerable. I can't even stream the fucking news anymore. This is not an isolated problem. It happens across multiple locations, premises, different ISPs and networks. These days my Mother and I struggle with video calls without at least four to five drop outs. Yep, Australia is that bad. Everyone is beginning to agree, NBN has fucked up this nation. My brother is on the fast new NBN network and guess what, slow speeds, random dropouts and unreliable connection stability.".

The frustration is clear from this consumer by the blunt language used. It also supports the argument that Australia, as developed as the nation may be, has lackluster internet infrastructure which has not kept up with consumer demand and usage habits of the nation. The angry anonymous consumer continues to complain to us. "Like I keep saying, times were not just simpler in 1995 but they were a hell of a lot more productive. Everything has got too complicated and is burying productivity and along with it, people's sanity.". Then, he continues to argue that his actions of piracy are justified. "Because of all these problems, I still, in 2019, rely on TPB [The Pirate Bay] for entertainment. This is also why fair-use provisions are so important to getting put into copyright reform. Because it's OK for the industry production companies to turn around and say legal streaming options are now accessible and can eradicate the need to pirate, but for some of us, particularly in Australia with shit internet connectivity, simply cannot enjoy those legal streaming options. Hence, I just go ahead and download an illegal copy and screw away with streaming. Problem solved. Piracy works. Streaming doesn't.". This reiterates exactly what Freedom Publishers Union stated earlier in the article on consumers just wanting things to work. "Perhaps this is why Australia has traditionally had some of the highest rates of piracy in the world. Often, it's not because we want to do it, rather it's a last resort to accessing a movie for an evening of entertainment.". The anonymous consumer did indicate a hint of regret at his behavior. "I wish things were different. But unfortunately, piracy still reigns in this household.".

In the United States of America, cities have consumer connections ranging from 100Gb/s teamed fiber optic to 1.5Mb/s DSL running on copper. According to sources we spoke to who have worked in the industry for many years, we are told there was less regulation on cable networks build-out in the 1980s. Local authorities gave monopolies to cable companies to install infrastructure, which resulted in most of urban America having high-bandwidth internet connections to their homes by 2000. But this was America. Australia has a high rural to urban ratio which provided a very different canvas to start from. Rural consumers in America have been ignored because of natural market focus on the more profitable cities. Australia, through legislation, tried to address that as integral to the [NBN] plan. Unfortunately this killed both market solutions and, lacking the technology at the time, made the cost unbearable. Thanks to market pressure, America got better technology more quickly than most other areas that weren't smaller. The cost today in America is that there are entrenched monopolies, marginal neutrality and political resistance to disruption. Only a Silicon Valley behemoth, with infinitely deep pockets, can afford to end-run the technical and political barriers to create new disruptive technology and business models. All the years of unfair deployment of internet infrastructure has allowed the market to seed new companies which may just have the potential resources and funds that can finally bring the technology to the undeserved communities in ways where everyone benefits. 5G wireless internet networks may add increased competition to terrestrial services in urban areas, creating a new 'market rush' to attract consumers.

The economics argument can be argued dependent on the country of which the consumer resides. In Australia, a cable TV subscription with additional monthly subscription fees for Netflix, Stan, Spotify and iTunes will cost the consumer considerably, dependent on which combination of tiered services is chosen. Whereas in America, the opposite argument is made. The low-incremental cost of streaming on cable TV, adding a subscription of Netflix and Amazon Prime to fill in the entertainment gaps make piracy the expensive option. We spoke with a second anonymous source who resides in America. They claim to still pirate their entertainment, but as a hobby rather than a necessity. They also claim long-term, it costs them more to keep terabytes of hard disks full of video files laying around, along with potentially dozens of external USB disk cases. Then one needs to consider the productivity loss of managing an extremely large unorganized collection. It is suggested that it's more about just doing the opposite of what is normal. But the point is explicitly made that despite their pirating habits, they also have active subscriptions for Netflix and Amazon Prime. Admittedly, this serves dual purpose as it is also used to showcase what they may want to pirate.

The Pirate Bay is still sailing the high seas.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center, in collaboration with Correspondence USA - New York

Written by William Young. Edited by Sara Koch. | Permission to republish | Donate

[Filed from MOSCOW] January 11, 2019 | Mel K, Good Luck, and Thank You

WE REGRETFULLY ANNOUNCE THE DEPARTURE of our good friend of Freedom Publishers Union, Mohamed Khamlichi, or Mel K as his colleagues know him.

Mel K has been a long time supporter of Freedom Publishers Union and has been closely associated with its operations since the very beginning and before we officially went online, working with the now defunct Unixmen.

He has assumed responsibility for several roles - as a supporter, technical advisor and was the original founder of Tecseek Technology, which remains our sister technology publication.

Mel K became a part owner of Freedom Publishers Union in February 2018 and has recently decided that now is the time to move on, allowing him to concentrate on his many other business commitments.

On behalf of everyone at Freedom Publishers Union, the Board of Directors would like to thank Mel K for his contributions and his long held support for Freedom Publishers Union. We are proud of his contributions and there is little doubt that he has helped shape the organization into what it has become today.

Good luck, and thank you.

Freedom Publishers Union Board of Directors, Chris McGimpsey-Jones (Co-Founder, Business Principal and Chairman of the Advisory Council) and Senthil Kumar (Co-Founder and Co-Owner) - Moscow, Russia

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] January 10, 2019 | [OPINION] Russian and American Rising Aggression, is "Just Theater"

RUSSIA AGAIN FACES INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNATION for its actions of blocking ships from navigating through the Ukrainian Azov sea ports. It is the most recent political crisis in the region which escalated in December 2018, at a time when tensions were already high between Russia and Ukraine, and have remained high since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in the early months of the first half of 2014 which also resulted in international condemnation.

Russia has always held significant power in Europe. While it often gets dismissed, it holds significant power in Asia too. Russia has asserted its power repeatedly since the fall of the Soviet Union and the international community has done nothing more than condemn them. The war against Da'esh in Syria placed American and Russian military forces into an awkward position where they were forced to mutually work together, with a common goal of defeating Da'esh. There has been continued disagreement about what to do about the Assad regime, but the common goal of the military operations in Syria were aligned. The recent decision by US President, Donald Trump, to pull American forces out of Syria has changed the game, drastically. Although, there is still some confusion as to the schedule of said withdrawal and some even expressing skepticism as to the effectiveness of any withdrawal.

The unexpected decision hit Washington hard, with many of the political elite expressing their disappointment in what appeared to be an uncalculated and uninformed decision by the President. Congress, The White House and even those in the Pentagon were alarmed at the possible repercussions of what could be the result of a sudden withdrawal from Syria. There was concern for American allies and also concern for the possibility of the creation of another power vacuum if the Americans withdraw. Many blame the Americans for the very establishment of Da'esh, which is said to have come as the result of the power vacuum that was left in Iraq after the US invasion which saw the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime, with no real plan post-regime collapse. There is fear history could repeat itself in Syria shall the Americans withdraw without a proper exit strategy and without confidence that Da'esh has been destroyed to a minority. While the US President is optimistic that Da'esh has been destroyed, some military officials and leading academics are much more cautious and less optimistic than Trump's observations. With an American withdrawal, it essentially passes the leading operations into the hands of Russian and Syrian military forces.

America's problem with Russia, is propaganda and posturing. The Russian political establishment, and America, understand that the cold war was a great time of prosperity for all. Both countries would like to return to that period, especially now that Islamic fundamentalists have largely been brought under control. Economically, it's better for everyone that Russia and America exchange insults with each other, keeping the citizens scared and therefore remaining patriotic. It is the belief of Freedom Publishers Union that the accusations and sanctions flying between the Russians and the Americans is just theater, to keep citizens facing inward instead of getting into real economic conflicts. Neither Russia or America wants to pick on China because economically, there is too much of the economy at stake which could be seriously disrupted by any serious conflict with China.

The world has other problems just over the horizon that will eventually distract from the Russian theater show. European isolationism, a perennially unstable Middle-East which is sure to be fueled further by increased Saudi Arabian friskiness and an Iranian recovery. Some Americans quietly hope that the Saudis turn on the Iranians, which would effectively save America the need to punish either country, or both. Asian hegemony, lead by China - which has been largely the result of America losing interest in key Asian geopolitical issues - in some aspects nodes well for Australia but badly for Russia and America. Russia does appears to be accelerating the development and production of its military capabilities, while increasing their military preparedness. Again, all part of the theater show aimed to create tension among the citizens. It is an economic move to up employment and generate more sales against the US arms market. Saber-rattling is like running adverts - it displays the new technology with comparisons between competing armies and their 'wares'. Essentially, it's like Coke vs. Pepsi - buy from either and you'll get a good deal.

There is a very aggressive arms race occurring among the world's superpowers which is being fueled by rising global political tensions. Weapons are becoming increasingly advanced, increasingly deadly, are capable of creating mass destruction across vast distances, while also becoming less conventional. We have entered an era of increased geopolitical tension, with a splash of award-winning theatrical quality.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

Written by Brett Brennan. Edited by Sara Koch.

[THE INTERCEPT] January 3, 2019 | [OPINION] Five Weeks After The Guardian's Viral Blockbuster Assange-Manafort Scoop, No Evidence Has Emerged - Just Stonewalling

FIVE WEEKS AGO, THE GUARDIAN published one of the most extraordinary and significant bombshells in the now two-plus-year-old Trump-Russia saga. "Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump's campaign," claimed reporter and best-selling "Collusion" author Luke Harding, Dan Collyns, and a very sketchy third person whose name was bizarrely scrubbed from The Guardian's byline for its online version but appeared in the print version: Fernando Villavicencio, described by the Washington Post, discussing this mysterious discrepancy, as "an Ecuadoran journalist and activist."

That The Guardian story would be seen as an earth-shattering revelation - one that would bring massive amounts of traffic, attention, glory, and revenue to the paper - was obvious. And that's precisely how it was treated, as it instantly ricocheted around the media ecosystem with predictable viral speed: "The ultimate Whoa If True. It's ... [the] ballgame if true," pronounced MSNBC's Chris Hayes who, unlike many media figures reacting to the story, sounded some skepticism: "The sourcing on this is a bit thin, or at least obscured."

But Hayes's cable news colleague Ari Melber opened his MSNBC show that night excitedly touting The Guardian's scoop, while meticulously connecting all the new inflammatory dots it uncovered, asking one guest: "How does this bombshell impact the collusion part of the probe"?

From the start, the massive holes in The Guardian's blockbuster were glaring. As I noted on the day the story published, analysts from across the political spectrum - including those quite hostile to Assange - expressed serious doubts about the article's sourcing, internal logic, self-evidently dubious assertions, and overall veracity, even as many media figures uncritically trumpeted it.

In particular:

-- How could it be that Manafort, of all people, snuck into one of the most monitored, surveilled, videoed, and photographed buildings on the planet on three separate occasions without any of that ostensibly "smoking gun" visual evidence having emerged, including in The Guardian's own story?

-- Why would The Guardian publish a story of this magnitude without first requiring that its Ecuadoran intelligence sources provide them with such photographic or video evidence to publish it or at least review prior to publication?

-- How could it be that Manafort's name never appeared in any of the embassy entrance logs even though, as The Guardian itself admitted, "visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports"?

-- What was the bizarre, sensationalistic reference to "Russians" that The Guardian included in its article but never bothered to explain ("separate internal document written by Ecuador's Senain intelligence agency and seen by The Guardian lists 'Paul Manaford [sic]' as one of several well-known guests. It also mentions 'Russians'").

Five weeks later, all of these questions remain unanswered. That's because The Guardian - which likes to pride itself on flamboyantly demanding transparency and accountability from everyone else - has refused to provide any of its own.

In lieu of addressing the increasingly embarrassing scandal, The Guardian's top editors and reporters on this story have practically gone into hiding, ignoring all requests for comment and referring journalists to a corporate PR official who provides a statement that is as vague and bureaucratic as it is non-responsive. It's easier to get a substantive comment from the National Security Agency than from The Guardian on this story.

The Guardian's stonewalling appears even more unjustified given the affirmative attacks on the truth of its central claims. The former consul and first secretary at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Fidel Narváez, said emphatically in an interview with the British outlet The Canary that The Guardian story was "a fake" and provided that outlet with a formal complaint to the paper, in which he said at least one other story from the same Ecuadorian intelligence sources was also fabricated.

The Guardian's refusal to address any of the very serious questions raised by its own article persisted even after one of the world's largest newspapers, the Washington Post, published a major story on the paper's debacle, noting: "One week after publication, The Guardian's bombshell looks as though it could be a dud."

The Post's media reporter Paul Farhi joined the other critics of The Guardian's story in documenting the multiple gaping holes in its reporting, including the bizarrely disappearing and highly sketchy third reporter, the fact that "no other news organization has been able to corroborate The Guardian's reporting to substantiate its central claim of a meeting," that the paper began almost immediately tweaking the language of its story to soften its certainty (a practice highly unusual for a story of this significance, where responsible editors would ensure that every word was accurate before publishing it), that "the story doesn't specify the date of the alleged meeting," that "no photos or video of Manafort entering the embassy have emerged," and that "The Guardian is silent about whether its reporters saw any such photographic evidence."

The Guardian's typically public and outspoken editor-in-chief Kath Viner has all but disappeared since the story was published on November 27. Since then, she stopped tweeting entirely except to commemorate the November 30 death of a Guardian columnist. Harding has also tweeted just once since then. And both have ignored these questions submitted by The Intercept, as well as similar inquiries from other reporters.

None of this is an aberration. Quite the contrary, it has become par for the Trump-Russia course. One major story after the next falls apart, and there is no accountability, reckoning, or transparency (neither CNN nor MSNBC, for instance, have to date bothered to explain how they both "independently confirmed" the totally false story that Donald Trump, Jr. was offered advanced access to the WikiLeaks email archive, all based on false claims about the date of an email to him from a random member of the public).

Nor is it atypical for The Guardian when it comes to its institutionally blinding contempt for Assange: During the election, the paper was forced to retract its viral report from political reporter Ben Jacobs, who decided to assert, without any whiff of basis, that Assange has a "long had a close relationship with the Putin regime."

The U.S media has become very adept at outrage rituals whenever they are denounced as "fake news." They should spend some time trying to become as skilled in figuring out why such attacks resonate for so many.

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

Originally published by The Intercept. Copyright First Look Media Works, Inc. Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Further reading: The Guardian offered a bombshell story about Paul Manafort. It still hasn't detonated

Edited by Sara Koch, for reasons of formatting. Edits by Freedom Publishers Union are not textual and do not change the article's original context. The views and opinions expressed in this piece are the views and opinions of Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept and does not share or reflect the precise views and opinions of Freedom Publishers Union. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed in this piece pose no change to the reputation of The Guardian according to our Editorial Process 5-tier ranking system.

[Filed from MOSCOW] December 31, 2018 | Annual Statement from the Chairman of the Board of Directors

FREEDOM PUBLISHERS UNION HAS GONE through many transitions. Most of which were initiated before my appointment. My appointment as Chairman will see me take on the responsibility of ensuring business continuity and long-term publishing stability in the reformed business. The business has grown, contracted, increased revenue, decreased revenue, faced demise and all the rest. These are all normal fluctuations that all businesses experience. There's nothing unique about it. One thing has never changed, that being the relentless energetic commitment and dedication that the staff representing Freedom Publishers Union have given to our cause. At the executive level, we define success not by the amount of money a business has in the bank and certainly not by how much public exposure we get. That matters very little. I do not consider these things to be part of the success of the business we operate. Instead, as Chairman, I like to encourage that success be determined by sticking true to the defined principles that guide us.

As I prepare to welcome the year to come, I do so by reflecting on the year we are ready to leave behind. I believe 2018 has been a huge success. I am optimistic for the year ahead, as we plan to increase collaboration with our partners in the industry and aim to assure our readers that Freedom Publishers Union is a source of information that can be trusted. I am adamant that we remain a source that only publishes information that can be verified and fact checked to guarantee its accuracy with the highest confidence. If that means slowing our publishing rate and decreasing the total amount of publications, then that is what we will be prepared to do to ensure the high level of accuracy that we pursue.

In 2019, I want to really push a new perception for Freedom Publishers Union. It is my goal that we not continue to be considered simply just another news website. We are so much more than that. Instead, I want to shift our public perception with every intention to be considered a trustworthy information resource. Freedom Publishers Union does not seek public stardom or fame, instead we will continue to quietly operate and publish to the very same open information standards that we have done so since the beginning, yet are continually revised, improved and strengthened. We will continue to publish a majority of our content under the Creative Commons license model, retain the Konomark license for selected content, while pursuing and supporting the development of other open license models.

In 2018, we rolled out an entirely new distribution model and server platform by adopting and using cloud services by Microsoft, and taking full advantage of GitHub and Netlify. Without all these services being provided, it would prove difficult for us to remain online. We enjoy the benefits of remaining online by operating not just one primary server, but operating two secondary servers to ensure that we remain online with minimal chance of downtime. Lengthy periods of downtime has plagued us in the past and it was made a high-priority that we address the problem by the end of this year. Thankfully, I can say we have addressed the problem.

Finally, although none of the aforementioned services have any formal association with Freedom Publishers Union, I feel that we should thank them for the reliable services that they continue to provide not only to Freedom Publishers Union, but their millions of other clients around the world.

Happy New Year freedom lovers! Cheers to a successful 2019 ahead!

Paul Snell - Managing Director and Chairman of the Board of Directors

[Filed from GOLD COAST] December 25, 2018 | Christmas Statement from the Co-Founder

THERE'S VERY LITTLE LEFT TO say following the Statement published by our Board of Directors. As just one half of the Co-Founders of Freedom Publishers Union, I sit here and honestly cannot believe how much has changed with the organization that started with just 3 geeks who had never met and communicated solely by email. It's gone from just an idea in late 2013 that - I'm not afraid to say - was born out of discontent by a few geeks getting justifiably frustrated at how things were being handled at website X. After many Red Bulls and late nights, I personally had come to the conclusion that the readers of website X were being ripped off by the operators who were not producing the quality of content the loyal readers deserved.

Things had to change. We needed to be the seed of a new independent media revolution. We have succeeded where many thought we'd fail. From the time we first went online, to now, so much has changed.

The Board of Directors has previously covered it all. There's really no need to repeat it again. But as one of the Co-Founders, I extend my appreciation of the support that I have received, on and off the grid, which has contributed in a big way to pave the path for Freedom Publishes Union to evolve into what it is today.

I may be one of the Co-Founders of the original website, but nothing had prepared me for the new direction in which the new operators have chosen to take the website. Although the aesthetics have changed, the beating heart of what keeps the virtual blood pumping through the veins of Freedom Publishers Union remains as powerful and influential as ever. And that makes me proud.

Freedom Publishers Union enjoys operational freedom provided under the complex business umbrella of its parent company, GC Media Publishing Management. I certainly hope that can continue as allowing Freedom Publishers Union to operate independently of its parent company also allows the organization to evolve and grow without barriers and without unnecessary corporate impediments. When we started Freedom Publishers Union, I always knew it would be a project that would never be "finished". I always tried to ensure it would have room to evolve and adapt to a changing media sphere. This freedom must continue.

When my business partner, Dinesh Raja, and I drifted out of operational involvement with Freedom Publishers Union to pursue other business, I did worry that our effort, hard work and dedication to the cause of press freedom would go unappreciated and the project would be forced to fold at some point. Despite a healthy business structure and stable funding, the project faced a bleak future without its Co-Founders. The hacker collective that had remained in the shadows for some time stepped up, took control and decided it was time for ethical hackers to become recognized for something good, instead of everything bad. Freedom Publishers Union would be their platform.

When I was advised in advance of the new direction that the new operators were planning to take, I was skeptical to how it would be received. But not only with existing readers, but with new readers too. However, I kept my skepticism to myself and never tried to stop the rolling out of the new battle plan. I remained committed to observing from the background and offer my advice when asked and within the constraints of my position on the Advisory Council.

I genuinely believe I made the right decision to stand aside and let the hacker collective known as "Tomorrow's Hackers" initiate their plan.

Now is a good time to put it on the record that there are many in the mainstream media which have made a sneaky habit of misleading readers, twisting the truth, expressing their political bias through stories and in some rare cases, publishing outright lies. Tomorrow's Hackers are not involved in anything like that and have no intention of doing any of that. In fact, it's the opposite. Tomorrow's Hackers are out to remind readers that ethical hackers can play a positive hand in the independent news arena. Additionally, they are absolutely 100% committed to continuing to uphold the strict editorial principles of Freedom Publishers Union.

It starts with Freedom Publishers Union. Tomorrow's Hackers are now in control. It's time to ignore the mainstream and start reading and believing the truth.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2019 fellow hackers!

Chris McGimpsey-Jones - Co-Founder and Chairman of the Advisory Council

[Filed from MOSCOW] December 21, 2018 | Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Thank You


THE FREEDOM PUBLISHERS UNION BOARD of Directors would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the success we have experienced over the past year.

We reflect and consider the things we have done well and also the things that we have done not so well, and learn from them. It's only through reflection that we can learn and develop a better understanding of how the year has progressed and develop a plan to make improvements for the incoming year. But we remain very proud of our achievements in 2018 and as an independent media organization, have achieved much beyond what we and our co-founders could ever dream of.

We started out as a small technology blog with just 2 permanent staff members and 1 casual staff member. In 2018, we now have a permanent roster of 21 people spread across the globe publishing through 6 press offices, managed from 3 administration offices and 1 external public relations office.

We continue to support our sister publication, Tecseek Technology, encouraging them to grow and we continue to work with our primary fact checking organization, FPUorg.

This year, we launched some experimental publishing projects and have more planned for the coming months.

We work with countless organizations, not-for-profit institutes, think tanks and consultancy firms. The list so large that we cannot possibly list and thank everyone here. But to everyone we work with and who offers their services to Freedom Publishers Union, thank you.

We source some of the best advice in the world, prior to publishing articles which adhere to some of the strictest and most disciplined editorial procedures of any independent media organization, which encourage fact checking and accuracy.

While Freedom Publishers Union places most of our media attention on serious global events, we continue to advocate for, and work with organizations that promote the art of ethical hacking, free and open-source technology and Linux. We continue to assist and share our knowledge, when requested, with the brilliant minds at OSTechNix and OSRadar. We commend them both for their contributions to the free and open-source technology community. Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support their cause and are always available to offer our support.

On behalf of our parent company, GC Media Publishing Management, we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and look forward to your support through 2019!

Peace out y'all.

Freedom Publishers Union Board of Directors - Moscow, Russia

[Filed from MUMBAI] December 14, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] Australia's National Broadcasters Do Not Compete With, and Do Not Have Negative Impact on Commercial Media Revenue

THE CRITIQUE THAT QUESTIONS THE political motives of some Australian politicians that led to the establishment of the Australian "Inquiry into Competitive Advantage of National Broadcasters" - ABC and SBS - is valid. The Report was released this week by Australia's Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield and the Department of Communications and the Arts, and it outlines some interesting key points which deserve recognition and genuine commendation.

The motive behind the Report was to scrutinize and determine whether the country's national broadcasters are taking advantage of their privileged position of receiving funding by the Australian Government, and to ensure they are not acting to compete directly with commercial networks which could have the potential to directly reflect negatively on financial revenue and audience numbers of commercial networks. It is evident through the Submissions, made public, by Australia's two main commercial media giants, News Corp and Fairfax Media (now Nine, as a result of a recent merger of Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment), that there was concern that the online news services delivered by the national broadcasters was having a direct negative effect on financial revenue and audience numbers of the commercial networks' mastheads. According to the opening letter attached inside the Report released to the public domain, the Report's findings conclude that Australia's national broadcasters are "operating in a manner consistent with the general principles of competitive neutrality.". Simply put, it has been concluded that the ABC and SBS do not have a competitive advantage and are not abusing their natural funding privilege to try and give themselves any advantage over commercial networks. Additionally, there were key recommendations for increased transparency by both national broadcasters to better demonstrate certain aspects of their operations and what actions they take to minimize the impact of their business to commercial networks.

Freedom Publishers Union accepts the conclusion on competitive neutrality and believes the transparency recommendation is a perfectly acceptable and fair recommendation. We commend both decisions by the independent panel.

Further analysis of the Report revealed that important questions were identified and acknowledged, which refer to the more aggressive competitive form of business of the SBS. Freedom Publishers Union believes that the increased competitive nature of business adopted by the SBS is justified. We understand the ABC is 100% funded by the Australian Government. While the SBS only receives a little more than just 70% of its funding by the Australian Government, with specific legislated allowances permitted so the network can engage in limited commercial marketing and advertising to make up the remainder of the necessary funding to keep the national broadcaster online. Commercial networks appeared to be leading an allied assault against the SBS, by attempting to claim that by legislating the SBS network the freedom to pursue commercial marketing and advertising, it is actually stealing target audience numbers and advertising revenue away from the commercial networks' share of business, which they argue they rely on just to stay online and to continue to produce content for the public interest. It is the opinion of Freedom Publishers Union that this is to be a rather baseless and invalid argument without any accurate representative data to back up such claims. Data, which has not been produced to add any credibility to the argument by the commercial networks alliance. The Report concurs with the opinion of Freedom Publishers Union, as it concludes that legislating the SBS network the freedom to pursue commercial marketing and advertising is justified, necessary and has no significant negative impact on commercial networks, and the actions by the SBS are simply the network operating within the constraints of the SBS charter.

Prior to the commencement of this particular inquiry, it was open for public Submission. Freedom Publishers Union Senior Management made the decision to not make a public Submission to this inquiry, as they stated at the time, they were confident that it was not necessary and it would not add any public interest value to our already strong public advocacy for the public broadcasting sector of the media. Senior Management were equally confident that no operations by the ABC or SBS networks could be determined as acting outside of the boundaries of their respective charters and be of any significant threat to commercial networks' existing business models.

Freedom Publishers Union have a proud history of advocating for a strong, healthy and well funded public broadcasting sector. More so, our argument of support and necessity for public broadcasting existence is applicable to Australia. This is reflected by the multiples of Press Statements and Editorials that we have published, that share this message.

As an independent media organization continuing to push for exposure and credibility, and fight for press freedom and justice, among the busy global media behemoths, we have the advantage which allows us to continue to operate and publish without the pressures of constantly impressing shareholders and having to increasingly find ways to curb costs and increase profits. Freedom Publishers Union and our parent company, GC Media Publishing Management, like all businesses, still has challenges. We do have costs and it is the responsibility of our administrators to always ensure our small operating budget - dependent on philanthropic donations and supporter generosity - meets our operating costs. However, it is our ultimate goal and commitment to continue to operate in accordance with our publishing principles. We do not seek profit and we do not seek to compete. Freedom Publishers Union has previously been very harsh towards commercial networks and their content. But we do accept that there is a place in the media ecosystem for both commercial networks and national broadcasters. And there is room for independent media too. And that means entities just like us! We must all operate in harmony - together. The focus must shift off massive profits and flooding readers with advertising in a bid to get a few extra bucks from the reader. It is proving to be a very thin source of media revenue anyway. Freedom Publishers Union's own research data shows a majority of readers rely on ad-blocking software to block ads from websites. We must foster greater quality journalism, accompanied by an open media which is free from all forms of censorship. Largely, it is exactly what has been occurring to date. At least on behalf of the two Australian national broadcasters. This is reflected in the very conclusion and findings detailed inside the Report.

Commercial networks must stop using the national broadcasters as scapegoats and stop abusing their commercial positions to intimidate the ABC and SBS by blaming them for the financial difficulties and challenges everyone in the entire media industry, around the world, continues to face.

Freedom Publishers Union continues to stand by public broadcasting and will continue to reiterate their importance.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by Steve Adams.

[Filed from MUMBAI] December 7, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] Could the 'Five Eyes' Agreement Survive without America Continuing to Pull the Strings?

WITH INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS CONSTANTLY FEELING like they are growing further apart and becoming less politically stable, the 'Five Eyes' intelligence partnership - enjoyed by the United States of America, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - feels like it's bonding closer together, to seal what appears to be one of the single greatest counter-intelligence threats to China. With such a signaled push back from the free world, it should not come as a surprise that China feels increasingly threatened.

Mumbai Press Center previously published a story which highlighted Australia's ban on Chinese technology company, Huawei, contributing crucial telecommunications networking equipment on the nation's 5G cellular network. While our highlight of the ban was not the central focus of the story we published, we did make a passing suggestion that China may possibly be responding to the Australian ban by enforcing stronger censorship of Australian operated websites. However, we admitted that although it's was a possibility, we did not believe that the evidence is present to backup such a claim.

Several months before the aforementioned story went to press, our sister press office in the US, Salt Lake City News, published a story which focused on the Huawei issue a little better. The story was published before the Huawei ban was applied by the Australians and implied that if Australia were to apply a ban to Huawei, then it would be simply because of US political persuasion and elbow nudging. But again, no evidence was available to make the claim definitive.

Now, we get to poor little New Zealand. It might be a small country, but it holds a large amount of geopolitical influence through its association with the 'Five Eyes'. New Zealand particularly asserts a significant amount of influence over many of the Pacific Islands. Without this influence, let's face it, New Zealand wouldn't be very useful to the US as an ally or as part of the 'Five Eyes'. But the reality remains, that it is important. But what remains quite unclear is the reason why New Zealand has also banned Huawei telecommunications networking equipment.

Australia and New Zealand share an extremely close political and military alliance, which extends to the US. To some degree, on a two-country basis, if you screw with Australia, you're effectively screwing with New Zealand too. There are some major political differences present between the two countries. But on the global stage of regional security, the two are about as tight as two foreign countries could be. Nobody doubts the necessity of the strong alliance between the two nations.

Freedom Publishers Union believes that Australia implemented a ban on Huawei for very different reasons than what has been claimed. We believe that the Australian's have unquestionably believed the unproven Chinese-spying rhetoric of the US and banned Huawei because US intelligence advice advised them to do so. Or, ordered them to do so, to be more accurate. New Zealand has now implemented a ban, for what could be one of two reasons. It is very likely that New Zealand is following the lead of Australia simply to maintain good relations for the sake of their alliance. Or, the other, and more likely reason, could be that New Zealand were acting on the same American advice that the Australians perhaps may have succumbed to. It raises the question - Is the United States of America pulling the strings of the 'Five Eyes' to advance their own political interests?

Freedom Publishers Union have expressed skepticism towards the official reasons given, for one simple reason, and one simple reason alone - countries that implement bans on Huawei (or any other Chinese owned technology company) are doing so without presenting any kind of evidence which justifies the ban. We have seen nothing that actually backs up the suggestions that the Chinese are using their technology exports to spy on foreign countries and political rivals.

The most common sense approach to dealing with potential Huawei spying has been taken by the British. Nobody can dispute that Huawei has been quite reasonable in their response. The company has made numerous offers to collaborate with governments and their security agencies to demonstrate the level of security of Huawei's technology. This is a direct move to prove that their technology has not been programmed to spy. Huawei has always been open, inviting and transparent, from our determination. At least they have been more transparent than most of the governments of the 'Five Eyes'.

We understand the British accepted the offer from Huawei and set up a security analysis program inside British borders, where security analysts from the British government and its intelligence agencies can work directly with Huawei technicians and engineers, to better understand and harness the security of its technology. At the moment, it appears the arrangement is working and Britain have not publicly expressed any major concerns over the security of Huawei's hardware.

Freedom Publishers Union understands a similar offer was made to Australia, but the Australians rejected all offers. Unable to confirm, we can only speculate the same offer was extended to New Zealand. If it were, obviously, it has been rejected by the New Zealanders too.

It is very complex and there is a lot of claims by different governments being made against China, which specifically take aim at Huawei and to a smaller degree, ZTE. The claims are direct claims of illegal foreign spying. Some of the claims can be dismissed as international paranoia against China. The same paranoia has been applied to Russia for decades and still exists. But the claims must be taken serious yet remain open to criticism. We can no longer simply take the words of the governments of the free world and their minions. As democratic and free as the West's political foundations may be, it's not a free ticket to simply expect nor demand that citizens always accept what they are being told, irrespective of how much freedom they are given as a result of the democracy the West enjoys.

It's pretty clear what is going on here. The Americans have a large amount of global influence. Actually, they have a massive amount of global influence. Some people believe they have too much and should not try and behave like the world's police. That role should not be a self-appointed right, which appears to be what the Americans have done and expect everyone else to concur. America has become scared about the potential of international political abandonment. Largely, this is the result of the unorthodox behavior of its President, Donald Trump. But whatever the reason, the Americans are trying to hold on with a very firm grip whatever alliances and agreements they have.

The Americans have allies in crucial regions of the world which you can legitimately question the sincerity of genuine American interest, and whether these allies share the same freedoms and values as the West. Because let's be honest about this, Saudi Arabia and Israel do not share the same freedoms and values as the West in terms of democracy and respect to civil rights. However, in terms in international geo-politics, their alliance with the Americans is crucial. At least that's what the American's believe.

Questions over the sincerity of political alliances are not limited to just Saudi Arabia and Israel. There are many American allies of questionable value that have shocking human rights records. Some of which match the shocking record of the Chinese. Yet the Americans have the political gall to single out and accuse China of human rights abuse, when some of its allies are of equal reputation. Possibly worse. The accusations of human rights abuse against China are completely justified. But they should not be singled out as the 'only' culprit.

The best asset the Americans can gamble on to retain their ultimate grip on world power appears to be the 'Five Eyes'. It is safe to assume that all five nations which make up the intelligence sharing agreement, share the same basic political values and freedoms. However, the four non-US nations must be clear in asserting their own political will and not cower to the Americans at their demand. Because right now, to the outside world, it's looking like a case of the US declaring that, 'If you want our continued assistance and support, then do what we say and don't question our authority.' At present, the four non-US nations are doing exactly what the Americans demand of them. Whether this can continue in the decades ahead as the US rivalry with China deepens and the hostilities deteriorate, is the million dollar question.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by William Young and Charles Pittman. Edited by Sara Koch.

[THE INTERCEPT] December 7, 2018 | [OPINION] If Paul Manafort Visited Julian Assange, There Should Evidence

THE GUARDIAN TODAY [November 27, 2018] PUBLISHED A blockbuster, instantly viral story claiming that anonymous sources told the newspaper that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange at least three times in the Ecuadorian Embassy, "in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016." The article - from lead reporter Luke Harding, who has a long-standing and vicious personal feud with WikiLeaks and is still promoting his book titled "Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House" - presents no evidence, documents or other tangible proof to substantiate its claim, and it is deliberately vague on a key point: whether any of these alleged visits happened once Manafort was managing Trump's campaign.

For its part, WikiLeaks vehemently and unambiguously denies the claim. "Remember this day when The Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper's reputation," the organization tweeted, adding: "WikiLeaks is willing to bet The Guardian a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange." The group also predicted: "This is going to be one of the most infamous news disasters since Stern published the 'Hitler Diaries.'"

(Manafort denies the claim as well.)

While certain MSNBC and CNN personalities instantly and mindlessly treated the story as true and shocking, other more sober and journalistic voices urged caution and skepticism. The story, wrote WikiLeaks critic Jeet Heer of the New Republic, "is based on anonymous sources, some of whom are connected with Ecuadorian intelligence. The logs of the embassy show no such meetings. The information about the most newsworthy meeting (in the spring of 2016) is vaguely worded, suggesting a lack of certitude."

There are many more reasons than the very valid ones cited by Heer to treat this story with great skepticism, which I will outline in a moment. Of course it is possible that Manafort visited Assange - either on the dates The Guardian claims or at other times - but since The Guardian presents literally no evidence for the reader to evaluate, relying instead on a combination of an anonymous source and a secret and bizarrely vague intelligence document it claims it reviewed (but does not publish), no rational person would assume this story to be true.

But the main point is this one: London itself is one of the world's most surveilled, if not the most surveilled, cities. And the Ecuadorian Embassy in that city - for obvious reasons - is one of the most scrutinized, surveilled, monitored and filmed locations on the planet.

In 2015, Wired reported that "the UK is one of the most surveilled nations in the world. An estimated 5.9 million CCTV cameras keep watch over our every move," and that "by one estimate people in urban areas of the UK are likely to be captured by about 30 surveillance camera systems every day." The World Atlas proclaimed that "London is the most spied-on city in the world," and that "on average a Londoner is captured on camera about 300 times daily."

For obvious reasons, the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London where Assange has been living since he received asylum in 2011 is subjected to every form of video and physical surveillance imaginable. Visitors to that embassy are surveilled, photographed, filmed and recorded in multiple ways by multiple governments - at least including both the Ecuadorians and the British and almost certainly by other governments and entities. Not only are guests who visit Assange required to give their passports and other identification to be logged, but they also pass through multiple visible cameras - to say nothing of the invisible ones - on their way to visit Assange, including cameras on the street, in the lobby of the building, in the reception area of the Embassy, and then in the rooms where one meets Assange.

In 2015, the BBC reported that "Scotland Yard has spent about £10m providing a 24-hour guard at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since Wikileaks founder Julian Assange claimed asylum there," and that "between June 2012 and October 2014, direct policing costs were £7.3m, with £1.8m spent on overtime."

Meanwhile, just a few months ago, the very same The Guardian that now wants you to believe that a person as prominent as Manafort visited Assange without having you see any video footage proving this happened, itself claimed that "Ecuador bankrolled a multimillion-dollar spy operation to protect and support Julian Assange in its central London embassy, employing an international security company and undercover agents to monitor his visitors, embassy staff and even the British police,"

This leads to one indisputable fact: if Paul Manafort (or, for that matter, Roger Stone), visited Assange at the Embassy, there would be ample amounts of video and other photographic proof demonstrating that this happened. The Guardian provides none of that.

So why would any minimally rational, reasonable person possibly assume these anonymous claims are true rather than waiting to form a judgment once the relevant evidence is available? As President Obama's former national security aide and current podcast host Tommy Vietor put it: "If these meetings happened, British intelligence would almost certainly have video of him entering and exiting," adding: "seems dubious."

There are, as I noted, multiple other reasons to exercise skepticism with this story. To begin with, The Guardian, an otherwise solid and reliable paper, has such a pervasive and unprofessionally personal hatred for Julian Assange that it has frequently dispensed with all journalistic standards in order to malign him. One of the most extreme of many instances occurred in late 2016 when the paper was forced to retract a remarkably reckless (but predictably viral) Ben Jacobs story that claimed, with zero evidence, that "Assange has long had a close relationship with the Putin regime."

Then there are the glaring omissions in today's story. As noted, every guest visiting Assange is logged in through a very intricate security system. While admitting that Manafort was never logged in to the embassy, The Guardian waves this glaring hole away with barely any discussion or attempt to explain it: "Visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports. Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged."

Why would Manafort visit three times but never be logged in? Why would the Ecuadorian government, led by leftist Rafael Correa, allow life-long right-wing GOP operative Paul Manafort to enter their embassy three times without ever once logging in his visit? The Guardian has no answer. They make no attempt to explain it or even offer theories. They just glide over it, hoping that you won't notice what a massive hole in the story this omission is.

It's an especially inexcusable omission for The Guardian not to discuss its significance given that The Guardian itself obtained the Embassy's visitors logs in May, and - while treating those logs as accurate and reliable - made no mention of Manafort's inclusion on them. That's because his name did not appear there (nor, presumably, did Roger Stone's).

The language of The Guardian story also raises all sorts of questions. Aside from an anonymous source, The Guardian claims it viewed a document prepared by the Ecuadorian intelligence service Senain. The Guardian does not publish this report, but instead quotes a tiny snippet that, as the paper put it, "lists 'Paul Manaford [sic]' as one of several well-known guests. It also mentions 'Russians.'"

That claim - that the report not only asserts Manafort visited Assange but "mentions 'Russians'" - is a rather explosive claim. What does this report say about "Russians"? What is the context of the inclusion of this claim? The Guardian does not bother to question, interrogate or explain any of this. It just tosses the word "Russians" into its article in connection with Manafort's alleged visits to Assange, knowing full well that motivated readers will draw the most inflammatory conclusions possible, thus helping to spread The Guardian's article all over the internet and generate profit for the newspaper, without bothering to do any of the journalistic work to justify the obvious inference they wanted to create with this sloppy, vague and highly manipulative paragraph.

Beyond that, there are all sorts of internecine battles being waged inside the Ecuadorian Government that provide motive to feed false claims about Assange to The Guardian. Senain, the Ecuadorian intelligence service that The Guardian says showed it the incriminating report, has been furious with Assange for years, ever since WikiLeaks published files relating to the agency's hacking and malware efforts. And as my May interview with former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa revealed, there are all sorts of internal in-fighting within the government over WikiLeaks, and the most hostile anti-Assange elements have been regularly dumping anti-Assange material with Harding and The Guardian, knowing full well that the paper's years-long, hateful feud with WikiLeaks ensures a receptive and uncritical outlet.

In sum, The Guardian published a story today that it knew would explode into all sorts of viral benefits for the paper and its reporters even though there are gaping holes and highly sketchy aspects to the story.

It is certainly possible that Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and even Donald Trump himself "secretly" visited Julian Assange in the Embassy. It's possible that Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un joined them.

And if any of that happened, then there will be mountains of documentary proof in the form of videos, photographs, and other evidence proving it. Thus far, no such evidence has been published by The Guardian. Why would anyone choose to believe that this is true rather than doing what any rational person, by definition, would do: wait to see the dispositive evidence before forming a judgment?

The only reason to assume this is true without seeing such evidence is because enough people want it to be true. The Guardian knows this. They knew that publishing this story would cause partisan warriors to excitedly spread the story, and that cable news outlets would hyperventilate over it, and that they'd reap the rewards regardless of whether the story turned out to be true or false. It may be true. But only the evidence, which has yet to be seen, will demonstrate that one way or the other.

Manafort vehemently denies any meeting with Assange or WikiLeaks, issuing a statement on The Guardian's report that reads:

"This story is totally false and deliberately libelous. I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him. I have never been contacted by anyone connected to Wikileaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or Wikileaks on any matter. We are considering all legal options against The Guardian who proceeded with this story even after being notified by my representatives that it was false."

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

Originally published by The Intercept. Copyright First Look Media Works, Inc. Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Edited by Sara Koch, for reasons of formatting. Edits by Freedom Publishers Union are not textual and do not change the article's original context. The views and opinions expressed in this piece are the views and opinions of Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept and does not share or reflect the precise views and opinions of Freedom Publishers Union. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed in this piece pose no change to the reputation of The Guardian according to our Editorial Process 5-tier ranking system.

[Filed from MUMBAI] November 9, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] China's Suppression of Human Rights Continues in Secret Xinjiang Concentration Camps

'CONCENTRATION CAMPS' ARE USUALLY SOMETHING we associate with Nazi repression during World War II. Yet in 2018, a defiant communist China is pressing ahead with expansion of their own version of concentration camps. The international community has increasingly become aware of the camps and their purpose, largely thanks to widespread global media coverage, followed by international condemnation from most world leaders.

The camps are spread through remote parts of China which can be seen using satellite imaging and operate like concentration camps of the Nazi-era by detaining prisoners who have never committed a crime and against their will. It must be clear that Mumbai Press Center does not directly accuse China of abuse, nor do our researchers have any evidence of serious physical abuse occurring inside the camps, which China calls "re-education camps". But we note they do operate in complete secrecy and are in-effect concentration camps that serve one purpose and one purpose alone - force the communist China ideology and to completely change the way of thinking and living of those that are at difference to the communist view, either by religious or philosophical belief, or by pure determination to promote independent thinking through disagreement with the communist agenda.

Mumbai Press Center has been shown information and satellite images from a recent publication by Australian public broadcaster, ABC News. While ABC News is not the first to publicize the existence and operations of the camps, they are an extremely reputable news source. A recent investigation it published illustrated just how expansive these centers are and how fast the expansion has occurred. Joint analysis of satellite images by ABC News and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) shows that from early 2017, 28 facilities have expanded more than 2 million square meters. And in the past three months, expanded a further 700,000 square meters. While recent published information claims that 28 camps have been detected using satellite imaging, Shawn Zhang who is a student from University of British Columbia, performed his own research. In addition to advanced satellite images using Google Earth Pro, Zhang also accessed Chinese Government reports and other official documents which included travel reports from some top officials and budgetary reports that outline expenditures for the camps. Zhang's research suggests that there are possibly 31 camps operational.

Xinjiang is in the North-West vicinity of China and a busy geographical zone which shares the border with eight other countries - Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The remote province is where we understand 28-31 of the camps make up what could be part of a much larger program. They have been operated by the local government since 2014, outside of the general rules of legality. Detailed in a media report during October 2018, CNN reported that the local government of Xinjiang with obvious approval and cooperation with the Chinese Government, had officially legalized "re-education camps" for people accused of religious extremism. It was done through revision of an existing local law to encourage "vocational skill education training centers" to "carry out anti-extremist ideological education". This has been questioned by Human Rights Watch, with representatives stating on the record that legalizing detention inside the camps cannot be actually properly legalized under the Chinese Constitution. In fact, Mumbai Press Center believes this throws a direct question mark over the actual legal validity of the entire Chinese regime's political structure, which appears to be able to be manipulated at will to accommodate specific elements of political interests when they deem it necessary. It's not exactly what is considered a fair and stable political system by Western standards and is certainly not anything close to democratic.

It was during 2016 the program and camps began to expand and operate in greater secrecy. The Chinese regime claims the necessity of the camps' existence and secrecy of operations is to ensure the camps are able to counter the spawning and breeding of extremism and terrorism. Mumbai Press Center understands that the camps detain potentially hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, Muslims and even Christians. As recently as August 2018, the United Nations (UN) claimed it had "credible reports" that suggested numbers of those detained in the camps were possibly 2 million. When member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Gay McDougall, questioned a Chinese delegation on the matter in Geneva and the Chinese fell silent.

Inside, information suggests detainees are treated like criminals and are locked up without any charge of a crime or suspected of committing a crime. If suspected criminals are captured and detained at the camps, there's no legal procedure which ensures a fair trial can take place as the camps are completely permitted to operate outside of the traditional legal norms, apparently without any negative consequences.

According to German publication Der Spiegel, 90,000 police officers were recruited in 2016 and 2017 along with 7,300 heavily guarded checkpoints being set up in the region. Der Spiegel describes the region as "one of the most heavily policed regions of the world" and something that resembled post-war Baghdad. Information collected and collated from a wide range of sources show that the camps are guarded by a combination of armed military forces and special police. The camps are equipped with prison-grade security consisting of multiple layers of fences and walls, watchtowers, guard rooms and all monitored with advanced surveillance systems.

It is only through camps like these and the ideological brainwashing programs that are forced onto detainees, combined with China's extensive and increasingly advanced mass-surveillance network and internet censorship, it is able to maintain civilian order of the majority. It is forcing the government agenda onto the citizens. For those that oppose, they will get subjected to specialized camps and programs. We see the very real potential for this human rights abuse of Chinese citizens getting much more expansive in the future and we cannot ignore the fact that it could open up the potential for military engagement against China from the international community if China continues to ignore the pleas of the UN and other nations. Our publisher, Freedom Publishers Union, echoes the calls of the Human Rights Watch, which concluded in a 2017 Report that detainees should be freed from unlawful and involuntary detainment and the entire program should cease immediately and be shut down.

Initially, contributors to this story somewhat hesitated to call the camps "concentration camps". But we need to accept the dictionary definition of "concentration camp". Merriam-Webster dictionary describes it as:

"Definition of concentration camp

: a camp where persons (such as prisoners of war, political prisoners, or refugees) are detained or confined"

It's a fitting description of the secret camps that the Chinese are calling "re-education centers". The message coming from Chinese officials is slightly confused, mixed and often contradictory. In some cases, officials ignore the satellite image proof of the camps which illustrate the continued expansion and instead deny their existence. And in other cases, they have directly accused the UN and the international community who have expressed genuine and justified human rights concerns to respect China's sovereignty and that China has a right to carry out its duties as a nation. To anyone who supports freedom and democracy, the comments from China serve as a direct insult to political freedom - Democracy, being a political system which China seems absolutely intent on denying and stamping out any chance of any remnants of it creeping into its own foreseen national agenda.

Much less is known of the actual quality of the conditions inside the camps as there is absolutely no chance of international media entry or assessment. Based solely on the words of experiences of past detainees who are now free, we have learned that there is no free will inside the camps and that both mental and physical abuse is permitted and encouraged.

Previous detainees describe horrific physical torture and actions that are performed can only be described as inhumane. Mental abuse includes extensive use of brainwashing techniques and forced behavior which is purposely developed for maximum humiliation of detainees. For those that still resist, they are subjected to actions which resemble the horrific era of torture which was carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) under the former George W. Bush administration, under the guise of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques". It would later be identified as "torture". Those remaining defiant inside the camps face being handcuffed for extended periods, waterboarded and being strapped to metal platforms for extended periods, with the aim of breaking the detainees will to resist and to force them to comply with the teachings. Detainees who are loyal to the Islamic faith are subjected to forced feeding of pork and also forced to consume alcohol. Both of which are prohibited in Islam. Suicide and other unexplained forms of death are common inside the camps too.

What precisely goes on in the region of Xinjiang appears to be a secret that China intends to keep secret. Even the revised local law that permits it has been made inaccessible to the public. Mumbai Press Center and our research partners on this story, FPUorg, made multiple attempts to source official Chinese Government documents which outlined the law for Xinjiang. All attempts failed to find anything in English. What information we were able to obtain was non-English. As we do not have in-house translation, we had to use online translation tools which proved somewhat inaccurate. Therefore, we could not rely on the information we translated as it was too limited and full of what we believed to be many inaccuracies in the translation.

While online information on "Xinjiang re-education centers" may initially seem a little more relaxed from inside China, it can be slightly deceiving. We consulted directly with CCTA, an international cyber-threat analysis firm and subsidiary of Brazilian cyber-security firm Cellnic. We experienced some strange network behavior when we were searching for information related to "Xinjiang". When we were accessing information that resided on Chinese servers, from our own server, traffic was slowed and appeared to take an extremely complex route. Internet access through Chinese servers is usually complex, but this appeared more complex than what we would consider normal. Hence why we turned to experts who we believed could help us understand how it all works. We attempted to gather as much information as possible from two networks, for comparison. When accessing information from inside China from Western servers, it was completely accessible. Albeit, it did appear the slowing of traffic was deliberate. There was an eerie feeling that we were being watched on the network. Whether this is by human or automated firewall technology from China we do not know. It was eerie nevertheless. But when we accessed the same information from inside China on a Chinese server, that is when the complete strength of China's censorship was put on display with its firewall blocking us from accessing the information. Further tests were performed and we were quick to discover that our publisher's domain name has once again been censored from inside China. Mumbai Press Center understand this has been a recurring pattern since the establishment of Freedom Publishers Union, so it is to no great surprise. What is a surprise is the frequency of which Freedom Publishers Union is added/removed from China's censorship machine. In a recent editorial published on Freedom Publishers Union on September 29, 2018, it was noted that the Freedom Publishers Union domain name was not blocked. As we go to press, we have confirmation that it is again blocked. But, it was also noticed that if you are to access our web server using its IP address and not the domain name, then it is accessible from inside China. So although China's censorship technology is strong and effective, it's not perfect.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by William Young and Charles Pittman. Edited by Sara Koch.

[Filed from CAPE TOWN] November 1, 2018 | [OPINION] Drawing a Definitive Conclusion on the Case of Jamal Khashoggi Without Evidence

I AM THE LATEST IN a series of new appointments to Freedom Publishers Union. I am carrying the responsibility that comes with holding the title of Editor-at-large. To get started in my role, I wanted to grab the attention of the readers of this fine digital publication by clarifying the position, or lack thereof, that this publication has taken on the curious case of the alleged murder of journalist and outspoken critic of the Saudi regime, Jamal Khashoggi.

On October 18, Freedom Publishers Union did release an official statement which did actually express a reasonable amount of concern surrounding the case of Khashoggi. The main element of focus of the statement at the time it was released was "press freedom". I feel the position that this publication takes on the case was not made entirely clear through this statement and has drawn me to publish this editorial today.

It is widely accepted, yet unproven, that Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in the city of Istanbul, Turkey. The story has never been the problem. The accuracy of details is the problem. What is "widely accepted" can not necessarily be concluded as the truth. But that does not make it untrue.

Freedom Publishers Union has an extremely tight editorial policy. It does limit the flexibility of the publications that we can push out to the public, but it goes to ensure that publications are almost guaranteed in their accuracy. The general consensus from the majority of staff involved with Freedom Publishers Union on the case of Khashoggi is that he was murdered inside the embassy, his body then dismembered and disposed of by the orders of senior members of the Saudi regime. But I must stress that this is by no means conclusive and cannot be assumed as a final position taken by this publication. It is simply informed opinion. Even the term "informed" must be used quite loosely.

We are open to the core problem of lack of evidence released to the public which can lead anyone to make a final conclusion. Whether evidence exists, is unknown. Some are becoming skeptical. We do not make judgment as to its existence. But until evidence does present itself and is verifiable, we can only speculate. And speculation is not a popular term commonly associated with Freedom Publishers Union and is somewhat frowned upon by the editors. However, I felt that the continued silence by Freedom Publishers Union on the case of Jamal Khashoggi was deafening. Although the accepted consensus remains purely based on speculation, as Editor-at-large, it was important I inform the readers of this publication that this is a case that we are all paying attention to and like most credible media organizations, seek the truth through evidence and facts that can be independently verified. Because that is what we do.

South African Press Office - The South Rover

Written by Steve Adams.

[Filed from MOSCOW] October 28, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] Bruce Schneier Warns Against Allowing Bypassing of Encryption

FREEDOM PUBLISHERS UNION HAS ALREADY expressed our position on Australia's proposed legislation which attempts to make legal the seeking of technical assistance from technology companies, in a bid to gain access to encrypted information. Last month, the issue grabbed the attention of computer security expert, Bruce Schneier.

In an email, brought to the attention of Freedom Publishers Union, Schneier targets his criticism specifically towards the Statement released by Australia's Department of Home Affairs, on behalf of the 'Five Eyes' nations, titled "Statement of Principles on Access to Evidence and Encryption". He criticizes its focus on the purported needs for surveillance and the Five Eyes' claim of how it outweighs everyone's needs for security and privacy. In the email, Schneier says the focus of the 'Five Eyes' is "reckless and shortsighted". Schneier reminds that he has previously outlined why the measures proposed in the Australian example are not good, by using the FBI as his example. Back in 2016, Schneier said, "If the FBI can eavesdrop on your text messages or get at your computer's hard drive [data], so can other governments. So can criminals. So can terrorists. This is not theoretical. Again and again, backdoor accesses built for one purpose have been surreptitiously used for another.". Schneier indicates that is what the Australian Government is attempting to do, by trying to work with Silicon Valley by persuasion to gain access to encrypted information, which he says always "results in insecurity".

Schneier believes that a focus on "defense" would be much more effective. He says that "we need to decide, as nations and as society, to put defense first. We need a defense dominant strategy for securing the internet and everything attached to it. This is important. Our national security depends on the security of our technologies. Demanding that technology companies add backdoors to computers and communications systems puts us all at risk.". This is a common argument made by many computer security experts and can be simplified in just a few words - Enabling the bypassing of security for a few is compromising security for all.

Bruce Schneier provides an extract from his latest book, "Click Here to Kill Everybody", which he believes explains it well:

"There is simply no way to secure US networks while at the same time leaving foreign networks open to eavesdropping and attack. There's no way to secure our phones and computers from criminals and terrorists without also securing the phones and computers of those criminals and terrorists. On the generalized worldwide network that is the Internet, anything we do to secure its hardware and software secures it everywhere in the world. And everything we do to keep it insecure similarly affects the entire world.

This leaves us with a choice: either we secure our stuff, and as a side effect also secure their stuff; or we keep their stuff vulnerable, and as a side effect keep our own stuff vulnerable. It's actually not a hard choice. An analogy might bring this point home. Imagine that every house could be opened with a master key, and this was known to the criminals. Fixing those locks would also mean that criminals' safe houses would be more secure, but it's pretty clear that this downside would be worth the trade-off of protecting everyone's house. With the Internet+ increasing the risks from insecurity dramatically, the choice is even more obvious. We must secure the information systems used by our elected officials, our critical infrastructure providers, and our businesses.

Yes, increasing our security will make it harder for us to eavesdrop, and attack, our enemies in cyberspace. (It won't make it impossible for law enforcement to solve crimes; I'll get to that later in this chapter.) Regardless, it's worth it. If we are ever going to secure the Internet+, we need to prioritize defense over offense in all of its aspects. We've got more to lose through our Internet+ vulnerabilities than our adversaries do, and more to gain through Internet+ security. We need to recognize that the security benefits of a secure Internet+ greatly outweigh the security benefits of a vulnerable one."

Those in the camps at Silicon Valley have expressed varying levels of concern of the proposed legislation from Australia. Apple revisited the aforementioned argument that the overall security of "millions of law-abiding customers" is compromised "in order to investigate the very few who pose a threat". And one of the most recent to speak out is networking giant Cisco, who said that if the legislation is passed in its current form without appropriate amendments, it could "harm the security interests of Australia by setting a precedent that could be adopted by less liberal regimes". But it is not only less liberal regimes that could follow the Australian example. There is genuine valid concern that the Australian push for such invasive power is setting a precedent which will undoubtedly see the other 'Five Eyes' partner nations follow suit and further enhancing the already invasive mass-surveillance mechanisms which are already much too big and complex, and operate with very deliberate little effective oversight.

Moscow Press decided to question the official position taken by Freedom Publishers Union and sought comment from the Public Relations Department. They referred Moscow Press to a letter written by them on October 8, 2018, addressed to the Minister of Home Affairs. "Freedom Publishers Union is satisfied that the legislation is not forcing implementation of backdoors or breaking encryption. However, it fails to clearly define how it is expected technology companies can assist Australian law enforcement authorities and meet the requirements of the legislation without such methods of backdoors or encryption manipulation.". However, they state, "In its current form, Freedom Publishers Union cannot support the proposed legislation." This is suggestive that the legislation could possibly be supported by Freedom Publishers Union if it were amended to better clarify the finer details which they deem are much too broad.

Collectively taking into consideration all of the concerns raised, there are some outstanding which should be addressed before the Australian Government attempts to force the legislation through its Parliament. But this might now prove more difficult because as we go to press, we understand that the Liberal Government will lose its majority in the House of Representatives. This was the result of a recent by-election which came about when the former ousted Prime Minister quit the Parliament, which triggered the crucial by-election. At the polls, the Liberal Party was effectively punished and an Independent Candidate looks set to be formally elected into the seat, which will see the Liberal Party lose its majority in the House. Therefore, getting the aforementioned legislation through in its current form may now prove more difficult. However, Moscow Press do not completely understand to what degree the opposition Labor Party supports or opposes the proposed legislation. Our political sources tell us that the opposition has become notorious for supporting any legislation that is marketed as being drafted for reasons of national security. Even if the legislation is bad.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

Written by William Young and Charles Pittman.

[THE CONVERSATION] October 17, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] The War in Syria May Be Ending, But is Likely to Bring a Fresh Wave of Suffering

AS THE WAR IN SYRIA comes to its final stages, the future of the country and the whole region hangs in the balance. As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad consolidates his power by defeating all opposition, resistance runs the risk of transforming into a new wave of organised terrorism.

My analysis at the beginning of 2018 predicted an imminent end to the conflict, with Assad victorious over the rebels. The final stage of the war was foreseen to be fought over the critical city and province of Idlib, the stronghold of the rebel groups. The capture of Idlib would cement Assad's control of Western Syria demarcated by the Euphrates River.

Idlib and Daraa were the first places where the civil war broke out back in 2011. Daraa fell to Assad's forces in July 2018. Inevitably, Idlib was next in line.

Since 2015, Idlib has served as a repository of insurgents escaping Assad's forces. The strategy of Assad was clear: to overwhelm opposition forces in every city with Russian air support; destroy as many of the armed rebels as possible; allow remaining armed rebels to move to Idlib as a temporary safe haven and then launch a final attack on Idlib to wipe out all armed opposition. The plan followed exactly this path, and worked.

Millions of displaced civilians have also moved to Idlib, escaping the war elsewhere. The United Nations has warned an attack on Idlib could be "the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century".

In July 2018, the world and the US administration waited nervously to see what the Trump-Putin Helsinki summit would bring for Syria. But the Syria issue was overshadowed by the issue of Russian meddling with the 2016 US elections and Trump astonishingly choosing to believe Putin rather than his own intelligence aides over the matter.

The relative insignificance of Syria during the summit, coupled with Trump's lack of strategic insight, must have reconfirmed with Putin that the US was continuing to take a back seat in Syria. Soon after the summit, Assad and Russia intensified their preparations to attack Idlib.

Other key people in the US administration were not as uninterested as Trump. Security adviser John Bolton, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis as well as other European powers issued repeated warnings against the use of chemical weapons.

In response, Russia has launched a PR campaign claiming that the US and Western bloc countries used a staged chemical attack as a pretext to strike Assad. At the same time, Russia was busy reinforcing its naval forces in the Mediterranean by adding 10 more battleships to its sizeable fleet.

Having pacified the US and its Western allies, Russia, Iran and Turkey met in Tehran in early September to decide the fate of Idlib and its inhabitants. Putin publicly rejected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's call for a ceasefire.

About a week later, Putin and Erdogan met. Putin announced an agreement between Russia and Turkey to create "a demilitarised zone of a depth of 15-20km, with the withdrawal from there of radically minded rebels, including al-Nusra".

No-one is sure who the "radically minded rebels" are, but Turkey will act as a guarantor in the demilitarisation process, relying on its significant influence over the rebel groups.

Turkey had no choice. It was facing the real possibility of another wave of hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians adding to the 3.5 million Syrians seeking refuge in Turkey. More importantly, escaped jihadist operatives were likely to regroup in Turkey, creating a massive internal security threat to that country.

As the first group started to leave the demilitarised zone on September 30, a small group of refugees returned to Syria from Lebanon. These are certainly good signs, but they don't mean the war has ended. There is not even an official ceasefire in place, and the UN continues to issue warnings that Syria is still too dangerous a place to live and operate.

What is certain is that all parties, including Turkey, the US and some opposition groups, have now accepted the inevitability of Assad staying in power as the only legitimate government in Syria. This reality will have two main ramifications.

Firstly, once totally free from armed opposition, Russia through the Assad regime is likely to challenge the US presence in Syria. Russia is not in Syria for a benevolent reason, but chiefly to ensure the permanence of its access to the Mediterranean Sea. A permanent US presence in Syria clashes with this objective.

By the end of 2018, and certainly in 2019, demands for the US to leave Syria will intensify - an eventuality that Trump clearly articulated back in April 2018. The US is likely to withdraw from Syria on the condition that Iran's influence in the country is contained. Russia and Assad will make promises, but once the US is out, Iran will come back in.

Secondly, the biggest issue facing Syria is the deep feeling of resentment within a large segment of the population. They will question why the war was fought, creating 5 million refugees, displacing 6 million and killing more than 400,000, given that Assad is still in power in the end and Syria is no closer to being a democratic country advancing human rights and progress.

For some, the resentment will remain inward. But for a significant minority, the resentment will brew and turn into an unstoppable rage, perhaps manifesting in the familiar form of suicide bombing squads. They will reorganise themselves and launch a campaign of terrorism focusing mainly on easy civilian targets. This will only serve Assad's narrative that fighting terrorism has reinforced his claims to legitimacy in the eyes of Syrians and increasingly within the international community.

The campaign of terrorism may inevitably spill over to Russia for staunchly supporting Assad, and to the US and its Western allies for allowing Russia to take the upper hand in Syria, subverting all attempts to get rid of Assad.

Civil war in Syria may be coming to an end with Assad firmly in power, but the resentment it generates is likely to evolve into a new wave of terrorism.

Mehmet Ozalp, Associate Professor in Islamic Studies, Charles Sturt University

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Additional comments by William Young.

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

[Filed from MOSCOW] October 16, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] Communications Ban Lifted for Julian Assange, New Editor for Wikileaks and the Future of the Organization

YESTERDAY, FREEDOM PUBLISHERS UNION WAS contacted by representatives of the activist group, WikiLeaks Connected, which is under the operations of the Allied Advocacy Alliance, advising us that Julian Assange has had his communications and visitation rights restored inside the Ecuadorian Embassy. It is important to make the clarification that WikiLeaks Connected is not officially associated with or endorsed by Wikileaks.

WikiLeaks Connected has confirmed to Freedom Publishers Union that Mr. Assange has internet and cell phone access. Additionally, visits to Mr. Assange at the Embassy have also been restored. Whereas previously, under the restriction he had been placed under, visits were limited to those who are Mr. Assange's legal representatives.

Also, Mr. Assange has appointed Kristinn Hrafnsson as the organization's Editor-in-Chief. On its Twitter profile, Wikileaks states, "ANNOUNCEMENT: Assange appoints Hrafnsson Editor-in-Chief after six months of effective incommunicado detention, remains publisher.". The primary responsibility of Editor has previously been held by Mr. Assange himself. Mr. Hrafnsson is a long-time supported and member of Wikileaks and has previously held the position of Spokesperson following the ugly suspension and departure of Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Mr. Hrafnsson commended the decision to lift Mr. Assange's communications restrictions, however he still expressed some reservations. He says, "It is positive that through UN intervention Ecuador has partly ended the isolation of Mr. Assange although it is of grave concern that his freedom to express his opinions is still limited.".

Although the latest news of Mr. Assange's communications being restored is welcome, it does not resolve the ongoing political stalemate which sees Mr. Assange still holed up and effectively detained to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, by UK authorities who have explicitly and definitively stated he will be arrested if he exits the premises. But at the very least, it does restore one very small aspect of the civil liberties of Mr. Assange and allowing him to re-establish previous connections that may have been lost as a result of the communications cut-off. Mr. Hrafnsson continues, "The UN has already declared Mr. Assange a victim of arbitrary detention. This unacceptable situation must end.".

We asked WikiLeaks Connected for their views of the latest news and what it means for the organization and the situation of Mr. Assange. A representative from WikiLeaks Connected responded with the following statement, "The latest developments are positive news, which does not happen much, unfortunately. However, it must remain in perspective. It does not at all change the fact that the UK continue to detain Julian Assange, despite the verdict that the arbitrary detention is declared illegal by the United Nations. It continues to disturb everyone involved with WikiLeaks Connected that the international community sit back and continue to allow this to happen to a man that has never been charged with a crime. It's quite astonishing.". Mr. Hrafnsson concludes by elaborating that the "UK Government must abide by the UN's ruling and guarantee that he can leave the Ecuadorian Embassy without the threat of extradition to the United States.".

The comments of WikiLeaks Connected and Kristinn Hrafnsson are echoed by others too. Long time supporter, advocate and campaigner for Wikileaks and Julian Assange, and former Editor of Freedom Publishers Union who is now a Member of The Greens political party in Australia, Chris McGimpsey-Jones, says, "It is an interesting development. To be honest, I only became aware of the news this morning [October 15, 2018] and am still trying to make sense of it all. For starters, the restoring of Julian's communications is way overdue. Access to communications is a core pillar of civil liberties and in the digital era, basically a human right. The situation which sees Julian detained inside an international embassy is bad enough. But stripping him of further rights to access to communications was outrageous.". And when we pressed Chris on his opinion of the appointment of Kristinn Hrafnsson as new Editor of Wikileaks he said, "That is equally interesting in a sense that it he was the previous Spokesperson. When he left, it was thought his relationship with Julian and Wikileaks had deteriorated significantly. However, this changes that belief and tells me that the relationship did not deteriorate as many first thought. In fact, it seems quite the opposite. It is very likely that the working relationship between Julian and Kristinn never changed. Perhaps he was working in the background for Wikileaks but never publicly spoke about it. I have no idea. But I hold the personal belief that more is yet to unfold.".

Sub-Editor of Freedom Publishers Union, Brett Brennan, took a distinctively different perspective on the situation, "This may be the best thing for Julian, as it removes him from the direct spotlight. Maybe he really is going to hammer out a deal to get out but avoid American extradition.". Brett continues, "I'm still keeping my long-shot bet that if he [Julian] gets to America, Trump will pardon him for his role in undercutting Clinton.". Then, interestingly, Brett continues to analyze and, to some degree, scrutinize the current relevance of Wikileaks in the current media landscape. He assesses, "Wikileaks has become a footnote to contemporary history. They were an important idea for a while, but the partisan bias [of Julian Assange] over Clinton has tainted them. That, and Wikileaks hasn't had any great reveals in quite a while. I think that the drama has spooked sources. Or, with all the alt-news and blogs, Wikileaks is just irrelevant.". Brett concludes by posing the rhetorical question, "Why should we trust Wikileaks any more than Alex Jones?". And then ends with a rather disturbing statement, "I think the time of Wikileaks is over.". A chilling proposition.

On the point of the relevance of Wikileaks, Chris offers his own perspective on this and suggests this could be a temporary set-back for the organization. He offers the following additional comments and somewhat concurs with the latter views expressed by Brett, "I agree, Wikileaks has not really published anything substantial for a long time. That's not to suggest the publications Wikileaks have released while Julian has been detained have had no impact at all. Because that is simply incorrect. I just think it has all been hampered by Julian's limitations [of access] to technology as a result of his detention to the Embassy. I understand that Julian had sole access to the Wikileaks submission system for some duration. So there could very well be something sitting on their servers that is of significance but has simply not been processed yet. Maybe, just maybe, that is what is behind the appointment of Kristinn as Editor. Sarah Harrison was deeply involved in the background but her involvement is quite mysterious and not much is known about how deep she is still involved. But to the best of my understanding, I know Julian has 100% trust in Kristinn and it is very likely that the submission system and all server access will be handed to Kristinn for control. Whether we will see bigger, better and more effective document dumps in the future is anyone's guess. I hope so.". Freedom Publishers Union certainly hopes so too.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

Written by Sara Koch. | Permission to republish | Donate

[Filed from GOLD COAST] October 16, 2018 | [PUBLIC RELATIONS] Tribute to Microsoft Co-Founder, Paul Allen


FREEDOM PUBLISHERS UNION HAS DEEP roots to the technology industry, as we were founded on the backbone of a technology news platform. Although most of our technology reporting is now published by our sister publication, Tecseek Technology, we never forget the exciting world of technology of what we originated. It is remembering our very roots of origin which also brings us to present the sad news of the passing of one of the Co-Founders of Microsoft, businessman and philanthropist, Paul Allen.

Paul Allen is often the forgotten partner of the original establishment of one of the industry's most recognized and sometimes controversial companies. Paul Allen created Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975. The company found success in 1980 when it secured a deal with IBM to supply its future PCs with the DOS operating system, that would be developed and supplied by Microsoft.

Paul Allen left the company he founded with Bill Gates in 1982, as a result of health problems.

Following his early success with Microsoft, Paul Allen went on to invest his wealth and time in a host of different business ventures, spreading across multiple sectors of interest including technology, science, aerospace, real estate and even purchasing sports teams.

Paul Allen was an incredibly successful businessman. He passed away yesterday, October 15, 2018 at the age of 65 after complications with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations Department

Written by Sara Koch.

[THE CONVERSATION] October 12, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] New UN Report Outlines 'urgent, transformational' Change Needed to Hold Global Warming to 1.5c

A LANDMARK REPORT FROM THE Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, commissioned at the breakthrough 2015 summit that brokered the Paris climate agreement, outlines what's at stake in the world's bid to limit global temperature rise to 1.5c

The report, released today [October 8, 2018], sets out the key practical differences between the Paris agreement's two contrasting goals: to limit the increase of human-induced global warming to well below 2c and to "pursue efforts" to limit warming to 1.5c

Two and a half years in the making, the report provides vital information about whether the Paris Agreement's more ambitious goal is indeed achievable, what the future may look like under it, and the risks and rewards of hitting the target.

Here are five key questions to which the report provides answers.

Can we limit warming to 1.5c?

There is no clear yes or no answer to this question.

Put simply, it is not impossible that global warming could be limited to 1.5c But achieving this will be profoundly challenging.

If we are to limit warming to 1.5c we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030, reaching near-zero by around 2050.

Whether we are successful primarily depends on the rate at which government and non-state bodies take action to reduce emissions. Yet despite the urgency, current national pledges under the Paris Agreement are not enough to remain within a 3c temperature limit, let alone 1.5c

Global warming is not just a problem for the future. The impacts are already being felt around the world, with declines in crop yields, biodiversity, coral reefs, and Arctic sea ice, and increases in heatwaves and heavy rainfall. Sea levels have risen by 40.5mm in the past decade and are predicted to continue rising for decades, even if all greenhouse emissions were reduced to zero immediately. Climate adaptation is already needed and will be increasingly so at 1.5c and 2c of warming.

Rapid action is essential and the next ten years will be crucial. In 2017, global warming breached 1c. If the planet continues to warm at the current rate of 0.2c per decade, we will reach 1.5c of warming around 2040. At current emissions rates, within the next 10 to 14 years there is a 2/3 chance we will have used up our entire carbon budget for keeping to 1.5.

How can we limit warming to 1.5c?

The report says "transformational" change will be needed to limit warming to 1.5℃. Business as usual will not get us there.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases need to reach net zero globally by around 2050. Most economists say putting a price on emissions is the most efficient way to do this.

By 2050, 70-85% of electricity globally will need to be supplied by renewables. Investment in low-carbon and energy-efficient technologies will need to double, whereas investment in fossil-fuel extraction will need to decrease by around a quarter.

Carbon dioxide removal technology will also be needed to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. But the IPCC's report warns that relying too heavily on this technology would be a major risk as it has not been used on such a large scale before. Carbon dioxide removal is an extra step that may be needed to keep warming to 1.5c, not an excuse to keep emitting greenhouse gases.

Production, consumption and lifestyle choices also play a role. Reducing energy demand and food waste, improving the efficiency of food production, and choosing foods and goods with lower emissions and land use requirements will contribute significantly.

Taking such action as soon as possible will be hugely beneficial. The earlier we start, the more time we have to reach net zero emissions. Acting early will mean a smoother transition and less net cost overall. Delay will lead to more haste, higher costs, and a harder landing.

Reducing emissions quickly will also ensure warming is capped as soon as possible, reducing the number and severity of impacts.

Yet severe impacts will still be experienced even if warming is successfully capped at 1.5c.

What is the cost of 1.5c of warming?

Although the Paris Agreement aims to hold global warming as close to 1.5c as possible, that doesn't mean it is a "safe" level. Communities and ecosystems around the world have already suffered significant impacts from the 1c of warming so far, and the effects at 1.5c will be harsher still.

Poverty and disadvantages will increase as temperatures rise to 1.5c. Small island states, deltas and low-lying coasts are particularly vulnerable, with increased risk of flooding, and threats to freshwater supplies, infrastructure, and livelihoods.

Warming to 1.5c also poses a risk to global economic growth, with the tropics and southern subtropics potentially being hit hardest. Extreme weather events such as floods, heatwaves, and droughts will become more frequent, severe, and widespread, with attendant costs in terms of health care, infrastructure, and disaster response.

The oceans will also suffer in a 1.5c warmer world. Ocean warming and acidification are expected to impact fisheries and aquaculture, as well as many marine species and ecosystems.

Up to 90% of warm water coral reefs are predicted to disappear when global warming reaches 1.5c. That would be a dire situation, but far less serious than at 2c, when the destruction of coral reefs would be almost total (greater than 99% destruction).

How do 1.5c and 2c compare?

Impacts on both human and natural systems would be very different at 1.5c rather than 2c of warming. For example, limiting warming to 1.5c would roughly halve the number of people globally who are expected to suffer from water scarcity.

Seas would rise by an extra 10cm this century at 2c compared with 1.5c. This means limiting global warming to 1.5c would save up to 10.4 million people from the impacts of rising seas.

At 1.5c rather than 2c:

How does the 1.5c target fit with the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals aim for a world in which people can be healthy, financially stable, well fed, have clean air and water, and live in a secure and pleasant environment. Much of this is consistent with the goal of capping global warming at 1.5c, which is why the IPCC notes there are synergies if the SDG initiatives and climate action should be explicitly linked.

But some climate strategies may make it harder to achieve particular SDGs. Countries that are highly dependent on fossil fuels for employment and revenue may suffer economically in the transition towards low-carbon energy.

Carefully managing this transition by simultaneously focusing on reducing poverty and promoting equity in decision-making may help avoid the worst effects of such trade-offs. What works in one place may not work in another, so strategies should always be locally appropriate.

Where next?

Limiting global warming to 1.5c will require a social transformation, as the world takes rapid action to reduce greenhouse gases. The effects of climate change will continue to shape the world we live in, but there is no doubt we will be far better off under 1.5c than 2c of global warming.

The choices we make today are shaping the future for coming generations. As the new report makes clear, if we are serious about the 1.5c target, we need to act now.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the substantial contribution to authorship of this article by of Lamis Kazak, an Australian National University Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (Sustainability) student, as part of a Science Communication Internship with the Climate Change Institute.

Mark Howden and Rebecca Colvin, Climate Change Institute, Australian National University

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Edited by Sara Koch, for reasons of formatting. Edits by Freedom Publishers Union are not textual and do not change the article's original context.

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

[Filed from MOSCOW] October 11, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] Orca Whale Population Suffers, From Decades Old PCB Waste

POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYL IS PROBABLY MORE commonly known as 'PCB'. It is a particularly toxic compound (classified as a carcinogenic) which was once used in manufacturing in a large range of products, most notably electrical equipment. Citing estimates from recent research, between 1930-1993, 1-1.5 million metric tons of PCB was produced. The USA was notorious for being the world's biggest user of PCBs, with its share at an estimated 50% of the total global use. During the 1960s, science identified its toxicity to humans, animals and the environment. Tougher regulations and restrictions followed the science into the 1970s and by the end of the decade, PCBs experienced widespread bans.

The very nature of its toxicity unfortunately enables it to still pose contamination problems to the environment, the ocean and marine life. Whales are at risk as PCBs are particularly known to affect their fertility. A new science paper which was released last month by Science Magazine, sent to Freedom Publishers Union, highlights that Orca whales are among the most "contaminated mammals in the world", as a result of PCBs. According to the paper, Orca whales show direct effects from PCB contamination, damaging their immune system and affecting reproduction, potentially lowering the quality of health in their calves. This is threatening the long term population viability of more than half of the Orca whale populations around the globe. In the paper's opening summary, it predicts that Orca populations over the next 100 years are at significant risk of a "population collapse".

The paper outlines that studies of the effects of PCB contamination of Orca whales and its populations in the past, have been limited. It has been suggested that expense is one major factor, as the methods of studying the mammals is complicated by their size, natural behaviors and obvious environmental barriers. Also, studies usually require blubber samples of a deceased Orca, creating further study complications. Therefore, scientific modeling is the most efficient form of study of this type. Albeit, results are limited. The paper claims that more studies of the effects on Orca whale populations as a result of PCB contamination needs to be done.

The paper states that despite more than 35 years after global PCB bans took effect, Orca whales still have PCB contamination levels which are much too high and unacceptable. It points out where populations once thrived everywhere around the globe Orca whales are found, only in areas around the Arctic and Antarctica are now seeing sustained population growth which is suggestive of much better health of the mammals in these areas.

Freedom Publishers Union sought comment from the Chamber for Biological, Environmental and Marine Studies, an independent broad focused study center which operates out of New Zealand, to consider their assessment of the research into Orca whale PCB contamination. Representatives told us that according to their assessment of the research, they believe, "The research is alarming and indicative of greater and more wide-spread environmental impacts as a result of ongoing PCB contamination and certainly is not limited to just Orca whales.". This is also noted in the closing findings, with the research recommending greater efforts be made, beyond what is required under the Stockholm Convention on persistent Organic Pollutants, to clean up PCB contamination and reduce potentially destructive increases in the levels of contamination. At current clean-up rates, it is predicted that the Convention's targets for 2025 and 2028 will not be met, as researchers state, "It is estimated that more than 80% of global PCB stocks are yet to be destroyed", as required.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

Written by Charles Pittman. Edited by Sara Koch.

[Filed from GOLD COAST] October 4, 2018 | [PUBLIC RELATIONS] Clarification of Points from Editorial Published September 5, 2018

SOME CONFUSION AND A SENSE of frustration has been expressed directly to Freedom Publishers Union by some of our supporters as to the position we have taken following a previous Editorial published on September 5, 2018, by our Asia/Pacific Press Office in Mumbai, when we described the Australian Government's proposed "Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018" as "modest".

On behalf of Freedom Publishers Union, I want to take a brief moment to reiterate that the broader position we take on privacy, security and specifically, encryption, has not changed and we have no intention of backing down on our strong opposition to any attempt by anyone in any country which attempts to implement any measures which could potentially see the weakening or tampering of security and encryption of technology, which could potentially impede on the effectiveness of the entitlement to privacy.

In reference to our original aforementioned article which has been the primary cause for concern by some of our supporters, I as Editor, would like to run through a few clarifications and citations from our September 5 article, with the intention of restating our position as published previously and regaining the confidence of those that have expressed a certain amount of confusion.

I begin with the acknowledgment of the potential for misleading our readers with the Editorial's title. Although Freedom Publishers Union does acknowledge that it may be misleading, we also stand by the title as it is published, and believe it is correct in context in relation to its accompanied article.

It should be noted that we pointed out in the September 2018 article that Freedom Publishers Union had initially raised concerns on the issues present, in previous articles. As noted already, we have raised previous concerns in September 2016 and again, in June 2017. This was then followed up with the most recent article, which is the source of some confusion and leading some to accuse us that we have weakened our position. Freedom Publishers Union have not. I personally would like to point out previous articles published on the issues before my tenure as Editor, to simply point out that under the leadership of my predecessors, Freedom Publishers Union have been paying a lot of attention to it and in great detail for over two years. Under my leadership as Editor, with the guidance and support of my superiors, we, as an independent media organization will continue to do so.

The original conclusion of the proposed legislation being declared "modest" was actually an independent conclusion which was reached by a third-party consultancy firm, David Institute for Politics and Science. We have complete confidence in their high standards of professional work ethic and therefore had no reason to question their expert advice on this issue. Therefore, we adopted their advice and conclusion that the proposed legislation was "modest". The independence of this conclusion was actually published in the original article and was never made to portray that it was the conclusion originally reached by Freedom Publishers Union.

Despite David Institute for Politics and Science reaching a "modest" conclusion, they were also critical of specifics of the legislation proposal. We specifically pointed out that they believed it to be "much too broad" in the range of agencies that the legislation is applicable to. They also pointed out that the warrant obtaining process must remain a "reasonable due process". Then, Freedom Publishers Union raised our own concerns, which were not specifically the concerns of David Institute for Politics and Science, that the recommended penalty of 5 years was "extreme and disproportionate" to the crime of specifically "unauthorized disclosure" of information in relation to a technical assistance request.

Upon reviewing the original Editorial published on September 5, 2018, by the Mumbai Press Center, Freedom Publishers Union stands by it 100% and believe the information published, based on the information available to us at the time of press, was accurate in its nature, not misleading and fair. However, we always take feedback serious and always follow up where possible to review where we possibly went wrong which provided enough substance to initiate complaints, and to examine where we can do better in the future to eliminate confusion and all possibility of misleading our audience.

On behalf of Freedom Publishers Union, I sincerely apologize if our position was not made specific and clear enough. Our audience should always remain confident in our immovable position on issues related to privacy, security and encryption.

I close by pointing out that Freedom Publishers Union was one of the first independent media organizations to report and publish on this issue, taking into account our publications as far back as 2016. I take on the personal view and believe Freedom Publishers Union has been ahead of the rest of the industry. We previously also expressed disappointment that more Australian digital rights organizations were not expressing their position on the legislation. It is not a matter for us to agree or disagree with their position, but we appreciate the attention paid to the matter at hand, irrespective of their position. Since we expressed this disappointment, more organizations - Australian and international - have put forward their views. As much as we appreciate their views, we again point out that we were very much ahead of the rest of the independent media industry.

We are continuing to pay attention to the legislative path of the proposed legislation and Freedom Publishers Union is currently engaging in internal discussion as to whether we will pursue the matter further by making a political Submission to the Australian Parliament.

Freedom Publishers Union Public Relations Department

Written by Sara Koch.

[Filed from MUMBAI] September 29, 2018 | [ANALYSIS] China's Grip on Freedom of Information Continues to Close, With Blocking of International News Sites

CHINA HAS INFAMOUSLY CLAIMED THE title as the world's biggest censorship machine. And it's effective too. Australia's lead public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), has now been censored from inside the borders of China. China's nation-sponsored and regime operated 'Great Firewall' has reportedly been blocking access to the ABC website since August 22, 2018.

The ABC made official enquiries with Chinese authorities, which saw delay before an official response was provided. It was a vague response at that, with little more than a confirmation that China was blocking access to the ABC website and its app, yet no specific reason was provided with the response.

It is interesting to note that the date the ABC block took effect was just one day after the announcement from the Australian Government that they had banned Chinese technology giant Huawei from contributing to the construction of Australia's 5G wireless network. The ban would also include ZTE. While it is easy to assume there may be a link between the Huawei/ZTE ban and the effective blocking of the ABC, Freedom Publishers Union is not convinced there is enough evidence to suggest there is any conclusive link between the two events. Instead, we suggest it to be a timing coincidence and would refrain from suggesting anything other than that without any indication that points to the contrary.

While the ABC website remains blocked at the time of going to press, we understand that Australian commercial news media websites remain available and uninterrupted. Australia's second public broadcaster, Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), also remains available according to sources at the ABC.

We independently verified the censorship claims made by the ABC through FPUorg, who carried out their own tests and shared the results with Freedom Publishers Union. At the time of going to press, we can actually verify that the ABC is indeed blocked from inside China from multiple locations that were tested. Locations verified to be blocking access to the ABC website and app were Beijing and Shanghai. Additional access testing was carried out from inside Hong Kong, a location effectively under the control of China's influence, but its internet infrastructure not being subjected to the 'Great Firewall'. Results returned from inside Hong Kong were more encouraging and showed that the ABC was still accessible. The same tests were performed on The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald websites, News Corp and Fairfax's leading mastheads, respectively, and it demonstrated that uninterrupted access remained open to these sites. The same testing was also performed for the SBS website, which also returned positive results showing there was no restrictions placed upon Australia's second public broadcaster.

The censorship that has been applied to the ABC, by China, appears to be solely aimed specifically at just the ABC. At least that appears to be the case for Australia. We understand that the BBC was reporting that BBC News and New York Time websites were being blocked also. FPUorg did not test access to these two websites, so Freedom Publishers Union is unable to verify these claims. But we have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the claims reported by the BBC.

When Chinese officials were probed on the specific reasons as to why the ABC was being censored, the response was vague, an expression of arrogance and open to interpretation. China claims that the ABC has violated the country's internet rules and regulations, which led to the Office of the Cyberspace Affairs Commission to take action. It is also claimed the ABC is a danger to China's national security and is damaging the nation's pride. When probed further, specifically, of what the ABC had contributed to prompt the Office of the Cyberspace Affairs Commission to act, no specifics were stated.

Freedom Publishers Union are staunch advocates for an open internet which remains neutral and free from censorship. This includes advocating China relax its applied censorship and open up its internet. However, despite global pressure, the reverse is happening and China's grip on information access continues to close even further.

Freedom Publishers Union's own servers have previously been exposed to China's heavy handed approach to censorship. The domain has previously experienced being blocked from inside China. Recent external security auditing - unrelated to the subject of this story - can verify that we are current not blocked. It adds to the mystery of what protocols are followed which actually lead to a website or a domain being censored by the 'Great Firewall'. To date, it remains unclear to us as to why we were blocked. At the time, we considered making enquiries to Chinese authorities but were not confident that we would successfully get a response. Contacting Chinese authorities on specific matters of politics is not exactly a streamlined process. We could only make the general assumption that China did not respond kindly to our position of promoting a free and open internet without censorship. Some of our advocacy has included critical mention of China's efforts of implementing maximum censorship on the people of China. Therefore, it could possibly be a simple case that advocacy for an open internet accompanied by criticism of the Chinese regime's totalitarian control of its internet access may be what leads to being censored from inside the borders of China. However, this does not completely explain how China censors websites or domains for unspecified and sometimes odd periods of time, then appear to drop off the censorship radar, without warning and once again become accessible, as has occurred to Freedom Publishers Union.

The precise protocols and processes of how the 'Great Firewall' functions is unclear. But we do understand that ultimate decision making can flow right through the channels of the Chinese regime and to the President himself.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Written by William Young and Charles Pittman. | Permission to republish | Donate

[Filed from MOSCOW] September 29, 2018 | [CAMPAIGN] Ecuador Must Act Now, to Ensure Freedom of Julian Assange

THE WORLD SHOULD BE OUTRAGED by the continued treatment and detainment of Wikileaks Editor, Julian Assange.

Mr. Assange has been detained to the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012 and remains trapped inside, without natural light, without fresh air, without access to the most basic of human services and healthcare and without communications.

The ongoing situation has become frustrated and entered the realm of ridiculous. It has gone beyond laying the blame on party A, B or C. There are multiple factors at play and multiple parties to blame which must accept responsibility of Mr. Assange being arbitrarily detained, deemed illegal by the United Nations, and being denied many basic human rights.

The situation is now critical and an appropriate and responsible political solution must be sought by Ecuador and the UK, along with the US, which also shares great interest in Mr. Assange's detainment. We must see the freedom of Mr. Assange granted without any further unnecessary delay and to take immediate effect.

Ecuador must take a strong stand and act.

The UK must end its threat of immediate arrest and cease its around-the-clock surveillance of a political refugee, publisher and editor who has not been charged with any crime.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

Written by Charles Pittman.

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] September 15, 2018 | [OPINION] Can Obama Influence the American People and Change the Course of American Democracy?

LAST WEEK, FORMER US PRESIDENT Barack Obama, presented the usual encouraging and inspiring speech. He reflected on the Donald Trump Administration and also touched on the Op-Ed which was published by the New York Times, effectively creating a firestorm of ripple effects through US politics. The former president took quite an aggressive tone towards Trump's leadership style and pointed out the obvious on the current state of US politics. Aside from a healthy economy, which is beginning to show cracks, there's not much to praise of President Trump's tenure. Obama pointed out the obvious and publicly thrashed Trump with views which to be frank, most of us probably share.

Trump responded to Obama's comments in the usual predictable tone that Trump observers have come to expect, by claiming that his speech was so "boring" that he "fell asleep". We're sure he didn't. What is interesting to note though is how inspirational and powerful Obama still appears to be, if one is to use the public's reaction as a key indicator. This comes even though he no longer has any political force other than his voice of opinion. Because that's what it is, really. However, people seem to be very drawn to Obama and pay great attention when he speaks. He could stand up on a stage with a microphone and talk about anything at all and people would still listen with absolute focus and attention, and come away feeling inspired. Then, many would probably refer to it as the best speech they've heard on the topic - whatever the topic may be.

Take for example Obama's presidential inauguration speech. We all remember it. It was inspirational and offered a lot of hope to many who felt there was not much hope left. It's a shame that his own tenure as US President did not quite live up to the hope of many Americans and didn't really deliver to the same standard as his inauguration speech. Well, that could be up for debate and is a matter of political opinion. But we come back to saying - Obama spoke, people listened. The question now remains, will Obama dish out any further public speeches and will they have the same influence on the American people when it comes to voting day at the upcoming mid-terms? We will soon see. But when polls suggest that voter confidence is down, people will look for alternative sources for inspiration. Obama has the skills to tap into this source. If the Democrats can rely on Obama to draw attention back to their side of politics, then we may see a very different functioning of the Trump Administration after the mid-terms if they are to sway in favor of the Democrats.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

Written by Charles Pittman. Edited by Sara Koch.

[Filed from MUMBAI] September 5, 2018 | Proposed Australian Legislation Which Seeks Technical Assistance on Encryption from Silicon Valley, Actually Quite Modest

The Australian proposed legislation titled "Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018" has been provided to Freedom Publishers Union following the Government releasing an Exposure Draft to the public domain.

Our concerns were initially placed on our radar on September 1, 2016, when Salt Lake City News published an Editorial warning France was in the midst of leading a global push for anti-encryption legislation.

Then Freedom Publishers Union warned of increasing government attacks on encryption on June 12, 2017. Concluding our warning then, we said that "We oppose any measures which seek to impede, alter, challenge or block the use, development or implementation of encryption or any other measure of computer security.".

The warning signs continued to grow louder when we warned again on July 19, 2017, of the ongoing government attacks against encryption. This was amplified when the Australian Government created the super ministry known as the Department of Home Affairs. We said that the creation of the super ministry "will give absolutely no operational improvements or benefit to the current system of intelligence and law enforcement capabilities.". And then we said that we viewed it as an opportunity for the Government to take advantage of the super ministry and "to abuse the platform as a new breeding ground for increased mass-surveillance and as a means of justification for its increasing attacks on encryption and privacy encroachment.".

Despite Freedom Publishers Union facing minor external criticism and being dubbed as delving in the realm of conspiracy theory stuff, it appears our warnings were correct, justified and our claims are always backed by credible source information.

Just last week, Australia saw a change in its Government leader. The Home Affairs super ministry has been stripped of its immigration portfolio, effectively reversing a bad decision made by the former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who was responsible for creating the super ministry and handed ultimate power to one minister. The current legislation proposal before us has grown from the previous ministry and is guarantee to be still on the agenda to be debated in the country's Parliament towards the later months of the year.

The original concerns we outlined were strong and valid. As was our declaration to protect and oppose any attacks on encryption or any other means which threaten the right to privacy.

The [Exposure Draft] bill proposes three key ways for technology companies, software developers and others to assist spy agencies and police:

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

On digital security, the Department of Home Affairs says, "Encryption and other forms of electronic protection are vital security measures that protect private, commercial and Government data and make the communications and devices of all people more secure.". Then it attempts to justify the proposed legislation by saying, "However, these security measures are also being employed by terrorists, child sex offenders and criminal organizations to mask illegal conduct.". The Government believes the developed proposal to be a "reasonable and proportionate response to the problems associated with the increasing use of encrypted communications".

According to the Australian Government's own statistics, encryption impacts at least 90% of priority cases handled by the nation's elite intelligence agency, Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), and over 90% of legally intercepted communications by the Australia Federal Police (AFP). Additionally, they believe that all illicit activity by "organized crime and terrorists" will be encrypted by 2020, which continues to be a cause a lot of concern within intelligence communities not only in Australia, but also within the ranks of its intelligence sharing partners of the 'Five Eyes'. Concern continues to mount because of continued difficulties in accessing and extracting usable content from encrypted data, at least through a streamlined arrangement with complete cooperation of Silicon Valley. Furthermore, Australia's Department of Home Affairs reiterate that State-level law enforcement agencies are facing their own set of challenges in relation to encryption.

Ironically, the challenges faced from intelligence communities and law enforcement agencies equates to good news for consumers in the sense that strong encryption works. And this is great news for privacy and those who wish to uphold their right to privacy through use of encryption.

In a Press Statement released by Member of The Greens, Chris McGimpsey-Jones, he states that he views the "draft bill to be quite moderate in its intent and perhaps not as invasive as much of the public had expected.". We clarify this view expressed by Mr. McGimpsey-Jones was taken prior to the release of the Exposure Draft. However, he has since contacted our office and confirmed that after reading the Exposure Draft in its entirety, his view remains unchanged.

We tasked David Institute for Politics and Science to analyze the legislation proposal in closer detail to see just how concerned we should be and to what effect the Australian Government seeks to push on its legislative attempts of dealing with its challenges of encryption.

The conclusion made by David Institute for Politics and Science very much reflects the moderate nature of the legislation and they told us that it was not anywhere near as aggressive as they were expecting. They specifically point out that the proposal permits no systemic breaking of encryption and no systemic forced backdoors are permitted. This is important to highlight, as there has been misinformed claims made by publications, notably AppleInsider, in their August 13, 2018, publication which starts with the following claim, "Australia's government will debate proposed legislation before the end of this year that could force Apple and other companies to introduce backdoors into their products and services, such as the iPhone or iMessage, under the guise of assisting with national security and law enforcement investigations.". This claim is wrong. Freedom Publishers Union Communications Department has contacted AppleInsider to draw their attention to this incorrect claim and have provided them with an advanced edition of this Editorial. At the time of going to press, our office has received no response.

The legislation is applicable to a very wide array of government intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Of most importance, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and Australian Federal Police (AFP). Though the legislation extends further, to State-level law enforcement agencies through to government watchdog commissions that are tasked with investigating sometimes minor crime. According to David Institute for Politics and Science, they assess that it serves a very broad range of agencies - much too broad - many of them most likely to be unnecessary and unlikely to exercise their powers. Yet they reassure us that this is compensated somewhat by the moderate nature of the legislation's content.

David Institute for Politics and Science also specifically draws attention to the fact that the technical assistance sought through exercising the powers of the legislation must be warranted, through what they describe a reasonable due process of warrant obtaining mechanism.

According to details outlined in additional documents provided by the Australian Government and the Department of Home Affairs, the legislation is applicable to communications services and devices in Australia, irrespective of where they base their corporation, servers or manufacturing hubs. Therefore, there will be no exclusion for international companies if the device is within the borders of Australia and the device is the target of a qualified investigation, as specified. The Department of Home Affairs point out that although law enforcement agencies already receive technical assistance from technology and communications companies on a voluntary basis, they believe this to be an unfair playing field and is creating an unequal level of compliance from the industry. The implementation of the legislation is one measure aimed at establishing a more balanced and equal playing field for compliance.

Freedom Publishers Union understands from previous information supplied to us from earlier publications, that Australian law enforcement agencies regularly engage and seek assistance from Facebook and other social media companies with pending and ongoing investigations. We are unable to definitively confirm it in relation to the latest proposed legislation as the information provided to us by the Australian Government falls short of specifically naming any individual or group of companies which it already receives voluntary assistance from.

We also have clarification that there are no provisions which prevent communications providers from fixing or patching existing security flaws in devices. In fact, it is both encouraged and supported by the Department of Home Affairs.

The remaining concerns that we have are minor, but worthy of acknowledgement. Freedom Publishers Union are concerned of the overuse of penalties in relation to unauthorized disclosure of information detailing the receiving of a request or notice. It recommends a penalty of 5 years, which we believe to be quite extreme and disproportionate to the crime of unauthorized disclosure.

Additionally, we draw specific attention to text on page 76 of the Exposure Draft, where it is specified that the [proposed] legislation is applicable to investigations that qualify for the "death penalty". We believe this to be a rather extreme clause to be placed into legislation of this nature. Freedom Publishers Union are notable advocates against the death penalty and believe this specific wording should be removed prior to any further drafts being placed before the Australian Parliament for debate.

Based on the independent analysis and information we have been provided and compared against the prior expectations from Freedom Publishers Union of this legislation, we accept the conclusion put forward by David Institute for Politics and Science that it remains a modest and acceptable legislative proposal.

The quirks are minor and could be resolved with minimal political intervention and amendments where required.

Freedom Publishers Union's position on protecting encryption and the civil liberties of citizens stands as strong as ever. Thankfully, we feel that we do not have to stand firm in opposition to this proposed legislation and at its face value, can see no realistic scenario of where it could be abused to knowingly undermine encryption or the right to privacy, under actions described to be in the interest of national security - a term which is regularly abused as a means to hide illicit governmental activity which is knowingly questionable.

Freedom Publishers Union Communications Department contacted Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) asking for comment on the Exposure Draft of the proposed legislation. We also asked whether EFA had any further plans and how they would respond on the issue of encryption and privacy in response. No reply was received. This is disappointing considering EFA was once Australia's most reputable organization for standing up for digital rights in Australia. It appears to be a cause which has gradually lost the attention of the organization.

We do acknowledge that EFA have been a supporter of the Secure Australia campaign which they are a signatory. However, we believe this is slightly odd considering that is a campaign launched by Access Now, which is actually an American organization.

Freedom Publishers Union believes that Australian organizations are placed in the best position to fight and support digital rights of and for Australian citizens.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

August 28, 2018 | How the Right-Wing Media Have Given a Megaphone to Reactionary Forces in the Liberal Party

The polarisation that is devouring Australia's politics is reflected in the increasingly stark polarisation of the country's professional mass media.

In the midst of the leadership crisis engulfing the prime ministership, some journalists have found time to start fighting each other over allegations of partisan political activism. Astonishing.

On Channel Nine's Today show, the network's political editor Chris Uhlmann accused elements of the media of "waging a war against the prime minister of Australia".

For this, he singled out the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corporation newspapers such as The Australian and The Daily Telegraph, the Murdoch-owned pay TV channel Sky News, and the Fairfax-owned Sydney radio station 2GB.

On the same show, the Telegraph's national political editor, Sharri Markson, hit back, calling Uhlmann's remarks "disgusting and outrageous".

Later, The Australian's Chris Kenny weighed in, saying Uhlmann was airing gripes from within Malcolm Turnbull's camp. The clear implication was that Uhlmann was just as much a player in the political game as any other political journalist.

Kenny argued that the media and politicians have always been locked into a symbiotic relationship, requoting a line from British politics that a politician complaining about the media is like a sailor complaining about the sea.

That's true, but in assessing the media's role in the current crisis, it is helpful to think about it in two phases.

The 'Foxification' of Australian politics

Phase one, which is what Uhlmann was referring to, is the coverage of national politics over the life of the Turnbull government.

There is overwhelming evidence that the News Corp newspapers, Sky News and the 2GB shock-jocks have given encouragement, legitimacy and a megaphone to the most reactionary elements in the Liberal and National parties.

This coverage has been characterised by climate-change denial, the prominence given to racist sentiments such as Andrew Bolt's recent assertions that Australia was disintegrating into tribes, and alarmist warnings about immigration, typified by references to African gangs.

These all play to the audiences of the conservative element of the Liberal Party whose figurehead has been the government's destabiliser-in-chief, Tony Abbott, and whose frontbench champion has been Peter Dutton.

Sky News, in its night-time panels, is dominated by people promoting extreme views. Earlier this month, it went so far as to invite a neo-Nazi on air, only to apologize when the heat came on the next day.

Also in its evening line-up is Abbott's former chief of staff, Peta Credlin, who has used her program to promote Abbott's brand of reactionary politics and attack Turnbull, especially over energy policy.

On 2GB, meanwhile, the likes of Alan Jones and Ray Hadley have given the Abbott camp not just free kicks - Hadley has Abbott on his show regularly - but have created an on-air culture where outrage is encouraged.

Even this week, in covering the political crisis, Jones referred to key Turnbull backer, Mathias Cormann, as a "nigger in the woodpile", a highly offensive, racist term of abuse. He later apologised for the word, but it's not the first time he's used it.

All this amounts to a Foxification of Australian politics.

It follows the template devised by Murdoch and his late lieutenant, Roger Ailes, in creating a highly partisan television channel, Fox News, which has prosecuted a similar ideological agenda to what the extreme right stands for in Australia.

Fox used to promote itself as "fair and balanced", as gross an example of perverted meaning as anything Donald Trump has devised.

So much for phase one of the media's coverage of the Turnbull government.

Responsible, up-to-the-minute coverage

Phase two is the coverage of the crisis that has unfolded this week.

In this, the professional mass media have, for the most part, provided a sustained, informative and reliable coverage of the kind that the public is entitled to expect.

The fast-moving developments have been relayed swiftly - often in real time - thanks to the speed and on-the-spot access to events that digital technology provides.

The stories are piled up in chronological sequence: not just the basic facts but context, explanation and insights into background events, such as the lead-up to Scott Morrison's decision to stand for party leader if there is a spill.

There is also minute-by-minute Twitter coverage of the uproar and circus in parliament.

So much is happening that for a blessed moment the media are focusing on reporting rather than fighting among themselves.

Denis Muller, Center for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

[Filed from MUMBAI] August 18, 2018 | Former SAS Soldier, Ben Roberts-Smith, Now a Core Focus of Military Inquiries into "Misconduct" and Possible "War Crimes" in Afghanistan

What started as indirect allegations of possible human rights violations and war crimes in Afghanistan, by the Australian SAS, has exploded [no pun intended] into what appears to be direct allegations focusing on one of Australia's most recognized SAS soldiers, Ben Roberts-Smith.

The extensive, exhaustive and extremely in-depth investigation published by Fairfax Media was compiled over a period extending more than one year, which included research and interviews with government officials, military veterans and people which Fairfax simply describes as having "knowledge of Roberts-Smith's personal conduct".

The report uncovers details that appear to have merit and can be validated by several sources. Freedom Publishers Union has also learned that Roberts-Smith has launched legal action against Fairfax Media following the publication. While some unspecified elements of the legal action were knocked back without serious consideration, we are led to believe that some still remain outstanding and unresolved.

The report claims that Roberts-Smith was a bully and regularly used his large physical structure to engage in intimidation of his younger and smaller colleagues. It is said that Roberts-Smith bullied younger and less experienced soldiers, supposedly under his command. Accusations extend from bullying during training and also while carrying out operations on the battlefield. Accusations also lay claim that Roberts-Smith was involved in teams that are suspected of carrying out abuse of unarmed civilians by using what is described as "force that goes well beyond what is acceptable in the theater of war". This would suggest that Roberts-Smith had direct knowledge of human rights violations as a result of SAS operations in Afghanistan - violations which could amount to war crimes.

Ben Roberts-Smith remains one of Australia's most recognized and celebrated SAS soldiers, often described as a respectable member of the Australian business community, an advocate for mental health and more notably, a recipient of the prestigious Victoria Cross (VC). If the accusations presented in the Fairfax Media investigation are proven to be correct, then it would raise serious questions of how much scrutiny, present and former, military soldiers are placed under prior to receiving such prestigious recognition for their actions in the battlefield. It is suggestive that there is no scrutiny. We ask, how can the Australian Government award such a distinct and respected award like the VC to a [former] soldier which has so many accusations placed against him and so many unanswered questions that remain present? These are questions that must be answered and have legitimacy to their substance.

Freedom Publishers Union has brought forward to the attention of our readers the culture of absolute secrecy which seems enshrined deep into the brotherhood of the SAS. The SAS have admitted they operate under secrecy. It is that secrecy which is enabling the possibility of breaching the rules of engagement and violating human rights of foreign civilians in a war zone which could amount to war crimes.

Roberts-Smith is already under investigation for possible "misconduct" in Afghanistan as part of the ongoing inquiry which is currently being carried out by Army Reserve officer, Paul Brereton. The stories of the accusations placed against the SAS and specifically, Roberts-Smith, can be verified through multiple corresponding versions by former and current serving SAS members. While this may not be enough confirmation or verification to pursue any form of legal action, Freedom Publishers Union believes that enough information has been uncovered and the allegations are serious enough to justify the latest inquiry.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the latest inquiry will be headed by David Irvine, a former member of the intelligence community through ASIO. The latest inquiry will focus on the possibility of war crimes being committed by SAS soldiers in Afghanistan and is the third special forces inquiry in just two years.

Freedom Publishers Union commends what has resulted in the establishment of the latest inquiry.

We remain very disappointed that the previous inquiries have not been made public and remain sealed under secrecy. We urge much better transparency for the latest inquiry, but remain not very confident that the latest inquiry will be wrapped with any less secrecy than the aforementioned inquiries.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Further reading 1: Beneath the Bravery of Our Most Decorated Soldier

Further reading 2: Embattled VC Winner Asks Attorney-General to Refer Fairfax Media to [Federal] Police

[Filed from REYKJAVÍK | International Media Group] August 11, 2018 | Unconfirmed Number of Civilians Killed in Yemen Attack, Indicative of a Saudi-led Massacre

It is now widely accepted by the political world for Yemen to be recognized as the world's worst ongoing humanitarian disaster, which unfortunately has no end in sight, nor does the war that is the cause of so much human pain and suffering.

Thursday this week, a school bus which was travelling through a marketplace in Yemen which had many children onboard was bombed. Saudi-led coalition forces claim that their military response was a reaction to a previous attack by Houthi rebels. The Saudi's claim their attack was targeting a legitimate military (yet unspecified) asset and maintain it was completely legal.

Nasser Arrabyee, a Yemen journalist currently in Sanaa, said there were no Houthi fighters in the vicinity of the market where the attack was carried out. Arrabyee also claims that the area is well known to be a marketplace and equally well known for having no military installations. He directly accuses the Saudi's of regularly targeting schools, weddings, markets and other innocent civilian targets. We can verify those claims, however we note that the claims have been echoed by Al Jazeera journalist, Mohammed Adow, who says, "The Saudi's tend to deny these kinds of actions which have sadly become all too common.". Others critical of the Saudi-led operations in Yemen have displayed the same concerns expressed by the journalists. Adow reminds us though, that it's not just the Saudi's failing to take responsibility for their actions. He says the Houthi's are also failing to acknowledge their own reckless military actions too - making it a balanced argument.

Despite the claims by the Saudi's that their target was legitimate, it remains unclear what exactly that target was or how it resulted in the deaths of more civilians.

The exact numbers of confirmed dead remain unverified at present due to limited resources on the ground. Quality Publishing Works' sources have been able to determine the most likely probable number of deaths, according to available information which has been made public, is 50 civilians killed. This same number is also reported by Turkish news outlet TRT World. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reports that 29 of the casualties are children at the age of 15 or below.

Unverified details released from the Yemen television network, Al Masirah TV, suggest 39 people were killed and 51 wounded. While it remains no more specific about how many killed or wounded were children, it did report initially that many were children.

According to details reported by CNN, the Houti-controlled Health Ministry is claiming that 50 people were killed and 77 wounded. These numbers are slightly inflated compared to figures provided by more reputable sources. These numbers remain unverified by Quality Publishing Works.

CNN also reports that Saudi-state media has acknowledged the incident, but states that according to their figures, only 1 person was killed.

On those killed, CNN makes reference to the numbers provided by ICRC. Al Jazeera also reports the same figure, but falls short of revealing combined numbers for those killed and wounded.

In a report from the Israeli news outlet, Haaretz, Abdul-Ghani Nyeb, who is the Head of the Health Department in Saada, reportedly told Reuters that updated numbers had increased the death toll to 43, with 61 wounded. More alarmingly, he claims that most of the children that were killed were under the age of 10. If confirmed, this would be a significant reduction from the previous reports by ICRC, that children were age 15 and below. However, he did not reveal how many children were included in the updated death toll. Quality Publishing Works could not verify the updated numbers.

SBS News reported numbers of those killed and wounded which also reflect those of CNN and Al Jazeera. The Council Body of Research and Study declared to Quality Publishing Works that this is suggestive that these numbers are most probable to be the most accurate at the time we go to press.

Following the attack, the United Nations (UN) called for an immediate investigation into the incident.

The United States of America (US) and other Western nations provide military equipment, arms and intelligence assistance to Saudi Arabia. While the Saudi-led coalition claim to have a functioning committee which investigates military incidents which result in mass casualties (including civilian casualties), all indications suggest that the committee has mostly cleared the Saudi's of any blame from the incidents it has previously investigated. Admittedly, we have no documentative evidence to confirm our conclusion. But we see no obvious indication that the committee will hold the Saudi Government/Military to account for this attack.

There was some initial confusion surrounding the official responses provided by The White House and US State Department. The National Security Council referred to the incident by claiming there was "conflicting reports in global media". While the State Department was busy claiming to have urged the Saudi-led coalition to "conduct a thorough and transparent investigation". When questioned on why there was differing views on the incident between the departments, it was claimed by the State Department that there was no differing views and that they shared the same view. We believe their responses to be open to interpretation.

Russian news outlet, Russia Today (RT), took the opportunity to accuse Western nations of ignoring the severity of the humanitarian disaster which has unfolded in Yemen over the course of the war since it started in 2015. RT has claimed that the US and the UK prioritize their support for the war in Syria, as they have extremely lucrative weapons business interests with supplying arms to Saudi Arabia. These weapons supplied by the US and the UK are used to boost the military capabilities of Saudi Arabia in its war in Yemen and effectively allows it to continue. While the war in Yemen continues, so does the arms trade which is sure to work in favor of the US in terms in military economics, at the expense of disposing human life for political gain.

US military support to Saudi Arabia has been verified and has been well documented. However, Quality Publishing Works could not verify the claims made by RT that the UK also supports the Saudi operation through military equipment support or trade. But the claims by RT do echo similar reports by The Guardian published several months earlier, which also claimed the UK supports the Saudi's in addition to support provided from France, Spain and Italy.

Quality Publishing Works is extremely concerned, as is the entire world, of the duration of the war in Yemen. To the outside world, it appears no progress has been made and it can not be entirely sure of what progress is being sought. Too many civilians are being killed in a war that does not appear to have an end goal, along with no side willing to take responsibility for the civilians that are continuously getting caught up in reckless and irresponsible military operations.

Rockets are still being launched, bombs continue to drop and the air strikes are set to continue.

Quality Publishing Works continues to urge all fighting parties to seek avenues to an immediate cease fire, commence peace talks under the advice and cooperation of the UN with a view to finally draw the war in Yemen to a close and stop the killing of innocent civilians - men, woman and children. The world deserves better.

As we go to press with this story, we learn of early unconfirmed reports which indicate more attacks involving civilian casualties have occurred. It is likely as a result of military operations in Idlib and Aleppo (Syria), allegedly from air strikes from Syria and Russian forces. More precise details remain unavailable at this time.

Quality Publishing Works - International Media Group - Reykjavík Press

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] August 8, 2018 | [1] Alex Jones and Infowars Social Media Bans Fuel Wider Debate Over Free Speech

Freedom Publishers Union has learned that some of world's biggest technology companies have banned from their platforms, broadcaster Alex Jones. Some content produced from his website, Infowars, has also been subjected to the ban.

Alex Jones is a controversial broadcaster and his news website is largely considered conspiracy theory, rather than respected journalism. This is very much reflected in the ratings illustrated by the MEDIA BIAS/FACT CHECK website which rates Infowars as "Conspiracy-Pseudoscience". At the time of going to press, the Conspiracy Level for Infowars remains at the highest rating of "Tin Foil Hat". The Pseudoscience Level remains at second highest rating of "Strong". And the Factual Reporting rating sits at "Very Low".

Irrespective of all negative ratings, community opinion or perception, Alex Jones and Infowars shares the same (US) First Amendment guarantee to freedom of speech as others enjoy. Since its founding in 1999, Infowars have consistently been accused of spreading misleading and false information. Recently, some of the information (unspecified by Freedom Publishers Union) and views expressed from Alex Jones have been claimed to be an attempt to create civil unrest and incite community anger through spreading what some claim to be purely hate speech. It is stated on this basis, that Silicon Valley has banned Alex Jones and Infowars from their platforms.

At the time of going to press, Freedom Publishers Union can verify that Facebook, YouTube, Apple and Spotify have all taken various degrees of action to ban Alex Jones from using their services to spread his information. So far, Twitter has not taken any action against Alex Jones' account and he retains control over his active verified account.

Twitter has previously demonstrated strange and unpredictable behavior by taking action on accounts for reasons that are contradictory to its claims of platform policy, with often confusing responses being provided as to why accounts are suspended. Taking action on Twitter accounts appears to be very selective and not driven by any kind of platform policy. It is common to see accounts suspended and then reinstated, without justification for the original suspension being provided. [2] In an article published on CNBC on August 6, Twitter stated that no action will be taken against the accounts of Alex Jones or Infowars as the accounts do not violate the company's policies. Then just today, the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, acknowledged in an article published again to CNBC, that the company has "been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past" and urges that they are working to make improvements in this area.

On the bans, Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars said that it sets "a chilling precedent for free speech.". [3] Freedom Publishers Union disagrees with the summary expressed from Watson as his comments are suggestive that the action taken against them from selected social media platforms are a form of censorship. This is not true censorship. It is actually an implementation of editorial bias, which demonstrates that the social media platforms can (and most likely do) have a tendency to influence the direction of the content on their platforms. Infowars is only excluded from selected social media platforms. Not all of them. The Infowars website is still very much accessible on the visible and open internet. Rather than being a harbinger of censorship, the Infowars conflict demonstrates the true meaning of free speech. Editorial bias is the expression of specific opinions and filtering of information to support a political or social agenda. It is also a key part of free speech, as a way of establishing context for interpreting information. Infowars has a specific bias and filter for presenting information, as do newspapers, television and most social media. Editorial bias is as much a part of free speech as the words themselves and needs preservation as much as reporting and opinion do.

In the US, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech. This is not subject to qualified freedom. Any speech is allowed to be stated. If that speech is considered harmful, damaging or offensive, then appropriate legal action may be taken against it. But free speech cannot be banned or censored until the specific instance causes that harm. Exercising free speech outside of an open forum - on private services such as social media, printed in a newspaper or presented on television program - is left to the discretion of the owners of the service. Unless the property is a guaranteed open forum which enables any form of speech, the owners have every right to control the content allowed, on what can be effectively considered their property. The internet backbone, as a common carrier, is prohibited from discriminating against any communication so long as it causes no direct harm. Any internet content or activity considered illegal or harmful must be prevented in the location of the origin of the activity. Therefore, the laws of the location of the data and server determine the legal action that can be taken.

In summary, Alex Jones' content can be banned on private servers of social media services, as these are not considered common carrier utilities and are under no obligation to provide open access. However, the Infowars website cannot be blocked in the US, as this would violate the First Amendment.

Despite reservations expressed internally from Freedom Publishers Union, it was agreed that just as the American Civil Liberties Union defends Nazi's rights to free speech, Freedom Publishers Union must also defend the rights of the voices that we may disagree with. We feel it is very important to have open access to public media and we equally feel Freedom Publishers Union has an ethical and moral responsibility to protect it. If we do not, we could be faced with only a short slide from freedom-to-censorship. Once one topic of expression and discussion is banned, it opens up the potential for any topic to also be banned arbitrarily. We fear that in our journey in the defence of freedom and the pursuit of fairness and justice on arbitrary restrictions to prevent perceived unacceptable ideas, a 'controlling body' may be established. From that, it is only semantics that will separate banned ideas from approved ideas. Those running this 'controlling body' will be the ones deciding on what is socially acceptable and what is not. Ultimately, it is the establishment of such a system that we must defend against, no matter how hateful or distressing a message might be to us.

Finally, it's very important to understand that Alex Jones' claim of blanket censorship is incorrect. Being banned by social media is not censorship in the same way we think about censorship applied against Chinese or Russian news. The ban placed upon Alex Jones and Infowars is literally reflective of the editorial policy of those services, which is legal and defendable. If Infowars is blocked by internet service providers' firewalls or removed from DNS servers, then that would be censorship. The clarification surrounding the difference between "banned" and "censored" should be clear and applied.

As advocates of true free speech, Freedom Publishers Union must ensure that public networks provide carriage to all content, while only placing limits or blocking to networks that are causing technical or security problems and not because of the content or the message it contains. Even if we personally or collectively feel that a site is spreading hatred or outright offends us to any degree, we must still fight to defend their rights to use the public networks, as anything less is censorship.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

Notes on amendments:

[1] The title of the article has been amended from the original, to better clarify the main point of the editorial.

[2] The original article claimed that Twitter had failed to provide any indication that Twitter would or would not suspend the accounts of Alex Jones or Infowars. This was incorrect and brought to our attention after the article had gone to press. The article has been amended to reflect the correct information that was provided by Twitter, as early as August 6, 2018. Our apologies for this oversight.

[3] The original article stated that we agreed with the initial views expressed from Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars, that the bans placed on Alex Jones and Infowars set "a chilling precedent for free speech.". This was incorrect and not a true reflection on our position. Instead, we aim to make the stronger point that the social media bans are actually an implementation of editorial bias. The article has been amended to make this clarification.

[Filed from MUMBAI] August 4, 2018 | Peter Dutton and Australia's Immigration Program Continues to Violate Human Rights and Still Detain Children on Nauru

Freedom Publishers Union have been long-term outspoken public opponents of Australia's abusive and unjust offshore immigration program which detains asylum seekers and refugees in offshore centers isolated on the remote locations of Nauru and Manus Island. The Australian Government operates the facilities under the deceiving official titles of "Processing Centers", in effort to disguise their true operations and purpose - detaining asylum seekers and refugees that arrive illegally on its borders.

The centers continue to operate in secrecy, continue to block media access and continue to violate even the most basic of human rights of those detained.

The immigration policy of Australia has again been re-exposed to public scrutiny, along with raising a large question mark over the decisions and actions of the controversial Head of the Department of Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, who has more political power and responsibility than any other Minister in the Liberal Party Cabinet.

Mr. Dutton has constantly been criticized for his hard-line, uncompromising approach and unmoved opposition to immigration. On Thursday, an Australian Federal Court judge ordered that Mr. Dutton reverse his prior decision and transfer a seriously ill young female from Nauru to mainland Australia. Although no specific location was specified, it is understood that she is now in Sydney with family and receiving medical treatment.

The medical details surrounding her situation are detailed inside public Federal Court documents, which have been accessed by Freedom Publishers Union. It is documented the female has engaged in self-harm, suffers severe psychiatric failures and is in a constant severe depressive state. Although it is not specified explicitly in the documents we had access to, there is absolutely no room for doubt to conclude that her severely depleted medical state is the result from extended detention on Nauru.

Mr. Dutton rejected the original request for the female to be transferred off the remote nation of Nauru so that appropriate medical treatment could be sought. Instead, he attempted to claim that the her condition failed to qualify as the required evidence of proof of her alleged serious medical condition. Mr. Dutton outright ignored the advice and reports from several medical personnel on Nauru which assessed the female's condition. Mr. Dutton's decision was rightly rejected by the Federal Court judge and he was ordered to allow for the transfer of the female to the mainland.

Mr. Dutton has engaged in multiple attempts, possibly up to 12 times, at blocking transfers of detainees - adults and children. However these attempts are consistently overruled by the Federal Court which force Mr. Dutton to reverse his decision.

Mr. Dutton's actions are placing detainee's health and lives at risk and stripping many of the detainees on the islands of their human rights.

Freedom Publishers Union reached out to a member of a major political party inside Australia. We were able to get the following comments from a person who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity. "It is very clear, and has been clear for a long time, Minister Dutton is giving absolutely no indication of attempting to manage the welfare of those detained in centers on Nauru and Manus Island. He never has had the welfare of them in his interest. What interest has been shown is not even close to the acceptable standard required under international law and he continues to initiate Australia's violation of human rights.".

Citing Federal Court documents, Freedom Publishers Union reveals that the female has been detained on Nauru since 2013, along with her Mother, two sisters and one brother. There are also some extended family which are also detained on Nauru. It is not specified how long her family members have been in detention for or how she and her family members arrived. However, it does specify that the female is classified as a "refugee", yet she still remains detained.

Reports from medical personnel on Nauru who assessed the female concluded that her declining medical condition was so severe that she should be transferred off Nauru within 24 hours (of one of the [undated] assessments) as there was no appropriate medical facility on Nauru that could see that she would receive the required treatment. It is unknown and not specified in the court documents accessed by Freedom Publishers Union when this assessment was made. Furthermore, it remains unclear of just how much time had passed since the assessment and the recommendation was made to the time the female was actually transferred off the island. Despite attempts, Freedom Publishers Union has been unable to confirm this information.

Despite repeated claims made from the Liberal Government of Australia and its immigration department that no children are detained inside the centers, this case proves contradictory to these claims. For legal reasons the female's age is not revealed. This is suggestive that the female is a minor and qualifies as a child.

It remains extremely concerning that mainstream media has not been able to make this determination that children are still being detained on the center. In this specific case, she has been detained since 2013 - 5 years to date.

Freedom Publishers Union continues to advocate that Australia immediately shut down its offshore immigration detention program and proceed, without any unnecessary delay, to develop a local program which sees processing of those seeking asylum, on the mainland.

Additionally, we stress that this must be accompanied by appropriate operations transparency and media access rights to the center. Furthermore, an independent oversight body must be established to ensure that Australia upholds its obligations for human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights charter, to which Australia is a signatory to.

At the moment, Australia is engaging in continued human rights abuse with both the Liberal and Labor Parties supporting the nation's abusive immigration regime which strips these humans of their basic rights, dignity and access to suitable medical facilities.

It is only through a complete reformed immigration policy that Australia can begin to restore its reputation on the international stage for treating asylum seekers as humans, upholding their natural rights and setting an example to other nations that also engage in continued human rights abuse. Because at the moment, Australia's international reputation in this area is absolutely shattered.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

August 3, 2018 | Why Australia Needs its Own Torture Report

Recent reports on Britain's complicity in torture of detainees by the US during the "war on terror" were alarming. Even more alarming is that no questions have been asked about whether Australia should launch an independent inquiry into what our government knew about the torture committed by our main security ally, the US.

The 1984 UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is the main convention that prohibits torture under international law. No nation is ever permitted to use torture or support the torture used by others.

Despite this global ban, torture is still used by states around the world to inflict physical or mental pain and suffering on individuals. It is often used to gain information and confessions and to intimidate and punish individuals.

Australia has a legal and moral obligation to prevent torture. Without an independent Iraq torture investigation, however, questions will remain over what Australia knew, and how it responded to the abuse of detainees by the US.

The UK torture report

On June 28, the UK Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) handed down two damning reports outlining Britain's complicity in the US' torture of detainees during the "war on terror".

The reports found UK intelligence officers knew about the ill-treatment of detainees by foreign agencies. It also found that Britain supported, or failed to prevent, the rendition of detainees to countries known to use torture and said the UK's policies on detainee treatment overseas needed to be reformed so the country does not become complicit in torture again.

These reports received significant media attention in the UK. The reports are currently being examined by Scotland Yard to determine whether a police investigation should be launched, and have led to calls for a further independent inquiry into the UK's complicity in torture.

Australia's knowledge of US torture

Although investigations have been carried out into Australia's knowledge of and role in the US torture program, they have been inadequate and leave many questions unanswered.

In 2004, the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee investigated what the Australian Defence Force and Australian government knew about the mistreatment of prisoners being held by the US in Iraq.

Completed in 2005, the report found no Australians were involved in the abuse or ill-treatment of detainees. However, it said better communication was needed within the Australian Defence Force on Australia's obligations towards Iraqi detainees. It also noted that investigators did not have access to key personnel or information to provide an overall picture of Australia's knowledge of detainee abuse in Iraq.

The shortcomings of this report soon became clear. In 2013, the Public Interest and Advocacy Centre got hold of internal government documents and wrote reports that showed the Australian Government knew much more about prisoner torture and mistreatment than it was letting on.

In some cases, Australia failed to abide by the Geneva Conventions and did not raise issues of prisoner treatment with the US. In one case, an Australian military lawyer did not take seriously an International Committee of the Red Cross report that showed evidence of detainee abuse by US personnel in Iraq.

It is not only the Australian Defence Force that has questions to answer, but also Australia's foreign affairs and intelligence agencies.

For example, there is evidence that Australian intelligence agencies knew about the "extraordinary rendition" of Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib by the US.

Habib was detained and questioned in Pakistan by Pakistani and Australian officials in 2001. He was then handed over to the US who sent him to Egypt. There, Habib was allegedly subjected to beatings, electric torture and water torture.

In a Four Corners investigation into Habib's rendition, a former CIA official involved in "extraordinary renditions", Michael Scheuer, said, "It would seem to me very unlikely given the close relationship between us and the Australians that they would not have been informed [about Habib's rendition]".

A 2011 investigation by the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security found that no Australian official was complicit in Habib's ill-treatment. However, the Inspector General criticised Australian officials for not properly following up on Habib's welfare and for not strongly protesting Habib's transfer to Egypt.

The need for an Australian torture report

Australia's previous investigations failed to get to the bottom of what Australian defence and intelligence agencies knew about US torture.

Torture is absolutely prohibited under international law. Australia cannot engage in torture or be complicit in the torture of others. Yet, it remains unclear if Australia's current policies against torture are working or whether Australia has been complicit in torture since the "war on terror" began.

This is concerning because Australia works with countries known to use torture, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Philippines. If poor safeguards against torture are in place, it could expose the risk of Australian officials being complicit in torture. It would also undermine Australia's legal and moral obligations to prevent torture.

As a liberal democracy, Australia must embody the values of accountability and respect for human dignity, and follow the example of its allies, such as Britain and Canada, and produce its own torture report.

The Inspector General's report also did not explore an aspect of Habib's account, supported by an Egyptian official, that an Australian named "George" was present during Habib's torture in Egypt, leaving unanswered questions about the exact role Australia played in his "extraordinary rendition".

Jamal Barnes, Centre for Global Issues, Edith Cowan University

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

[Filed from REYKJAVÍK | International Media Group] July 30, 2018 | CIA, Torture, Denial and "The Panetta Review"

Leon Panetta was the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, more commonly known as the CIA, for the duration of February 13, 2009 through until June 30, 2011.

At the time he was appointed Director by then President Barack Obama, there was expressions of concern over Panetta's lack of experience in the field of intelligence. The only noted experience was two years in limited intelligence as a military officer in the 1960s.

Some inside the US political scene at the time argued it was Panetta's lack of intelligence experience, especially with the CIA, which made him a good candidate for the role. Others continued to oppose. Despite some reservations and conflict, Panetta was confirmed the appointment on February 12, 2009, by the Senate and sworn in one week later, on February 19.

During the tenure of Panetta's appointment inside the CIA, he authorized a secret internal review of the agency's role in the torture of suspected terrorist detainees, during the George W. Bush administration.

Torture, disguised under the official legislative term of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques".

Following the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks of 9/11, George W. Bush launched a massive campaign like the US had never seen and one which would change the world's perception of terrorism and bring on the generational media buzz term of the "War on Terror". The media, especially those inside the US, grabbed hold of the buzz term and exploited it to maximum commercial effect.

In 2018, the world's media are still attempting to force the "War on Terror" facade in our faces at every opportunity. However, it now has much less effect than what it did in the early to mid 2000s when the visual images of passenger airliners flying into the WTC towers was still fresh in people's minds.

There was lots of controversy surrounding the politics and reaction by the Bush administration, following the 9/11 attacks. Controversy which is completely justified by questions that still remain unanswered to this day. But we understand one definitive event that did occur - the torture of suspected terrorists being detained at Guantanamo Bay between 2001-2006.

It was not until 2006 that Bush publicly admitted that the CIA had been using secret prisons, known as "Black Sites" to detain suspected terrorists prior to being transferred to Guantanamo Bay. It is now understood that Bush had ordered the directive which permitted the CIA to detain and secretly interrogate detainees at these secret black sites and permitting them to use the new Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.

Quality Publishing Works understands through research provided to us by the Council Body of Research and Study, that nine CIA black sites existed. It is unclear how many still secretly exist today and remain under the control of the CIA. It is also understood from documents shown to us by the Council Body of Research and Study that President Donald Trump is in the process of reviewing and drafting an Executive Order that could see the reinstatement of secret CIA black sites and some form of extreme interrogation processes, by the CIA. This, combined with the appointment of new CIA Director, Gina Haspel, who was Chief of Base for a CIA black site located in Thailand, is a cause for extreme concern that a Trump administration may be returning the CIA to the dark torturous era of the Bush administration.

Precise and accurate details are difficult to verify of just how much knowledge or involvement Haspel played in the operations of black site she was Chief. The Thailand located black site is where the suspected al Qaeda terrorists Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah were detained and tortured, using the enhanced interrogation techniques. US Officials claim that Haspel did not become Chief of the site until after Zubaydah was tortured.

Haspel also played a limited role in the destruction of CIA interrogation videos that were reported to have footage that demonstrated the enhanced interrogation methods. A recent released (redacted) document aims to draw proof that Haspel was not held directly accountable for the destruction of the videos and her involvement of the videos destruction was limited.

Terror suspects were being detained at black sites in various secret locations around the world and operated under complete secrecy by the CIA with the knowledge of and by order of the Bush administration. Detainees were never put to any kind of military or legal trial or offered any avenue to prove their innocence. Instead, they were interrogated and tortured, which was shrouded under the term "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" in an effort to persuade critics that it was not torture and the CIA's means of interrogation were justifiable and legal. They were not.

It was confirmed by the release in December 2014 of what was to be referred to as "The Torture Report", officially titled "Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program", that these so-called "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" used were in fact regarded as torture.

The Report that was released to the public was scathing and raw. It painted an ugly picture of the handing of detainees and abuse of power of the CIA, under the direction of George W. Bush. Countless associates were also closely linked to being the architects of and having direct knowledge of the development of the enhanced interrogation program, including the Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Albeit, they were not the subject of The Torture Report. There was suspicion that the CIA was carrying out torture to some extent on terror suspects. The details presented in The Torture Report confirmed lots. But it was still hiding many more secrets. Secrets that remain hidden and classified today.

What was even more disturbing than the interrogation procedures outlined in the report, was the public version of the report that was eventually released took eight months to get approval for what was to be released as only a small portion of the final report. And the details that were included in this portion report still remained heavily redacted. To put it into perspective of just how selective The Torture Report that was released to the public is, it is compiled of just 525 pages. The complete and full report contains more than 6,000 pages. What remains hidden in the remaining five and a half thousand pages still remains classified.

Effectively, there is a lot of secrets in the final report that still remain secret and kept out of the public domain. Even those in Congress can not get access to the full report, which remains secretly held by the CIA. The raw details that were included in the version released to the public were disturbing and difficult to read, in detail. The final and full unredacted report we can only assume is absolutely shocking.

Quality Publishing Works has consistently supported calls for the public release of the full 6,000+ page report. However, four years after the release of the redacted version released to the public, we are still no closer to getting the final report released - redacted or unredacted.

Legal action has been launched and the release of the full report has been sought, notably by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), but to date all requests and attempts have been rejected.

During May 2016, it was revealed that CIA had destroyed an electronic copy of the full report, along with the hard disk that it resided. A claim that the CIA insists was "accidental". Due to the secrecy surrounding the full report, it remains unclear where the full report was/is held and how secure it remains from the CIA destroying its very existence in an effort to cover up the full details of the torture the agency carried out. The CIA appears afraid of the reaction shall the full details be revealed.

It would not be the first time that the agency has gone to extreme lengths to cover up its torture. The CIA had possession of the video footage of their interrogations in 2002 at the black site in Thailand, and most likely other black sites too. If leaked to the public, the videos would have provided further disturbing proof that the CIA did in fact torture detainees, despite the agency playing down the claims.

The CIA has been in a constant state of denial that their methods of information gathering is torture. Instead, they continue to believe that it was simply carrying out enhanced interrogation methods.

It has been confirmed inside details of a memo, provided to us by the Council Body of Research and Study, originally sent to the black site in Thailand by then CIA officer, Jose Rodriguez, that the videos depicting torture were destroyed on November 9, 2005. Interestingly, the names of the CIA lawyers who authorized the destruction were ommitted from the memo. It is considered normal practice to include lawyers names on such memos as a means of legal protection of the person making the order. In this case, it would appear no lawyers authorized the destruction of the videos.

It remains unclear how many videos in total contained footage of CIA torture as the numbers that have been made public are conflicting among media reports and cannot be verified accurately. But one thing is certain, the CIA went to extreme lengths to destroy the video evidence of its activities. Knowledge of the videos and their destruction only became public knowledge in December 2007, two years after the destruction order was given.

Combined with a long and ongoing campaign to call for the release of the full report, our publishing partners, Freedom Publishers Union, has also been calling for the release of all documents associated with "The Panetta Review".

The Panetta Review was a secret internal review that was conducted by Leon Panetta. The dates surrounding when the review was carried out remain vague and again, cannot be accurately verified.

It was reported that Panetta ordered the review with the aim of finding out how they ethics of the CIA officers was broken and how they could be brought into line. The review was never released to the public and to date, also remains classified.

The very existence of The Panetta Review was made public by Senator Mark Udall, on December 17, 2013. Udall claims to have accessed and viewed portions of The Panetta Review and its details provide consistency with those detailed in The Torture Report which was released by the Intelligence Committee. However, the Intelligence Committee's report was in conflict with the CIA's official response.

It is long believed that the conclusive and matching findings of The Panetta Review and Intelligence Committee's The Torture Report are in direct conflict with the official response by the CIA, suggesting this is the reason that The Panetta Review was never released and possibly even suspended before it was completed. If The Panetta Review was shut down before completion because its final findings were deemed to be contradictory to the CIA's official response given to the public, then that equates to an internal cover-up by Leon Panetta.

It was claimed by the CIA that the Intelligence Committee had accessed and taken portions of The Panetta Review from CIA facilities, without the authorization of the agency. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was Chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, confirmed that the Committee had accessed and obtained portions of The Panetta Review. She claimed that they were transferred to a secure safe, reportedly inside the Senate's Hart Office Building. Feinstein maintains that the actions they took were absolutely required to protect the documents from potential destruction by the CIA, which had already previously destroyed evidence of torture through the destruction of the black site videos, under the direction of Jose Rodriguez.

The dispute over access to The Panetta Review continued when Feinstein accused the CIA of unlawfully accessing the computer systems of the Intelligence Committee, in what is believed to be in an attempt to discover how the Committee got access to the documents of The Panetta Review in the first place. It was also requested by the acting general council of the CIA, that the FBI launch an investigation into the actions of the Intelligence Committee. There is no confirmation that any investigation actually took place by the FBI. It was identified later on that the acting general council for the CIA was Robert Eatinger. Interestingly, Eatinger was also later confirmed as one of the lawyers that authorized the destruction of the CIA torture videos, but who's name was omitted from the memo.

The entire saga even grabbed the attention of former NSA Contractor turned mass-surveillance whistleblower, Edward Snowden. He claimed that it was obvious that the FBI was playing a game of "keep away" from The Panetta Review. However, Snowden's position on the matter appears neutral when he extended his observations to Feinstein's behavior and stated her hypocrisy when complaints were made of CIA spying on the Intelligence Committee, when Feinstein is supporting the global mass-surveillance networks primary led by the NSA.

Everything appeared to come to a screaming halt in the month of July 2014 when the Justice Department confirmed it would not pursue legal action against the CIA for its hacking into the Intelligence Committee's computer system. The actual hacking was confirmed by the CIA in the same month. A claim that it had previously denied up until that time.

In December 2014, Senator Udall continued his pursuit for the release of The Panetta Review. He continued to denounce the torture program of the former Bush administration and also criticized the Obama administration on its actions that were effectively protecting the CIA of its past activities.

Udall declared The Panetta Review to be "a smoking gun". He directly the accused the CIA of lying by saying, "One disturbing finding," is "the CIA are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture. In other words, the CIA is lying.".

In what appears to be the most revealing details of just what is inside The Panetta Review, Udall says, "The Panetta Review found that the CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Congress, the President and the public on the efficacy of its coercive techniques.". Furthermore, the CIA "continues to insist the CIA's interrogations produced unique intelligence to save lives, yet The Panetta Review identifies dozens of documents that include inaccurate information used to justify the use of torture and indicates that the inaccuracies it identifies do not represent an exhaustive list. The Panetta Review further describes how detainees provided intelligence prior to the use of torture against them. It describes how the CIA, contrary to its own representations, often tortured detainees before trying an other approach. It describes how the CIA tortured detainees even when less coercive methods were yielding intelligence. The Panetta Review further identified cases in which the CIA used coercive techniques when it had no basis for determining whether a detainee had critical intelligence at all. In other words, CIA personnel tortured detainees to confirm they didn't have intelligence, not because they thought they did.".

Senator Udall was defeated in the election that followed this speech.

The revelations by Udall were scathing and confirmed that the interest and motivation to have The Panetta Review released to the public, should remain a priority.

As late as January 2018, Investigative Reporter, Joshua Eaton from ThinkProgress, received access to a small set of emails. The email set which also included a legal declaration from the Chief of the Litigation Support Unit of the CIA, Martha M. Lutz. The emails which have also been viewed by the Council Body of Research and Study and relevant details provided to Quality Publishing Works, include a letter sent to the President of the United States at the time, Barack Obama. In the letter, Senator Udall states his reasons for the request to have The Panetta Review released. Udall argues that its release was crucial to understanding the accuracy of the torture details in their entirety. From learning from the details, Udall says future decisions on policy can be developed to ensure that this kind of unacceptable behavior from the CIA is never repeated again from any US administration. He also presses the President to ensure the CIA complies with any requests made to have The Panetta Review shared with the Committee and to declassify The Torture Report and release the entire full report, in redacted form if necessary.

In follow up emails, it becomes clear that the CIA Director at the time, John Brennan, had no intention of releasing any information, details or documents related to any internal review of the enhanced interrogation program - The Panetta Review. Brennan argues that the material that make up the internal review were incomplete and are made up of a series of drafts that still required heavy editing.

In the declaration by Martha M. Lutz, there is better clarification made as to the official legal position and reasoning of why The Panetta Review has not been released. The declaration also makes it clear that the CIA never has any intention of ever releasing the material, which they again argue remains nothing more than a set of incomplete drafts that do not provide any further relevant details necessary to be released. Instead, the declaration makes it clear of the intended continuation of secrecy surrounding the CIA's operations and attempts to justify their necessity of operating in complete secrecy.

Lutz also claims that the "documents remain in draft form, were never completed, and were not presented as final products to the Director or other senior CIA leaders". In an attempt to stop any further enquiries into a potential release of The Panetta Review, Lutz's claims somewhat echo that of Brennan, stating that the internal review was suspended and no documents beyond the drafts were produced. Lutz claims in the declaration that it was determined that continuing with the internal review might complicate any Department of Justice investigation. This alone is a very interesting comment which appears to be overlooked, as no investigation even took place. Perhaps Lutz was exercising her sense of duty to continue the trend of diverting attention away from The Panetta Review.

One can not ignore the sense of urgency which can be determined from the tone of the language used by Senator Udall, at the time. After having partially viewed portions of The Panetta Review, he said "I will tell you that the review is much more than a 'summary' and 'incomplete drafts', which is the way Mr. Brennan and former CIA officials have characterized it in order to minimize its significance". Udall makes the bold statement, "I have reviewed this document, and it is as significant and relevant as it gets.".

Almost five years on from the public learning of the existence of The Panetta Review, the sense of urgency remains the same. The calls to have the review released are still active. Those who make the call have an equal sense of urgency and worry that some day, the CIA will 'conveniently' destroy The Panetta Review, along with the full complete version of The Torture Report which includes over 6,000 pages of details which are almost certainly guaranteed to scar the US Government, the Bush administration era and the CIA for many years to come.

Still, the longer the CIA denies, lies and hides from the issue of torture, the louder the calls for increased transparency become.

When asked if the CIA would place on the public record their response to claims that The Panetta Review contradicts the official public response given by CIA representatives and that is the reason it was never released, the CIA falls silent and refused to comment. Instead, they keep The Panetta Review locked away, barring all access by Congress and the public.

Former Senator Mark Udall may no longer be a Senator, but sources close to him state that his position on the matter has not changed and he still calls for the release of The Panetta Review.

Despite repeated claims from George W. Bush, former CIA Directors and Leon Panetta himself that the use of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" were crucial to extract valuable source information from detainees, on terrorists and potential future attacks, these claims have been proven to be wrong and documentative evidence has been produced as proof. Including revelations from the FBI and other sources that the crucial information that was received was not provided as a result of torture of the detainee. Instead, the crucial information was provided before torture techniques were initiated.

This is also confirmed in the opening pages of the Senate's report, under "Finding and Conclusions". The report concluded, "The Committee finds, based on a review of CIA interrogation records, that the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation.". Effectively, when accurate information was received it was "prior to, or without having been subjected to these techniques.". And, "Detainees provided fabricated information on critical intelligence issues, including the terrorist threats which the CIA identified as its highest priorities.". Crucially, the report found that "CIA officers regularly called into question whether the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were effective, assessing that the use of the techniques failed to elicit detainee cooperation or produce accurate intelligence.".

These key findings have consistently been disputed and rejected by CIA Directors and representatives, who still believe that their harsh techniques worked and were completely acceptable and legal.

The CIA is an agency in disgrace. They know it. It is this very reason that they continue to deny and fight so hard to keep their secrets in the dark, in effort to hide their illegal and disgraceful actions of torture at the hands of the former Bush administration.

Quality Publishing Works will continue to support the call for the release of the complete The Torture Report and The Panetta Review and will not be satisfied until all associated documents are placed in the public domain - in redacted form if necessary.

Quality Publishing Works - International Media Group - Reykjavík Press | Permission to republish | Donate

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] July 24, 2018 | USA and Australia. Russia and China - How Does Trump Deal With Such Complex and Problematic International Relations?

There is a problem with today's mainstream press - Regardless of the political persuasion, all of them want to report a controversy. Consequently, whatever President Donald Trump does, there is some part of the press that sees a controversy in the action and stops the story at that point. What they do not explore is the result of the action that Trump has taken. That result may actually be a positive change.

So far, the meeting with North Korea has produced real action in a sense that it has made the North approachable, which was the result actually needed before any other potential outcome could follow. It is now far too late to put the nuclear weapons genie back in its bottle. North Korea needed to be invaded and occupied the first time sanctions failed for any possibility of controlling the nation's nuclear weapons program. Instead, we saw the world toying around with the United Nations (UN) for two decades and now it's too late. Western countries have only focused on their needs, with the consequence of losing the third or fourth largest economy overnight. And that was the sword the Kim family held ever since the Korean War.

Trump, being a transactional negotiator, recognized that things weren't going back to the 1980s anymore. The best we could hope for is to draw a line under the past and move forward, bring the North into world trade, where the free market would end the Kim dynasty just as it ended Russia and China.

Now Trump is doing the same thing with 'the Soviet Union' - which is how most politicians in the US view Russia, even today. He sees them as a corrupt country that needs an autocrat to keep it from breaking apart further. He sees the Crimean invasion and subsequent actions in the context of Russia taking advantage of the lack of response and action from the rest of the world to look after its needs. Perhaps that might be over-reach. But the time to deal with it came and went before the UN could even hold a meeting, which probably would have resulted in nothing more than vague discussion leading to no results.

When events get ahead of responses, all leaders can realistically do is condemn the action and move on. This notion is widely accepted in politics as a legitimate response, but not with the public and most certainly not with the press. The Europeans certainly did that, because they need energy from Russia more than they need an embargo or a war on their borders with the very real potential to flow into their pride land. Besides, Russia is a country that really should be an ally. We share a lot of heritage in our people and they are another technology leader that can, if we get the political diplomacy right, help balance China with Europe. So Trump does the transactional act - skip over the bad behavior and go straight to a stand-up normalization of relations.

If Russia meddled in US elections, which the many substantive reports that have been released and published here on Freedom Publishers Union suggest they did, well, it's too late to act on it now. We need to move on. But we must also take the notion of Russian election meddling serious and ensure the right precautions are put in place for future elections to prevent foreign interference from any nation seeking to undermine American democracy.

Australia is taking action in this area by recently introducing legislation which aims to prevent foreign interference of its delicate democracy. However, there is much caution around the legislation. The NY Times says, "The new laws are similar to but more far-reaching than those passed in Britain and the United States after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They prioritize an approach favored by security officials and give great discretion to the Australian Attorney General, with limited checks and balances.". Freedom Publishers Union has also expressed concern over the legislation, focusing on the potential effects it may have on journalism, publishers and the free press. Whilst the legislation has been amended somewhat from the original draft, Freedom Publishers Union maintains the position that the changes do not go far enough. As pointed out, again by the NY Times, "Journalists accused of violating the restrictions on sharing government information can also now claim a "public interest" defense, arguing that the information they disclose has value for democracy.". However, it remains unclear as to how effective a "public interest" claim would be in a court of law. Especially in a hypothetical case where secret government information may have been published which embarrasses the government and exposes unethical (and most likely illegal) behavior. Journalists would explicitly deem this to be in the public's interest. But this may not be the view of the country's Attorney General which would undoubtedly act to initiate legal proceedings with a firm view to prosecute the journalist, publisher and their source(s). The balance is all wrong. The NY Times concludes by saying, "Beyond journalists and secrecy, though, the laws have few exceptions.".

Putting focus on a specific country, the Australian example of foreign interference laws are largely believed to be focusing on China. Although the text of the legislation does not specifically mention China, understandably. It has long been suspected that Australia has been the target of Chinese attempts to undermine its democracy. It is unclear whether it is these suspicions which prompted the legislation to be drafted. China is adamant that it has no intention and never had intention of interfering with Australia's political framework or democratic values. SBS News reports the Chinese Embassy in Australia as saying Australia is "exhibiting a Cold War mentality". And directly accused Australian media of "fabricating stories about Chinese Government influence".

The Australian example of its attempts of dealing with the potential for election interference by a foreign power are slightly contradictory to Australia's lazy attitude towards suspected Chinese interference, in a sense that no investigations or reports have been released (to the public) which investigate, analyze and assess for any Chinese interference. Freedom Publishers Union is unaware if any reports even exist. We do not believe so.

Although Australia's attempts at dealing with potential election interference should be commended, Freedom Publishers Union believes that the Australian Government have just got the complete wrong balance of the law. It attempts to do too much, is far too broad in its scope and introduces too many new laws for problems that do not exist. Instead, the law itself is the guilty party in creating problems. The Government claims that although the law could be used for prosecution of journalists and publishers, extending to their sources in some cases, it will not be used for that purpose. Well Freedom Publishers Union argues that if it has no intention of using the law for this purpose, then why was such a law introduced in the first place. Let's be blunt here - You do not introduce a law you have no intention of using. That is at the core of our concern and should act as a wakeup call for America.

So where does this leave the US Government and what are its options for taking precautionary measures to help eliminate the potential for Russian interference with its elections? Well, it could follow Australia's lead. But it must be extremely careful and must remain focused on the core problem of election meddling and not broaden the scope too far, which is the biggest mistake made by the Australians.

Despite what appears to be the majority public perception, President Donald Trump is not an idiot. What he sees is a manner of negotiation that, were real estate to use it, would never get a building constructed and occupied in under a century. People have been asking for decades why don't we just negotiate our international commitments the way we negotiate other contracts. Well, Trump has responded with a 'let's do it' mentality.

Speaking generally, Freedom Publishers Union disagrees with much of Trump's actions and statements. And perhaps his methods of governance could be described as unorthodox and unusual. Using Twitter as a main platform to communicate your message is definitely unusual for such a person holding arguably the most powerful position in the free world. But bringing diplomacy into the 21st century is definitely worth a try. After all, we aren't sending diplomatic correspondence back and forth from negotiations via sailing ships anymore. Realistically, a couple of emails, faxes and conference calls should be able to do what takes months of traditional face-to-face negotiation between nation's representatives. Unfortunately, it also eliminates about 50% of the State Department and reduces the Secretary of State from one of the most powerful politicians to simply a department head which resembles that of a loans manager in a financial institution. Given that the State is where the wealthy scions of America's richest and powerful families end up (the ones not running Wall Street), disrupting the careers of these politically connected diplomats is not something you do if you want their soft money and back-room dealing. Trump, coming from the 'working class' of business executives, isn't part of the 'old money elite', and doesn't need their support if he controls the mob in the streets of populism. That's why the he panders to the white, racist, blue-collar, ignorant masses. As long as he can win the electoral votes on the backs of these constituents, he isn't beholden to the old power brokers. Which effectively trades one form of corrupt leadership for another.

President Trump's seemingly bat-shit [sic] statements and ongoing stream of reversals on policy position are a tool for keeping everyone off balance in negotiations. When he starts out daring North Korea to start a nuclear war, he calls their bluff - at which point they will take the action that saves face and lets them act as though they're being humble and leading to an ultimate path to peace. Which is where Trump wants to be.

Give them the choice between certain death and a comfortable life and they'll take the life offer every time.

Of course, this strategy only works when the other party decides to act rational. If they decide to go to nuclear war, now you obviously have a very different problem. So far, President Donald Trump has won these challenges. However, the big kahoona [sic] is the trade war with China. The expectation is that China will negotiate a settlement rather than lose access to American trade. However, the numbers for the cost of the trade war are such that China may be able to wait America out, while building leadership in other areas of the world (Africa and South America). This could actually be a challenge that doesn't work out.

Is Trump crazy and mentally unstable? No. He's using shock and uncertainty to achieve the lesser goals, which were his target all along.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News | Permission to republish | Donate

[Filed from MUMBAI] July 22, 2018 | Unverified Reports Ecuador Ready to Hand Over Julian Assange to British Authorities

It is quickly becoming increasingly clear that the Editor of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has lost the support from the host country that has allowed him to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy, in London.

Assange sought and was granted political asylum by Ecuador and has remained detained to the Embassy by threat of immediate arrest by British authorities, since 2012.

In the past 24-48 hours, the world's media has begun to report that the Ecuadorian President is close to reaching an agreement (or perhaps has already reached an agreement) with the British Government to force Assange from the Embassy.

A forced removal, by physical means or a voluntary exit by Assange as a result of any agreement, would ultimately hand him to British authorities outside the premises.

The media reports are unverified at the time Freedom Publishers Union goes to press. We seek further validation of the facts and we seek clarification whether Assange or anyone from his legal team has been notified of any further details.

We rely on the story published by Glenn Greenwald through The Intercept, which he cites his anonymous source as someone with ties to the Embassy where Assange is effectively detained.

Also, Russian media outlet RT also make similar reports which reflect on the same noted facts as published by The Intercept. The Editor-in-Chief of RT claims her source says that Ecuador is ready to hand over Assange to British authorities within weeks, possibly days.

Weeks, days? As this is unverified developing news which is yet to be confirmed by anyone with official ties to the ongoing political stalemate, it is absolutely unclear how things will unfold when (and if) Ecuador does follow through with the reported claims and forcefully remove Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy.

It must be duly noted that in 2016 his detainment to the Embassy was validated as illegal by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Assange has never been charged with a crime.

Freedom Publishers Union has been at the absolute forefront of support for the wider cause of Julian Assange and his publishing organization, Wikileaks. Our support remains unchanged by these recent developments.

We continue to monitor the situation surrounding the latest, unverified, reports and will release information as we can validate the facts.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] July 16, 2018 | America Not Leading by Good Example. Should Australia Follow?

Chinese technology giant Huawei looks more likely to be facing a complete ban from contributing to the construction of Australia's national 5G network, for what the Government describes as "national security reasons".

The Australians claim they have serious security concerns, backed by their intelligence agencies, that Huawei will use their technology to collect network data and share it with the Chinese Government.

We must reflect back to a decade or so ago when America was 'bitch-slapped' for Cisco and other US suppliers leaving NSA backdoors in commercial switches, routers and other networking equipment. While it's difficult to plot the timeline of Cisco's history of NSA backdoors being planted into their equipment, nobody can ignore the fact that American equipment has been proven to be more susceptible to government-sponsored security compromises than Chinese equipment - based on evidence released to the public.

In America, there's growing concern towards Huawei too, with the FBI, CIA and NSA all accusing the company of spying on American citizens through its cell phones. The situation here in America is a mirror image of the Australia-Huawei situation. Raymond Wong from Mashable says, "If you're Huawei, you'd be upset" [at the spying allegations]. "Especially since there's been no evidence that Huawei's phones are really spying on anyone.". Wong reiterates on the concerns of lack of evidence against Huawei that Freedom Publishers Union has by stating, "that's really the issue here. There isn't any hard evidence at this time to back up any claims that Huawei phones are a threat to personal or national security. It's just a lot of smoke from Washington.". Smoke which now appears to be bellowing from Australia's shores too.

Wong takes another swipe, "Ironically, the only known hacking we know of that's closely related to Huawei wasn't done by the company or the Chinese Government, but by the NSA. In 2012, it was revealed the NSA had made a program called "Shotgiant" that created backdoors into Huawei-made networking equipment in order to monitor communications around the world and find ties between the Chinese company and China's People's Liberation Army.".

Freedom Publishers Union suggests that domestic-made networking equipment is no more secure than Chinese-made equipment. And the American [and Australian] intelligence agencies aren't doing the citizens any favors by placing backdoors into domestic-made devices. The evidence we do see is absolutely contradictory to the claims that Chinese networking equipment is not secure and is doing the spying.

The evidence is clear and no evidence has been presented that reverses the security trend.

Any decision made by the Australian Government that results in Chinese technology companies being banned because of any potential security risk(s) should be largely based on whether there is proof of spyware, backdoors and/or hardware inclusions that compromise network security. If there is evidence present, then sure, ban them. However, this should be accompanied by honesty with the Australian public from its intelligence sources who have the evidence. At the moment, all we see is political rhetoric which portrays as nothing more than a formed political opinion which is increasingly bias against China, rather than evidence based decision making.

This is also noted by communications construction business Transseed, who just last week point out, "Other countries such as the UK, New Zealand, Canada and Germany are also very wary about using Huawei equipment in their network infrastructure but have enacted stringent cyber-security checks to ensure there are no backdoors to the Chinese government. Australia has taken a different approach by opting for an outright ban despite the fact there has never been any public evidence to support the suspicions.".

If, on the other hand, the Chinese spying card is being played as a means to manipulate competition and spook the market interests into concluding that Chinese technology companies are the evil nemesis, then no, it's not a good idea to ban them.

Australia really needs to put its collective head together and decide if following America's lead remains a good idea. Australia should be a lot more concerned about pissing off China than America, right now. Given the current and foreseeable direction of American leadership and policy under President Donald Trump, as another nation [Australia] far from America, decisions should be made on the assumption that American support is going to either be greatly reduced, or the alliance is going to require expensive confrontation, with everyone on America's 'list'.

Australia is a great little country, with big borders. But it is little compared to the superpowers of the developed world. That isn't bad. It's simply reality. America is learning quickly that isolationism is going to make the USA quickly fall out from its global leadership role and probably end up like Britain - a shadow of its once glorious empire, still invited to participate with the 'big kids' out of respect, but with no meaningful or effective role.

Or, America could end up as the new North Korea - a political rogue nation and isolated home of a Dr. Evil and his 300,000,000 minions.

As the trade war escalates between America and China, with no finish line within view, it's worth looking at a similar scenario to see just why screwing with international trade relations for political gain doesn't generally have positive domestic outcomes. This latest trade war will not end well for America. We need to just take a look at Toyota - a company that is getting heavy tariffs for supposed national security reasons in America. This is having a direct impact on the 138,000 Americans that work in America directly for Toyota, in their factories and dealerships. Plus, another 100,000 or so Americans that work supporting the Toyota factories and the American companies that are suppliers to Toyota. Toyota has explicitly stated that "a 25 percent tariff on automobiles would increase the cost of every vehicle sold in the United States.". That is not good for Americans.

Then, to bigger problems for our nation.

In the past 60-90 days we've seen the United States of America crash through several of the last layers of protections to our democracy. We have insulted, then injured our closest allies, challenged the legitimacy of nearly every minority in America, effectively banned collective bargaining and set up the framework to become a single-party state in 2020.

This is the type of bloodless revolution Marx envisioned that would sweep America. Unfortunately, it is sweeping a fascist wave and dictatorship with strong religious intolerance into what once was the beacon of freedom for the world, all triggered by latent racism even worse than South Africa.

God have mercy on America!

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News | Permission to republish | Donate

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] June 28, 2018 | Better Education and Support Needed for Basic Minimum Income, Before Being Taken Serious

Freedom Publishers Union has referred to on more than one occasion, Basic Minimum Income (BMI) and how the government doesn't need taxes or banks to implement guaranteed money to everyone in the country. Indeed, it was suggested that during a 10 year phase-in period, taxes would gradually be eliminated as well as the government providing a consistently larger salary that gradually replaces pay for work on a dollar-for-dollar basis, if the employer wants to reduce wages by the amount of BMI their employees receive.

The entire idea is based on the fact that money is not something that is real. Rather, money is simply a yard-stick that allows us to value completely unrelated objects and actions, making it possible for person A to trade their labor for the art of person B without the need for A to do labor directly for B. The market sets the relative worth of both sides of the transaction. It has to be decided if the hours of work done is worth the value of the art. And it has to be decided if an offer of payment sufficiently repays the creative labor.

The value of money as a yard-stick only works if every good or service is measured in the same way - meaning that money needs to be universally adopted by the entire economy in order to function. This requires government that is universally respected to manage the amount of money, otherwise anyone could just make up how ever much they wanted, which would eventually make it worthless. The government regulates money by setting the value via two mechanisms: Purchasing goods and services directly - which establishes a baseline value. And through regulating the amount of money banks are allowed to possess - which regulates the volume of money that exists. Banks absorb and release money into the economy with savings and loans. The former absorbing excess money that isn't being used for transaction, and the latter releasing money for a new transaction.

As long as a majority of goods and services are produced and consumed inside the economy, the amount of money required to allow everyone to possess anything they want and work the way they want is easily regulated. If things become too expensive (too few things to buy and not enough money), the government can encourage the production of more things by giving more money to the scarce producers and would effectively add more money by discouraging savings. If the opposite happens, the government can encourage savings and make loans harder to get.

What is the reason for all this? Although we believe this based on loose empirical understanding of economics, we haven't found many big name economists that support the BMI concept. We need more economists and advocates for BMI to get financial institutions, corporations and politicians to understand and support the concept. Otherwise, it will all remain just a concept.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

[Filed from SALT LAKE CITY] June 23, 2018 | Don't Be Fooled by the Media Portrayal of Donald Trump/Kim Jong-un Friendship

What we are seeing with the political developments with the United States of America and North Korea following the historical summit recently held in Singapore, is the most profound change in politics since the absolution of direct monarchies. It has been predicted for decades by authors. People have chosen the news they want. It is a consequence of an Orwellian flood of simple, biased information which has come to dominate public opinion, and thus their political perspectives.

President Donald Trump has made use of Goebbels-style narratives to guide opinions at all levels toward his goals. This resembles the same method Brexit and the alt-right used to gain dominance in Europe. Trump tells the 'big lie' enough times to displace 'reality' and conventional wisdom. It appears to have worked. However, this is not without merit. Conventional politics is about saving face, not about solving problems. Trump has addressed politics and diplomacy not as self-aggrandizing (not in the conventional political sense of leading consensus), but in the sense of transactional solutions to problems.

Transactional negotiation deals with actual solutions to problems by negotiating over a measurable fiscal or practical result, not ideology. The 'trade war' is about negotiating to fully open trading that has no favorites, even though it sometimes appears one-sided. Dealing with the North Korean leader is the same thing: rather than argue ideology and morality, instead fix the problem economically, but with an existential threat to back up the deal. North Korea needs to reenter the developed world through interaction first. Then between solving their economy and greater prosperity, for the leader and Koreans in general, the rest of the bad behaviors will gradually just go away. China has done it. Russia has done it too. North Korea now wants to do the same thing. Trump just opened the door to enable this to happen. Support from China and Russia makes this a very likely outcome which would not be achieved outside of a war by conventional diplomacy.

This approach does have risks. Trump can force transactional negotiations by threatening to do something crazy and destabilizing - which usually works - because he's demonstrated he'll actually do crazy and unexpected things. Often to the surprise of his allies and even his closest advisors. But if someone calls his bluff, he either carries out his threat of nuclear war or caves and is never, ever able to con the world again. That's the biggest fear. There is the very real possibility a leader like Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau actually tells Trump to 'go to hell', and when Canada survives retaliation, every other country follows suit. That will trigger economic instability in America, and sets up the conditions for a real dictator (or religious zealot) to dissolve the US Constitution and create 'a new Russia'.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

[Filed from MUMBAI] June 22, 2018 | Australian Government Attempts to Censor Murray-Darling Basin Authority Staff from Contributing to Royal Commission

There is an increased effort of what appears to be government sponsored attempts at censorship and a shut down of transparency, through efforts to thwart all possibility of transparency by taking questionable legal steps to stop staff members of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) from speaking with, disclosing any information and/or providing documents to the Royal Commission on the Murray-Darling Basin, South Australia, which was initiated on January 23, 2018. The hearing commenced on Monday, this week.

The Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin was established to examine the effectiveness of the Basin system and to investigate of any evidence of misconduct in accordance to the Water Act 2007 and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The Commonwealth Government, under the leadership of the Liberal Party of Australia, has been critiqued for its lack of action taken leading up to the Royal Commission, despite allegations of upstream water theft. The Commonwealth Government has been accused of turning the other way and ignoring concerns that have been raised specifically to water theft allegations and possible misconduct of the MDBA.

We are very concerned of the actions and lengths that the Commonwealth Government are going to, to keep the MDBA quiet and disassociate them from the Royal Commission. The attempts that are being made to protect the MDBA from contributing to the investigation which is currently taking place, are concerning and can be described as very aggressive.

Freedom Publishers Union is concerned that there may be something of substance worth investigating with the activities of certain individuals within the MDBA. Yet, if the Commonwealth Government successfully censors the staff members of the MDBA, then there is no immediate avenue for any possible exposure of those activities. If the Commonwealth Government is confident they have no knowledge of any misconduct, then it should have no problem allowing staff members to share any knowledge that may be required of them, to the Royal Commission.

We find it alarming that the Commonwealth Government has the nerve to stand up and censor staff, disallow information from operations of the MDBA from being shared with the Royal Commission and ban all documents from being presented. All this is the reaction of a guilty party with something to hide, giving justification to any logical conclusion being drawn to conclude that there is something legitimate to hide which requires legal action to ensure it remains hidden from becoming public knowledge.

We condemn the Australian Government for its lack of transparency. We commend the South Australian Government for their establishment and dedication to ensuring the Royal Commission is carried out to the best of their ability. Despite legal action being launched from the Commonwealth Government, which is yet to be approved by the courts, it has the legal baring of its intention. However, the Commonwealth Government has still ordered all staff of the MDBA to ignore any requests for assistance they receive, to contribute to the Royal Commission, while reminding their staff that the South Australian Government has no legal standing to compel anyone at the MDBA to appear before the Royal Commission.

Freedom Publishers Union has a strong presence in Australia and we take a strong political position on three very important matters that we feel we have a responsibility to be politically engaged. We want to continue ensuring that the Murray-Darling Basin is protected and managed properly and in accordance to the legislation the Murray-Darling Basin Authority is bound. We believe that the MDBA is the best agency to be managing the Basin, but their management must also be accompanied by the appropriate amount of transparency required to maintain public and political confidence. With respect to the MDBA, they may very well have had every intention of allowing staff to stand before the Royal Commission and may have had every intention to provide documentative evidence to ensure any claims of misconduct are proven to be false. But the problem here is the Commonwealth Government, who has jumped in the middle and effectively broken up any potential cooperation before it was allowed to commence.

It raises questions. The spotlight should now be moved off the MDBA, instead to be shone right over the Commonwealth Government who continues to act in extremely worrying ways which resemble a mild form of authoritarianism through controlling who they believe should and shouldn't appear at investigations hearings and deciding that there is no requirement for transparency, by blocking all requests for information to be provided to the Royal Commission.

Freedom Publishers Union is worried that Australia's democracy is eroding. It's not failing. The foundations for one of the most respected and strongest forms of democracy are still embedded deep into Australia's Parliament and its political structures. Yet the Government continue to push for censorship, control and ultimate power of its citizens which is gradually, yet consistently, eroding the civil liberties of Australian citizens and the transparent process of the democracy it supposed to represent.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

[Filed from MUMBAI] June 12, 2018 | Australian Military Again Faces Allegations of Human Rights Abuse and War Crimes, in Afghanistan. Yet the Secrecy Continues

Freedom Publishers Union commends the investigations published by Fairfax Media and Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) which purported multiple very serious allegations of systemic abuse of human rights and possible war crimes, in Afghanistan, by the acts of Australia's elite SAS regiment.

The publications were courageous, especially in light of the increasing possibility of Australian media being stripped of much of its freedom, with the new Foreign Interference legislation which looks set to pass the Australian Parliament in the coming weeks.

Our Asia/Pacific Press Office in Mumbai published an article on July 18, 2017, which followed earlier details released by ABC News of "civilian casualties in Afghanistan which includes the lethal shooting of children and unarmed men which have fallen at the hands of Australian Military involvement.".

At the time of going to press, Freedom Publishers Union was unable to seek clarification that those incidents and the latest incidents to be revealed by the FairFax Media/ABC joint investigation are related. Largely due to the extreme government secrecy which surrounds the matters and their internal investigations being kept confidential. However, there is one common point that stands out more than anything else. One can not miss the explicit point that each time, the country of "Australia" is associated with the allegations.

Back in July 2017, we made three important observations - culture of the elite forces, operations secrecy and narrow oversight. We also raised the valid question of whether Australia should be reviewing their Rules of Engagement, as further details recently revealed indicate that the Rules of Engagement have most likely been violated by the Australian soldiers, in Afghanistan. If proven to be correct, then it would possibly be breaking Australian military law in addition to international law. How precise this area of law is and how effective any repercussions from a positive determination would actually be, remains unclear.

Furthermore, we noted in our publication in July 2017, that although the incidents detailed in the The Afghan Files published by the ABC only proceeded up until 2014, we believed at the time that the atrocities and misconduct of Australian soldiers continued beyond 2014. We were unable to come to any justified conclusion that war crimes had been committed at the hands of Australian soldiers, however it is increasingly more likely that war crimes have been committed than have not. But without much more transparency from the Australian Government, this is difficult to conclude with certainty.

On civilian casualties, our July 2017 publication in stated, "what Freedom Publishers Union immediately calls for is civilian casualties properly acknowledged and respected, through proper documenting of the incidents surrounding their deaths.". And on transparency we stated, "We need greater transparency and we need to see better public disclosure, whilst allowing independent monitoring groups better access to limited military data for the purpose of documentation of civilian casualties.".

To avoid the risk of repeating ourselves, we will simply state that the position of Freedom Publishers Union remains firm. We would urge the Australian Government to act immediately, ensure action is taken and all investigations remain as thorough as possible. Otherwise, the country may very well face the possibility of retaliation by Afghan citizens, in the form of hatred towards Australian Military personnel and Australia as a nation - which is quickly becoming known to Afghans not for a country of peace, respect and fairness, but a country which kills innocent civilians and irresponsibly detains innocent citizens without any justified indication of suspicion of misdoing in their homeland.

At present, to say the situation is out of control would be an understatement. We need critical action now and the severity and urgency on this matter can not be ignored by the Australian Government and its Defense Department investigators.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

[Filed from MUMBAI] June 11, 2018 | Australian Government Pushing Foreign Interference Laws, Avoiding Debate and Eroding the Country's Free Press

In an article published to The Conversation last week, Tony Walker, a Professor of the School of Communications at La Trobe University, emphasized on the Coalition's apparent rush to get the controversial Foreign Interference laws legislated through the Australian Parliament.

The amended draft which has now been presented has helped address to some extent the concerns that Freedom Publishers Union has expressed over its potential to restrict Australia's free press, through placing much tighter restrictions on what Australian journalists and media can report and publish. Tony bluntly posed the rhetorical question, "What's the rush?". It's a very good question of which requires a bit more attention.

Freedom Publishers Union is also concerned that the Australian Government is trying to force the new laws through Parliament as a matter of purpose to avoid any further debate. Once the amended draft is reintroduced to Parliament and read, there will be debate within the chambers of Canberra [the country's capital city]. However, there remains concern over just how effective the debating points will be considering that the latest amendments that have been implemented into the updated draft were worked on bi-partisan. When a democratic system is built around the foundations of a two-party majority system such as Australia's Liberal/Labor house majority, then you begin to question the effectiveness of its democracy when bi-partisan laws are drafted and agreed on before any effective debate can proceed. Even if there were just a couple of ministers on either side of politics which choose to vote against the legislation, combined with the small parties and independents, it is most likely that any opposition will have little effect to the free passage that the legislation will most likely enjoy anyway.

Freedom Publishers Union still maintains the changes which have been implemented into the amended draft do not go far enough. Despite keen expression of concern raised by many academics and journalists in the media, the message didn't seem to click with either Liberal or Labor. Tony points out, "Under the proposed legislation, bodies such as Amnesty International that have been critical of Australian Government policies may be vulnerable.".

It is becoming increasingly clear that Australia is using the Russian interference allegations (we use the term 'allegations' quite loosely) in the US Presidential election which saw Donald Trump become the US President, as a means of justification of the immediate necessity that the legislation is passed before the upcoming by-elections in Australia set to be held in July, which the results will have somewhat great importance on the Federal Election which will most likely follow in the next 6-12 months. Tony makes the point [that], "No reasonable person would argue against the need for beefed-up legislation to deal with challenges to democratic processes such as those witnessed during the recent US election. Russian cyber interference in the US political process is hardly in question, nor attempts by Russian agents of influence to suborn the system. The question is to what degree?". And at what cost to the continued erosion of Australia's free press? Tony continues by reiterating our previous point on the concerns over the continued free media that Australia enjoys, which could soon take a turn in a very dark direction. On the original draft of the legislation, Tony says, "It represented an unreasonable threat to individual liberties and freedom of expression. It was particularly antagonistic to journalists operating in the security space. Long jail terms for publication of unauthorized security material were incorporated.". On the amendments Tony continues by saying, "The insertion of a public interest amendment has somewhat alleviated that risk.".

Freedom Publishers Union believes the changes are more a relaxation of the original restrictions. They are still present. In fact this has been echoed by a [verified] political source who spoke to our Asia/Pacific Press Office on the condition of anonymity, "There are still too many restrictions present, but they've just been relaxed slightly and most certainly shouldn't be categorized as protections. Not at all.". As Tony makes clear, concerns have actually began to surface as reality already, after "Fairfax Media's publication overnight of leaked documents dealing with alleged war crimes by members of the Special Air Service might have fallen foul of such provisions, and may still do so.". So there is already a festering of fear within the media ranks in Australia, of just where exactly the line gets drawn and just how much is considered public interest journalism before the Government determines that the line has been crossed. It remains unclear, still.

Tony says, "Most of these recommendations are cosmetic, except those relating to journalistic inquiry. They include the need for security certifications to be validated before proceedings could be initiated for an espionage or secrecy offense, and a review of the legislation by the National Security Legislation Monitor after three years.", then continues, "As interested parties digest the provisions of the proposed amendments, it's likely more objections will be raised".

Well those concerns are already present and not just from Freedom Publishers Union, but also Claire O'Rourke, a representative from Amnesty International Australia who told The Guardian, "under the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill charities like Amnesty [International] that hold the Australian Government to account on its human rights record could face criminal charges. This is clear government overreach and a cynical exercise by both sides of politics to shield themselves from the scrutiny of Australian society, including charities.".

Freedom Publishers Union believes more time is needed for scrutiny by all sides of politics and the Australian public. The Coalition is touting the target of the legislation as a means to halt foreign interference in our democratic processes. Freedom Publishers Union believes there to be an alternative motive for this legislation. By including such restrictions on journalists and the free press, the government is hoping it will scare journalists into darkness and stop media from publishing content and information that is critical of the government and its international relations. Specifically, publications such as those published by our friends at Wikileaks and the mass-surveillance documents revealed by former NSA Contractor, Edward Snowden.

We urge all Australian journalists, editors, publishers and media entities to stand firm, continue to support Australia's free press and do not cower to these overzealous unjustified laws. Because once the free press is gone, it will become extremely difficult to perform a 180 degree turn from the darkness that the country is currently staring at.

Remember, it doesn't stop here. There is more legislation to follow.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center | Permission to republish | Donate

May 24, 2018 | Tough New EU Privacy Regulations Could Lead to Better Protections in Australia

Major personal data breaches, such as those that occurred recently at the Commonwealth Bank, Cambridge Analytica and Yahoo, have taught us how vulnerable our privacy is.

Like the cigarette and alcohol markets, it took a long time to prove that poorly regulated data collection can do us harm. And as with passive smoking, we now know that data trading can harm those around us as well as ourselves.

Regulators in the European Union are cracking down on the problem with the introduction the new strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from May 25. The hope is that the new rules will shift the balance of power in the market for data away from companies and back to the owners of that data.

The GDPR applies to companies who trade in the EU or process the data of people in the EU. This includes some of Australia's biggest companies, such as the Commonwealth Bank and Bunnings Warehouse. Since companies that don't operate in the EU or process the data of people in the EU aren't required to comply, Australian consumers could soon be facing a two-tier system of privacy protections.

That isn't all bad news. By choosing to deal with companies with better data protection policies, Australian consumers can create pressure for change in how personal data is handled across the board.

How the GDPR empowers consumers

The GDPR makes it clearer what companies should be doing to protect personal data and empowers consumers like never before. When dealing with companies operating in the EU, you will now have the right to:

  1. access your own data and any derived or inferred data
  2. rectify errors and challenge decisions based on it, including to object to direct marketing
  3. be forgotten and erased in most situations
  4. move your data more easily, such as when changing insurance companies or banks
  5. object to certain types of data processing and challenge significant decisions based purely on profiling, such as for medical insurance or loans
  6. compensation.

This final right will lead to another profound improvement in regulation of the market for personal data.

Consumers as a regulating force

As a result of these new rights and powers, consumers themselves can help regulate company behaviour by monitoring how well they comply with GDPR.

In addition to complaining to authorities, such as the Information Commissioner, when consumers encounter breaches they can complain directly to the company, share stories online and alert fellow users.

This can be powerful - especially when whistleblowers actually work in the industry, as was the case with Cambridge Analytica's Christopher Wylie.

Companies that don't protect people's personal data will face fines from the regulator of up to 4% of global turnover, or €20 million. In addition, they could be required to pay compensation directly to consumers who have asked investigating authorities to claim on their behalf.

This potentially means that all those millions of EU citizens who were caught up in the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal could, in the future, be able to sue Facebook.

From the viewpoint of empowering and motivating consumers to monitor what companies do with their data, this is a momentous change.

A shift in our expectations of data privacy

The way things currently stand, there is an imbalance in the personal data market. Companies take all the profit from our personal data, yet we pay the price as individuals, or as a society, for privacy breaches.

But as a result of GDPR, we are likely to see expectations of how companies should act begin to shift. This will create pressure for change.

You've probably already been sent notifications from companies asking you to re-consent to their privacy policies. This is because GDPR expects consent to be more explicit and active - default settings and pre-checked boxes are considered inadequate.

Consumers should also expect companies to make it just as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it.

Unlike New Zealand, which has strong privacy laws, personal data protections in Australia - and the massive data markets of BRIC countries - are not considered "adequate", and fall below EU standards.

Consumers should be wary of vested interest arguments, such as Facebook's claim that it just wants to connect people. To use an analogy, that's comparable to an alcohol manufacturer saying it just wants people to have a good time, without highlighting the potential risks of alcohol use.

If you want these greater rights and protections, now is the perfect time to lobby your Members of Parliament and demand the best available protection from all the companies you deal with.

Vincent Mitchell, University of Sydney

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

May 15, 2018 | Opposing Domestic Spying, Respecting Privacy and Protecting Encryption

April 29 was a day that Australian's became increasingly alarmed when a letter purported to be written by Mike Pezzullo, the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs sent to Greg Moriarty, the Defense Secretary, leaked to the media and was published by The Daily Telegraph website.

Admittedly, Freedom Publishers Union was also alarmed at the media report, which if assumed to be legitimate, suggested that the Australian Government would soon be exploring options which may lead to legislating and making legal domestic spying on Australian citizens.

Currently, Australian intelligence and spy agencies are permitted to spy on citizens in foreign countries through a complex web of intelligence programs spread across what is known as the 'Five Eyes' nations, which Freedom Publishers Union has detailed previously.

The momentary state of panic which was quickly expressed by privacy advocates and activists was completely justified. Despite Freedom Publishers Union's initial concern, we held off from publication of any response until all of the facts could be established and verified.

Since the leak of the letter, several representatives from the Coalition Government in Australia have responded and clearly stated and placed on the public record that the text in the leaked letter was misinterpreted and taken out of context. This is somewhat considered reassurance from the Government that they have no intention to draft any legislation that would make legal domestic spying on Australian citizens and that they were satisfied that existing legislation, some of which has already been expanded in scope, was sufficient to meeting the country's national security requirements.

Freedom Publishers Union remains quite relaxed and confident that there is no immediate plan to have legislation drafted which permits and makes legal domestic spying.

We warn Australian citizens to not be complacent. Remain vigilant and aware that there is always the very real possibility of this kind of speculation becoming reality - through either side of party politics.

We also warn to remain vigilant about privacy rights and encryption, with the threat of legislation to force implementation of encryption backdoors still circling overhead like vultures.

Freedom Publishers Union has received indication that the US, UK and Australia are all exploring possible legislative options which will force technology companies to implement backdoor access to their services, which would result in free access to user's data by governments and intelligence agencies. However, we must clarify that this is indicative only and cannot be verified at the time we go to press. Ensuring uninterrupted privacy rights are protected and encryption technology remains free from government forced backdoors is at the forefront of our focus.

The types of proposals we understand the Australian Government is considering would technically be classified as a backdoor. Despite Coalition Government representatives publicly claiming that backdoor implementation is not what they seek to legislate, surrounding encryption. However, we cite various Australian and international security experts who consistently claim that the only way to access encrypted services is through an intentionally placed backdoor with a provided key which allows for free access, often unnoticed by the user but with full co-operation with technology companies who operate the services. And that is where the Government's plans could face huge set-backs, as any legislation would require the full co-operation with some of the biggest international technology companies in the world. This could prove difficult and Freedom Publishers Union would urge technology companies to oppose such invasive proposals which aim to intentionally weaken their security features and encryption standards.

Freedom Publishers Union understands that there is currently no known way to crack tough encryption when its implemented properly. There is still some encryption technology available to the consumer of which have questionable implementation. However, big technology companies like Facebook, Google and Apple are increasingly using end-to-end encryption, which is proving to be a problem for intelligence and spy agencies who seek to access such valuable and private communications data.

We cannot doubt that these services will be the primary focus of such encryption backdoor legislation that may be in development now, or in the future.

On responding to government pressure, Microsoft is much firmer than it used to be. However we remain skeptical of the security of its consumer operating system, Windows 10. We have reason to believe that Microsoft would be one of the first technology companies to comply which government request(s) for access to Windows 10 systems.

As advocates of free and open-source software, Freedom Publishers Union reminds our readers of the security benefits of running a Linux based operating system as an alternative to proprietary operating systems like Microsoft Windows 10. The Windows operating system will always grab attention when governments seek technological co-operation with intelligence and spy agencies who seek to exploit them as an effort to spy on users.

Linux based operating systems do not become the focus due to their increased security and open-source nature of the source code.

Freedom Publishers Union urges the Australian Government, and additionally the UK and the US, to back away from pursuit of attempting to implement forced backdoors. Instead, they must respect the rights to privacy of citizens who utilize encrypted technology.

Freedom Publishers Union has not yet been able to view or access any details of any actual drafted legislation which relates to encrypted technology. We remain slightly skeptical that any exists at this stage. But we warn Australian citizens, privacy advocates and activists to all remain on guard and be willing to stand up for your privacy and protection of encryption.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center | Permission to republish | Donate

May 14, 2018 | The NSA Has Data Addiction. Mass-Surveillance Must Stop Now!

Quality Publishing Works is all too familiar of the continued operations of mass-surveillance programs that continue to operate throughout the world, under the guidance of the world's most powerful government leaders. However, it was to some surprise to learn that North America's lead intelligence agency, the National Security Agency (NSA), has tripled the amount of cell phone call and message data collected on American citizens since 2016.

A media report published by Reuters, details that the NSA collected 534 million cell phone call and message records of Americans last year. According to Reuters, the figures were sourced from a report released by the NSA, which is available in the public domain.

Quality Publishing Works finds it extremely concerning that the data collection by the NSA continues under the eyes of American citizens, still without any effective oversight and without questioning whether the sheer amount of data collected on Americans is actually justifiable.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones is the former Editor of our media partner Freedom Publishers Union. Chris is no longer the Editor for the publication but has extensive insight and knowledge into mass-surveillance and government spying programs and has covered the topic for many years. He says, "This is just one data collecting program initiated and under the control by the NSA. The agency has many programs. Way too many, in fact. The amount of data the agency collects and stores is frankly mind-boggling.".

The agency continues to run its global networks of mass-surveillance operations. Despite attempts to wind-back and limit intelligence gathering through different pieces of legislation, most the operations continue only moderately reformed and continue to be almost unchallenged. There is still nowhere near enough transparency of the precise operations that the NSA and its global intelligence partners are operating, nowhere near enough oversight of the operations and all efforts and claims that mass-surveillance is not on the same scale as it was before the revelations by former NSA Contractor, Edward Snowden, are very misleading.

The global intelligence and spy operations continue today, continue to expand and continue to be shrouded in near secrecy without any effective transparency, regulation or independent oversight.

Quality Publishing Works and our media partners Freedom Publishers Union continue to advocate for improved political policy which implements proper independent oversight with the power to act when abuse of intelligence and spying power is witnessed. At the moment, it continues to operate without question and seemingly without anyone to monitor whether or not the amount of data gathered by the NSA and its partners is simply too much and unjustified.

The White House and Congress continue to deem it necessary and reassure the American people that all intelligence gathering operations are always carried out to protect American citizens and in the name of national security - an all too typical reason.

We need stronger protections on what data can be collected, how it can be used and how long it is retained. At the moment, Quality Publishing Works believes that too much private data is collected, is misused and is stored for too long - irrespective of whether the data collected is anonymized and transformed into metadata.

Governments also like to abuse the term 'metadata' and sway public impression that metadata is basically useless and cannot be used to identify the private lives and activity of the origins of the data. This is completely false, and the intelligence agencies know they are deliberately misleading the public. You simply need to ask, if metadata were so useless and invaluable, why would the agencies be collecting it and storing it? It may be true that in its rawest form, metadata is quite useless, but when it is compared against other existing data the intelligence agencies already have or have direct or indirect access to through their detailed and expansive internal database search engines, is when metadata is matched and pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. Therefore, it makes metadata incredibly useful and to some degree, vitally important to completing the bigger puzzle of a potential data trail.

The NSA has so much data collected, sourced by domestic and international programs, that in May 2014 a new datacenter was built and established in the State of Utah, USA. The datacenter reportedly cost $1.5billion and under the control of the NSA, used for storage of all forms of communications data collected by intelligence agencies around the world. This may include cell phone call and message records, emails, internet search records, website visit histories and many other forms on private data from citizens on the internet, inside America and around the world. The data reach is limitless.

Before the revelations and document leaks from Edward Snowden, representatives from the NSA made claims that the Utah facility would be used for metadata storage. But these claims were quickly derailed when documents leaked by Snowden proved the existence of the PRISM program, which detailed that the NSA was sweeping up much more data than simply metadata. Former NSA Technical Director and whistleblower, William Binney, describes the Utah facility as a datacenter built to store all records and types of domestic data, not only metadata, as claimed by the NSA. Binney also claims that the operations at the Utah facility include unwarranted data mining.

Quality Publishing Works is unable to source any exact numbers which detail the amount of storage the Utah facility has, but actual blueprints that were published by Forbes in 2013 before the facility officially opened, backed up by quite broad estimates based on storage technology and square meter measurements of the facility's floor space suggested that the facility would probably be capable of storing tens of exabytes. Possibly more, if you take into consideration advances in data storage technology. But as stated, most (if not all) information related to the datacenter, the technology inside and its precise purpose of operations are all classified and remain secret.

The Founder of Utah-based internet service provider XMission, Pete Ashdown, who was able to go inside the facility when it was being built as part of a tour with the Utah datacenter Consortium says he became quite suspicious about the activities and purpose of the building. In a January 2016 interview, Ashdown stated that he was told that the facility had no outside internet connectivity, which led him to conclude that the facility was designed to be a purpose-built data storage facility and not an actual surveillance operations facility. Ashdown also stated that he believes that facility is used to store as much data as possible, including data collected without warrant, with the intent of holding on to it in case a warrant is provided to access the stored data.

The debate continues as to whether the NSA's continued mass-surveillance programs and those of their international intelligence and spy partners have justification to continue. We believe there is too much data being collected. We remain skeptical whether intelligence legislation alone will stop or even regulate the NSA. It has become apparent by looking at the scale of storage space the Utah datacenter alone is capable of holding, that the NSA has a mass-surveillance disease which must be stopped.

Quality Publishing Works renews our call for the unwarranted dragnet surveillance of innocent civilians to stop, restore civilian confidence in the intelligence agencies and to take action and implement true reform which restores meaningful operations which go towards protection and security of citizens accompanied by effective oversight bodies with actual power to act, independent of governmental and intelligence agency interference. Instead, we see a continuation down the path of creating a society which is quickly becoming 'Orwellian'. Or, we might possibly be there already and at the point of no return.

Quality Publishing Works - International Media Group - Reykjavík Press | Permission to republish | Donate

April 13, 2018 | Media Deliberately Targeting Facebook and Zuckerberg, in Effort to Tarnish Reputation and Curb Facebook's Influence

As we go to press, Facebook Co-Founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, was busy facing questions from Congress. Information and views that have been expressed by media outlets as a result of the Congressional hearing have not been included in this Editorial due to editing and time constraints.

The Hollywood film "The Social Network" was primarily responsible for tarnishing the public perception of Mark Zuckerberg. The movie may have been released back in 2010, but the rather deceptive and sneaky portrayal of the Co-Founder of Facebook stuck in the minds of those who watched the film.

Facebook is the greatest public forum in digital history. Until 'bullying' started to grab all the attention as a problem as the result of social media, Facebook was the embodiment of 'free speech'. The platform allowed anyone to say anything to anybody that cared to listen. It didn't take long for people to start getting their news, opinions and most importantly, their advertising from Facebook. The platform would mature to become a major challenge to traditional journalism and media.

We must accept that Facebook is not under attack for being a forum for free speech. That's not really important and users don't really think twice about it. Nor do they really care about the abuse of the Cambridge Analytica data. Facebook carries out this type of research all the time - internally and with third-parties. It's how real-world testing is performed and how they determine how people react.

When Facebook revealed to the public some of its research data and statistics, privacy critics expressed great concern about the mining of user's personal data for research purposes, despite the data being rendered anonymous prior to application. Also, the targeted Trump ads from alleged Russian hackers, or more likely PR consultants, don't bother with the other media. Duping the public through editorial bias was not a concept constructed by Fox News or CNN. It has a much longer history. Duping people with social media is as old as politics - whispering campaigns are still in trend as the place to drop a bombshell on an affair or business deal. Facebook is under attack by old model business and politicians. The former, because they're losing revenue as a result of Facebook's gradual move into news media. The latter because their people didn't think of it first.

The furor of the Cambridge Analytica revelation is a culmination of the constant barrage of attacks the media throws at Trump. Because Trump doesn't care too much about the media reporting on him - this is obvious as he prefers Twitter rhetoric over the traditional formal press conference - traditional media has become even more irrelevant than they already were. Traditional and mainstream media started the campaign against Donald Trump, not because they're all Communists, but because of the impact he was having on core reporting and analysis. It helps that the man is terribly inarticulate. But so is the core demographic that supports him. White, rural, poor, deeply Christian, under educated, and because of their poverty, it puts them right on the edge of starvation and very frightened of anything they don't understand. Trump speaks to them in their language.

Mainstream media either held back the Cambridge Analytica story until they found an appropriate spiraling news cycle was found to dump it into - and tar Facebook and Trump - or they are incredibly ignorant and slothful. Sources close to Freedom Publishers Union discovered relevant information associated with this story months before mainstream media decided to act. By revealing all of the information now, media can suddenly become relevant again, tie Facebook to a reviled politician and pretty much torpedo the social media campaigns starting now, for the November Congressional elections.

Facebook has become the first - and probably the last - universal free speech forum in the world. It allows Nazis, Islamism, Christians, spies and even some other questionable propaganda to co-exist in the one platform. However, the amount of content restrictions being placed on the platform is increasing all the time and this is causing the platform to gradually become one giant mechanism for censorship. But if you ignore the content and the message that any of these groups or organizations is spreading on the platform and take notice of the the fact that all these voices are allowed to co-exist on the same platform, means that speech is truly free. That is the key to freedom - transparent communication. If you don't like something you see, the mechanisms are in place for you to block it.

Collectively, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and even Telegram, with the hidden assistance of those in the underground working with Tor Browser and other anonymous and privacy technology were all key players in the various revolutions that were attempted in the past several years - commonly referred to as the Arab Spring. It was social media that was able to ignore censorship and continue to broadcast the messages. The bad news though is while the world was busy being thrilled by the Arab Spring - which to be honest only had limited political success - when the same thing is unleashed on Western nations, it doesn't feel so good.

Facebook and other online gateways sell information to advertising clients. It is this kind of data profiling and sales that have been commonplace since the 1950 onward. Nielsen ratings tell advertisers who is watching what programs on television by profiling down to the city block. Newspapers do this too with changing insert sections for different neighborhoods. But until recently, Facebook had remained 'clean'. They sold you placements based on several thousand characteristics that an advertiser could specify. Facebook didn't give the advertiser names or addresses. That was up to the customer to provide in a follow-up.

It does appears that Facebook failed to do that in the Cambridge Analytica case. As a result, through the media driving this story at full steam ahead, Facebook has lost the trust of some of its users. Unlike most privacy concerns, this is not the end of users complaining. It's the press - and now we understand what their underlying motivation is.

The American press [among others] are continuing to attack Zuckerberg, demanding he 'do something' to 'fix it'. And now they're looking at Google for allowing this to happen. "Apple doesn't do this" is now becoming a cry from the press, forgetting [conveniently] that only a year or so ago, they were complaining of Apple gathering information about their customers, like income, location etc. because Apple would only show advertising to people it deemed 'rich enough' for their products.

Journalists have a lot of power to guide the thoughts of Americans. The press has been heralded as acting as the conscience of Americans, ensuring that the rich and powerful are exposed and brought to justice. Yet news media and journalists aren't elected, or even appointed. They are brought and sold like sports teams by the very rich and powerful they were meant to oversee. Over the last 50 years the press has become consolidated into mega corporations, often owned by the communications conglomerates that regulation is meant to control.

The Facebook privacy violation isn't something that most people expected. However, industry specific people absolutely expected exactly this. It's worth noting that this is hinted at in the beginning of The Social Network film, which is a portrayal of the beginnings of Facebook and college life of Mark Zuckerberg.

It is now widely accepted that most citizens are simply too ignorant to review the Terms and Conditions agreement prompt, or to check the type of data collection that each app performs prior to installing. This can be used as an excuse that journalists raise to a virtue that renders the customers and users as 'victims' when the data is used to manipulate them. It is explicitly outlined in the Terms and Conditions that the customer must accept to. Hence why we will take the opportunity to defend Facebook and state that it has not done anything legally wrong. Indeed, it is important to note that most of these documents place the agreement button below the contract which is to ensure that the customer must scroll through the actual text before they agree. If anyone is to play the blame game - the user should be the recipient of any truthful blame.

But almost everyone, other than those with genuine legal or privacy concern, ignores the content of the text and scrolls past it all then clicks "Agree", while having a false sense of security in knowing that if they think they were duped they can appeal to media and 'expose' what they cry out to be a crime and portray themselves as the poor victim. Instead of explaining these contracts to people, assisting them to make sense of what to look for among the often complex legal jargon and what it means for them if they accept the terms, the media instead guides the public with fear about someone or some company stealing their information and using it to brainwash them into purchases or political thoughts. Loaded words surround these stories: [we quote] breach, attack, hack, theft (of your private data). This gives the public the impression that what has occurred is actually a crime and the customer is the helpless victim.

Separate from social media - in reality, most people have no idea what information they have explicitly volunteered to corporations and complete strangers in the course of their daily lives. We buy something at a store and are asked for our phone number, post code or email address, totally ignorant to the fact that this basic piece of information is as positive as your ID or DNA. That, combined with a credit card purchase, unlocks your financial and legal history. It doesn't matter if you refuse or give false information, because at some point you will divulge that information to someone and it will enter the wild. Some media reports are noting this point, whilst others are ignoring it and frame Facebook as the first company to have harvested data from its users. Your information is out there already and there's no stopping it. And if you believe you will have any kind of success in controlling or deleting your data from the world wide web, then it's ignorance at the highest level on your part. This fact also renders the entire #DeleteFacebook campaign useless, as if you go ahead and deactivate or delete your Facebook account right now, it will have absolutely no effect on the problem of your data already being out there and being traded by data brokers.

The real problem isn't the collection of data. We must all give up information as a simple requirement to exist in today's modern society. The underlying problem is people not understanding what you give up and how it is legitimately and illegitimately being used.

The whole Facebook/Trump news cycle will hit a dead end. Freedom Publishers Union do not believe that any laws have actually been broken by Facebook. You legitimately agree to share your information and data to anyone on Facebook and there is nothing illegal about doing a better job of messaging the voters than the other guy. Even telling straight up lies is not illegal. Whether we see improvements in the area of data handling through incoming data regulation or other legislative data control mechanisms, it is now up to the voter to decide who will do the best job of representing them. If they prefer lies to verified truth, it's in their hands through their vote. Though, as we have learned from Congress probing Zuckerberg on the matter, he actually supports implementation of stronger data regulation. The EU has much tighter controls over data regulation. It seems now is the time that the US follow suit.

What is the net result for privacy? We have none. We have had none for decades. The only difference between now and 1960 is today we have finer granularity in the data. We didn't have the internet back in 1960, so the best we could do was breakdown by demographic, location, income and a few dozen psychological characteristics. Pretty much the same as today, except today the ads are delivered personally, not through TV or the newspapers. But we are more diverse today than in 1960. People were much more segregated then, not just by color, but by economics, religion, job and school. Today, we intermix pretty much everything and give it a fancy name called multiculturalism to make it politically acceptable. Some geographic and class divisions still exist. And they always will. But you find we now have fewer geographies of only white Catholics, Jews or Baptists. Messages are more targeted to individual characteristics, even if they're delivered by mass media. Radio and TV can provide good demographic separation by changing the message slightly in each ad, targeting multiple audiences.

Facebook has been cast as the villain in this story, because you need a villain in the news and people are sick of hearing about Trump. Mainstream media will never, ever blame their audience for being ignorant. Indeed, they count on their audience to be easy, coheres into sales, for advertisers and the studio's benefit.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News | Permission to republish | Donate

April 8, 2018 | CPTPP Open to Final Challenges Before Ratification

March 8, 2018, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP or TPP-11) was signed by the respective nation's trade ministers in Santiago, Chile. It was then brought back to Australia and tabled in the country's Federal Parliament on March 26, 2018.

There is still the inevitable administrative steps that must be followed with the CPTPP before it gets through both Houses of Australia's Parliament and is ratified. It will be reviewed by Australia's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) and public comment from interested parties and organizations have been invited to make submissions on the CPTPP by April 20, 2018.

Freedom Publishers Union will make a brief Submission.

The United States of America controversially pulled out from the deal, a move supported by Freedom Publishers Union. The countries that remain part of the reformed CPTPP deal are (in alphabetical order) Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Following the signing of the trade deal in Chile, procedures for the CPTPP to progress into the relative final stages and actually come into effect must now proceed through the political processes required for ratification, by all nations.

Our position on the CPTPP remains unchanged and we will continue to press and advocate for better political outcomes on the issues associated with the trade deal, that are of most concern and of which Freedom Publishers Union has publicly expressed before.

We remain extremely disappointed of the conditions of secrecy of which the trade deal was negotiated, allowing it to reach the stage of signing. The entire process from the very beginning has been shrouded in complete secrecy with no transparency from the countries involved. The only way the public has learned of the details inside the trade deal is through leaks of the draft documents from Wikileaks and other independent media organizations - when the trade deal was referred to as simply the TPP.

January 26, 2018, Freedom Publishers Union made a public call for the reformed text of the CPTPP to be released. It was released in the public domain on February 21, 2018, and is now available for access on Freedom Publishers Union.

Politically, we intend to continue to challenge the details in the CPTPP trade pact on the issues of:

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

March 27, 2018 | Infrastructure Investment and Increased Bandwidth Will Solve Net Neutrality Problem. Not Further Regulation

Most Americans use the internet for entertainment purposes. By most, we mean a majority. But we cannot forget the minority. With recent changes to the rules surrounding net neutrality, the majority of Americans will actually find their internet services may be improved, which will see more internet bandwidth priority put towards entertainment services, including Netflix and YouTube along with any pre-packaged services.

Freedom Publishers Union still has many concerns on the rule changes which could still impede on actual net neutrality principles. But the real problem is bandwidth availability.

In the United States of America, this has somewhat been helped along by Amazon, Google, Microsoft and even Netflix having caching servers installed. This actually helps alleviate some of the network congestion problems which are generally caused by lack of available bandwidth. This highlights another problem though, which probably goes more unnoticed. Traditional broadband companies which had a large grip on infrastructure have merged into the realm of media. The merge into media has been gradual, yet organic of liberal business which expands and transitions into different sectors.

To solve the looming bandwidth problem is not going to be through net neutrality laws. The real solution will be found by forcing a company break-up into different divisions - one which handles entertainment service delivery and one which handles the infrastructure back-bone.

Infrastructure is simply a utility, which in business terms equates to a not all that profitable sector. But with remaining under the same ownership and parent company as entertainment services delivery, the profits can be shifted to infrastructure where needed and has the potential to actually benefit everyone. Looking even further ahead, service providers need to invest in infrastructure development to grow the capabilities of the networks to a point that net neutrality can actually be achieved through capacity and pricing, where getting higher packet priority services will not matter as there will effectively be enough bandwidth for everyone and the constant screwing with net neutrality legislation will not be required.

The view on net neutrality is split. Major organizations in support of retaining net neutrality rules are the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Greenpeace and Mozilla Foundation. Proponents claim that removing net neutrality hands too much power to service providers and hands them the keys to operate a multi-tiered system of control which is effectively aimed to direct flow of profits to benefit them.

While opponents include the technology giants of Intel, Juniper, Qualcomm, Cisco and old big blue, IBM. They all argue that net neutrality rules defer investment in broadband infrastructure.

Currently, there are many different States in the US taking up the fight to the FCC in opposition to the recent changes - fighting in the name of "net neutrality". In late January, Wired website reported that 21 States were taking up the fight and challenging the FCC. A publicly available table on Wikipedia which is dated February 28, details 23 States as suing the FCC. While more recently, on March 19, independent media website Digital Music News reported that up to 36 States were fighting.

Freedom Publishers Union is unable to verify the exact number of US States in opposition to the FCC changes because each State is responding differently in the fight. Some are jointly suing the FCC. Some are introducing legislation which either blocks the changes or has workarounds which go towards restoring some net neutrality standards. While others haven't actually introduced the legislation proposals yet but have plans to do so soon. One thing we can verify though, is that there is definitely opposition to the FCC's decision and this matter does not seem like it has been resolved just yet.

Freedom Publishers Union is led to conclude that this will not solve anything nor will it improve the situation. Instead, to find the right solution we need to look much broader than just the pages of rule books. They should be looking at options which eliminate competition laws and create more incentive for more investment into network infrastructure. Market forces will solve the problem of the current lack of investment in this area, but it starts with removing the political barriers which stand in the way of progress.

One could be forgiven for concluding that the whole net neutrality battle is simply a smokescreen for covering the service provider's need to generate revenue to pay for entertainment purchases to deliver to their customers. Service providers are actually against breaking up into separate business divisions, as we mentioned earlier. And they are also against local monopoly laws that are currently preventing them from other service providers in small jurisdictions neighborhood and city level. Net neutrality forces service providers to provide transport to other entertainment companies without prejudice. That is actually part of the solution to this problem. It allows customers to experience entertainment from other sources at much lower cost than the service provider's choices offered.

Infrastructure is where service providers do have a legal monopoly. Yes, from investment perspective, this would make the infrastructure division function more like a utility company which to investors, is rather boring and not that attractive. So, we see continued investment in entertainment content and eliminating competition by consolidating small services into entertainment mega-pack delivery.

This is where the hole in net neutrality benefits service providers. Wireless service delivery is exempted from neutral carriage, which is why we are seeing wireless service providers offering so much zero-rating and free entertainment from specific content sources. Since wireless is cheaper per customer to roll-out and maintain compared to traditional wired networks, we simply have a duplicate of the net neutrality problem, just without the wires this time around. With the incoming roll-out of 5G services, bandwidth availability will rival that of wired networks. Therefore, we may see a situation where the entire net neutrality fight will start all over again.

To summarize everything - ultimately, the focus needs to shift to infrastructure being forced through regulation and into a monopoly, or duopoly, where we can see true focus and investment put into service delivery capabilities rather than entertainment and other content being prioritized. This could have a side-effect of gradual price increases over time for customers and may also slow roll-out of new technology, but it will enforce connection consistency across America, on both wired and wireless networks, which has much better and fair results for everyone. Because at the end of the day, we do not want a two-tiered broadband network for Americans across the nation which serves a majority one level of service and a minority a different level. Because if priority is given to the majority, it's the minority that will ultimately suffer as focus of investment and delivery of services are giving the majority priority over minority. It is unfair. And whether you agree with the definition of net neutrality or not, that goes against the very principles of what it stands for.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

March 23, 2018 | Human Motive to Blame for Abuse of Deep Packet Inspection Technology

It is the intention by design that deep packet inspection hardware is supposed to look at data contents of a packet coming into the network and determine what the content represents how it should treat it and by what action. If the content matches the profile for either a rogue website, malware or anything else that may be determined to be harmful, the deep packet inspection box is supposed to drop the packet and not act in order to make the website think that it has given you the data and then proceed to report the problem to the system administrators.

The problem with deep packet inspection boxes (or DPI for short) technology is that it can also be used for good as well as evil. At corporate sites, DPI boxes send a message to the system administrators if anyone attempts to visit an external website that is on the list of banned connections from the company. For example, if YouTube is on the list of banned websites and person A goes to YouTube on the company internet connection, a message stating that person A is attempting to contact a restricted service will go straight to the systems administrators. Again, this is what DPI boxes are supposed to do in a corporate environment and it's all completely normal procedure, really. They both protect from external threats and limit potential internal threats from going to places that the company deems as not business-orientated or simply classified as insecure.

Because they have the ability to intercede and inject another website or redirect to another URL, the DPI box can, if programmed, do malicious things as well as good things. That is obviously what the Sandvines packet monitor is doing. In a sense, this is not outside of what the device is supposed to do. However, it has been subverted to do something that is not in the best interest of people inside the dictatorships of authoritarian governments that are deploying this device in a subversive way. The fact that Sandvine advertises this capability to its governmental clients is questionable but it is not outside the capabilities of any DPI box that's designed to provide the version of connections to sites that are deemed not advantageous to the government or corporation that uses it.

Malicious payloads are criminal only under the laws of the country where diversion has taken place. So, it might very well be that Turkey, Syria or any other countries that have implemented the Sandvine device(s) are not aware of the malware it is in fact diverting traffic too. However, it might just be another way for them to use people they considered to be a problem, to help them gain some revenue or use in defense of things they want to protect. We do not know for certain. But it must also be considered.

Use of packet sniffers and deep packet inspection software to monitor networks is not uncommon. They are used for a variety of reasons, most of the time for legitimate security monitoring of network traffic and packet activity. Sometimes they are utilized to debug problem devices connected to the network. Generally, software tools do not have the same ability to do what DPI hardware does. They can't go in and edit packets and send them back on-the-fly. Instead, software simply looks at what's going on and reports where necessary. They are effectively just monitors, with very specific limitations. Still, it's important to understand the technical differences between software and hardware network monitoring and packet inspection technology and how each is implemented and utilized.

It is equally important to understand and acknowledge that deep packet inspection, diversion or deletion of packets in a data stream is not necessarily an evil or dishonest thing to do. As noted earlier, corporate firewalls make use of this exact same technology in order to protect the internal network from possible malware coming from public sites. It's also used to prevent employees from visiting sites that are unrelated to work purposes and visiting sites that could potentially pose a threat to corporate network security.

All this is something that is done at virtually every level of the internet by the companies that provide the backbone of the infrastructure that support it, interconnect it and ensure last-mile distribution and connectivity. Internet service providers often deploy this technology in order to send messages or interrupt a customer's session. We know of cases where this has been done. It is also possible for the internet service provider to actually replace advertising that is on the network coming from a remote site with their own advertising, or to remove it completely because of its malicious nature. This could actually have the potential of raising legal questions in some countries of whether it is deemed acceptable security practice or be deemed to be interference with the service being provided to the client, who is paying simply for internet access and no other service(s). A good example which demonstrates this, only locally, is your ad-blocking software that you're probably running inside your browser. It is doing the exact same thing as these deep packet inspection boxes are doing: it is examining the HTML code, looking for specific URL patterns or other suspicious tags, and then either removing them or replacing them with something else. The script-blocking software NoScript does this down to a very specific, programmable level. You can have it eliminate each element one at a time, by groups or by a variety of different filtering criteria. In effect, it is working as a DPI firewall, within your browser.

The recent security research published by Citizen Lab is focused on the Sandvine DPI device. Virtually every hardware firewall device is capable of doing the same thing. Cisco, Barracuda etc. can all be programmed to perform the same diversions outlined, including malicious diversions too. The only difference is the intent of the owners of the device: protecting or deceiving their users.

It has been suggested that various countries around the world are placing serious consideration to the concept of implementation of national-level firewalls, similar to the Great Firewall of China. There are already various means of which countries can block inbound or outbound internet traffic from its borders. And there have been rumors floating around of some countries having an internet "kill switch", which would essentially stop all internet traffic within the country with the simple launch of the rumored kill switch. Although Freedom Publishers Union is not aware of such Hollywood-style kill switch being in actual existence. It was recently revealed that Russia is open to the possibility of implementing its own internet, which would include the Russian operations of a central domain name system, similar to ICANN, which holds primary responsibility over access and traffic flow of the world's internet. Some media outlets conclude this is an attempt by Russia to create an entirely new and separate internet. This is incorrect. If Russia's concept was to come to realization, then it would effectively create a separate backbone of access to the existing internet. The concept requires further review and scrutiny, but based on what we know so far, it's actually a perfectly reasonable and sensible proposal.

Whilst implementation of a national-level firewall is one option to control internet access of a nation - which will probably be argued that it is to protect citizens from exposure to malicious content - it does raise many issues of civil liberties and freedom of access to the internet which is free from censorship. The alternative approach is the path the United States of America which prefers to continue to operate mass-surveillance networks which are wide in scope and vast in reach, to log, store, analyze and monitor traffic from everywhere around the world, rather than block it.

Ultimately, this technology whether it be software or hardware in nature, can be used beneficially or maliciously. The use/abuse of it is determined by the laws of the country that hosts the network. A country that defends its citizens freedom of expression and the Rule of Law to protect them will use these tools for good. It is the duty of organizations like Freedom Publishers Union to keep democratic nations that way.

Quality Publishing Works - International Media Group - Reykjavík Press

February 20, 2018 | Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Submitting to Government Pressure, Deleting and Editing Stories on Government Request

The ABC News, Australia's flagship public broadcasting news agency operated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was once known for cutting edge reporting, investigative journalism and fearless reporting on all the important issues. Something has changed within the walls of the ABC offices. It has somewhat lost its edge and its age-old mantra of fearless reporting is beginning to show signs of cracks around the edges.

Last week, The Guardian reported on a particular story which was written by the much respected ABC journalist and presenter, Emma Alberici. The piece that she published on the ABC was taken down off the website after reported complaints by Australia's Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

(As we were about to go to press with this Editorial, Freedom Publishers Union learned from The Australian that the Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, also made a formal complaint to the public broadcaster, in addition to the complaint lodged by the Prime Minister.)

The Guardian reports that the ABC claims that the story was removed because it did not meet the required editorial standards for an analysis piece. There was also another news story which accompanied the piece that was also removed, which made accusations to QANTAS that the company had not paid its corporate tax for 10 years. At the same time Alberici's first story was being removed, her accompanying story on QANTAS was being edited and rewritten by the news editors. It was republished, but key economic data and charts have been removed.

According to Guardian Australia, it reports that ABC management were holding what it describes as 'crisis meetings', which occurred after the Prime Minister launched attacks on the ABC story by Alberici in Question Time. This was followed up by an official complaint in written form, to the public broadcaster. Later, the ABC would claim the meetings were held before the complaints were lodged. Freedom Publishers Union is at odds with this claim and calls on the ABC to produce meeting minutes as documentative evidence of the definitive schedule of these meetings.

Freedom Publishers Union has become concerned that the ABC, particularly its news division operated under the Director of News, Gaven Morris, is willingly responding at the apparent request of government ministers to have information edited or removed. In this particular case, Australia's highest minister - the Prime Minister.

ABC's Director of News, Gaven Morris, has seemingly caved in to government pressure by acting on the complaint of the Prime Minister by removing a story and having another edited. Freedom Publishers Union is certainly not directly accusing Mr. Morris of personally ordering the deletion and editing of stories to please government officials. But to hide behind reasons that particular stories are removed/edited for simply not meeting editorial standards is strange. Strange, as it is out of character for the ABC and also unjustified on such an accomplished journalist such as Emma Alberici, who studied economics and was also the hardline former presenter on Lateline, where she was known for her tough and relentless interviews of Australia's most prominent politicians.

Freedom Publishers Union is very concerned of the editorial tampering the ABC's news-level management are taking against its journalists. We were able to access the deleted story through the Wayback Machine and can confirm that there was no data in the article that was incorrect. Alberici opened the removed story with the following statement, which we understand is the primary cause of the governmental complaints towards the piece, with the following comments, "There is no compelling evidence that giving the country's biggest companies a tax cut sees that money passed on to workers in the form of higher wages.". This opening comment was justified, absolutely has merit and is not just a matter of uninformed economic opinion of the author, as suggested by ABC editorial management.

Freedom Publishers Union researched and fact checked the information and concurs with this opening statement. Based on the interactive economic data and graphs we analyzed for the period of 2008-2018, the data proves that company profits have increased and company wage growth has actually dropped. Economic projections for wage growth in Australia in 2018 is pretty dismal too. Projections show that Australia is set to grow wages at only 0.4%, some of the lowest growth rates in developed economies. The theory that lower tax rates bring better wages for workers is largely based on theory, rather than actual historical data. In fact, data proves contradictory to the theory. We cite the UK, where over the last 10 years the corporate tax rate has gone from 30% down to just 19%, the lowest it's ever been, yet has not flowed through to wage growth. Actual wage growth has dropped, and for most of the last 10 years has been stagnant. The data is much the same for Japan. Despite over the same 10 year period of Japan's corporate tax rate dropping from 40% to 30%, wage growth has been slow and again, quite stagnant over the same period.

Our concerns over the integrity and editorial standards of the ABC extend even further and are not solely related to this one instance.

Freedom Publishers Union were critical of the ABC's decision to return the source document files from the relatively uneventful publication of The Cabinet Files. The documents that were used as the source of a very limited publication, were handed to the ABC by a source who's identity has not been revealed. Supposedly, the documents were acquired through the purchase of an ex-government filing cabinet which was locked and sold without the key. The new owner broke into the cabinet after allowing it to sit, unattended for several months. Reportedly, inside were thousands of government documents - some of which were classified as "Secret" and were relevant to many different national security matters. Many of the documents were said to be marked "Australian Eyes Only".

Freedom Publishers Union understands that the source would have handed these documents to the ABC because the ABC has been for a very long time the most trusted source of news in the country. It is much more respected than commercial news broadcasters. We cannot independently confirm this was the reason for the source trusting the ABC with the documents, but through careful analysis and process of elimination, this was the most plausible conclusion that we can draw.

It seems we are not alone. Many analysts in the media have echoed our conclusion. If this was in fact the case, then Freedom Publishers Union believes that the ABC had a journalistic and ethical responsibility to carefully analyze the documents, said to be in the thousands of pages, and report on them using safe, ethical and responsible editorial and reporting methods. The ABC is more than capable of handling such sensitive documents and information. Why was it not able to handle the sensitivity surrounding the information that was provided inside The Cabinet Files? Instead, we saw the ABC managerial team swoop in and take over what was to be released and what was to be handed back to the government. And let's be honest, the stories that were published can be described as disposable and genuinely uninteresting to most people. It was only days later though, that government officials and ASIO intelligence officers entered the office of the ABC and took possession of the physical documents, supposedly to ensure national security interests were protected. Or the other possibility - to avoid international embarrassment through the leaking of such sensitive intelligence information.

What Freedom Publishers Union finds extremely disturbing is that the ABC is claiming that there was nothing in the documents that was of public interest. We just can't allow ourselves to believe this claim. We seriously cannot conclude that there is nothing of public interest in a cabinet full of government documents that many of them were marked secret/top secret or for Australian Eyes Only. Freedom Publishers Union advocates for governmental operations transparency. But if such material was deemed to be too sensitive for public disclosure, then we would expect the ABC to report on the information in a responsible manner and by using appropriate, yet minimal document redaction processes to ensure national security was respected and maintained.

Freedom Publishers Union is not the first to point out that the ABC is more than capable of such a task and is one of the best news agencies in the country for dealing with investigate journalism and reporting on sensitive issues. Even the ABC network's own media program, Media Watch, expressed strong views and skepticism towards the network's handling of The Cabinet Files. Paul Barry of Media Watch cited Gaven Morris when he claimed, "We [the ABC] could have told hundreds of stories over weeks or months". Paul Barry responded by asking the most obvious rhetorical question, "If that is so, why on Earth did the ABC not tell them?".

Investigative journalist, Brian Toohey, from the Australian Financial Review responded with much the same response by saying, "The ABC's filing cabinet kowtow to ASIO and the government was gutless".

Paul Barry sums it up very well by stating, "it is a sorry end to what in many ways was a great get for the ABC" and reaffirms that the network was "trusted by its source" and "how sad that what could have been a triumph ended in something of a train wreck".

Freedom Publishers Union believes that the public broadcaster failed the Australian people through deciding to not publish more detailed information on The Cabinet Files. And if the source of the documents chose to hand them over to the ABC for proper investigative journalism to be carried out, then we expect they must also be extremely disappointed in the way the nation's public broadcaster buckled to government pressure to get their hands on the documents. In the end, the ABC failed and the government got their way. Which seems to have become common practice now at the public broadcaster.

Freedom Publishers Union support Australia's free press. The country is extremely lucky that it enjoys so much freedom. But we feel under the current Liberal Party run Government that this is gradually shifting into frightening territory and slowly, piece by piece, these freedoms are eroding through overbearing legislation that impedes on the nation's freedoms and rights of the people. Specifically, the issues with the ABC started with reduced funding of the public broadcasting sector, which also includes the SBS network. Prior to the Liberal Party entering into government, there was a specific promise to the Australian people that public broadcasting would not face funding cuts. Once Liberal was elected into office, they effectively backtracked on this key election promise. There is no denying that the Australian people were lied to. Albeit, these reductions were small. They were nevertheless reductions which has seen the ABC forced to make major changes to its radio and television programming to accomodate. Current affairs and news programming has suffered.

Whilst we're sure the public broadcasters are doing their best to withstand the constant barrage of attacks from the government, we also believe that they are growing weaker and are more likely to cooperate with the government, or face the very real possibility of further funding cuts if the ABC demonstrates too much independence. The government is constantly attacking the ABC network when views and opinions expressed through their journalism differs to government policy or direction of political debate. SBS remains unscathed most of the time. This is very concerning and Freedom Publishers Union remains in the constant battle to protect public broadcasting in Australia and aims to protect journalism so it remains free from censorship, governmental interference and can maintain editorial independence. We constantly watch closely, just how much the government aims to curtail the truth about its flawed economic policy, which when revealed to be flawed through the use of actual data has the potential to influence public opinion and turn the public's interest against the government's agenda. They don't like it.

Governments are free to disagree with media analysis and opinion. However, they are not free to launch formal complaints just when they disagree and put media and journalists under pressure to a point they feel they must comply. But this must be backed up with strong leadership and management from media. And this is the key area where the ABC is failing the public. It no longer has a spine of stubbornness and is much too easily intimidated by government pressure, which it appears to comply with at almost every request.

Australian's once had a very strong public broadcaster and had confidence in the ABC, which was usually reliable in standing up for its cause. And Australia's media landscape was stronger for it. Now, we're not so sure.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

February 10, 2018 | Tribute to Freedom Fighter, John Perry Barlow


Freedom Publishers Union is deeply saddened to learn from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) of the passing of internet pioneer and cyber-libertarian, John Perry Barlow.

John was a Co-Founder of EFF and Freedom of the Press Foundation, and one of the true internet pioneers who in the 1990's foresaw the internet's full potential to change the lives of humanity, for the better, whilst acknowledging that it could also be used for evil.

John was a true freedom fighter for digital rights and believed that the internet should remain free from unethical government interruption and over-regulation. Freedom Publishers Union fights for these same rights! So to lose John, is to lose one of our own.

The legacy of his work will continue through the EFF, but John's presence will be missed by all. John was a true freedom fighter for digitals rights.

As a tribute to John Perry Barlow, Freedom Publishers Union is publishing a manifesto he wrote in 1996 titled "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace":

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.

You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract. This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge. Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.

In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.

In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.

We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Freedom Publishers Union - Public Relations Department

February 4, 2018 | New Bill Would Make Australia Worst in the Free World for Criminalizing Journalism

Australia is a world leader in passing the most amendments to existing and new anti-terror and security laws in the liberal democratic world. Since September 11, 2001, it has passed 54 laws.

The latest suggested addition is the Turnbull government's crackdown on foreign interference. The bill has been heavily criticized by Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and major media organisations for being too heavy-handed and far-reaching in the limits it would place on freedom of expression and several other civil liberties.

The government's own intelligence watchdog, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, argues the bill is so widely worded that its own staff could break the law for handling documents they need to access to do their job.

A case in point is whether the ABC's publication of confidential and secret cabinet documents would be in breach of the proposed bill. Two filing cabinets full of thousands of confidential cabinet documents were given to the ABC by a source who, astonishingly, had bought them for small change at an op-shop in Canberra.

The ABC made an assessment and chose to publish a very limited number of the documents it deemed in the public interest. The ABC has so far clearly acted responsibly, and no documents that could harm Australia's national security were in the first publication.

Some of the published documents are embarrassing for both the current and former Coalition and Labor governments, but that should not stop publication - rather, the opposite.

Read more: New foreign interference laws will compound risks to whistleblowers and journalists

What the bill would mean

The foreign interference bill, in its current form, suggests it should be criminal for anyone to "receive" and "handle" certain national security information. It would seem that by just receiving the filing cabinets and assessing what to publish, the ABC staff would be in breach of the provisions suggested in the bill.

Furthermore, this makes an already heavy-handed whistleblower regime from an international perspective even more draconian. It is sure to lose Australia several places on the Press Freedom Index if implemented as suggested.

The bill is an overreach in many respects. But one of the worst aspects, from a transparency and accountability point of view, is that it seeks to extend the draconian Section 70 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act.

Section 70 makes it a crime, punishable by a maximum of two years in prison, for public servants to communicate or supply information to anyone outside government without permission. The ABC's publication of the cabinet files clearly illustrates that media organisations with ethical and thorough editorial polices are perfectly capable of assessing what to publish.

The bigger picture is that the current bill is part of a pattern that started after the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001.

In our forthcoming book, In The Name of Security - Secrecy, Surveillance and Journalism, my colleagues and I assess how the anti-terror laws and mass surveillance technologies in the Five Eyes countries has impacted on in-depth public interest journalism. We also compare the Five Eyes with several BRICS countries and the situation in the European Union.

Our main conclusions are that the current fear-driven security environment has made it much harder for investigative journalists to hold governments and security agencies to account. This is partly due to anti-terror and security laws making it harder for whistleblowers to act.

Add to this the truly awesome powers of mass surveillance making it increasingly difficult for investigative journalists to grant anonymity to sources that require it for their own safety, and you end up with a very complex journalist-source situation.

Another important factor in Australia and the UK is that all national security agencies are exempt from Freedom of Information laws. This makes it virtually impossible to independently acquire information from the security branch of government.

The balance between national security and transparency is complex. As citizens, we want to feel safe and know what is being done to keep us safe. In our book, we have labelled this the "trust us" dilemma, meaning governments argue they can't disclose what they are doing security-wise, lest the "bad guys" find out.

That leaves us needing to trust the government's security actions and policies. But the problem is, how can we as citizens decide if we trust the government if we don't have the information on which to base this decision?

There is no easy answer to this question. Political philosopher Giorgio Agamben takes our reasoning one step further when he argues that the liberal democratic world has been in a "state of exception" since September 11. This has granted powers to security agencies that are creeping increasingly closer to those of the totalitarian regimes in Europe in the 1930s.

Agamben traces various states of exception all the way back to Roman times. The pattern is similar through history: governments point to an "other" - often a hard-to-define enemy - as a reason for increased powers to the security apparatus. They are convinced they are doing the right thing.

The problem is that if we don't roll back the strengthened security laws in times of lower threat, we start from a high level next time we enter a "state of exception". This in turn can lead to a never-ending war on real or perceived threats where our cherished democratic civil liberties become part of the collateral damage.

If we allow the "state of exception" to become permanent, we risk allowing the terrorists to win.

Johan Lidberg, Associate Professor, School of Media, Film and Journalism, Monash University

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

February 4, 2018 | The Edge of Post-Privacy

Freedom Publishers Union is absolutely committed to spreading the message of privacy. Everyone deserves the right to privacy and to take action to uphold that right. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) interprets Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as "a human rights treaty that guarantees privacy rights. More specifically, Article 17 of the ICCPR protects everyone from arbitrary or unlawful interferences with their privacy". Freedom Publishers Union notes, that the ICCPR is a civil rights document and not specifically a human rights document. However, in its interpretation, Article 17 is in fact a privacy right and must be adhered to. Whether 'privacy' itself is a civil right or a human right is a separate debating point. Irrespective of that, it is a right. Article 17 reads:


Article 17

1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.

2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.


When citizens take action to protect their privacy, they often get it wrong. This is not through fault of their own, rather, usually it is through lack of being provided the education and knowledge required for action to become effective. This is why it has become so important for independent publications to spread correct and accurate knowledge about security, privacy and the tools to achieve it. We need to get the message across and we need to get the message right. But there is something that we cannot fix. We are constantly faced with legislative decisions, even in free and democratic countries, that threaten our ability to take action to protect our privacy. Additionally, we are losing our ability to remain completely anonymous on the internet, which is a major building block of privacy.

Freedom Publishers Union is not totally comfortable with how privacy is being handled. The way we view privacy today is causing us to become fearful not just of government or big business, but of ourselves. The bad news is that there never really has been or will be true privacy. We know more about it today because of people like Edward Snowden, but we've always been faced with someone other than us snooping on our secrets. This has been a part of our history for as long as we've had written record.

Data trails are left everywhere - on every website - on every server. Before we begin to panic, we need to put things into perspective and understand what happens with our data on the internet. It can often be confusing. It's certainly complex. It's also very expansive. When using mapping tools to view and analyze websites and where the data is shared, you're truly only getting a glimpse of the entire connection array. These software tools are limited in scope and in some cases rely on algorithms to predict where data is going based on previous connections, to fill in the gaps. Still, they offer incredible insight into just how far data sharing goes.

Google is trying to be an honest broker of the zettabytes of live data that we as humans, scatter around the planet. Amazon is also trying to act in our best interest. After all, between Google and Amazon, the largest collection of information about people is stored and accessible. Facebook too has massive chunks of information stored on its users. Their datacenters even hold records of internet users that do not even have Facebook accounts but have accessed the website or any website that has Facebook linked to it. Whether it's through Facebook's advertising network or simply through social media sharing, once the connection is made, all data that Facebook can access, it retains for its own commercial advantage. Let's be honest, Facebook is probably linked in some form to almost every news website and blog in the world. Facebook's stewardship is not lacking, but is being primarily directed by the its users in a way that makes trying to keep information secure, almost impossible. And completely anonymous, equally impossible.

Transparency is a double-edged sword. We need to be realistic. Google - Amazon - Facebook - all of these companies make money by connecting their users with advertising that may lead to a sale where both parties share the benefits. But it comes at the cost of sharing information. That information has a different value to each of the parties. These sources openly provide snippets (terabyte snippets, but still a fraction of the raw data) for third-party analysis. It's very easy to connect the dots and derive new information from the large patterns that you find. Facebook provides social interactions. Amazon knows 'why we buy' and 'what we buy'. Google provides insight into our curiosity and from that, what our conscious interests are.

There are many other smaller firms focused on narrower data streams - Axciom, Experian and Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) to name a few. Taken together, all of these firms collect masses of anonymous data, analyze it, then apply the analysis as filters over individuals. Despite public perception and concerns over privacy violations, they really don't care about the details of a single person, but they allow individuals to be categorized in the context of a 'transaction'. Whether it's buying a car, deciding on a book or planning a crime, the data is meaningless outside of the context of the applied filter. The data truly is anonymous right up to the very end. Only when the final context is applied does the Schrödinger's Cat of identity precipitate into a real person. Effectively, it's our data that is being traded. Not really our identities.

And that's the problem. Because the data that's filtered relies on so many different sources with different obfuscation and different data points in their storage, we end up with blind men and an elephant. No one has a full picture of all the data points that make up an individual. Schrödinger's Cat appears, but sometimes missing ears or a tail. That's what causes the errors in results, why gay women get Viagra adverts or an innocent person is swept up and accused of being a terrorist. This is a failing of algorithms and is why these advertising algorithms are constantly being updated and refined, in an effort to be as precise as possible within the contextual restraints of the data filters and with minimal identity detection built in to the entire stream. Transparency cuts both ways. The problem is like medicine. Every year we learn more about illness and curing disease, but those diagnosed and treated last year could be out of luck. The more that is known, the better the results become. We don't drill holes in skulls for headaches!

Anonymity is a middle ground between secrecy and full transparency. What we need to do is get to a point where we change our attitudes towards things that really don't matter in the greater scheme and focus on those aspects of 'our lives' that do matter. People are more worried about the interpretation of a hug or a smile or a friendship than they are about how their lives are being manipulated. We need to learn and understanding the impact of privacy and the way people can be hurt by it, and also understand the reality of what's happening with the technology and the impact it can have on people's lives.

We are right at the cusp of becoming a 'post-privacy' society. Actually, it's difficult to pin-point whether we have entered the post-privacy era or whether we are at the border, staring over into foreign territory. Following the original Snowden leaks, in an article titled "The Post-Privacy World" written in July 2013 for Wired, Nova Spivack said, "While it is tempting to have a knee-jerk reaction against government intrusion in our lives, in fact it's not that simple. Whether it's PRISM or Wikileaks that worries us more, we are clearly in a different world now. One in which privacy is being replaced by something new - transparency - and this has implications that go right to the heart of our democracy.". Furthermore, Nova adds, "Given that secrets will become ever more difficult and costly to protect, our expectation of privacy has to evolve. We have to accept that it's impossible and unrealistic to achieve total privacy". Nova pretty much sums it up right there. That folks, is our entry into the post-privacy era. But there's a slight problem with this. Nova wrote those words in 2013, and it's now 2018. Almost 5 years have passed, yet it somehow feels that we are still spooked by privacy violations of our identities online and having all our actions scooped up in dragnet surveillance. Nova continues by stating, "We are now entering the Age of Transparency, an era of increasing openness at all levels of society. Transparency arises when it becomes increasingly hard to keep secrets, and so the focus shifts to how to behave when anything (from personal info to state secrets) can be discovered if one is determined enough.".

Perhaps post-privacy doesn't exist and is simply something that we drum up in our minds. A kind of paranoia. Facebook is leading the way to socialize the idea, and the other data pools will follow soon after. But, in order for this post-privacy world to function properly, people need to understand that everything they do is being saved and stored in a datacenter somewhere, by some company and most likely being traded too. Problems won't become problems if enough context, enough data, exists to clarify them. Because anonymity is secure until the final moment, it's only when the last step in the transaction executes that the data becomes a human. So, if that moment can be held off, less data leakage will occur.

Whilst it can't be guaranteed to work, there is a concept that may come close. First, we need to create a true 'honest broker' to act as the secure clearing house for personal data. Think of an 'ICANN for data', if you will. They assign everyone a unique key that is used to identify you and they maintain the repositories of raw data, linked only by the unique key. But the key is set up the way a one-time token is, and each request for data gets a unique key, good only for that requestor and dataset. The analysis can theoretically occur with complete anonymity. When the final result is found, the request returns to the honest broker - the request is verified - and the transaction is completed. Through this process, each request for data and the results are correlated and, using something like a blockchain, the audit trail is maintained without compromising on security and anonymity. If data does leak, it's simply a matter of crawling back up the blockchain and identifying which request caused the leak.

Such a proposal would not be easy, would realistically take at least a decade to implement properly and to receive the security it deserves. And of course, governments and criminals will try to keep their own copies. But the costs of duplication will quickly eliminate the problem. There should be no special requests for any court, media, journalist, military, Kings/Queens or Congress. The problem is developing a Charter that keeps the honest broker completely transparent and neutral, as both would be key to the successful rollout and also maintaining that the requests for special access remain barred at all times.

Without a working prototype of such a proposal, it is difficult to foresee what security vulnerabilities could arise. The question of security is paramount and would need to be dealt with. By having a centralized data broker, you cannot escape the realization that security concerns are present and questions are going to be asked. But if implemented properly, it would finally allow for all data to be treated equal and all requests would be handled in the same transparent manner.

Perhaps Julian Assange isn't so crazy after all. He fights for total transparency. It was once thought that his concept was crazy. Now, it's becoming much more appealing.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News | Permission to republish | Donate

February 1, 2018 | Grip on Australia's Press Freedom Looks to be Tightened. Borders on Authoritarian!

It was on the last day of sitting for 2017 for Australia's House of Representatives, that the Liberal Party of Australia introduced proposed changes to the laws surrounding espionage and other matters of national security, which could see the possibility of detrimental effects be placed on the free press in the country.

Criticism comes as the Parliament is set to return next week. The proposed changes in the legislation titled "National Security Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017", is sure to become a deep topic which will see heavy debate ensue.

The proposed espionage changes are reportedly in response to Australia feeling the pinch from threats from foreign interference of other nations. Although it has not been officially recognized, China is at the heart of their concerns, along with Russia. Whether the two countries actually pose any legitimate threat to Australia's strong functioning democracy, is an open question. In fact, the proposals are more reflective of attacks that attempt to silence specific areas of the media.

There are many valid concerns which have been raised by many journalists, publishers and media outlets. The proposed changes are complex in their writing and the scope much too broad. As outlined in the actual legislative document, anyone and media will be forbidden to:

("it" refers to information)

Freedom Publishers Union expresses opposition to the proposed changes because there have already been sweeping changes over the past couple of years with other parts of the law, directly related to national security concerns. "The changes Australia has already implemented have done enough. In my opinion, they've already gone too far and already threaten the freedom that Australia enjoys with a free press. These latest proposals threaten the free press even further. But not just the free press, but whistleblowers, journalists and publishers. Effectively, our own organization [Freedom Publishers Union] could face legal action if we are to even receive information related to anything on national security matters. And that's even before we've made the information public. To me, that sounds very authoritarian.", says Freedom Publishers Union Editor, Chris McGimpsey-Jones.

Under the current proposals that have been tabled, journalists, publishers and media outlets can all face heavy handed legal action pushed against them when reporting on foreign intelligence and national security matters. And this is irrespective of whether it is in the public's interest. The proposals actually take a much tighter grip on the free press, by leaving open the possibility that those in media can face the same hefty legal action if they do not report on the issues, but are in possession of source documents that could be used for reporting on matters which the Government is claiming are sensitive to matters of national security. Whistleblowers could also face legal action placed against them. There's nobody in the chain of how the source-to-media process operates that would be free from possibility of prosecution under these draconian espionage law changes, if they pass and get enacted.

Chris continues, "As the grip around freedom of speech and the free press in Australia gets tightened, Freedom Publishers Union sees dark times ahead for Australian media if we are not even allowed to report and document on matters which may be based off leaked documents or other information, deemed to be in the public interest and declared suitable for public disclosure.".

In a completely ironic and unforeseen situation, as Freedom Publishers Union were in the process of preparing this Editorial, a major developing story broke from the nation's public broadcaster, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The news agency has obtained thousands of pages of top secret and classified documents from several different Parliamentary Cabinets. The ABC obtained the documents from a source who purchased some ex-government filing cabinets. The filing cabinets were bought cheap as they were locked, reportedly with no key for access. The owner cracked into the filing cabinets to find the source documents, unexpectedly. Whilst this story is still effectively developing as we go to press, it must be noted that to the best of our understanding, under current laws the ABC is more than entitled to report on the documents. However, under the aforementioned proposed changes, no media agency would be permitted to report on them. "Effectively, this is media censorship at its finest. Here, in Australia, happening right in front of our eyes.", Chris concludes.

The timing of the documents coming into the hands of the public broadcaster could not be more perfect, as it puts on a public show by example of the threat that the current espionage proposed changes actually pose to Australia's free and open press which is still taken for granted by so many Australian citizens.

Despite the claims by the Liberal Party that the legislation has protection clauses drafted into the document to prevent any restrictions being placed on the free press, we are not confident that it goes anywhere near far enough. As we have analyzed the proposed legislation, we can only find minimal reference in just a line or two, noting that there will be legal exclusion for "fair and accurate reporting". Freedom Publishers Union advocates very strongly against the proposed changes, unless serious amendments are put forward which will guarantee protection for whistleblowers, journalists and publishers.

Australia enjoys a free press, much like the Unites States of America and other democratic countries. It must be protected against constant attempts to place restrictions on what can be and what can't be reported by media. Media outlets must be allowed to have the freedom to publish what they deem to be in the public interest, in an ethical, and professionally responsible manner.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

January 27, 2018 | NSA Deletes Surveillance Data From 2001-2007. Conspiracy or Incompetence?

On January 19, 2018, Politico broke a story of which describes the destruction of data related to one of the most intensive of the NSA's vast network of surveillance programs - the President's Surveillance Program (PSP). Irrespective of the actual cause, it is clear that the NSA has failed in its mandate to protect the data. Since 2007, the NSA was ordered by the courts to ensure the protection of surveillance data related to the illegal and warrantless wiretapping of international communications, which was ordered and authorized by former President George W. Bush following the 2001 terror attacks on the Twin Towers, in New York.

Additional details have been revealed that backups of data from 2001-2007 have also been destroyed. It is stated that backup tapes that could have potentially been used to restore the original data, were destroyed in 2009, 2011 and 2016. The NSA claims the data was destroyed as part of a "broad, housecleaning effort" which was carried out to free up space for incoming data. However, The Hill has reported that the NSA still retain the metadata of the main data that was destroyed and if required, the metadata used as evidence.

PSP was in operation from 2001 until it expired in 2007. From 2007 onwards, it was significantly broken up and portions of the program were renewed under different legislation, while other parts were supposedly dropped. Although the specifics of what went where are extremely complex and the process has not exactly been transparent. Therefore, speaking on a general basis, Freedom Publishers Union is skeptical of any suggestion that the NSA has improved its ways and we still believe there is much more oversight required to reign in much of the NSA's unnecessary spying on civilians.

A lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation suggested that the NSA has a "tremendous volume of information they're [the agency] vacuuming up" and that it is "impossible to be meticulous" in the safe management of the data. The NSA admits it has failed in its obligations to protect the data from destruction, but makes no justification of why the backup data was also destroyed. And this is where privacy activists and civil libertarians are going to focus their attacks on the NSA, which will undoubtedly be relentless and unforgiving.

We must be careful and understand that it could very likely be a simple error of judgment by some innocent worker(s) inside the agency. It's difficult to conclude definitively, based on what representatives from the NSA have publicly stated. As the operations inside the agency are some of the most secretive in the world, the public is forced to accept the public statements made by officials from the NSA. We note that in 2014, an official stated that "the NSA has stored these tapes in the offices of its General Counsel". But now four years later in 2018, the NSA now claims that that original statement was only "partially accurate when made".

It raises the obvious question - Should the NSA still be engaging in dragnet surveillance if it cannot properly manage and secure the data?

Freedom Publishers Union believes that mass-surveillance is returning to the pre-Snowden era, is being expanded and broadened in scope under the Trump Administration. Where there are legal loop holes to be exploited, the NSA is exploiting them. Where there are no loopholes to jump through, the NSA uses the extensive surveillance programs capabilities of its intelligence sharing partners in the Five Eyes intelligence network. The NSA has previously relied upon the operations carried out by their British spying partners at the GCHQ. This close relationship continues today.

Freedom Publishers Union has connected with people who have worked inside both government agencies and in the private sector. We have reason to believe that if the NSA destruction of the data was a genuine accident, then it would not be the first time something this silly has occurred inside such a high-level government agency. We add that if it were a simple scenario of old data being deleted in an effort to clear up some free space, then it is very likely that the person who carried out the original removal were unaware of what the precise data was and probably unaware it was meant to be safeguarded against its removal. But this would be put down to sloppy management of such critical data and could not be deemed the sole fault of one (or more) individuals. We also have information directly from sources who work have worked in the big data industry for close to 40 years, who will gladly admit that backups are the major joke of the industry. Failing backup data is a regular occurrence and there's not much confidence in backup storage technology in general.

If it were to be confirmed the destruction of the data was intentional, it seems inevitable the US Government is going to get crucified. One could not imagine a worse situation. Politically, those on the opposite would use this to the highest extent possible, leaving the government with not much defense. If we see any kind of extensive investigation into the event, then it is very likely that it might spread further than the walls of the NSA and into the CIA, the FBI and further. How long is a piece of string? This ordeal has the potential of making the United States of America (USA) look stupid. It is that bad. The USA has very little credibility left, politically. If a country has an intelligence information sharing arrangement with the USA, then we'd recommend they tread carefully and take a few steps back because everybody is going to become a suspect.

Surely, just surely, somebody inside the NSA - one of the world's most elite spy agencies - could not be that stupid to recklessly hit the delete key on such important data, without first verifying that it was no longer needed? Or did 'that person' have higher authority permitting them to execute the destruction of the data? Is this just how stupid, incompetent and pythonesque governments have become? Occams razor bloodies the idiots.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News | Permission to republish | Donate

January 19, 2018 | More Intel Vulnerabilities, with Active Management Technology (AMT)

Technology is in every corner of the world and we appreciate it in each step of our lives. Technology unlocks the world before us and allows us to realize our potential, but it also has the potential of unlocking a straight line of access for attackers.

The word "hacking" is almost known by everyone in this digital life. We believe hacking to be a good thing. Yeah, it can be illegal. But it is challenging the technology industry in a positive way which is helping to make security stronger.

Now, we are part of a generation where we don't have to unlock our devices by putting password manually because of our passwords can now be our body parts, like the iris and fingerprints. Sure, traditional methods of security still exist, but biometrics are improving security and is an example of how we have improved our security.

Hacking can be done through hardware or software. Software has many options to hack because you can directly interact with it through the network. But hardware is a little bit different, as it has fewer options. This is because you can't get direct access to it in the same way you can with software.

Wikipedia describes Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) as "hardware and firmware technology for remote out-of-band management of personal computers. It is used in order to monitor, maintain, update, upgrade and repair". All this could be done through remote connectivity. Like all technology, AMT has two faces - Advantage and Disadvantage.

Freedom Publishers Union learned of the loophole from a publication released by security firm F-Secure. But the original vulnerability is tracked back to a white hat hacker from Finland, who is also a F-Secure Security Consultant, named Harry Sintonen. He discovered the AMT vulnerability back in July 4, 2017. According to details in the full security advisory accessed by Freedom Publishers Union, he made contactwith many technology companies including Fujitsu, ASUS, Dell, Lenovo, HP, ASUS, Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba and Acer. Most importantly, Intel was notified on July 11 and July 12, 2017. Intel confirmed the advisory was received on July 12, 2017. Some of these companies responded to the advisory notice. Specifically, Intel did take action in what seems like an attempt to rectify the security issue. Information was not available to Freedom Publishers Union at the time of going to press as to how effective Intel's action has been to inform its customers about the AMT vulnerability. We were able to cite a technical security document supplied by Intel, provided through F-Secure, that confirms that notification of the vulnerability was confirmed by Intel by adding it to its Security Advisories for Intel Active Management Technology, under the Advisory Number "INTEL-SA-00075". It was unclear to us what action other companies had taken, specifically laptop vendors.

Essentially, there is a loophole in Intel processors that allow an attacker to bypass logins, leaving open the potential to place a backdoor on the laptop which allows adversaries remote access to laptops. F- Secure claim the loophole can be exploited in less than one minute. The technique requires attackers to have physical access to the computer and also assumes the target has not configured their system to protect the Intel Management Engine BIOS Extension (MEBx) account on computers that support Intel AMT.

As we stated earlier, AMT is a remote feature of Intel processors normally used in vPro enabled and Xeon processors. But you may now be thinking what is MEBx account? MEBx is the account in the Management Engine BIOS extension on AMT-based computers and is used for initial authenticated access to the AMT firmware on in Configuration Manager 2007 SP1 and later. If you enable the out of band management feature, you must configure the password to use for the MEBx account in the Configuration Manager 2007 console when migrating computers to Configuration Manager that have been provisioned for AMT by using another management solution. Physically, you would not find access to this account in any of the operating system's access on the machine, apart from the BIOS menu.
F-Secure writes, "The issue allows a local intruder to backdoor almost any corporate laptop in a matter of seconds, even if the BIOS password, TPM Pin, Bitlocker and login credentials are in place. No, we're not making this stuff up. The setup is simple: an attacker starts by rebooting the target's machine, after which they enter the boot menu. In a normal situation, an intruder would be stopped here; as they won't know the BIOS password, they can't really do anything harmful to the computer.".

The F-Secure publication continues, "In this case, however, the attacker has a workaround: AMT. By selecting Intel's Management Engine BIOS Extension (MEBx), they can log in using the default password "admin", as this hasn't most likely been changed by the user. By changing the default password, enabling remote access and setting AMT's user opt-in to "None", a quick-fingered cyber-criminal haseffectively compromised the machine. Now the attacker can gain access to the system remotely, as long as they're able to insert themselves onto the same network segment with the victim.".

We conclude by pointing out that although physical access is required to initiate the exploit, "this might not be as difficult for skilled attackers to organize as you might think.", Harry Sintonen says.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center | Permission to republish | Donate

January 18, 2018 | Major Security Vulnerabilities Present with In-Browser Password Managers and Auto-Fill

There is growing concern over the lack of attention to security that is being provided to in-browser password managers, which are now commonly included in almost all popular web browsers. Whilst it is widely accepted among the computer security circles that third-party password managers generally handle security better, in-browser password managers are still widely used. Their use which is considered pretty standard for password management, can only be based on the fact they offer somewhat more convenience than a third-party tool. Well, that is the common perception anyway. We believe security to be of the utmost importance. When a consumer is offered a choice of convenience or high-security, then the choice is very clear and should always be in favor of increased security. But sadly, among consumers this is still not the case.

Results published by the Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy, in-browser password managers are being exploited using known vulnerabilities when combined with third-party scripts which are used for tracking users. According to the Princeton research, a user's credentials can be exploited when the user saves their submitted credentials to the in-browser password manager. The third-party script is usually not present on the login page, yet when the user is returned to a non-login page on the same website, a third-party script can invisibly reside and then exploit the saved credentials.

The research warns of the vulnerability, which has been known to exist for literally years. Yet it continues to go unresolved, to the best of our understanding. Usually, it is exploited by cross-site scripting, or otherwise known as XSS. The research claims that of the 50,000 websites that were analyzed, there was no exploitation occurring using the technique described in the research. Instead, it was discovered that tracking scripts were actually embedded by the first-party. The scripts effectively siphon off the email address information and send the relevant data to third-party tracking servers. The scripts the Princeton research department found were present on 1,110 of the top 1 million websites on Alexa.

In an effort to prove their research, sample code is provided in source form along with a demonstration of the code also being provided through a running demo website. In collaboration with our technology publishing partners, Tecseek Technology, we tested the code and can independently verify that the exploit is very real and does in fact leak user credentials that have been saved to the in-browser password manager.

The simplicity of executing the exploit is what we find truly alarming. All that is required for a web browser to determine which website is used to enter the credentials using auto-fill, is a set of heuristics which simply require a login form to be present. Generally, this does not require any interaction by the user for the password manager to automatically enter the credentials into the form. This is what enables to possibility for the exploit to rear its ugly head. A third-party script can hide an invisible login form on the page and effectively take advantage of the same auto-fill ability. A third-party script can usually bedetected by anyone who cares to analyze the site code in finer detail, which can easily be done from inside the web browser's developer tools. However, it is not a realistic or practical approach to dealing with this security exploit.

There is concern over what precise information could be collected, expanding in scope beyond simply an email address. The research discovered that the common "OnAudience" script tracks the email address, browser type, plugins installed, display dimensions and resolution, time-zone and language configuration, user-agent, operating system and CPU information. Taking all this information into account, the script will generate a fingerprint to identify the user. "OnAudience" claim that they only collect anonymous information. This is a false claim as email addresses are not anonymous and could potentially be matched up with the supposedly unique fingerprint.

As stated earlier, these kinds of browser-based vulnerabilities are not new. We viewed bug reports as old as 10 years on the Mozilla Bugzilla reporting platform. Additionally, we cited multiple academicpapers from multiple colleges and universities which have composed their own research, which not only substantiate the concerns over security with in-browser password managers, but also the auto-fill feature in general.

It's a more complicated problem than what you might first conclude. Despite more than 10 years of complaints being made public, there is still no potential 'fix' for this vulnerability. Instead, we see browser developers and vendors touting that there is no actual 'vulnerability', at least not in the same way they would determine and label an actual vulnerability. Therefore, as it goes, if there is no vulnerability then there is realistically no hole in the software to be fixed in the first place. Freedom Publishers Union don't quite share this conclusion and it appears that browser developers and vendors are side-stepping on the issue and don't seem very intent on finding any real solution to eliminate the possibility of abuse of the vulnerability, or security hole. The blame is actually being shifted onto website publishers for allowing these tracking scripts onto their web platform, willingly and with complete ignorance towards data being tracked and shared with third-party servers and used for user tracking purposes.

In-browser password managers are part of the problem, as there should never be a clear text exchange of credentials. A one-time hash or some sort of non-identifying exchange should be the norm for sites that require access while inside the secured part of a website. Even two-factor authentication doesn't address this issue, as the purpose is simply to generate an identifier across multiple sites. Hashing the User ID/Email ID is just a way to create a mostly unique value for tracking purposes.

The problem is that getting an ID - whether it's the email address or full credentials - has been handed off to unreliable third-party actors. Remember, the actual site owner already knows your credentials and probably has complete access to the database too. They gain nothing from this entire exercise. Only a third-party that is looking to inject ads or track users need this information. It's all about tracking for the purpose of third-party's gathering data. This should be emphasized.

This could be addressed by standardizing on a single broker of identity. Google is trying to do this by promoting your Google Ad ID - managed by them - as an anonymous point of contact to a customer. By being the middle man, Google ensures that identity stops at their border. But this approach is certainly not flawless and can raise further security concerns. It is perfectly legitimate to raise the question of why we should put all our trust in Google, or any other single broker of identity, to be the ultimate gatekeeper of our digital identity.

There is great potential for even further extension of security related problems surrounding password managers included in web browsers. As more and more browsers are shipped with the ability to authorize a central database of user credentials to be shared across multiple devices, also referred to as syncing, the problem has the very real possibility of growing into something more than what was once thought to be restricted to the computer web browser. This was confirmed on August 2016, when Opera confirmed a server breach on their Opera Sync software.

So, as we draw to a conclusion of our analysis of this problem, we must attempt to answer the obvious question - What is the solution to avoid becoming a victim of this vulnerability? Installing web browser extensions that aim to block and illegitimate and unsafe XSS are the most sensible solution and will give you immediate protection. Something else you should consider is disabling any auto-fill feature your web browser is using. If you insist on using auto-fill, then consider implementing any options your web browser provides which prompt for user authorization when auto-fill is prompted. This will force the user to actually authorize the auto-fill data to be entered. It might completely undo the entire purpose of auto-fill, however, security of your data, maintaining your privacy and avoiding becoming a victim of targeted third-party web tracking should be your highest priority. Computer security expert and cryptographer, Bruce Schneier, recommends that users create password lists through a password manager that is a completely separate program to that of your web browser. We concur.

Quality Publishing Works - International Media Group - Reykjavík Press | Permission to republish | Donate

January 16, 2018 | Spectre and Meltdown Attacks Against Microprocessors

The following computer security essay was written by Computer Security Expert and Cryptographer, Bruce Schneier and was distributed in the January 15, 2018 edition of his "CRYPTO-GRAM" email newsletter which is widely distributed and respected among the computer security community.

Freedom Publishers Union is re-publishing the essay here in its unedited entirety. The views expressed in the essay are that of Bruce Schneier and not that of Freedom Publishers Union. However, it is re-published here in accordance with our Editorial Process and highly regarded as very accurate at the time of publishing.


The security of pretty much every computer on the planet has just gotten a lot worse, and the only real solution -- which of course is not a solution -- is to throw them all away and buy new ones.

On January 3, researchers announced a series of major security vulnerabilities in the microprocessors at the heart of the world's computers for the past 15-20 years. They've been named Spectre and Meltdown, and they have to do with manipulating different ways processors optimize performance by rearranging the order of instructions or performing different instructions in parallel. An attacker who controls one process on a system can use the vulnerabilities to steal secrets elsewhere on the computer.

This means that a malicious app on your phone could steal data from your other apps. Or a malicious program on your computer -- maybe one running in a browser window from that sketchy site you're visiting, or as a result of a phishing attack -- can steal data elsewhere on your machine. Cloud services, which often share machines amongst several customers, are especially vulnerable. This affects corporate applications running on cloud infrastructure, and end-user cloud applications like Google Drive. Someone can run a process in the cloud and steal data from every other user on the same hardware.

Information about these flaws has been secretly circulating amongst the major IT companies for months as they researched the ramifications and coordinated updates. The details were supposed to be released next week, but the story broke early and everyone is scrambling. By now all the major cloud vendors have patched their systems against the vulnerabilities that can be patched against.

"Throw it away and buy a new one" is ridiculous security advice, but it's what US-CERT recommends. It is also unworkable. The problem is that there isn't anything to buy that isn't vulnerable. Pretty much every major processor made in the past 20 years is vulnerable to some flavor of these vulnerabilities. Patching against Meltdown can degrade performance by almost a third. And there's no patch for Spectre; the microprocessors have to be redesigned to prevent the attack, and that will take years.

This is bad, but expect it more and more. Several trends are converging in a way that makes our current system of patching security vulnerabilities harder to implement.

The first is that these vulnerabilities affect embedded computers in consumer devices. Unlike our computers and phones, these systems are designed and produced at a lower profit margin with less engineering expertise. There aren't security teams on call to write patches, and there often aren't mechanisms to push patches onto the devices. We're already seeing this with home routers, digital video recorders, and webcams. The vulnerability that allowed them to be taken over by the Mirai botnet last August simply can't be fixed.

The second is that some of the patches require updating the computer's firmware. This is much harder to walk consumers through, and is more likely to permanently brick the device if something goes wrong. It also requires more coordination. In November, Intel released a firmware update to fix a vulnerability in its Management Engine (ME): another flaw in its microprocessors. But it couldn't get that update directly to users; it had to work with the individual hardware companies, and some of them just weren't capable of getting the update to their customers.

We're already seeing this. Some patches require users to disable the computer's password, which means organizations can't automate the patch. Some antivirus software blocks the patch, or -- worse -- crashes the computer. This results in a three-step process: patch your antivirus software, patch your operating system, and *then* patch the computer's firmware.

The final reason is the nature of these vulnerabilities themselves. These aren't normal software vulnerabilities, where a patch fixes the problem and everyone can move on. These vulnerabilities are in the fundamentals of how the microprocessor operates.

It shouldn't be surprising that microprocessor designers have been building insecure hardware for 20 years. What's surprising is that it took 20 years to discover it. In their rush to make computers faster, they weren't thinking about security. They didn't have the expertise to find these vulnerabilities. And those who did were too busy finding normal software vulnerabilities to examine microprocessors. Security researchers are starting to look more closely at these systems, so expect to hear about more vulnerabilities along these lines.

Spectre and Meltdown are pretty catastrophic vulnerabilities, but they only affect the confidentiality of data. Now that they -- and the research into the Intel ME vulnerability -- have shown researchers where to look, more is coming -- and what they'll find will be worse than either Spectre or Meltdown. There will be vulnerabilities that will allow attackers to manipulate or delete data across processes, potentially fatal in the computers controlling our cars or implanted medical devices. These will be similarly impossible to fix, and the only strategy will be to throw our devices away and buy new ones.

This isn't to say you should immediately turn your computers and phones off and not use them for a few years. For the average user, this is just another attack method amongst many. All the major vendors are working on patches and workarounds for the attacks they can mitigate. All the normal security advice still applies: watch for phishing attacks, don't click on strange e-mail attachments, don't visit sketchy websites that might run malware on your browser, patch your systems regularly, and generally be careful on the Internet.

You probably won't notice that performance hit once Meltdown is patched, except maybe in backup programs and networking applications. Embedded systems that do only one task, like your programmable thermostat or the computer in your refrigerator, are unaffected. Small microprocessors that don't do all of the vulnerable fancy performance tricks are unaffected. Browsers will figure out how to mitigate this in software. Overall, the security of the average Internet-of-Things device is so bad that this attack is in the noise compared to the previously known risks.

It's a much bigger problem for cloud vendors; the performance hit will be expensive, but I expect that they'll figure out some clever way of detecting and blocking the attacks. All in all, as bad as Spectre and Meltdown are, I think we got lucky.

But more are coming, and they'll be worse. 2018 will be the year of microprocessor vulnerabilities, and it's going to be a wild ride.

Bruce Schneier - Computer Security Expert, Cryptographer and Chief Technical Officer, IBM Resilient | Permission to republish | Donate

December 30, 2017 | Yemen - 68 Civilians Killed in a Single Day, 109 Killed in 10 Days

The Yemeni Civil War is entering its third year. What has changed and what progress has been made over its deadly course? Nothing. Zero. We still see the same arguments from both sides, the same claims and we still see civilians being caught up in the unjust war, often becoming the targets.

In the past 10 days, 109 civilians have been killed, in two separate incidents. 54 civilians were killed at a busy vegetable market in Attazziah, in the province of Taiz. Among those killed were 8 children. The civilian casualties were the result of Saudi-led airstrike.

In another incident, a family of 14 were killed on a farm situated further West, in Al Hudaydah. The region is where Saudi Arabia believes that Iran is smuggling weapons to Houthi rebels. A claim that goes unconfirmed and is disputed by many.

It's all a too familiar scenario, as the United Nations (UN) states that the Saudi-led coalition continuously target civilians and their residencies. International aid groups and advocacy groups echo the calls of the UN. The accusations stand justified, by observing the continued destruction of the country's medical facilities and other critical infrastructure. Much of which is damaged beyond use or completely destroyed by airstrikes and reduced to just rubble.

Freedom Publishers Union has recently learned that the Houthi's are not an innocent party and should not be portrayed as such. They now initiate crackdowns in regions that remain under their control. As we understand, they are arresting hundreds of people they believe were previously associated with the former Yemen President, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Despite the accusations being questionable, the automated assumption of being guilty and no way to prove their validity, people are still being arrested. It remains unclear to Freedom Publishers Union what is happening to those that are arrested and we have genuine concerns for the welfare of innocent victims. Houthi rebels are also blocking entry of humanitarian aid transport and there are reports they are continuously trying to force the shutdown of internet access. Although Freedom Publishers Union can not independently verify the latter claim.

Jamie McGoldrick of the UN says, "The incidents prove the complete disregard for human life that all parties, including the Saudi-led coalition, continue to show in this absurd war that has only resulted in the destruction of the country [Yemen]".

Reportedly, the Saudi's are very unhappy with the comments and views made public by Mr. Goldrick which give the impression the UN supports the Houthi rebels. The Saudi's also claim it puts doubt on the information and data gathered and used by the UN to draw their positions on international matters. A major sticking point with Saudi Arabia is their staunch view that the Houthi rebels are supported by Iran. It is well known to the international community the Saudi-led military has the complete support and backing of the United States of America and Britain, through political support, motive and arms sales.

UN officials clearly state that there are no military solutions that can or will resolve this conflict. Freedom Publishers Union calls for an immediate cease fire from all sides, followed by peace negotiations. That is what is needed. Otherwise, we fear there will be no foreseeable end to the conflict and it will potentially drag on for many years, with no vision or mission which will see the end of this horrific war which is largely being ignored by many parts of the developed world.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones of Freedom Publishers Union says, "It is quickly becoming clear that those that have major influence and power in international politics choose to stand by and watch the horrors of civilian casualties inside Yemen, unfold right in front of their eyes. They have the power to inluence an immediate change of course of this war and put Yemen on a path to peace. Yet it's clear they're choosing to turn a blind eye to the atrocities of civilian casualties.".

There is no accurate figure which can detail the increasing death toll, but estimates suggest it to be over 10,000 killed. That figure was an estimate put forward in 2016. As we approach the last days of 2017, it is very likely the number is on the conservative side and almost certain to be much higher.

Saudi Arabia have not officially released any statement or acknowledgment in response to the deaths of the civilians, as an undisputed and direct result of the latest round of airstrikes. Instead, they are attempting to divert attention off civilian casualties and are proudly announcing that they are allowing humanitarian aid to pass through the port of Hodeidah, over the last couple of weeks. Despite the UN pushing for the port to be reopened and utilized to its full capacity, the Saudi's continue to only allow a small number of ships into the port with the very real possibility that the port will again see closure in just 30 days. Yet they so proudly declare to the public of their shy efforts of allowing humanitarian aid into Yemen, which is said to be starving up to 70% of the civilians stuck inside the war-torn country and who require the aid so urgently.

The reopening of the port is a good thing. It doesn't matter which side it comes from, if humanitarian aid is free to travel through ports and into Yemen, then that can only be encouraged. However, we must not ignore the hypocrisy of the Saudi's who attempt to charm the international community by touting their lackluster humanitarian contributions and use it as a façade to continue to launch airstrikes on civilians which directly violate international law and carry out human rights abuse on a grand scale in Yemen and within the borders of their own country.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

December 16, 2017 | New Foreign Interference Laws Will Compound Risks to Whistleblowers and Journalists

The Turnbull government has announced a crackdown on foreign interference in Australian politics and national security. Proposed laws include a ban on foreign political donations, new criminal offences, and a transparency register for those acting on behalf of foreign governments or organisations.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull carefully emphasised that the proposals are not focused on China's influence in Australia. But, as the Lowy Institute's Euan Graham put it, there's an in the room.

The proposed criminal offences will significantly expand the scope of existing laws against espionage and treason. This will make it easier to prosecute spies and other foreign nationals who seek undue influence over Australian business or politics.

However, the new laws pose risks to whistleblowers and journalists. They suggest the concept of "national security" is continually expanding.

Further reading: Ban on foreign political donations is both too broad and too narrow, and won't fix our system


The Criminal Code currently sets out an offence of espionage that is punishable by 25 years' imprisonment.

The main offence applies where someone communicates or makes available information that concerns Australia's security or defence. The person must intend to prejudice Australia's security or defence, or advantage another country's security or defence. Under the proposed changes, this offence will attract a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Where a person recklessly endangers Australia's security or defence, this will be punishable by the current penalty.

The new espionage offences will apply to possessing or receiving information, in addition to communicating it. They will protect a broader range of information, including unclassified material.

Other new offences, punishable by 15 years' imprisonment, will target preparation for espionage and the theft of trade secrets.

Foreign interference

Proposed offences for foreign interference will target conduct not ordinarily considered to be espionage or treason.

Currently, the federal offence of treason describes very rare and serious conduct, such as assassinating or capturing the Queen or prime minister.

These new offences will target covert, deceptive or undisclosed conduct that is directed, funded, supervised or undertaken on behalf of a foreign interest. The penalties will range between ten and 20 years' imprisonment.

To constitute foreign interference, the conduct must be intended to:

Other new offences will target the support or funding of foreign intelligence agencies. These will be similar to existing crimes for supporting or funding terrorist organisations.

Are the new offences needed?

The changes will make it easier to prosecute foreign nationals who intentionally interfere with Australia's business, political or foreign policy interests.

Where such influence cannot strictly be described as impacting on security or defence, successful prosecution under the existing espionage or treason offences is very difficult.

The government's other justifications are much weaker. The current espionage offences already extend beyond the communication of information to making, obtaining or copying sensitive records. The Crimes Act includes offences that are triggered when an Australian public official discloses official secrets or obtained in the course of their employment.

What are the risks?

The proposed offences will target some conduct that should clearly be a serious criminal offence, such as intentionally supporting a foreign intelligence agency.

However, the proposed laws go well beyond such clear cases to target a broad and vague range of conduct affecting Australian interests. This includes possessing unclassified information and any deceptive or undisclosed conduct that influences government processes.

Most importantly, the proposed changes pose risks to whistleblowers and Australian media organisations. These risks were compounded in 2014 by changes to national security legislation in response to the threat of foreign fighters.

Further reading: National security bills compound existing threats to media freedom

A journalist could face serious penalties under the proposed espionage offences for receiving information leaked by a government official or intelligence whistleblower, before they even decide to publish that information.

It seems the information need not even be classified for the penalties to apply, provided making the information available would benefit a foreign country or organisation.

The government needs to ensure that journalists publishing sensitive information in the public interest will not face criminal prosecution for espionage or other federal criminal offences. This should be done by drafting legal protections for journalists who act in a professional capacity in the public interest.

Assurances from Attorney-General George Brandis that journalists will not be prosecuted for doing their job are not enough.

The proposed laws should be viewed not only as a response to increasing Chinese influence in Australia, but also as symptomatic of a post-Snowden crackdown, in which all potentially embarrassing information about government is closely protected.

Similar debates about expanded espionage offences and press freedom have already taken place in the UK. These debates confirm that "national security" is no longer simply about physical threats like terrorism or traditional forms of spying.

Increasingly, the language of national security is invoked to protect a government's broader interests - political, business and economic.

Keiran Hardy, Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Member, Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

December 14, 2017 | Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Votes to Kill Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to repeal the rules that were put in place under the Obama Administration in 2015, which were aimed to protect internet access from abuse of speed restrictions from internet service providers of specific services whilst prioritizing others, and to keep the internet open and fair. Essentially, the rules were to ensure net neutrality was protected.

Yesterday, everything changed when the FCC voted 3-to-2, to repeal the net neutrality rules.

Freedom Publishers Union advocates for net neutrality and condemns the latest vote by the FCC to repeal the rules. We believe the internet should be free and accessible to everyone, without restriction, censorship, interference and/or speed manipulation.

The repeal of the rules are set to favor big telecommunications companies and internet service providers. The path is now clear for service providers to prioritize specific services over others. Freedom Publishers Union Director, Chris McGimpsey-Jones says, "It is unclear as to how this will affect consumers at this early stage. But it is almost certain that the repeal will make it more difficult for smaller service providers on the internet deliver their goods against the giants of the internet - Google, Amazon, Facebook and Netflix.". The internet delivery power these four giants of Silicon Valley hold is a growing concern. Whilst Netflix still has some competition, moreso now an agreement has been made for Disney to acquire a major chunk of 21st Century Fox in an effort to compete directly with Netflix, Google, Amazon and Facebook have almost nil competition. Now that net neutrality has effectively been killed by the FCC, their power is guaranteed to increase. This will accelerate the challenges startups face when trying to grow their services and make it more difficult for them to compete for their space on the internet, as internet service providers are now free to prioritize service delivery to Google, Facebook and Netflix (or any other service they reach a commercial deal with). This is a slap in the face for both startups and consumers, and will undoubtedly result in startups and smaller service providers being locked out of the internet fast lane.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to advocate for a free and open internet - net neutrality. We are not alone. There have been millions of internet activists speak out on the potential dangers of killing net neutrality rules, as have many of the large internet companies and service providers. Chris adds, "The FCC outright ignore the purpose of the fundamental design and foundations of why the internet was created. Instead, they view it as a money making machine of which they insist on handing control to Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.". These are the big three internet service providers that deliver a huge chunk of internet access to consumers in the US. Chris continues, "Instead, the internet should remain free and neutral, and data should be allowed to flow freely in an organic nature, with absolute minimal regulation. Where regulation is applicable and necessary, and that's another matter for argument, that regulation should not include placing impediments against net neutrality. As someone who is actively and aggressively involved with fighting for digital rights, I view this as a big sticking up of the middle finger by the FCC, accompanied with a big f**k you.".

Freedom Publishers Union expects there will be much negative feedback that follows from the FCC decision. We also expect to see legal action launched against the FCC. Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has referred to the telecommunications companies as the "online gatekeepers". Jay continues on to state, "nobody should think that network neutrality is dead. We at the ACLU and our allies will be fighting back at the federal, state and local level to restore the protections that the FCC has now eviscerated. And there is plenty that citizens can do. But the clock is now ticking because Americans may soon begin to see negative changes in the internet they've always known.".

Chris of Freedom Publishers Union concludes, "The fight is not over. Net neutrality can still be upheld.".

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News | Permission to republish | Donate

November 15, 2017 | Illegal Access to Financial Data of US Citizens, Not Necessarily Intentionally Illegal

On October 6, 2017, Buzzfeed revealed details of accusations that US Government departments and intelligence agencies have been illegally spying on American citizen's financial data.

Freedom Publishers Union always put forward our strong opposition to government surveillance programs. Most often, they are deemed illegal and are extremely complex and sophisticated, intertwined networks.

The aforementioned details that emerged of the financial data of American citizens being illegally accessed is slightly disturbing, but Freedom Publishers Union does not believe that it is cause for too much concern. This can be justified by the fact that it gained very little follow up media coverage. And the Buzzfeed publication itself was of questionable quality journalism. Instead, the publication was typical of Buzzfeed's usual hyper point-and-print method of presentation. But that's not to say they've brought up an important issue which requires closer analysis.

Questionable access to this type of data is what happens when different committees of the US Congress write laws unintentionally (or with intentional forethought) don't coordinate their legislation to the extent they should. Especially under what Congress would consider 'crisis' situations, like the common response to 'terrorism' or situations which are quickly, yet unnecessarily deemed a threat to 'national security'.

Money laundering and other financial mischief has become a catch-all for financial transactions that don't smell right to investigators from a wide variety of law enforcement agencies, investigative departments within the banking sector, federal intelligence agencies and the many other organizations involved with investigating cases of money laundering and other illegal financial activity.

Lest we forget the Treasury, which has responsibility for the accounting for the US Government - including the ability to print money. Which is not the same as the Federal Reserve, which has direct responsibility for the economy outside of the Government. Then there's the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and the now dissolved Office of Thrift Supervision - those are just some of the federal agencies. Every US State also has the same panoply of agencies that don't report to the US Government. Worse still, there are areas of financial law that are truly gray areas where depending on a multitude of factors, a crime may or may not have been committed.

It's a financial oversight minefield, yet with very good intention. But the legal/illegal access of financial data and sharing of the data between these oversight agencies in cases of legitimate investigation into genuine illegal financial activity, is equal a minefield with the after-effects creating just more minefields. The question of legality spreads like a virus.

This must all be taken into perspective, before anyone can begin to assess whether access to financial data is concluded as legal or illegal.
All of these agencies have some responsibility for monitoring financial crimes. Which of course, involves both identifying a financial crime and then enforcing the criminal statute. And therein lies the problem: The necessary information to identifying and prosecuting a financial criminal is their finances and their identity. Pure and simple. Thus, you're going to get overlap in finding this information, and in the process, you will have agencies that are looking at data that is potentially outside of their oversight jurisdiction, but required for them to do their investigation.

A certain amount of backdoor co-operation between agencies is hardly unknown. Until the advent of data mining, this wasn't even a concern to defense attorneys. It was always assumed to happen. The required financial brief and accompanying identification details would be initially logged and eventually the correct agency would get the data and collate it into an enforcement context allowing them to act on the final gathered information and data.

In order for any enforcement to work today, each and every transaction in the chain from start to end needs to be identified, reviewed and traced before the actual criminal activity is identified.

Many of these schemes involve regular, everyday citizens that get sucked into part of that chain whether the transactions be for work or private purpose. Many of which will appear to be completely normal unless you find them in the longer chain of tracking the activity trail. This is precisely why we have all these different agencies looking into individual bank accounts, which is now being labeled "illegal".

An ugly combination of the hairball of unco-operative laws, the separation of expertise into isolated agencies, and as much as anything, the unjustified media hype surrounding all these actions portray the government as snooping on your $20 withdrawals from your bank. This is not exactly true and must be completely examined and put into proper context.

It could be the simple result of someone (or a group of individuals in any number of the aforementioned departments) may be either disobeying the law because another law requires them to, disobeying a law intentionally, or just doing gray area research in order to legitimately carry out their investigation in an effort of genuine pursuit of criminals. It doesn't really matter to the individuals swept up in the financial data analysis, as they are just anonymous points of data in a much, much larger pattern of possible illegal activity.

So the whole "If you are not doing anything illegal, then you have nothing to hide" statement, actually does apply in this case.

There's two vital questions which must be asked: Is this a consequence of too zealously pursing illegal activities that suck millions of innocent citizens into the confusion? Or is this the price we (Americans specifically) have to pay to get the criminals that are allegedly ruining our lives?

Finally, we propose a possible afterthought and ask further: Is this actually making us safer? Or is it just another consequence of modern-day prohibition where everyone is assumed a criminal?

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News | Permission to republish | Donate

October 27, 2017 | Russia Mass-Surveillance Revelations

September 19, 2017, Wikileaks dumped an unusual set of documents related to mass-surveillance programs inside Russia.

The Wikileaks Press Release states that, "While the surveillance of communication traffic is a global phenomena, the legal and technological framework of its operation is different for each country. Russia's laws - especially the new Yarovaya Law - make literally no distinction between lawful interception and mass-surveillance by state intelligence authorities without court orders.".

It continues by stating, "Russian communication providers are required by Russian law to install the so-called SORM components for surveillance provided by the FSB, at their own expense. The SORM infrastructure is developed and deployed in Russia with close co-operation between the FSB, the Interior Ministry of Russia and Russian surveillance contractors.".

Information provided to Freedom Publishers Union details SORM as the technical infrastructure for the Russian surveillance networks and is operated on a national scale. It dates back to 1995 and has evolved from SORM-1 (capturing telephone and cell phone communications) and SORM-2 in 1999 (interception and collection of internet traffic), to the current SORM-3. SORM now collects information from all forms of Russian communications networks, and provides long-term storage of all information and data, including the possibility of storage of actual recordings and locations. The infrastructure was expanded in 2014 to include social media platforms. The Ministry of Communications ordered companies to install new networking and technical equipment with Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) capability. In 2016, SORM-3 added additional classified regulations that apply to all internet service providers operating inside Russia. The European Court for Human Rights has previously deemed Russia's SORM legislation in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, in 2015 (Zakharov v. Russia).

Whilst most of the Wikileaks documents are in Russian, there are a couple of English language documents in the collection which come from PETER-SERVICE, a Russian billing services provider and now a major software supplier of for the Russian mobile telecommunications industry. According to information provided by Wikileaks, technology developed and supplied by PETER-SERVICE extend beyond traditional billing services and into mass-surveillance. PETER-SERVICE goes beyond simply complying with strict Russian surveillance laws and is apparently initiating partnerships and establishing commercial business opportunities with Russia's state intelligence departments.

Data retention is a crucial piece of the surveillance program operating inside Russia. According to a Data Retention System document released by Wikileaks, the Data Retention System service "is an add-on product for the Core Subsystems of SPS Family of Products (SVC_BASE). It provides access to the main functions of PETER-SERVICE SVC_BASE by means of the web interface". Details inside the documents cited by Freedom Publishers Union include meta-data search functions, filtering and search export options. The descriptive details resemble that of what we learned from documents provided by former intelligence and security contractor, Edward Snowden, about the PRISM and ICReach programs which are part of the mass-surveillance network operated by the National Security Agency (NSA). Previous evidence published suggests that some NSA operated programs extend accessibility to fellow agencies throughout the ¿Five Eyes' intelligence network - USA/UK/Canada/Australia/New Zealand - and to the CIA, then filtered all the way through to the FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Access is vast and wide. Therefore, there is every possibility that the Russian mass-surveillance network that operates inside the country will have the same level of data accessibility and free sharing of citizen's meta-data throughout Russian Government departments, primarily the FSB.

Meta-data is required to be collected and stored for a duration of 3 years. According to PETER-SERVICE, their data retention system components can handle 500,000,000 connections per day, in one cluster. The data retention laws and required time-frame for the data to be stored is not unusual and has stark similarities to meta-data laws in Western nations.

As PETER-SERVICE operates in the Russian mobile telecommunications sector, it has put itself in a unique market position to be able to collect meta-data, cell phone communications data, cell device identification information, network connections information and cell phone tracking through cell phone tower connection monitoring. We do not know exactly the types of data that is being monitored and collected, but potentially, the amount of data could be huge and resemble that of other global mass-surveillance programs that operate.

The Russian documents release is a game changer on how we approach the notion of mass-surveillance because now we have learned that these programs that effectively spy on a country's citizens are operating on a global scale - inside all types of oppressive, repressive, communist and democratic regimes.

It's no longer safe to assume any country is free of mass-surveillance. We need to stop focusing on any given country and start talking about surveillance generically. But we must also be careful to not accept that mass and dragnet surveillance on sweeping scale is the norm and we must always raise immediate concerns over potential violations of privacy and civil liberties.

Ultimately, a set of United Nations guidelines on how all mass-surveillance initiating countries should disclose and monitor their compliance would be appropriate. However, Freedom Publishers Union still believes it is still almost impossible to achieve any kind of United Nations standards for surveillance oversight and transparency, simply because many nations still are not publicly admitting that many of these programs actually exist and are operating. Despite confirmation from the many documents that have been published which prove their existence and continued operation, and despite questionable legal right to operate.

Privacy in nearly all aspects of life is no longer possible, so it is time that we focus on establishing what the different expectations of privacy are, how they're defined, and how the scope of each can be legally protected from abuse and whether lawful and realistic transparency and public disclosure can be applied. Because it's the abuse that is the driver of our fear against mass-surveillance and fear of losing our privacy.

We need to define what abuse of privacy means in each of these legal and illegal instances and continue to provide input and feedback to governments and political legislators on how to define abuse and misuse, and how to appropriately use laws to prevent abuse and compensate those who are victims of any actual abuse that occurs.

The Russian-sponsored revelations are effectively the launchpad needed to reboot public discourse on the dangers of mass-surveillance, the dangers of passing laws that permit (and in some cases force) dragnet surveillance through hardware and software data gathering technologies and also the lack of sufficient oversight backed up by meaningful transparency.

It is no longer about throwing out the message that surveillance should be stopped completely. Ultimately, we believe that it should be. But realistically, surveillance must be structured according to our aforementioned points of oversight, transparency and accountability for abuse.

European Press Office - Moscow Press | Permission to republish | Donate

October 27, 2017 | Australian National Identification Database is an Extension of Existing Mass-Surveillance Programs

The Australian Government is pushing its privacy attacking agenda onto the State Governments, in an effort to harbor support which would see the possible implementation of a national identification database.

As Freedom Publishers Union understands it, the national identification database which would require the complete co-operation by State Governments to proceed and citizen's identities and accompanying information collated by using current photo identification from drivers licenses, proof of age identification and passports.

We condemn the move and deem it unnecessary. The Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is claiming that the creation of the database is necessary in Australia's fight against local terrorism. He continues to advocate that a national identification database would greatly benefit law enforcement and intelligence agencies in their fight against extremist behavior, particularly in events of mass gathering of citizens.

We believe the creation of a national identification database has major security concerns which need addressing which have been raised by privacy advocates and civil libertarians, yet seemingly are being ignored and brushed aside by the Government. Instead, the Government presses ahead by claiming that it's an important issue of national security. Furthermore, the Australian Government with initial support from the various State Governments, are making public claims that in the interest of national security, the national identification database must be established as national security is more important than civil liberties.

We dispute this claim, directly. Nothing is beyond maintaining the civil liberties of a democratic country's citizens. It's these very civil liberties that exist within the foundations of democracy which makes democracy function so well. Particularly in Australia, where our democracy is the envy of the world.

Legislation has already been implemented in Australia which is directly targeted at combating terrorism - locally and abroad. Some of the current legislation we have opposed as civil liberties have already been impeded. Establishing a national identification database is a step too far and is moving beyond fighting terrorism and into technological territory of monitoring the behavior of innocent citizens who simply go about their daily business, without harm.

We also fear further attacks on encryption and security technology is next on the agenda for Malcolm Turnbull and the Australian Government's continued attacks on Australian's rights to privacy.

Freedom Publishers Union makes no apologies for upholding civil liberties and rights to privacy. We see a national identification database as a primary centralized target for international hacking groups, who seek easy access to mass data on Australian citizens, through sub-standard computer security.

Systems and networks handled by the Australian Government contractors do not have a good track record when it comes to maintaining strong security. There have been breaches in the past - some acknowledged, some unacknowledged. In some case, details of alleged breaches have to some degree been denied or even ignored as nothing serious. A classic case of 'nothing to see here'.

We do not trust that security surrounding any such central identification database will see any further enhanced security than what Australian Government systems are currently protected by. The security is lapse and citizens that face their photo identification and information being stored in a core database with sub-standard security should be concerned - purely on merits of privacy concerns.

Additionally, Australia is a democracy which comes with natural civil liberties. The country's intelligence community and network of surveillance programs, which is essentially connected to the 'Five Eyes' mass-surveillance network, have become victim to surveillance creep. Programs are established with good intention, but unfortunately get integrated into more extensive programs and information further collated into what essentially becomes a mass-surveillance program similar to what we've seen exposed in the past by Edward Snowden, Wikileaks and other media outlets - programs run by the NSA, GCHQ and the CIA.

Australia's intelligence agency, ASIO, is also a partner to these major US and UK-based mass-surveillance initiating agencies who thrive on data gathered by dragnet surveillance programs. It seems Australia has simply followed the global mass-surveillance trend, which continue to operate, gather more data and become more complex, despite governments touting their efforts to reign in these often illegal programs.

Freedom Publishers Union sees an Australian national identification database as an extension of more extensive dragnet programs and therefore can not support such creation of such an unnecessary and unjustified central database, as it directly impedes on civil liberties and outright breaches the privacy of Australian citizens.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center | Permission to republish | Donate

October 9, 2017 | Let's Face It, We'll Be No Safer with a National Facial Recognition Database

A commitment to share the biometric data of most Australians - including your driving licence photo - agreed at Thursday's Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting will result in a further erosion of our privacy.

That sharing is not necessary. It will be costly. But will it save us from terrorism? Not all, although it will give people a false sense of comfort.

Importantly, it will allow politicians and officials to show that they are doing something, in a climate where a hunt for headlines demands the appearance of action.

Your biometric data

Biometric data used in fingerprint and facial recognition systems is indelible. It can be used in authoritative identity registers, featured on identity documents such as passports and driver licences.

It can be automatically matched with data collected from devices located in airports, bus and train stations, retail malls, court buildings, prisons, sports facilities and anywhere else we could park a networked camera.

Australia's state and territory governments have built large biometric databases through registration of people as drivers - every licence has a photograph of the driver. The national government has built large databases through registration for passports, aviation/maritime security and other purposes.

Irrespective of your consent to uses beyond those for which the picture was taken, the governments now have a biometric image of most Australians, and the ability to search the images.

COAG announced that the governments will share that data in the name of security.

Sharing data with who?

Details of the sharing are very unclear. This means we cannot evaluate indications that images will be captured in both public and private places. For example, in retail malls and libraries or art galleries - soft targets for terrorism - rather than in streets and secure buildings such as Parliament House.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has responded to initial criticism by clarifying that matching will not involve "live" CCTV.

But the history of Australian surveillance law has been a matter of creep, with step-by-step expansion of what might initially have been an innocuous development. When will law enforcement agencies persuade their ministers to include live public or private CCTV for image matching?

We cannot tell which officials will be accessing the data and what safeguards will be established to prevent misuse. Uncertainty about safeguards is worrying, given the history of police and other officials inappropriately accessing law enforcement databases on behalf of criminals or to stalk a former partner.

The sharing occurs in a nation where Commonwealth, state and territory privacy law is inconsistent. That law is weakly enforced, in part because watchdogs such as the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) are under-resourced, threatened with closure or have clashed with senior politicians.

Australia does not have a coherent enforceable right to privacy. Instead we have a threadbare patchwork of law (including an absence of a discrete privacy statute in several jurisdictions).

The new arrangement has been foreshadowed by governments over several years. It can be expected to creep, further eroding privacy and treating all citizens as suspects.

Software and hardware providers will be delighted: there's money to be made by catering to our fears. But we should be asking some hard questions about the regime and questioning COAG's statement.

Let's avoid a privacy car crash

Will sharing and expansion of the biometric network - a camera near every important building, many cameras on every important road - save us from terrorism? The answer is a resounding no. Biometrics, for example, seems unlikely to have saved people from the Las Vegas shooter.

Will sharing be cost effective? None of the governments have a great track record with major systems integration. The landscape is littered with projects that went over budget, didn't arrive on time or were quietly killed off.

Think the recent Census and Centrelink problems, and the billion dollar bust up known as the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record.

It won't be improved by a new national ID card to fix the Medicare problem.

Is the sharing proportionate? One answer is to look at experience in India, where the Supreme Court has comprehensively damned that nation's ambitious Aadhaar biometric scheme that was meant to solve security, welfare and other problems.

The Court - consistent with decisions in other parts of the world - condemned the scheme as grossly disproportionate: a disregard of privacy and of the dignity of every citizen.

Is sharing likely to result in harms, particularly as the biometric network grows and grows? The answer again is yes. One harm, disregarded by our opportunistic politicians, is that all Australians and all visitors will be regarded as suspects.

Much of the data for matching will be muddy - some street cameras, for example, are fine resting places for pigeons - and of little value.

As with the mandatory metadata retention scheme, the more data (and more cameras) we have the bigger trove of indelible information for hackers. Do not expect the OAIC or weak state privacy watchdogs (which in some jurisdictions do not exist) to come to the rescue.

As a society we should demand meaningful consultation about official schemes that erode our rights. We should engage in critical thinking rather than relying on headlines that reflect political opportunism and institutional self-interest.

The incoherent explanation and clarifications should concern everyone, irrespective of whether they have chosen to be on Facebook - and even if they have nothing to hide and will never be mistaken for someone else.

Bruce Baer Arnold, University of Canberra

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

September 23, 2017 | Increased Usage of CIA Drones Raises Questions of Morality

Last week, the NY Times reported of new efforts underway within The White House, to garner the appropriate measures required to remove any legal restrictions currently imposed for operations of unmanned drones used by the CIA for air-strikes, in Afghanistan.

There are three questions that require closer analysis by international academics. Right now, not enough questions are being asked by academics with global influence. This story was only covered by the NY Times, as most other reputable media outlets ignored the story. And the smaller agencies that did publish information on the story simply produced recycled content from the original NY Times piece. It's time that we start to begin asking the most vital and fundamental questions as to the role the US plays in the world.

1. Is the US really in a position to declare itself the world's 'police force', engaging 'criminals' at the regime level around the world?

2. Is this simply justification for being war-mongering racists?

3. Are we continuing to pursue the Taliban and al Qaeda because they have political resonance in America, or because they are a real danger to global stability?

As the continuing terrorist attacks in London and wider-Europe illustrate, these terrorist groups and loyal followers are going to do this no matter what. Whether they are religious zealots or simply anarchist extremists, terrorist acts will continue to attempt to disrupt our modern way of life and our very democracy, as long as there are malcontent people.

The Jonestown massacre of 1978 in Guyana, or the Aum Shinrikyo subway sarin attack of 1995 in Tokyo - there is no redeeming aspect of a cult that exists solely to kill others, just because they believe they are better off or live the better way of life. The real question isn't can we take action to stop terrorism, because we can't. As long as there are malcontent people, there will be terrorists. Historical evidence cements the theory. What we need to know, is can we use military actions - overt or covert - to significantly reduce terror attacks.

If al Qaeda is the fan club for terrorists (they get their membership card, stickers for their notebook and cars, and a 20-page instruction manual that gives them a public brand for their actions), then destroying the club house is probably worthwhile.

If you are view al Qaeda as simply a Creative Commons-type service that anyone can use (like a hash-tag) then it's pointless to try and destroy leadership, because there isn't any. It very much resembles the concept of the Anonymous computer hacker collective. You deal with them like any other brand that you want to eliminate - you dilute the relevance of the brand by shifting the exposure of the brand to totally meaningless gestures. If they try to claim responsibility for a terrorist act, refuse to credit them and give it to someone else with a more specific meaning focusing on the individual who carried out the attack.

Media have a huge ethical responsibility here and must take action. Unfortunately, we believe that won't happen. News will continue to report terrorist attacks by brand name as it grabs viewer's immediate attention and we will continue to use military options. Not because military options work. But it's one of the few things governments can point to and say, "we're working on it".

Just like the TSA searches at airports, the symbolism of inconvenience makes people think 'something' is being done, even though the actual activity does absolutely nothing to improve security procedures over previous methods.

Freedom Publishers Union believes that drones do have a role in military conflict. However, we also have a strict view that they must be used for specific targets which are based on very reliable source information. CIA drones are too easily used as a tool to exclude all aspects of human responsibility for civilian casualties, when they occur. The fact can not be ignored that they will occur. When civilians are killed, then the CIA, the US Military or any other government associated killing force must act, own up and someone must take full responsibility for civilian casualties from drones.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

September 20, 2017 | North Korea Peace Opportunities Are Becoming Increasingly Difficult to Foresee

Freedom Publishers Union fears the time that the United Nations (UN) could negotiate any kind of sustainable and effectively peaceful settlement with North Korea ended back in the early 1960's, when North Korea raised their million-man army.

If military conflict is to eventuate between North Korea and the United States of America (USA), perhaps with assistance from its allies, then it will likely be a very short war and remain conventional and without any nuclear weapons being used by either side, other than rhetorical threats to the effect of deterrence. The issue is not that the USA, China, Russia or any UN coalition force could not defeat North Korea, but the real problem is South Korea.

South Korea is one of the major manufacturing powers in the world, yet unfortunately happens to share its border with a country that has the ability to pretty much annihilate the South in a matter of minutes, without any use of nuclear weapons. North Korea has a massive amount of troops and equipment right on the North/South Demilitarized Zone. The artillery alone is capable of destroying 80% of the South Korean capital of Seoul and the surrounding area in about one hour, with severe punishment delivered within just the few first minutes. Effectively, this holds the South to ransom in addition to its key ally, the USA.

The million-man army of the North can literally be across the border and enter the South and into what would be left of Seoul within hours, not days, with the potential to extend through the rest of the country in just weeks.

Freedom Publishers Union believe China and Russia are the reasonable ones at the table, because they realize what the instant loss of South Korea would mean. China and Russia do massive trade and business with the South. Even more than the USA and Australia, of which do privately recognize the instant threat posed to the South, but are shy to go on public record of the acknowledgement. The dark realization is that unless the rest of the world is willing to write-off South Korea and spend multiple trillions to rebuild it, there will be no action against North Korea that we can foresee.

Whilst China and Russia have given support for some important sanctions, they are on record at the UN for not increasing some sanctions and actually relaxing them if North Korea sits still for a while. Additionally, tough sanctions proposed by the UN have effectively been watered-down by China and Russia in effort to gain their support through the UN but to also protect important trade with the North. Both countries have sternly warned the USA and its allies against launching any military action against North Korea. At least to preemptive strikes. If North Korea was to attack first, then it might change the language of China and Russia, and indeed may result in actual launch of military action from them. To what extent exactly, would remain a mystery.

To be frank, Kim Jong-un is not an idiot. His actions and behavior may appear to present him as an idiot, but his strategy is absolutely brilliant and to a large degree, is working. He understands very well that he can rant and rave to keep the constant media attention focused on his country and dictatorship. He has the power and is using it to its fullest potential on the global stage, albeit not in a peaceful way.

Kim also knows that the only card he holds is the potential of obliterating South Korea within just minutes of any outbreak of war in the region. This goes to explain the sudden rush by the North to master nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Before their nuclear programs came to realization, North Korea would still be able to destroy a large part of the South before any allied response could follow. But that would most likely guarantee that the any allied response would certainly use nuclear arsenal and send the North back to the stone age almost immediately and carry on to disassemble what was left of the country's dictatorship regime and handing it to a democratic South.

A bi-lateral nuclear exchange is a completely different story. Short range nuclear weapons - even carried in trucks and detonated after the initial invasion - would make South Korea unrecoverable. It would literally be the world creating a new Israel for the remaining Koreans, as well as investing in the massive cleanup of hydrogen bomb devastation on such a scale never attempted to this very day, and a scenario we remain confident we will never see.

There is another ugly alternative on the Korean peninsula. And it's not good. South Korea could possibly be utterly destroyed at some point, because there is no possible way to prevent it. Even with the allies using tactical nuclear weapons to try and clear the border threat - which is actually becoming the most realistic option to solve the immediate border problem if you ignore the flow-on problems such a response would generate - would be the only way to delay ultimate destruction is to force the South Koreans to just accept that they are living on a nuclear fault line and reach out to their neighbors and make genuine efforts to achieve peace and acceptance. But it also means that the South would continue to survive and would open up the potential for trade with the North, which would increase their standard of living and eventually integrate them into a single trade entity.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center | Permission to republish | Donate

September 11, 2017 | Paid News Subscriptions Are Key to Sustainable Media and Journalism

There was a moment in independent media history when I was a staunch advocate against all forms of web advertising and paid news subscriptions. I thought the formula was just all wrong and thought it would be death of media and news on the internet as we knew it. It was some years ago, but to be fair, my strict opinion of the time was probably justified and reflective of most people's opinions towards the concept of paying for news. Boy how times have changed. I can unashamedly declare that I have gradually formed a view which could be deemed polar opposite of the view that I used to have. I now proudly pay for a number of news subscriptions and for those services, among others, I actually allow web advertising through my ad-blocking browser extensions. Yes, a view completely of opposites. Shock.

It's difficult to pinpoint a single time in history that I could state that my opinion changed. Rather, it's been a gradual shift through a combination of reflection of the media industry as a whole, careful analysis of the differences between mainstream commercial news and quality journalism and how journalists and their work are both appreciated and not appreciated by the audience. As a result of my slow, yet careful and calculated reflection which has been an assessment drawn out over the last two to three years, I've come to a better understanding of all things media, the true benefits of targeted web advertising for respective media agencies that actually deserve the revenue they receive through advertising and also how funds received through paid subscriptions not only benefits the quality of journalism produced, but also carries on to breed and nurture further quality journalism.

If I was to break it all down even further, I could say that paying for news is paying the journalists for their work and tireless effort. It's all about creating and sustaining a creative media platform. If you don't show your appreciation for the hard work, then there will no longer be quality journalists in media to produce such quality content and instead we will see news being produced, recycled, facts twisted, published and re-published by robots. The sad fact is, this is already happening with some online media producers. Somewhere in my complicated unexplainable personal media analysis algorithm, I guess this point was also included to bring me to any kind of conclusive judgment of why we should be paying for news.

One can present the obvious counter-argument of why would you pay for news when you can still read it for free. Well, it's a fair argument to make as no one can deny there are still many free news sites remaining online and don't look like they're going to disappear anytime soon. Still, if you are one of these people to assume the position that they're always going to remain online, remain free and regarded as quality journalism, then you're taking both a naive view towards the media industry and showing not only lack of appreciation for proper quality journalism which is fact based and properly researched, but also shows your obvious display of no appreciation for the services you consume - most likely every single day.

Running a media agency or publishing business is expensive. Although it may not seem so obvious when you are staring into the glow of a computer screen, everyone must understand that all aspects of the operations cost money. That money has to come from somewhere. It must come from a combination of commercial interests through targeted advertising and paid subscriptions. I will refrain from publicly naming the news agencies and websites that I now subscribe to, in effort to avoid promoting one agency over another and to also avoid being shamed to taking a particular media bias or political media perspective. In fact, it's the opposite of that. My own selection of media subscriptions that I have chosen to support covers a range of left/right political bias and spreads across a national Australian and international spectrum.

I also wish to make the point that if you pay for news through subscription services, it not only has benefits for the media agency producing the news you consume and retains the quality of the journalistic efforts, but your support through subscription also has a greater personal meaning when you visit that website. When reading content through paid subscription, you begin to appreciate the words you are reading. They almost take on a completely different meaning and you begin to respect journalists instead of taking them for granted.

The benefits are apparent for journalists, publishers, consumers and the entire media industry.

This Editorial is written by Chris McGimpsey-Jones, who is the Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Publishers Union.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

September 8, 2017 | Google's Ideological Echo Chamber

"Google's Ideological Echo Chamber" is also more commonly known as "The Google Manifesto", first cicrulated as an internal memo within the ranks of Google offices. The manifesto is dated July 2017 and since its original publication on the Gizmodo website, the author has been revealed as US-based Google software engineer, James Damore.

The manifesto specifically outlines Damore's concerns on Google's diversity policies and argues that Google continues to shut down conversations about diversity within the Silicon Valley company.

Since the release of the manifesto, Damore has been fired from Google. We believe the manifesto is important in the issues that it raises and should be published, not censored. We also believe that the firing of Damore was completely unjustified. Although Damore's actions probably did violate Google's employee code of conduct, we think the actions of firing the employee for his actions of speaking out justify the issues he outlines in the manifesto - speak up, and you get shut down.

Freedom Publishers Union has published the most complete and unedited version of the text of the manifesto available, below.

Google's Ideological Echo Chamber

Reply to public response and misrepresentation

I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don't endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can't have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber. Despite what the public response seems to have been, I've gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change.


Background [1]

People generally have good intentions, but we all have biases which are invisible to us. Thankfully, open and honest discussion with those who disagree can highlight our blind spots and help us grow, which is why I wrote this document.[2] Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology. What follows is by no means the complete story, but it's a perspective that desperately needs to be told at Google.

Google's biases

At Google, we talk so much about unconscious bias as it applies to race and gender, but we rarely discuss our moral biases. Political orientation is actually a result of deep moral preferences and thus biases. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the social sciences, media, and Google lean left, we should critically examine these prejudices.

Left Biases

Right Biases

Neither side is 100% correct and both viewpoints are necessary for a functioning society or, in this case, company. A company too far to the right may be slow to react, overly hierarchical, and untrusting of others. In contrast, a company too far to the left will constantly be changing (deprecating much loved services), over diversify its interests (ignoring or being ashamed of its core business), and overly trust its employees and competitors.

Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google's left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies. For the rest of this document, I'll concentrate on the extreme stance that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment and the authoritarian element that's required to actually discriminate to create equal representation.

Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech [3]

At Google, we're regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognisant of this, but it's far from the whole story.

On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren't just socially constructed because:

Note, I'm not saying that all men differ from women in the following ways or that these differences are "just." I'm simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don't see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there's significant overlap between men and women, so you can't say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

Men's higher drive for status

We always ask why we don't see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.

Status is the primary metric that men are judged on[4], pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths.

Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap

Below I'll go over some of the differences in distribution of traits between men and women that I outlined in the previous section and suggest ways to address them to increase women's representation in tech and without resorting to discrimination. Google is already making strides in many of these areas, but I think it's still instructive to list them:

Philosophically, I don't think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women. For each of these changes, we need principles reasons for why it helps Google; that is, we should be optimising for Google ¿ with Google's diversity being a component of that. For example currently those trying to work extra hours or take extra stress will inevitably get ahead and if we try to change that too much, it may have disastrous consequences. Also, when considering the costs and benefits, we should keep in mind that Google's funding is finite so its allocation is more zero-sum than is generally acknowledged.

The Harm of Google's biases

I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices:

These practices are based on false assumptions generated by our biases and can actually increase race and gender tensions. We're told by senior leadership that what we're doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology[7] that can irreparably harm Google.

Why we're blind

We all have biases and use motivated reasoning to dismiss ideas that run counter to our internal values. Just as some on the Right deny science that runs counter to the "God > humans > environment" hierarchy (e.g., evolution and climate change) the Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ[8] and sex differences). Thankfully, climate scientists and evolutionary biologists generally aren't on the right. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of humanities and social scientists learn left (about 95%), which creates enormous confirmation bias, changes what's being studied, and maintains myths like social constructionism and the gender wage gap[9]. Google's left leaning makes us blind to this bias and uncritical of its results, which we're using to justify highly politicized programs.

In addition to the Left's affinity for those it sees as weak, humans are generally biased towards protecting females. As mentioned before, this likely evolved because males are biologically disposable and because women are generally more co-operative and areeable than men. We have extensive government and Google programs, fields of study, and legal and social norms to protect women, but when a man complains about a gender issue issue [sic] affecting men, he's labelled as a misogynist and whiner[10]. Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women's oppression. As with many things in life, gender differences are often a case of "grass being greener on the other side"; unfortunately, taxpayer and Google money is spent to water only one side of the lawn.

The same compassion for those seen as weak creates political correctness[11], which constrains discourse and is complacent to the extremely sensitive PC-authoritarians that use violence and shaming to advance their cause. While Google hasn't harbored the violent leftists protests that we're seeing at universities, the frequent shaming in TGIF and in our culture has created the same silence, psychologically unsafe environment.


I hope it's clear that I'm not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn't try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don't fit a certain ideology. I'm also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I'm advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).

My concrete suggestions are to:

De-moralize diversity.

Stop alienating conservatives.

Confront Google's biases.

Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races.

Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.

Focus on psychological safety, not just race/gender diversity.

De-emphasise empathy.

Prioritise intention.

Be open about the science of human nature.

Reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory for promo committees.

[1] This document is mostly written from the perspective of Google's Mountain View campus, I can't speak about other offices or countries.

[2] Of course, I may be biased and only see evidence that supports my viewpoint. In terms of political biases, I consider myself a classical liberal and strongly value individualism and reason. I'd be very happy to discuss any of the document further and provide more citations.

[3] Throughout the document, by "tech", I mostly mean software engineering.

[4] For heterosexual romantic relationships, men are more strongly judged by status and women by beauty. Again, this has biological origins and is culturally universal.

[5] Stretch, BOLD, CSSI, Engineering Practicum (to an extent), and several other Google funded internal and external programs are for people with a certain gender or race.

[6] Instead set Googlegeist OKRs, potentially for certain demographics. We can increase representation at an org level by either making it a better environment for certain groups (which would be seen in survey scores) or discriminating based on a protected status (which is illegal and I've seen it done). Increased representation OKRs can incentivise the latter and create zero-sum struggles between orgs.

[7] Communism promised to be both morally and economically superior to capitalism, but every attempt became morally corrupt and an economic failure. As it became clear that the working class of the liberal democracies wasn't going to overthrow their "capitalist oppressors," the Marxist intellectuals transitioned from class warfare to gender and race politics. The core oppressor-oppressed dynamics remained, but now the oppressor is the "white, straight, cis-gendered patriarchy."

[8] Ironically, IQ tests were initially championed by the Left when meritocracy meant helping the victims of the aristocracy.

[9] Yes, in a national aggregate, women have lower salaries than men for a variety of reasons. For the same work though, women get paid just as much as men. Considering women spend more money than men and that salary represents how much the employees sacrifices (e.g. more hours, stress, and danger), we really need to rethink our stereotypes around power.

[10] "The traditionalist system of gender does not deal well with the idea of men needing support. Men are expected to be strong, to not complain, and to deal with problems on their own. Men's problems are more often seen as personal failings rather than victimhood, due to our gendered idea of agency. This discourages men from bringing attention to their issues (whether individual or group-wide issues), for fear of being seen as whiners, complainers, or weak."

[11] Political correctness is defined as "the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against," which makes it clear why it's a phenomenon of the Left and a tool of authoritarians.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

August 31, 2017 | Xenix: The Microsoft Unix That Once Was

One would not normally associate Microsoft with Unix. While Microsoft's interest(s) in Unix may remain minimal in recent times, history tells a very different story. Let us take a quick journey down memory lane, back to the late 1970's and into the early-mid 80's.

In 1979, Microsoft formed an agreement with AT&T Corporation to license Unix from AT&T. Then Microsoft licensed out its renamed Unix to OEM vendors, including Intel, Tandy and SCO. Those companies then ported it to their own hardware architectures and requirements. Microsoft was hit by a legal problem of the ¿UNIX¿ name not being able to be used. Therefore, Microsoft was forced to come up with their own distribution name. Xenix was chosen. To put it simply, AT&T licensed Unix to Microsoft and then Microsoft passed on the same Unix software re-branded as Xenix.

Microsoft's intention was to take Xenix to the 16bit microcomputer market. The initial port of Xenix was to the Zilog Z8000 series and then followed on the the Intel 8086/8088 architecture. By the time Microsoft reached the 7th edition, it was incorporating elements of BSD. Xenix became the most widely installed base of any Unix distribution. This was largely due to the continued popularity of the relatively inexpensive x86 processor. There was lots of modifications being done to Xenix by many different companies. Microsoft Xenix originally run on the PDP-11. It was then ported to the Zilog Z8001. Altos ported it to their Intel 8086 based computers. Tandy Corporation ported it to their 68000 based computers. SCO released a port to the IBM PC in September 1983. There was even a port for the 68000 based Apple Lisa.

During this time, Xenix was based on AT&T's Unix System III. Xenix version 2.0 was released in 1985, based on Unix System V. Microsoft then released the updated 2.1.1, which added support for the Intel 80286 processor. There were several more compatibility releases based on Unix System V. In 1987, SCO ported Xenix to the Intel 386 processor, which was a 32bit based chip. Xenix 2.3.1 was released and included support for i386, SCSI and TCP/IP. SCO's Xenix system was the first 32bit operating system available for the x86 architecture.

By the mid 1980's, Microsoft signed an agreement with IBM to develop OS/2. The code name for the project would be called CP/DOS. As Microsoft continued to develop CP/DOS with IBM, they gradually lost interest in Xenix. It took 2 years for IBM and Microsoft to develop the first release of CP/DOS, which was released with the name OS/2. It was released in 1987. And in the same year, ownership of Xenix was transferred to SCO. The agreement left Microsoft with a 25% ownership in SCO. History would repeat itself with Microsoft and OS/2. Microsoft lost interest in OS/2 development and focused its future and company strategy towards Windows NT. Despite Microsoft losing almost complete interest in Xenix, the company is said to have used Xenix internally right up until as late as 1993.

SCO released SCO Unix which was based on System V Release 3. SCO had included a number of improvements over Xenix. Although, Xenix did remain in the services line-up for SCO. AT&T and Sun Microsystems collaborated on merging portions of Xenix, BSD, SunOS and System V in to what became System V Release 4. Although SCO Unix was based on System V Release 3, it did include most of the advanced features that were included to make up System V Release 4. The last version of Xenix ever released was Xenix 2.3.4. At that time, Microsoft had little or nothing to do with the release or development. The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) has gone through several transitions of company re-organization and re-structuring. The former SCO and SCO Group are now owned by UnXis Inc. Derivatives of Xenix and SCO Unix continue on today and is now known as SCO OpenServer. It could be considered that if Xenix development had of continued, OpenServer is what it would now have been. The latest OpenServer 6.0 release still maintains backward-compatibility for software applications developed for Xenix 286 forwards.

Wikipedia proved to be a great resource for my research on Xenix and provided me with enough information to write this article. Anyone can go to Wikipedia and read the whole story for themselves. But I have attempted to simplify the details in to a more friendly and readable format. Personally, I find it an interesting story to find that early in Microsoft's history as a software company, for many years there was a serious reliance on Unix based operating systems for its initial survival. It probably ensured their long-term survival too. Whether you agree with all the past, present and future decisions that Microsoft made and continue to make, they're an interesting company to observe and one that always presents an interesting story.

It's also worth noting although Microsoft don't necessarily have a Unix or Linux based system available nowadays, they do contribute plenty of source code to the Linux kernel tree and other software projects. They have also rebooted their open-source initiatives in recent years with the launch of an internal department titled Microsoft Open Technologies. Microsoft now provides access to native Ubuntu Linux running inside Windows 10, as a sub-system. And development continues to bring Fedora and OpenSUSE sub-systems into Windows 10 also.

Microsoft can't really be famed for actually releasing any source code for their own crucial software products and services. But things are much better than they used to be. This is highlighted by the company throwing PowerShell source code out to the open-source community which has resulted in PowerShell binaries running natively on Linux. Also worth noting is the open-sourcing of the ChakraCore JavaScript engine that remains a core component of its Edge Browser package. These are all positive signs that Microsoft is beginning to accept that free and open-source technology is a real and viable alternative to proprietary. The best thing we can at least expect is much better interoperability and compatibility with FOSS alternatives.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Disclaimer: This article was originally published on Unixmen. The original author of the article is Chris McGimpsey-Jones and the article is published under the Creative Commons license model. The article remains published on Unixmen, however the website breaks the terms of the Creative Commons license and additionally, Unixmen has changed the name of the author and claims the article as their own. This is incorrect. Chris McGimpsey-Jones is the original author of the article and it is now published to Freedom Publishers Union, with permission by the original author and under Creative Commons license as permitted by the correct terms and conditions in accordance to the license.

August 30, 2017 | The Children of Linux

Linux - It's really not a hard operating system to learn. In fact, that statement is quite wrong. Linux is not an operating system. Linux is a kernel which is used as the very core to build an operating system around. But these are the things that children of today are not learning. At least, not in the public schools anyway.

When I was a teenager, I was very interested in computers. I looked forward to and really enjoyed my Information Technology classes. But it wasn't just the computers that I was interested in. The more I got involved with them, the more I wanted to know about what goes on to make them work. Or to be precise, the operating system. It's a long time ago now, but I remember when I was talking to my teacher one day he briefly said something about "Unix".

Until that time, I had never heard of this mysterious Unix system. He mentioned it only this one time. At the time, I really didn't know anything about Unix but was intrigued of what Unix could be. It was some years later before I got my first glimpse of anything to do with Linux. Which is the widely-accepted modern alternative to Unix. My first encounter with Linux was SUSE 8, which came free on a magazine at the time. I might mention, it later came to my attention the magazine was not actually meant to be giving the operating system away on the front cover as they were. Not long after my acquisition of the disc, I learned that I was the one responsible for having the copies of the disc recalled by the magazine publisher. How many were actually returned out of ethical duty is anyone's guess. I suspect it was not many. But ever since my first experience with SUSE 8, I never let go of Linux and have always been involved with it in one form or another.

Now as you all know and are well aware, Microsoft Windows is basically the only operating system taught in our public schools. I understand that the Windows operating system is the industry standard and I can accept that. But I don't believe teaching children how to use Windows solely, is the way forward to a positive IT future. And it is definitely not going to solve the problem of being able to fill the coming flood of positions that are set to become available in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) sector. If Linux even got a mention, it would be progress.

My high school years are well gone now, yet nothing has changed. Public schools are still teaching children Windows and (unintentionally) presenting it as the only operating system you'll ever need to learn and the only operating system than can cater for your daily computing requirements. This assumption is just so untrue and Linux has now evolved to become a great challenger to the Windows operating system in the home and office.

There arises many issues and setbacks with the aforementioned lack of Linux teachings in high schools. One of the primary reasons, being the IT teachers themselves having no concept of how to use Linux. There are many issues from many different angles. We are very lucky in some ways that we live in a world of fast broadband access where anyone can download and install Linux for free. This is accompanied by the huge wealth of technical information, guides and open-source development communities waiting to help, with a quick search in your favorite search engine. When I was in high school, a 56k dial-up internet connection was a true privilege and there was only one computer in the whole school that had internet access. I'm probably still on that waiting list to use that computer, as the list was always a mile long and your turn never seemed to arrive.

All my 15 years of Linux experience that I have today has all been self-taught. I have put myself through free courses and done my fair share of tinkering, configuring and certainly my fair share of breaking systems - sometimes accidental and sometimes intentional by motive of learning. I continue to get yelled at by family members because I've broken the computer once again or changed something! I'm sure it will continue for a very long time. Why? Because Linux offer endless learning capabilities. And despite being a Linux veteran, I am still learning things on Linux on a daily basis and still intentionally break things to see how they work in detail. In fact, I continue to experiment with third-party distributions and development packages which have potential to provide a very different user experience from the usual mainstream Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Fedora.

That is where we begin the see the whole point. There's endless possibilities of learning when it comes to Linux. And perhaps that's the problem when it comes to public schools and teaching Linux. It is such a large scale eco-system with so many different facets, where would one begin to teach. I see that as an excuse for not teaching Linux and not a valid argument. Because even giving children a glimpse of Linux in their high school studies will no doubt have a flow-on effect to further private studies and courses. Linux must be taught to future high school students. Otherwise, we are going to experience a severe shortage of knowledgeable Linux administrators in the future. We are already seeing the first signs of this problem and unless we start arming the young nerds of today with the knowledge they require to make up their own mind, we are going to continue to have even more problems than we do at present.

If things don't change soon, I can only hope that today's students come out of schooling as open-minded as I did and choose to at least give Linux a try and see for themselves the true raw power of free and open-source computing that is modern Unix - Linux.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

Disclaimer: This article was originally published on Unixmen. The original author of the article is Chris McGimpsey-Jones and the article is published under the Creative Commons license model. The article remains published on Unixmen, however the website breaks the terms of the Creative Commons license and additionally, Unixmen has changed the name of the author and claims the article as their own. This is incorrect. Chris McGimpsey-Jones is the original author of the article and it is now published to Freedom Publishers Union, with permission by the original author and under Creative Commons license as permitted by the correct terms and conditions in accordance to the license.

July 18, 2017 | Civilian Casualties Abused and Disrespected by Coalition Forces. Bodies Just Become Collateral Damage Statistic

On July 11, 2017, ABC News in Australia published scathing details of civilian casualties in Afghanistan which includes the lethal shooting of children and unarmed men which have fallen at the hands of Australian Military involvement. This is followed up by details of abuse of bodies of the deceased in Afghanistan, with documents dating incident from 2009 right through to 2014.

The Afghan Files publication by ABC News is very alarming and brings to light the question of potential misconduct of Australian Special Forces soldiers in the Afghan warzones and the broader aspects of the culture that bonds these elite forces together, which mostly operate in secrecy and under what appears to be very limited oversight from the Department of Defense.

The details were based on leaked documents which authenticate the horrific allegations of abuse, which the ABC has chosen not to publish in full as many of them are marked with AUSTEO - Australian Eyes Only. Additionally, the reports are said to include details of a secret internal military inquiry into the cases of the civilian casualties and abuse claims.

Understandably, there has been growing frustrations within Afghan communities. The frustrations are directed towards the Australian Military for the many alleged cases of Australian soldiers killing innocent civilians, who are often determined post-incident to be unarmed, uninvolved in the conflict or in some cases found to be children. As further details are revealed, unarmed civilians who have been killed are often subjected to Australian soldiers setting up a 'scene' by placing knives or guns onto or surrounding the bodies of dead victims to portray them as being armed at the time of death by the Australians.

Freedom Publishers Union is deeply concerned by the details found in the ABC publication and we urge the Australian Government and the Department of Defense to look into the many outstanding issues surrounding these claims, which have been documented, leaked and published by the ABC, yet previously shrouded in secrecy from the wider public by the Department of Defense.

Later details reveal disturbing details of Australian soldiers mutilating dead Afghans by severing the hands off the bodies, in a so-called effort of identification-related purposes. As we understand it, Australian Military personnel are required to collect fingerprints and eye scans as part of the identification process of the deceased. But only if possible to do so. We are so disturbed that soldiers are resorting to what we view as desperate measures of body mutilation, in an effort to gain identification of the civilian casualties when they are not actually required to do so if it is deemed not possible.

The published details are graphic, disturbing and raises many questions of whether Australia's Military require closer oversight in war operations and also raises the potential question of whether a review of the current Rules of Engagement and other related military response and operations guidelines should be further reviewed. For obvious national security reasons, Rules of Engagement and other related military operations techniques and guidelines are usually kept secret and out of the public domain by the respective country's military.

Therefore, it remains nigh on impossible for Freedom Publishers Union to put exact parts of such operations and techniques under further scrutiny due to the surrounding secrecy measures implemented. However, we feel we have every right to call out possibilities of operations breaches if we have suspicion that there is in fact a breach or multiple breaches which have occurred.

The allegations and details publicized by ABC News bring many of these allegations to light, but it's also backed up by documented evidence that these cases did occur and that the Australian Military was aware of the possibility of multiple breaches, yet it was kept secret and out of the public domain.

The latest documents were dated as late as 2014, yet the atrocities carried out by Coalition forces, which includes Australia, continues today. It is important to view the violence from both sides of the coin and understand that these acts of aggression and violence is not just carried out by Coalition associated military forces, but also from Islamic State (IS) forces.

On July 10, 2017, Amnesty International released a 50-page Report titled "At Any Cost - The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul, Iraq". The Report notes that in March and May 2017, Amnesty International visited Northern Iraq to examine and investigate possible violations of human rights abuses and international humanitarian law.

The Report outlines the war atrocities and horrific and often unimaginable violence directly and indirectly involving civilians which is carried out by both Coalition and IS Military Forces.

IS continues to disrespect and outright ignore the laws of war, international humanitarian law and the most basic elements of human rights. The basic importance of human life also seems completely irrelevant in many cases. IS rounds up thousands of civilians at a time, moves them into known war zones and uses them as human shields. Essentially, this creates a very big problem. When you can't distinguish the 'Enemy' from 'Civilian' - as is the case fighting IS militants and the various off-shoot groups which are present in so many of these places across Iraq and Syria - you're going to get civilian casualties.

Furthermore, some of them are going to be deliberate killings. You can report, document, investigate and prosecute the soldiers retroactively, but as long as your are making war, this will continue to happen.

What we do need and what Freedom Publishers Union immediately calls for is civilian casualties properly acknowledged and respected, through proper documenting of the incidents surrounding their deaths. At present, we constantly see vast differences in the numbers of civilians killed based on the figures from Amnesty International and independent monitoring groups such as Airwars and Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in camparison to 'official' acknowledged and documented civilian casualties published in the public domain by The Pentagon.

With such vast difference in numbers of civilian casualties released to the public, suspicion grows and questions need to be asked. Somewhere between the high count of independent organizations and the relative low count of documented civilian casualties published by Government representative departments, we need to get a more accurate figure.

We need greater transparency and we need to see better public disclosure, whilst allowing independent monitoring groups better access to limited military data for the purpose of documentation of civilian casualties. Where classified information and sensitive data is involved, we urge better collaboration between independent monitoring organizations and the military to ensure proper security protocols are followed and respected.

This must also be followed up by ensuring that Rules of Engagement and military operations manuals and techniques are adapted to better accommodate the process for documenting incidents of civilians casualties in a secure, respectful way without the secrecy and constant denial of which we are currently witness to.

Too many civilians are being killed in Iraq and Syria and whilst being denied recognition of their untimely and unexpected deaths, they are equally being denied the respect they deserve. These civilians of foreign countries being caught up in military conlfict zones are still human and are therefore entitled to have their human rights respected, inclusive of their dignity.

There is a deep problem. It is war. Civilian casualties happen. The only way to not have civilian casualties is to not go to war in the first place.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

June 30, 2017 | Elon Musk's Multi-Planetary Civilization Essay, a Blueprint for Serious Consideration

During the month of June, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, released a 16-page essay on multi-planetary civilization, the science community was a little surprised. Some academics were critical of the essay's contents and expressed concern it has no scientific credibility and that it was nothing more than a fantasy.

Before you go head and read the essay, one must open up their mind to the concept of multi-planetary civilization. In reference to Musk's essay and from a scientific stand point, there are many innaccuracies and clear expressions of ignorance of some of the major scientific and engineering challenges that such a cosmic venture would pose. Additionally, from an engineering perspective there remains many problems which would potential make or break any plans for humans to settle on Mars. However, we need to take a step back for a second and look at the structure of the essay. Musk presents the essay by going through each challenge in the appropriate steps which would be required to be completed for any such plan to become reality and to be successful.

The essay starts by outlining humanity's necessity to consider migrating to another planet. In Musk's proposal, he has chosen Mars as his focus. This is not just a random planet pick out of our solar system, he actually does make his case for choosing Mars specifically. The essay continues on and outlines in brief, the requirement for a little more exploration of Mars prior to initiating plans for civilization inhabiting the planet and to start building self-sustaining cities. He is not completely ignorant to the challenges posed by such an ambitious plan. Musk outlines the common challenges that require immediate attention. Technology challenges are very present which would require heavy investment, much research, technical and engineering development and vast improvements to existing technology. We also can't ignore the fact that in some cases we are considering technology that does not yet exist and scientific challenges that have not yet been explored, analyzed and produced any kind of unaninous academic and scientific conclusion. But it's not just the technical challenges that are of immediate concern, there are additional multitudes of engineering challenges too.

The essay continues to detail space ship types and sizes required to transport equipment and actual humans, along with the rocket and propulsion technology required to launch, operate, direct and land these massive ships of which the world has not yet witnessed anything that comes close to resembling the size that Musk proposes is required. Again, we need to remind people that it's a very ambitious plan which will require much more detailed analysis and research.

Finally, the essay concludes with plans for refuelling these ships mid-flight and even goes as far as detailing eventual requirement for fueling 'stations' located in various parts throughout solar system and beyond.

The main problem with the essay is it remains very brief. The entirety of the essay is just 16-pages and it includes information, technical details and diagrams to help illustrate the proposal. The plan is all clear and for such a short essay with only brief information, Musk does a great job of getting his point accross. He deserves credit for that. But where the essay remains very brief, is also the subject of its negative critique. For such a vast plan to be drafted and proposed in just 16-pages could be viewed as ridiculous. And if the proposal is to be ever taken serious, we feel that it would require much more detail, technical specifications, scientific and engineering analysis than this. A serious proposal would most likely run into thousands of pages of text and diagrams.

Elon Musk should not be ignored nor should this essay be treated as ridiculous science fiction. Some might make the assumption that Musk has fallen victim to his own work to the same degree that Ron L. Hubbard succumbed to his own science fiction stories by actually believing what he was writing, to be the truth. The concept of multi-planetary civilization is nothing new and Musk is not the first person to come up with such a concept. When reading the essay you can't help but feel the enthusiasm in Musk's words. His passion for the concept and further development to make the concept a reality is very obvious. On this front, he should be credited for spawning the idea. After all, he founded Tesla and SpaceX to much critique in the early development stages of the companies. Despite the criticism, both Tesla and SpaceX have succeeded and continue to make milestones in technologies and development in their respective fields of business.

We should not discredit Musk and in fact, we should be embracing the passion and thought put into the essay. It's a starting point and all great ambitions start with a basic plan. Even if that plan is to come across as initially crazy. There are obvious challenges present which humans have not yet been forced to deal with. But that leads us to the point where we start believing that Elon Musk's essay is not so ridiculous as you might think. He has outlined problems. He has only provided basic and vague ideas to overcome these challenges. He is just one man. But he is a visionary. Imagine what the brilliant minds of humans could achieve if more thought, research and development was put into multi-planetary exploration with an eventual plan for civilization and establshment of self-sustaining cities on Mars and beyond.

As humans continue to destroy Earth at rapid rate and continue to absolutely outright ignore the problems we are already facing and will face in the future by climate change, and take into consideration the undisputed resource problems that our planet will face, we need a plan B. Elon Musk has proposed an alternative. Is it really such a bad thing to put forth a plan which could possibly see the continued existence of our species? We say it again - He is just one man. But he is a visionary.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

June 25, 2017 | 'Five Eyes' Calls for Better Security co-operation Could Still Lead to Attacks on Encryption and Forced Backdoors

Momentum is gaining traction for 'Five Eyes' nation's respective leaders to (re)commence their attacks on encryption. The new front is being led by Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. It comes not so long after the newly re-elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, released a Party Manifesto which detailed in disturbing detail a future vision for digital rights and the potential for the UK to lead the way through introduction of legislation which would see regulation of the internet.

Freedom Publishers Union advocates for freedom of information which includes freedom of accessibility and spreading of digital information on the internet, without government intervention, tampering or mass-surveillance. It is the whole purpose of the open design and development of the internet and the infrastructure that binds it together. We will always aim to protect the organic nature of its design.

It has become increasingly clear since the revelations of government sponsored and initiated mass-surveillance programs that governments were unhappy about their secret programs becoming public knowledge. Political discourse followed and legislation was gradually introduced by a variety of parties and nations which aimed to regulate and reign in the what were previously secret mass-surveillance programs which operated under the radar and on sweeping scale. The amount of data these sweeping programs were gathering and the rate of collection was vast and in some cases required completely new datacenters to be built, purely for secure storage of the data.

For a short while, Freedom Publishers Union was positive with the actions that we were witness to. There were signs that government bureaucrats were taking notice of citizen discontent with their every move being tracked and logged. But the path to surveillance cleansing has once again gone off-track and we could comfortably conclude that we are going backwards and on a path to mass-surveillance which if goes unchecked and unchallenged, will undoubtedly grow to a scale larger than anything we've yet learned.

Privacy is important. It is a civil liberty of citizens to enjoy and uphold their right to privacy. This right to privacy is enhanced through the use of encryption. Before the revelations of secret mass-surveillance programs was revealed, citizens were ignorant to encryption not through intention, but through lack of knowledge and understanding of its purpose to protect their data from the unwelcome eyes of sweeping surveillance programs like PRISM, XKeyscore, Tempora, MUSCULAR and STATEROOM.

On the eve of the secret 'Five Eyes' security meeting in Canada, Australia is calling for better co-operation from technology companies with intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Malcolm Turnbull stops short of stating what specific measures he and his Australian Attorney General, George Brandis, would be proposing. But he did state that calls for increased co-operation does not mean that pursuit of forced backdoor inclusion is on the table.

Freedom Publishers Union warns citizens, we must not be complacent in trusting our democratic country's governments to always do the right thing and protect our data. It has now become all too clear that governments want our data, therefore we must protect it. We must not conclude that it is a war between governments and the citizens. Because it is not. And this is a scenario which we prefer to avoid, frankly. We believe that governments do have genuine intent when legislation is passed that legalize surveillance programs under the banner of protecting citizens through fighting terrorism. Intent is there. But the temptation for sweeping surveillance on mass scale is there, it does happen and will continue to happen is pressure on governments and intelligence agencies is not maintained.

Freedom Publishers Union reminds our supporters and readers that protection of your data is your priority. Encryption is available for free and much of it open-source. You can openly and freely use it to protect your data right now. There are tools for beginners and tools for advanced users. But use of encryption to protect your data should not be your only mission. You should also be advocating for the use of encryption and other software that protects privacy and data. Help others download and install privacy software when you become comfortable with how it works. Let it be your mission to advocate and spread the message that our data should remain exactly that - "Our data".

It is no longer the sole responsibility of advocacy groups and crypto-anarchists to do the hard work and advocate for right to freedom and privacy. We have moved beyond that and it is now up to everyone to unite. It's no longer a movement or a political activist campaign. It is your right. If you do not own your rights to privacy and continue to fight for your civil liberties, they might very well be taken away from you by overreaching governments and intelligence agencies. It was all happening right under our noses prior to the courageous leaks of Edward Snowden as a former NSA security analyst working on these secret programs. It could easily happen again if we don't stand up, unite on the privacy frontline and speak out in support of encryption, privacy and civil liberties that enable freedom to thrive to its truest form.

Never be complacent.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center | Permission to republish | Donate

June 19, 2017 | Misrepresentation of CIA Spying Activities, Following Latest Vault 7 Release by Wikileaks

Wikileaks continues to disperse information which reveals just how deep the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spying techniques really go. The latest documents leak from the Vault 7 cache paints a true picture of what we already suspected of the CIA intelligence gathering methods - there really is no boundaries for their targets. Essentially, everything is a target.

The latest documents contain information which detail with frightening certainty that network hardware, routers, switches and firewalls are a focus of the CIA's vast spy program. The network routers that are the forefront of the Wikileaks publication don't just single out one or two brands or models of network hardware, but entire series of routers which the CIA has methods of tampering with, typically by installing unauthorized modified firmware.

The hardware range targeted are some well known brands of D-Link, Belkin, 3Com, Linksys and Cisco. Oddly, the equally popular consumer brands such as the Billion, Netgear and TP-LINK network hardware are not mentioned. We could make the assumption that the brands targeted have less security and are easier for the CIA to manipulate and supposed non-targeted brands have better security. It's important to note this is assumption only and we have absolutely no substance of data to back up this assumption. We can not confirm whether there is more routers which have fallen into the cross-hairs of the CIA, but there is some notable absences.

There has been some over-hyped reporting on the latest release. But it's important to keep the entire Wikileaks publication in context. The CIA has the ability, as we've now learned through these publications, to install modified firmware onto these network hardware devices. There is a mix of consumer level hardware and also business centric hardware. We do not urge panic. We urge caution. But we should never remain complacent and should always aim to stay one step ahead of security contractors that work for government intelligence gathering agencies and ahead of the intelligence gathering agencies themselves. ie. CIA, FBI, NSA, GCHQ, ASIO and others.

Most good network administrators know their hardware very well and should therefore know when/if firmware has been changed or updated without their consent. Freedom Publishers Union considers our own network security to be quite strong. Our server resides on a network behind multiple routers, multiple switches and firewalls. We are confident of our network security and always maintain priority of our network activity at software and hardware level. There are certain indicators which would draw immediate attention to network hardware that has been tampered with. However, in large corporate environments with large and complex networking infrastructure, it would be fair to say that one could not expect the administrators to be able to monitor their state of health and security of every single hardware device connected to these networks. It would be unfair to expect this and outright unrealistic to imply that such undertaking could even be possible without appropriate resources and personnel to carry out such a massive task.

This most likely explains the absence of most consumer level networking hardware. But we can not be sure whether there is more information that accompanies what has been published by Wikileaks, or whether Wikileaks has purposely held some information back. Or it could be a case that such information never leaked through to Wikileaks as part of the Vault 7 cache because it simply does not exist.

This much is speculation. What is not speculation is the very fact that the CIA does carry out spying, hacking and all other forms of intelligence gathering without boundaries or morals. We must remember to always go back to the source documents themselves and analyze the finer detail where required.

May 9, 2017 | Facebook Having Identity Crisis. Must Look to Google for Inspiration

Facebook is facing a huge identity crisis. To the initial public eye of familiarity, Facebook is still the daily social media habit. They are still a social media company, to be fair. But things are changing at Facebook, yet we're not convinced that the company is aware of the change that is underway and whether they are working to best position themselves to accommodate its evolving identity.

To elaborate further and to find a possible solution to Facebook's identity crisis, we need to take a look at one of its largest Silicon Valley rivals - Google.

When Google made the announcement that it was being integrated into a portfolio and under the banner of a brand new company called Alphabet Inc., the corporate world was at first a little confused. Google loyalists were equally confused and bewildered what was happening to this giant of Silicon Valley. The initial confusion was justified. When you take a closer look at what Google done and the reasons for their corporate shake-up and integration into a new parent company, we quickly conclude that it was probably one of the smartest corporate choices Silicon Valley has witnessed.

Google created Alphabet Inc. to become the parent company of Google and its other company holdings, subsidiaries and corporate projects. The public will usually associate Google with being the friendly search engine that pops up on most internet web browsers when you first open it. Google is friendly, happy and familiar to everyone. There was a more complex side to Google though, which may not have been so obvious to anyone unfamiliar with the company's operations. Google was much bigger than just a search engine. Over the years of its existence, Google had acquired many other businesses and also diversified into other areas of science, research and development, computing, operating systems, software development and smart phone development and operations. If you were to summarize the operations of Google in just a couple of words, you could only state that it was "huge and complex". It had become so diversified and complex that it entered an internal identity crisis itself. But Google was quick to recognize this. Quicker than what the public and corporate analysts had determined. And it was upon this recognition that Alphabet Inc. was founded and the divisions created.

Facebook must look to Google for inspiration. Facebook has moved beyond the realm of being just a social media company. It is (and has been for some time) involved in scientific research, software development, gaming and hardware. The next big thing for Facebook looks to be media and news. It has somewhat experimented in this sector, with Trending Topics. However, actual Trending Editors were replaced by internal algorithms. This was not a major setback for Facebook media ambitions, if there are any actual ambitions. But it's safe to say the algorithms failed and were certainly not a suitable replacement for actual content editors. Trending Topics seems to have been brushed to the side in the Facebook interface and it remains unclear how much focus this area will get.

So where does this take us? It leads us to question whether Facebook has legitimate media ambitions or whether it is being pulled unwillingly into the sector by internet market forces. Change at the top could be key to regaining control. Facebook potentially have two options to initiate change and regain control of the company's direction. One option is for them to create a Board of Directors. Some believe that as long as Mark Zuckerberg has sole (majority) control, there will be confusion. To be fair, Facebook hasn't really reached the diversity of Google, yet. Google's Board together with Eric Schmidt, Sergei Brin and Larry Page figured out that Google has become a holding company without intending to do so. They understood the necessary changes and formally made the shift. The changes also allowed them to formalize their company philosophy and define what criteria each sector of the business needs to meet for success and growth under Alphabet Inc.

Facebook hasn't diversifies as far from its roots and it's still mostly about information sharing with advertising thrown into the mix, which is not only keeping the business successful, but generating huge amounts of cash reserves to be invested in other projects. The trend is set to continue and Facebook is undoubtedly set to diversify even more. Unlike Google, it is apparent that Facebook has not yet learned how to plan management and monetization as part of a new project. They are still primarily focused in the one industry - information collection and delivery. In some ways, Facebook is closer to resembling News Corporation than what it does Google.

There's lots going on at Facebook. To be honest, it is confusing. The company needs to define what it is. Without even knowing it, it's trying to be too many things. Splitting it would go some way to allowing it to focus on being a company with different divisions which could focus on each sector more appropriately. Emulating exactly what Google has done. It's almost becoming a media company in its own right, but not quite there yet. When Facebook reaches this point, it will be a very different kind of media company. Like nothing we've seen yet. That is where the challenge lies - defining what it is and what they do.

We draw back to the point of Zuckerberg holding control of the company operations, which is also our second option, of letting Zuckerberg retain that control. Although a Board of Directors at Facebook would not be the worst decision, one could also be forgiven for believing that Zuckerberg has an 'ultimate' vision and is still the one person that should have sole control to achieve that vision.

Looking outside the spectrum slightly, there is a problem with America versus the rest of the world. In the United States of America, corporations are treated as human entities. Whereas in Europe, the majority shareholder or Managing Director is personally responsible for the actions of the company. US corporations act as proxy for owners and management, which therefore allows the company to pay any penalties and results and no responsibility assigned to leadership level. It's the moral equivalent in business of saying all the Nazi atrocities were carried out by Germany and that Germany needs to go to jail, not Hitler or the Nazi leadership.

Google made the transition from the duopoly of Brin and Page to a diversified Board that allows responsibility to rest in the corporations, while providing the measurement framework for these to meet. Facebook must look for inspiration. They're very lucky. They don't have to look hard as the inspiration is right on their door step. Alphabet Inc. is a proven success. Facebook must recognize what it is, how to present itself to the public and win back ultimate trust of investors and public users.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News | Permission to republish | Donate

April 17, 2017 | CIA Director Takes Aim at Wikileaks, Assange and Publications of Leaked/Secret Information

In a recent spiel by the CIA Director, Michael Pompeo, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies he spoke out about what he believes are unfair injustices of sections of the publishing industry, followed up by making several references that the Trump Administration will be seeking to reform the media industry.

Media reform is not the problem, nor is it the simple fact that Pompeo spoke out about his narrow-minded view of a supposed injustice. Under the very free speech that Freedom Publishers Union advocates and supports he is perfectly entitled to do so. However, there are many aspects of his comments which must be scrutinized in closer detail. Specifically, Freedom Publishers Union is concerned of the direction of which Pompeo's complaints were directed. He complains of the publishing actions of Wikileaks and its Editor, Julian Assange. But he didn't stop there. He continued on his rant to declare the apparent injustice and illegal actions of leakers which provide media organizations with their caches of information, data and/or documentation. He describes the modern independent media trend as a "celebration of entities like Wikileaks" and what he describes as being "both perplexing and deeply troubling".

We disagree.

Freedom Publishers Union must make it very clear that we do not dispute that much of the material that media organizations, including leak websites such as Wikileaks, obtains probably is illegal. However, there is a fine line, which remains quite gray and blurred, which constitutes as news that is in the public interest and should be released regardless of how it was obtained or whether the source obtains the information by legal or illegal means. When it comes to media, sure, we must all act accordingly and within the boundaries of the law. Yet we must also uphold our publishing responsibilities by sharing the information that we obtain and provided to us, by our sources. We point out that this extends rights across the media industry as a whole and is not limited to Freedom Publishers Union, Wikileaks or any other media organization. Not at all. It's a constantly growing industry, thanks to digital publication tools readily available for anyone to utilize.

Why Pompeo's comments remain so tight in scope and focuses on Wikileaks, remains a mystery. Additionally, it concerns us that his comments also put Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning in his cross-hairs. Snowden resides in Russia on temporary visa and Manning is still detained in a military prison, awaiting her early release in coming months. But this didn't stop Pompeo by using them as an example by claiming their actions are carried out to "seek to use that information to make a name for themselves". A notion that we absolutely dispute. And he claims, "As long as they make a splash, they care nothing about the lives they put at risk or the damage they cause to national security".

These are reckless comments coming from the Director of the CIA, as to date no evidence has been presented to make the case that any such publications by Wikileaks has ever put any persons or individuals at risk of harm. Disclosures released by Snowden have been dribble fed to small selections of media organizations. Although he has never stated why his disclosures are dribble fed at such slow pace, Freedom Publishers Union can only conclude that this is done to minimize political fallout and to minimize risk to persons associated with such disclosures and the usually scathing details that he provides through the source information.

Despite Pompeo claiming that Manning was directed by Assange to collect the information that she was able to obtain, we must say that this is absolutely false and is outright stupid to make this claim. And it's obvious that Pompeo is making this a definitive claim, rather than an accusation. It is well known that Chelsea Manning acted alone, disturbed by the activities she witnessed by the US Military in Iraq and Afghanistan which prompted her to collect and forward the data onto Wikileaks. Freedom Publishers Union understands that Assange had limited contact with Manning during the transmission of data to Wikileaks, but it certainly can not be claimed that Manning was under the direction or orders of Assange.

Are the Director's comments truly aimed directly towards Julian Assange and Wikileaks, rather than the media industry as a whole? We believe yes. Careful analysis of the Pompeo's speech makes this an obvious point.

Are the frustrations of the political stalemate which sees Assange still detained to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London beginning to reach boiling point and the Trump Administration is seeking a quick resolution? This is very possible.

Is this boiling point finally going to see the US legal system act on its outstanding Grand Jury against Wikileaks and Assange? While the US Government continue to shroud the Grand Jury in secrecy and deny its existence, we believe this is still unlikely in the short-term, unless more evidence of actual illegal activity becomes available.

In a Statement released by Julian Assange, he believes that the CIA Director should have focused on more important and current issues of international politics surrounding China and North Korea. Interestingly, Assange failed to mention the outstanding US tensions present with Russia. This will be sure to add fuel to the fire of continued accusations that Assange continues to speak out and work for the interests of Russia.

Freedom Publishers Union does not support this view and believes it is completely unjustified. But Assange could have put a stop to these unjustified accusations, by at least mentioning Russia as a topic of concern in the same context he does of China and North Korea - which we believe are justified by mention.

Assange concluded his response Statement very well, "Pompeo's speech attempting to stifle speech only serves to underscore why Wikileaks' publications are necessary. Wikileaks will continue to publish true, newsworthy information that contributes to the public debate".

Freedom Publishers Union echoes this statement and strives to always follow the same publication path and standards, enhancing the free press to a wider audience through publication of well researched and fact-based information. We hope that all independent media organizations follow the same path and strive to do the same.

Freedom Publishers Union actually goes one step further and releases our Editorials and original material under a combination of Creative Commons and Konomark, which guarantees a careful and responsible balance of the associated freedoms of sharing of this information and helps to ensure it can not be removed or censored.

Pompeo continued to justify the points he makes in his tirade by quoting hand-picked comments from The Intercept, which criticized Wikileaks for "stretching the facts" and documents published were "not worth the concern Wikileaks generated by its public comments". Freedom Publishers Union does not work directly with Wikileaks or The Intercept. However, their work is part of our information gathering and Editorial processing, often providing vital research material that can not be found in mainstream media coverage of certain stories. But we have also previously made direct judgment onboth Wikileaks and The Intercept. We have also directly criticized Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald (and Edward Snowden), on various issues in the past. The point is; even if a working relationship is in place, official or unofficial, we still retain our right to openly criticize and put pressure on each other where we feel there is justification for criticism. It's the democracy embedded in open and free media and it's this criticism which keeps the free press healthy and goes to ensure accuracy of information and helps to present non-bias, factual presentation of information.

Glenn Greenwald from The Intercept sums it up well, "Trump's CIA Director stood up in public and explicitly threatened to target free speech rights and press freedoms, and it was almost impossible to find even a single US mainstream journalist expressing objections or alarm, because the targets Pompeo chose in this instance are ones they dislike - much the way that many are willing to overlook or even sanction free speech repression if the targeted ideas or speakers are sufficiently unpopular".

Greenwald goes on to quote Pompeo further, "A little less Constitutional law and a lot more of a philosophical understanding. Julian Assange has no First Amendment privileges. He is not a US citizen. What I was speaking to is an understanding that these are not reporters doing good work to try to keep the American Government on us. These are actively recruiting agents to steal American secrets with the sole intent of destroying the American way of life. That is fundamentally different than a First Amendment activity as I understand them. This is what I was getting to. We have had administrations before that have been too squeamish about going after these people, after some concept of this right to publish. Nobody has the right to actively engage in the theft of secrets from American without the intent to do harm to it".

Greenwald responds by stating, "Given how menacing and extreme this statement is, it is remarkable - and genuinely frightening - that it received so little notice, let alone condemnation, from the US press corps".

Freedom Publishers Union can not comment in legal terms, but Glenn Greenwald from The Intercept claims that "the notion that Wikileaks has no free press rights [under the US Constitution] because Assange is a foreigner is both wrong and dangerous". We can however express our own frustration among independent media circles, when mainstream media fails to pick up on these issues or outright ignores to cover them.

We believe there are greater implications to press freedom if the US were to criminalize publication of classified information. it is common practice among the free press, including mainstream US media, to publish classified documents and information which is deemed in the public interest by that media organization.

Furthermore, legally charging and prosecuting Wikileaks and its staff members for publishing secret documents and information are a huge threat to press freedom and also bring into question the purpose of the purported protections and legal standing of the US Constitution. This whole issue of drawing the line with First Amendment protections is a huge can of worms.

Essentially, the official secrets protections are nothing more than a Government Non-Disclosure Agreement which means that before you are allowed to see the secrets, you agree to be prosecuted if you reveal the secrets, without permission. Let's be honest - you're never going to get permission to release information which details secret government operations or mass-surveillance programs.

Freedom Publishers Union points out that we must recognize illegal activity when we see it. We wouldn't even blink if Microsoft launched criminal proceedings against someone who stole and published the source code to its Windows operating system. Or if someone published the complete text of J.K. Rowling's next Harry Potter novel. The person committing the theft is certainly guilty of a criminal act. But that's where the free press has an ethical responsibility and needs to make a decision - to publish if they deem it to be in interest of the public or to refrain because it was sourced illegally.

Upon receiving the Iraq and Afghanistan material, Assange made an ethical decision as Editor of Wikileaks, to publish the material. Albeit, initially in redacted form. Yet nobody must ignore that Chelsea Manning committed a criminal action in stealing the information. Justified or not, there is a fundamental breach of law involved.

Wikileaks obtained the documents. Manning was caught and imprisoned. That much is fact.

Where this gets complicated is what happens at the next level, after the initial theft, the act of publication is essentially removed from the theft. If Glenn Greenwald publishes the verbatim text of aforementioned hypothetical Harry Potter novel, knowing that it is the unpublished book, he would also be committing a crime as an accessory to theft. In effect, the second publisher becomes a fence of stolen property. Even if criminal actions are discovered on the part of J.K. Rowling, the theft and fence are still guilty of a crime. Although charges would likely be dropped if the revelation of the other crime was sufficiently heinous.

Under the same theory, the theft and publication of secret documents are also crimes. Just against a different victim. The prosecution of the theft and publication of secrets is dealt with the same as a Harry Potter theft. If there is the revelation of criminal activity in the stolen material, it is likely that the theft charges would be dropped - at least against the journalist(s) that publish it.

A slightly different perspective, interestingly, the US Government could probably make a case for copyright infringement stick. Even if there is question about whether the publication of the stolen documents are justified by revealing a more criminal act. And that is if they copyrighted the secret documents in the first place. Admittedly, this is taking a slightly different view on the issue. But it is interesting nevertheless.

Freedom Publishers Union outright condemns the CIA Director, Michael Pompeo, in taking a blatant stance to violate First Amendment guarantees. But it must be acknowledged that somewhere in the mess of leaking and/or stealing classified secret information and documents, there is a point where a real criminal action occurred.

Where that happened and who bears responsibility for it is what legal scholars will be debating for years to come.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News | Permission to republish | Donate

March 21, 2017 | Are We Forgetting About the CIA's Lack of Morals and Ethics?

The Julian Assange and Wikileaks bashing has proceeded once again. When the notorious publishing organization released the first dump as part of the Vault 7 cache, the same old arguments were launched and carried on for the days that proceeded. These arguments are quite unjustified. Assange, through Wikileaks, is constantly finding himself under scrutiny for the controversial releases and files dumps of the content that the publishing organization gets it hands on, through anonymous user submission.

The work and data dumps of Wikileaks shouldn't be about Assange. Nor should it be about Wikileaks. Yet for some abhorrent reason, we constantly find mainstream media outlets questioning the journalistic responsibility and integrity of Assange and Wikileaks. Again, Freedom Publishers Union reminds these select media groups that it is not about Assange and it is not about Wikileaks. The real focus of the story should be exactly what the data dump presents - The CIA operating an internal hacking network and of which its activities should be questioned for morals and ethics against the spy agency's mandate.

The CIA should be put to scrutiny. That is what should be the focus of the story. It is precisely what Assange makes clear in his Press Statement which accompanied this release.

The CIA has a mandate. They have regulations and the agency must (and should) operate within the boundaries of its mandate. If it operates outside of its limitations, then it should be put in the public spotlight and put on the stage of public debate.

Whether this is by means of internal whistleblowing and leaked data - it's irrelevant. The public debate on the actions of the CIA must ensue.

It will not come as a major shock to anyone to find out the CIA regularly dabbles outside of its mandate. Due to the serious nature of the agency's activities and operations that it is tasked for, there should remain a certain amount of flexibility within its operating activities.

It's also well known that the NSA operates mass-surveillance and spying programs. We have all put eye ball to the documents that prove these programs exist through the very public discourse and extensive media coverage that followed the initial release of the Snowden leaked documents from the NSA and its intelligence sub-contractors.

Now we've learned through the most recent release from Wikileaks, the CIA is also carrying out spying programs of its own, somewhat in competition with its fellow spy agency, the NSA.

One thing is so obvious that you might as well head to the CIA Headquarters and paint it on the front door - The agency has no morals and no ethics. It is that obvious.

One could make the argument that the CIA et al are spy agencies tasked with spying. It's what they do. One could back up that argument with another, by stating that based on those activities the agencies do not have to adhere to morals and ethics.

Freedom Publishers Union disagree. The CIA, NSA and all government operated intelligence departments should operate with a certain level of understanding of their moral and ethical obligations.

Morals and ethics exist and should be followed. The obvious absence of them is what should be reported. These agencies are essentially behaving at free will, creating the tools to initiate as much discomfort and annoyance they feel satisfies their incredible need for knowledge and power over citizens and their civil rights.

Please don't bring out the old 'we only perform these operations on targets' card. That card has failed every other time and it will continue to fail. Much the same as the argument that everything is done to ensure 'national security' from 'terrorists' and the other 'bad guys'.

Come on, please.

If these agencies think we sit idle and actually take notice of their pathetic justifications for their over-use and overreach of their surveillance and spy powers, then these agencies will continue to be forced into the public spotlight by willing whistleblowers and brave publishers such as Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

March 21, 2017 | Spying May Be Unethical But it Must be Done, Within Legal Boundaries of the Law

The morality of spying. This is not a new issue. For many millennium, spying has been classified as an immoral operation. Indeed, spies have been subjected to torture and ignominious death since the Chinese and Egyptians ruled civilization because of their moral turpitude. In parallel with this, however, the amount of spying and its scope certainly has never decreased. So obviously there is a double standard in the way governments and rulers see the utility of espionage vs morality. Even the world's citizens see spying with two views. We hail the men and women that worked in the underground against Germany in World War II; stealing information and sending it on to the Allies for action. Indeed; the defeat of the German U-boats was only possible after espionage was able to break the German (and Japanese) military codes.

Domestically, Americans have for decades known that the FBI uses espionage to counter criminals, from wire-tapping to intercepting messages and ciphers. This has proven to have prevented many acts of crime and violence.

Our agencies - and indeed, the rest of the "Five Eyes" - do adhere to standards of morality and legality. And secrecy. For nearly every person in America or elsewhere in the "Eyes", this has been one of the foundations of our freedom. We know that our privacy is being protected, because we aren't all being arrested for committing the 'crimes that everyone in America commits'. It is not against the law to bash our government; it isn't illegal to trash talk our leaders; hell, it's not even illegal to discuss revolution in public! If we were being spied upon, America would be a lot more like Turkey or Egypt. This must be remembered.

We have a tolerance for the morality of spying, so long as we feel that it isn't being used on us. I'm not going to discuss the way Americans and the rest of the world were duped into questioning individual privacy. But recognize that we, as citizens, look upon our privacy through a many-faceted glass, causing us to reflect on freedom and privacy in many different and often diametrically opposed ways.

On Wikileaks and their information; the publishing organization performs a service that is critical to the functioning of freedom in the abstract and practical sense. It provides information about activities that are being done that may or may not meet with our intellectual and moral approval. Some of these actions may truly be illegal as well as immoral. It is important for these actions to be revealed and corrected in order to ensure that our freedom is based on the 'Rule of Law', both in its scope and in the limits that we, as a civil society, must have.

However, we also need to look at Wikileaks with the same caution that we use on any other media source. While the information Wikileaks releases is usually verified by the same agencies that stand accused of the actions in question, the information does come from anonymous sources with little provable veracity - at least until someone at NSA 'fesses up that 'it's true'. Even then, 'first impressions' authenticity can still be put to question.

One of the problems with getting this information is that it is often impossible to verify it before it is released. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the perpetrators usually admit to the act and corrections are made. However, over time it becomes more and more difficult for Wikileaks to not be duped by cleverly created 'propaganda dumps'.

The release of the "DNC emails" during the election is an example of something that - in and of itself - was not a really surprising or shocking revelation for anyone that has worked in politics. However, the cachet of being release by Wikileaks, a source we trust for revealing hidden facts and secret stuff - and the fact that we were in a contentious elections - caused the story to carry far more weight than the facts it contained inside the documents. It also can not be ignored that the DNC emails publication revealed a bias in the Editorial staff of Wikileaks, that had been underplayed in previous releases - A bias that has somewhat undermined the credibility of the organization.

All of our intelligence agencies and all of our other Government departments need to be held up and inspected on a regular basis through genuine auditing and oversight. It is far too easy to commit criminal acts where you're behind the line of the law instead of in front. But at the same time, everyone needs to put this information into a true perspective, rather than simply take the spin a certain news organization put on it.

As an example, the 'revelation' of the Samsung TV recording [spying] capability - It is well known and documented elsewhere that nearly every connected device in a home [Internet of Things (IoT)] can be hacked to perform some form of spying or disruption. Learning that a spy agency has that in its closet is completely obvious, really. And we must understand this isn't the first time this has happened. Back in 2014 the Chinese company, Huawei, was banned from selling their excellent switches in some countries because the CIA discovered that they had malware baked in by the Chinese government. No outcries from that!

It isn't government surveillance that I am concerned about. It's the basis of the government itself. Both the US and Australia are governed under a "Constitution" that establishes the "Rule of Law" and how it is applied and enforced. The Rule of Law ensures that when freedom or rights are violated, it is redressed with the full force of the government of the nation. Thus, if someone were to be harmed by unwarranted surveillance and invasion of a guaranteed right, the agency committing the harm would be fully liable under law. Even if there is no known harm, once the violation is discovered, legal proceedings to prevent future violation are undertaken.

You spy without legal permission, you and your agency are punished. It has worked in the case of the Snowden revelations; it will continue to work as long as the American Constitution is held supreme, as it must.

The bottom line is how intrusive the surveillance is.

Scanning phone records meta-data doesn't violate privacy in nearly all cases. If I call someone in country X, yes, that record will be scanned. But there isn't anything actionable about it, so nothing happens. It is, literally, the case of 'a tree falling in the woods'. On the other hand, if that record triggers an investigation into me and my actions, then, unless I've violated a law or I'm under suspicion of violating a law, any result of that investigation constitutes a violation of my rights under Constitutional law. And I'd have a prima facia case in court.

Agencies like the CIA, NSA, GCHQ, ASIO and other members of the "Five Eyes" DO NEED TO BE AUDITED TO PREVENT ILLEGAL ACTIONS. But the line must be drawn at when the agency actually breaks a law, not merely that their action can potentially break a law. Scanning meta-data is legal, so long as the results remain anonymous. Listening to my conversation is illegal without a specific warrant - and a FISA court warrant is still completely legal. And adding software to a device to perform surveillance may be legal so long as it doesn't immediately violate my Constitutional rights. Especially if that software is actually in place for another purpose and isn't specifically introduced for surveillance - like the inadvertent ability to enable a web-cam already present in existing software. Solong as a warrant is obtained to use it for surveillance purposes, it's legal. On the other hand, if the 'bug' is intentionally introduced, then a FISA warrant better be in hand because that action borders on illegal - and would be if it is used.

At Freedom Publishers Union we must stress that we are not advocating for enabling a "Big Brother" state; far from it. But we all need to understand the need for some of these techniques and technologies: foreknowledge is forewarned. There are times where the "Ends Justify the Means. But in all cases, the agencies must work within the limits of their charter and the Constitution and be held to it. Even if sometimes the permission is retroactive.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

January 28, 2017 | Trump's Influence on Balance of Privacy and Law

There is growing fear spreading throughout digital societies that our privacy is being eroded. Fears continue to be sparked, largely due to the erratic and somewhat unpredictable behavior of newly elected US President Donald Trump and his Administration. A common term that we are beginning to hear get thrown around the office is, "There is no such thing as privacy". This term has a disturbing amount of truth to it.

If we specifically refer to modern computerized technology, our privacy as it existed pre-modern computers, is being leaked to the world at rapid rate and on a daily basis. If we disregard privacy, it is possible to have temporary secrecy. But even that can and will disappear as soon as there is value in doing so. It doesn't matter who is in charge of making the rules, because we already know that the rule of law doesn't apply when it comes to privacy and secrecy. If we make privacy a legal right, then covert surveillance will be conducted without legal oversight anyway. If we acknowledge that there actually is no privacy, then we will prepare ourselves for the consequences of our actions being revealed when we take them.

We can't deny the fact that President Trump will be no more abusive with privacy than any other President and Congress would be. Even with strong laws protecting privacy, if there is a compelling reason to violate the law and obtain the data, it will be done regardless of legal status or classification. By making it easy to obtain warrants publicly to conduct privacy invasions, at least we can ensure that there is some level of transparency, which therefore opens the door for accountability.

We can't ignore the possibility of the worst case scenario: strong privacy laws making it impossible for journalists and publishers to do their investigations and press duties legally. Anything that is considered private, confidential or secret is now a crime to reveal under various laws that already exist. Even if the information leads to more criminal actions, it would become inadmissible evidence, as obtaining it would violate the right to privacy in the first place. If it is leaked illegally, even if the leaker is captured and convicted, the damage is already done.

There can not be a guarantee to the 'Right to Privacy'. It needs to be clearly defined what constitutes private and privileged communications, and what does not. We must unambiguously create laws that define these boundaries, strictly. And we need to ensure that all privacy laws apply equally regardless of the station in life or publicity of the person or organization involved. The challenge comes with being aware of what the consequences of these laws are with regard to journalistic integrity and the response to illegal violations of privacy and secrecy.

We cannot condone the actions of Edward Snowden and Wikileaks on one hand and then condemn government agencies for doing the same thing - with the power of law and warrant on their side. Both parties need to be held to the same standards and those legal boundaries must be clear enough to prevent unwarranted snooping yet porous enough to permit reasonable investigative actions by both journalists and government agencies.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

December 17, 2016 | Australian Federal Court Orders Block of The Pirate Bay and Others

Freedom Publishers Union learned on December 15, 2016, the Australian Federal Court handed down its judgment on the blocking of BitTorrent website The Pirate Bay, along with several other websites - of which some are now defunct.

Primarily, the target of the case was demonstratively The Pirate Bay, as the Federal Court has ordered that the website must be blocked at the ISP-level, by whatever means the ISP deems necessary to the acceptance and standards accepted by rights-holders - in this case primarily led by Foxtel and Village Roadshow.

Freedom Publishers Union holds a very strong view on censorship matters and our position on this matter has never changed. We support freedom of information and any technology that allows for freedom of the flow of information. This includes BitTorrent software and websites that index and provide torrent and magnet information.

Copyright requires much reform. This is very well known. If proper copyright reform was to be pursued, with the intention of the addition of fair-use clauses and appropriate provisions, it would have a much greater effect on reducing piracy levels than simple attempts of website/domain blocking. ie. Censorship.

We believe the existence of The Pirate Bay and other websites that permit for the freedom and dissemination of digital information on a mass scale should be acknowledged for their technical expertise, abilities and implementation and the possibilities that they enable by allowing for the very freedom of information, distribution and dissemination that we refer to.

We believe that they should never be used as a pawn for fighting for copyright protection by incoherent media companies and rights-holders which continue to demonstrate their absolute lack of understanding of the larger issues. This is not new, as has been done in the past many times and continues with this latest case and judgment which has resulted in another country (Australia) paving the way for blocking measures to be implemented. We also believe that this is the very first step towards greater implementation of censorship of Australian internet.

We will continue to fight for and advocate for freedom of information and will always oppose against censorship and attacks against net neutrality.

Freedom Publishers Union will oppose the judgment to the fullest extent and advocate that all blocking measures be reversed and seriously reviewed so a better solution can be established with the pursuit and addition of copyright reform.

Additionally, Freedom Publishers Union will continue to distribute software that will bypass such blockages and offer a level of security and anonymity, through digital dissemination and distribution of Tor Browser packages and its source code. We will also continue to operate our own The Pirate Bay sub-domain which redirects to the official domain name. If this results in blocked pages being displayed, as it will be dependent on the blocking techniques implemented by the ISPs in Australia, then we will guide our website users to information that will instruct them to download and install Tor Browser, so that the intended website(s) and page(s) can then be accessed - securely and with anonymity.

Heading into 2017, we will strive to continue to oppose governments, their associated agencies and departments that implement any kind of censorship on Australian users, as we will proceed to do the same in any country implementing censorship on its internet users.

Finally, and in conclusion, we will continue to push for copyright reform and the addition of fair use clauses and provisions.

Copyright reform and fair use are the solution to combat mass global piracy, not censorship. Information should be free. That is what Freedom Publishers Union will continue to fight for.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

November 30, 2016 | UK Now Has Legalized Dragnet Mass-Surveillance. Carry On, Nothing to See Here.

Soon, the Investigatory Powers Bill will become law in the United Kingdom. The Bill is also commonly referred to as the "Snoopers Charter" or simply the "IP Bill", and has passed both Houses in the UK Parliament. Sadly, there was very little attention given to its finer details, nor was it really put under the required scrutiny. And, it seems there was very little interest in any amendments being put forth which put any kind of restraint on the powers that the Bill enables. The only effective amendment was protective measures that allow for Parliamentarians and specific Government officials to be excluded from exposure to the Bill's Provisions.

Under the provisions of the IP Bill, it allows for lawful hacking by police, security and intelligence services which can include computer networks, mobile devices and servers. Methods can include interference using existing vulnerabilities known, in software to gain access, to extract data or monitor the device and input/output data.

The only requirement for these tasks to be carried out and be deemed legal, is for a warrant to be obtained.

At the time of going to press, It remains unclear of the broader terms surrounding 'bulk hacking', with the Provision allowing for data gathering from a large number of devices in a specific location. This can include foreign regions suspected of terrorism activity. Concerns are present, that data of untargeted and unknowing civilians will be caught up in this mass-surveillance Clause, which uses terms much too broad and very non-specific and allowing for extended surveillance techniques to be carried out by UK law enforcement and intelligence officials. This is effectively dragnet surveillance.

Some measures are being taken to include steps are implemented to oversee activities and to attend to any problems that shall arise. This will be handled by an Investigatory Powers Commissioner (IPC) and Judicial Commissioners, which will be appointed by the Prime Minister of the day, currently Theresa May.

The IPC will audit legislation compliance of hacking and surveillance operations and carry out investigations into operations mismanagement, if required. Reporting and recommendations determined by the IPC are to be made public.

Mandatory data retention of 12 months is to be maintained, with requirement for data to be stored which includes web browsing history and connections. This data will be accessible to police, law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Combined, making these some of the most invasive data retention measures in the democratic world. Concerns over the precision and amount of data being required to be stored is mounting and the fact can't be ignored of the immense pressure which gets applied on internet service providers (ISPs). This has been witnessed first-hand by financial constraints and pressure on limited resources with ISPs in Australia - a country which has similar provisions for data retention requirements, albeit meta-data only being retained.

Under the IP Bill, data must include websites visited, servers accessed, day, date, time, where it was accessed from and using what device on what network. In short, the Investigatory Powers Bill has just legalized dragnet mass-surveillance in the UK. Again, warrants must be obtained, but we suspect this will be much too easy, enabling access of private data.

Privacy has been eroded to almost nothing, with the upcoming enactment of the Snoopers Charter. Civil liberties that lead to the right to privacy, has been eaten into, in large bites.

Freedom Publishers Union urges citizens to play on the side of caution. More thought and consideration of steps to implement encryption to enhance ones privacy must now become priority. Also, we need to make it difficult as possible for authorities to collect the data in the first place. This can be achieved by using tools which aim to implement anonymous internet access, by using Tor Browser which connects to the encrypted internet network of Tor, also referred to as "The Onion Router".

We must remember to call this invasive legislation out for what it is - Snoopers Charter. We must continue to apply pressure on future legislators which can make future amendments which will see even a slight amount of curbing of some of the worst Clauses and Provisions, which allow for this mass-surveillance to continue under the banners of 'legality'. And, we must continue to see that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner and the Judicial Commissioners are held accountable for their actions, if they fail to fulfill their duties of oversight of surveillance operations and their compliance with the legislation set before the citizens of the UK. Civil liberties have been violated - a common theme which has been replicated by many democratic governments across the globe.

Once invasive legislation which legalizes sweeping, dragnet mass-surveillance is enacted and made law, focus must shift to amending the legislation and implement the most important amendments which aim to curb at least some of the most invasive measures. Where violation of civil liberties has occurred, this must be counter-balanced by operations transparency and accountability being ensured through people power, by those who remain strong enough to stand up for civil rights, their liberties and the right to privacy in the digital sphere.

European Press Office - Moscow Press

November 13, 2016 | Australia's Refugee Situation Underscores Deep, Global Problems

Asylum seekers and refugees - these are incredibly messy topics because they need to be viewed with x-ray vision of economics and politics, and not just through the rosy glasses of humanitarianism.

There is one reason people become refugees: they want to survive. Sometimes this is a literal survival: escaping from Syria and ISIS is an existential issue for most refugees. But most of the time, survival is defined in quality of life terms. Starving in the streets of Myanmar might be existential too, but often it's a matter of wanting a better life, not necessarily escaping death.

Creating a "humanitarian crisis" is a well-known tactic used by governments to change their population and send messages. Consider the Mariel "boat-lift" that came from Cuba to Miami which resulted in an influx of about 125,000 political refugees to the United States of America. Mixed in to that were a small, yet significant percentage of hardened criminals and mental patients, intentionally released into the refugee stream by Cuba to clear the jails. Overall, the Mariel refugees integrated into the US with very few problems. Even in Miami, where a large number stayed after being processed through refugee camps, had no long-term impact in its economy with the large influx of Cuban unskilled labor.

The majority of these people were political refugees in the classic sense: they faced imprisonment in Cuba for their religious and political beliefs and therefore, met the international criteria for refugee status. But unlike many other refugees, they also had massive support from their associated community in America. The Cuban-American community of Miami stepped up to orchestrate and execute the rescue of these immigrants and provided support to the Government in processing and relocating the refugees. While there were some problems associated with what was perceived to be incarceration of the refugees (in Arkansas, a riot at the refugee processing center established at Fort Chaffee caused the then-Governor Bill Clinton to lose re-election because of racist campaigning triggered by the riots), the crisis was completely abated within 3 years.

Today, we see the same scenario playing out in many places around the world. However, this time the cases of the refugees aren't as easy to make as it was for those from the Cuban dictatorship.

A similar scenario occurred in the US at the end of the Vietnam war. Hundreds of thousands of refugees left Vietnam and came to the US. Like the Cuban situation, they received massive support from Vietnamese-Americans, mostly those living in Southern California, providing them the resources to integrate into existing Vietnamese enclaves in the area and entering the economy. Today these ex-refugees are well-integrated into American society.

Australia, on the other hand, is facing a different problem. Most of the refugees arriving on the doorstep are from war zones in Islamic countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Sri Lanka etc. Most of these people are legitimate asylum seekers: they are under threat of death and violence because of their politics or religious beliefs and see no alternative but immigration to escape death and torture.

Some are economic asylum seekers: they seek a better, not necessarily a safer, life in another country. But the majority can claim true threat to their lives and usually have extensive documentation to support their claims.

The problem for Australian refugees is that they do not have the same support structure awaiting them as the Cuban and Vietnamese did in the US. Most of them are Muslim and come from cultures that are radically different than the Western, Euro-centric culture that permeates America and Australia and Europe. Many aspects of their culture and religion run completely counter to the social norms of Western society, making their integration problematic unless they are willing to change their values and beliefs to potentially fit into their new society.

Without the social structure of enclaves of familiar religious and cultural environments in which to settle, these refugees are at an insurmountable disadvantage in attempting to immigrate to Australia. While they may be legitimate refugees, there is - literally - nowhere for them to 'go' in Australia. There isn't a large Muslim, Afghan, Syrian or any other community that has the ability to accept these people and provide the environment to integrate them into their new lives. (Some of the refugees are Christians: these people will most likely find sponsorship in Australia or at least support to assist them in relocating to an accepting environment.)

Australia is not the place these refugees need to escape to. They need to go to a country that has the cultural and support system in place to accept them as they are and help them transition to a more Western society in various progressive stages. Where would those places be? Often the places they are refugees from; Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt - basically any Muslim nation that isn't in the middle of a civil war. The only problem is that most of those places have the same problem with these refugees that their home country did; they are not a 'compatible' sect of Islam that fit in with the religion and mores of other Muslim nations either.

Australia is caught in a nasty situation here. These refugees don't (and won't) fit into Australian society. They are outcasts from their home countries, but not because they are adherents to the 'Great Satan' of Western culture; rather because they don't fit into the Muslim culture either. The are the equivalent of those crazy sects of Christians in the US that want to essentially create their own country and rules and won't accept that other people may not want to follow them. In the US, these people usually end up locked up in Federal prison for life, simply because they violate nearly every felony law there is; ranging from tax avoidance to child abuse to murder. Or they all die in a horrific shoot-out and fire with ATF agents.

The problem that Australia is having is not that the Government is intentionally being cruel and inhumane to these people through increased tightening of immigration policy and legislation, although it may seem that way. The problem is that Australia is actually trying to accommodate asylum seekers and refugees by keeping them somewhere safe and to themselves (rather than on Australian mainland) where they don't have to face the culture shock of Western life and society without the appropriate support mechanism in-place. The asylum seekers just keep coming faster than Australia can process them. And unlike the US, it doesn't have the relocation facilities at old military bases that can be used to manage the refugees until they can be absorbed by greater society.

If these people had come to the US, they would be sponsored by people from Detroit or Minneapolis - two of the largest concentrations of Muslims of all types outside of the Middle-East or the Far East. There would be support culture and people to help them and they would eventually fit in and maybe even move on to other places as American citizens. In Europe, refugees have been accepted into areas where there are culturally similar enclaves and accommodation is being made available for them. However, even in Europe, which has the largest number of Muslims overall outside of their home countries, acceptable space is running out to continue to accept more refugees. The sudden rise of anti-Islam feelings in Europe isn't just because of xenophobia: it's because the communities that can accept these people are saturated at present and as they arrive in Germany, Romania or other countries, they end up in yet another ad-hoc refugee camp. There's just no more space right now to take them in.

Australia could, given a couple of years and several hundred millions of dollars, build a proper refugee processing facility and create 'cultural cities' for these people to reside, while acclimatizing to Australian life. But not today. And given the images that are being pirated out of these camps, probably not ever. Anyone can understand why the Australian Government wants to keep these places and their operations secret. It's not because of the inhumane treatment of the asylum seekers and refugees, but that with the numbers arriving there is no other place for them to go. It's like the camps in Greece or other places in Europe where conditions are worsening each day. As quickly as one person is processed and relocated, twenty more show up in their place.

As military conflict continues around the world, in many zones increasingly getting worse, the cycle will continue and the global refugee problem will continue to grow.

Australia has been stating ever since the beginning: "DO NOT COME TO AUSTRALIA! STAY AT HOME OR GO ELSEWHERE! WE CAN'T HELP YOU!". The Government has been doing everything it can to help. It's just that is has become a case of too much, too quickly.

Finally, another factor in all of this is most of the asylum seekers heading to Australia are using illegal smugglers to get there. They aren't using relief agencies or Muslim organizations to coordinate their movement - although the Vietnamese that came to California often used the same methods. The difference is in the numbers of people doing it. Most of the Vietnamese came under the sponsorship of churches and organizations from the Vietnamese community. The Cubans were handled completely by the Cuban-American community of Miami, which did the outreach and coordination with the US Government to process the refugees. But even that had problems. When a paid smuggler ships people to Australia, they're not interested in making all the connections, doing the paperwork and ensuring those on board the boats have the appropriate documentation to legalize their arrival, as a refugee. All the people smugglers want is their money. Without those groups of churches and communities from the same background to help, asylum seekers are truly on a one-way ticket. There is no coordination - just boats appearing with more people.

Before condemning the Australian Government for its 'failure' at the asylum seeker and refugee situation, we need to think about what is 'really happening' here, and how different it is from the successful migrations of the Cubans and Vietnamese in the United States of America.

America is on the verge of another wave of migrants washing up on its shores very soon; all the people from Venezuela that are being starved to death because of their failure to deal with the real world. Already, many countries in South and Central America are taking refugees from there, but they're about to become overrun the same as Australia or Eastern Europe. And, of course, they'll just keep sending the refugees north until they wash up on the beaches of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. And once again, America will have to deal with them. The only problem; Americans are now very xenophobic and are not going to tolerate any humanitarian effort that they see as 'more Mexicans'.

The Catholic church will be key in handling this, but there's only so much even they can do. Outside of Louisiana, Catholics are not looked upon very highly (American Protestants have always had problems with Catholics, treating them almost as badly as the Jews), and they won't get a lot of help from other churches with this crisis. With Donald Trump as President and a full Republican Congress, the Government sure isn't looking like it's going to help. So we may have our own Nauru and Manus Island going on in the US soon.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News | Permission to republish | Donate

October 14, 2016 | Yahoo Inc. - Initiator of Sweeping Surveillance

It was an explosive revelation when Reuters published details of Yahoo Inc. providing direct assistance to the conglomerate which has become internationally recognized as the world's mass-surveillance state, the United States of America and primarily, the NSA and its international intelligence partners.

Details have emerged that Yahoo has cooperated directly, with a demand from the US Government providing the platform for enablement of sweeping surveillance by scanning all incoming Yahoo customer emails, for specific keywords and character strings. The practice was carried out by Yahoo, by providing the tools to enable and perform the email scanning.

According to details since revealed, Yahoo performed the sweep by modifying existing source code for a program the company already uses to scan and identify malware inside its customer emails. The new program was developed through heavy code modification, which resulted in a complete new program going live on Yahoo servers. The program was then used at the hands of Yahoo, in direct and undisputed co-operation and as demanded by the US Government intelligence officials.

One of the most disturbing elements is that Yahoo representatives never disputed, questioned or resisted the demand. Exact details of the legal demand for Yahoo to perform the sweeping surveillance have not yet been revealed at the time of going to press. We do expect the precise legal details and documentation to be treated with a high amount of secrecy - much like all operations directly related to the US mass-surveillance programs.

Freedom Publishers Union condemns such undisputed sweeping surveillance and untargeted mass-surveillance on any scale. Any digital surveillance should be targeted and have a legally obtained warrant provided. When Apple was asked to assist the FBI with the cracking of one of the company's iPhone devices in the San Bernadino case, Apple stood by its company standards and refused to cooperate. Apple's decision must not be confused here, as it is to quickly make an assumption which is wrong. Whilst the legal side of this case gets much more complicated, what we learned from the public perspective is that Apple is willing to stand its ground, stand by its products and uphold the privacy which is enabled by the provided security on Apple devices.

The iPhone in the San Bernadino case was eventually cracked and data accessed with the efforts of a third-party security company and without any involvement from Apple. Yet we must note that Apple never relented or caved into the mass-surveillance institute led by the US Government. Yahoo Inc. has let its customers down, by simply cooperating with the mass-surveillance regime, without question and with a certain amount of enthusiasm from the company's CEO, Marissa Mayer. According to sources inside Yahoo, it has been said that Mayer's actions, judgment and lack of questioning of the reasons for the demanding of email sweeping caused some major disunity among the executive ranks of Yahoo.

Freedom Publishers Union maintains our view that digital surveillance measures should be carried out as targeted operations based on a legally obtained warrant and must be absolutely justified.

As we continue to debate privacy, encryption and civil liberties, this case could easily become a reason to begin to question whether any progress has in fact been made since the debate become mainstream back in 2013. We believe it is fair to point out that progress is being made by a majority of the big technology companies, who wish the gain back the trust of their customers through providing better security and encryption for their services. Things are much better that just two years ago. Yet equally, we still have a long way to go.

The institute of American-led mass-surveillance continues and the legal loopholes that exist are being found and abused by the institute as a means to justify their actions and be able to publicly claim their operations 'are legal'. Legal - perhaps. Ethically responsible and acceptable - absolutely not. Mass surveillance must stop. Sweeping surveillance must stop. The constant attempts of intelligence agencies and their legal goons to use whatever means to find these legal loopholes and policy makers deliberately creating the loop holes so they can be exploited by the mass-surveillance institute must also stop.

Finally, technology companies must continue to provide better security for their customers, not only through their services and products, but backed up by said company standing firm against untargeted surveillance.

In this latest case, Yahoo Inc. has failed on all counts. We have lost what little respect we had for company. Will it hurt the company's bottom line? Probably a little bit. But probably not much. What is guaranteed to stain Yahoo's immediate public image and become a sore spot of its history, is its failure to stand by and protect the privacy and rights of its customers in favor of preferring to collaborate with the US mass-surveillance program and becoming a direct initiator of a sweeping surveillance program through the development of software that Yahoo developed.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

September 1, 2016 | France Leading Charge for EU and Global Push for Anti-Encryption Legislation

For just once, we wish that all sides of the encryption wars would agree on a cease fire and public and governments accept that encryption is a tool and not an end-all in itself.

Freedom Publishers Union has published much content and documents supporting encryption. We are known advocates for encryption and see it as a vital tool to enhance individual's privacy. But not just encryption - strong encryption. We understand its abilities to protect the privacy of an individual's data - which is the purpose of encryption.

Equally, we understand that it is not a government's place to tamper with or modify to any extent encryption algorithms or access methods - ie. implementing government sponsored compulsory backdoors.

We stand by and always aim to protect the civil liberties of individuals and their absolute right to protect their own privacy. The connected world as we know it (as the internet) is under constant mass-surveillance. Thankfully, in a relatively short amount of time since we learned of PRISM and its associated spying programs, the digital world has come a long way, as has encryption. But there is still a long way to go, as we are nowhere near where we should be for protecting ourselves from these mass-surveillance programs. The tools are readily available. The software is already out there and most of it already open-source and known to have not been tampered with. When potential vulnerabilities are detected, patches are quickly developed and pushed out to the public through the open-source distribution model.

During the month of August, France made calls for nations in the European Union to unite and campaign against the use of encryption. It has specifically called upon Germany for help, to get the country to start drumming up support for a campaign to stop implementation of strong encryption. This is a time when the citizens must equally unite and fight back, in support of strong encryption.

Why is France complaining about encryption? According to a recent article published by news giant Reuters, France believes one of the reasons they are struggling to thwart terrorist attacks on home soil is because of encryption. The article specifically points out Telegram and its implementation of end-to-end encryption.

This all needs to be kept in perspective; there are lots of good people, businesses and non-profit organizations that use encryption software on a daily basis, in a completely innocent manner - which is to enhance their privacy and protect important data. No harm intended, encryption used for protection of data and to maintain privacy of legitimate behavior. Whether this data needs to be protected or should be protected is not for governments to make that judgment. It is the right of civil liberties of any individual to make the call whether they want their data protected. Simply standing up and touting that the 'terrorists are using encryption, let's stop all use of encryption' is not only taking the entire thing out of context and perspective, but it also underlines the failings, again, of the understanding of the purpose of encryption.

Telegram has been heavily criticized for its method of encryption and the implementation of its algorithms which used to protect the communications of its users. This criticism has mostly come from respected members of the crypto community. However, there are some conflicts in the validity of the criticism and the actual reliance of the security measures by Telegram. The claims by French authorities that Telegram is a major cause for concern because terrorists are using the software's encrypted chat ability to organize and communicate their operations and their apparent inability to penetrate the software's encryption provide much merit to the software security mode, despite the criticism posed by security researchers.

Freedom Publishers Union takes encryption seriously and we would actually like to see more software services take encryption and its security abilities much more serious. There are still many software services that are used on a daily basis that are still rendered insecure because there is simply no implementation of encryption. However, technology companies claim to be working on more secure implementations of their services, albeit the development and roll out has been slow to date. Despite the Silicon Valley consistently telling us 'we are working on it' and 'it is coming'.

The new French-born attack on encryption (with more EU countries most likely to join), is unjustified. By claiming that use of encryption must be reduced, stopped or backdoors implemented (by law) so governments and their law enforcing and intelligence agencies can snoop around their respective citizens' data is just another gross display that governments still do not understand the pillars of encryption, its purpose and how it actually enables security conscious citizens to protect themselves and their data from the 'bad guys'. Even worse, they're having to use it to protect themselves from their own governments too.

When citizens become scared of the bad people in society, there is most likely issues with rising crime. But when citizens become scared of the bad people within the governments they entrust their confidence, yet who have apparently become absolutely and certifyingly obsessed with knowing everything about everyone and then sharing that information with their international allies, then its another demonstration of the veracity of the ongoing crypto wars and the wider implications of the ongoing mass-surveillance programs.

Unfortunately, the war is between the government and the citizenry - rather than between the government and the bad people.

It's about how we look at it.

Encryption can be viewed and examined from many different aspects. All issues surrounding encryption need to be kept in perspective, otherwise it can be confusing and information that should be of relevant importance becomes just a mess.

Strong encryption is no different than a strong safe. A safe is used to store valuable or secret information, with the assumption that it will be very difficult for anyone to open it without authorization. Law enforcement has been dealing with safes for centuries. If the owner refuses to provide or authorize access, they are held in contempt and law enforcement then has the authority - under a legally obtained warrant - to break into the safe.

Companies like Chubb or Diebold certainly do not build backdoors into their products simply because law enforcement would 'like to have them'. And any attempt to pass legislation that would require a master key to all safes - including banks - would be stopped at the doors of Congress.

Encryption should be treated the same way. In the most famous case to date - breaking into the iPhone that was used by the San Bernardino murderers - the phone was effectively cracked without the assistance of Apple, the carrier or the deceased owner. No one was forced to reveal secrets that made every other device insecure. Although challenges were made to weaken the safe of encryption, nothing was actually legislated and no contempt charges against Apple or the carriers were filed.

This is exactly the way it should be. Treat encryption and safes the same way and be done with these legislative tantrums. It must be understood, if law enforcement does break encryption while executing a warrant, they do not have to share the method with anyone. If they can keep the 'secret' to breaking into an iPhone, then they are welcome to it. All this means is that the defense has to keep working to fix bugs and improve safety. Just as the offense continues to work on breaking through into the safe. Because eventually any such 'secret' will be revealed, the bug fixed and everyone goes back to square one.

Remember that this approach is completely within the boundaries of the Constitution or Charter of most Western nations today. Receiving court permission to gather evidence means that a robust case was made that convinced a judge that there was merit in allowing the action to proceed. And if the warrant was issued without due process, there is redress in law for the plaintiff. If the laws surrounding the execution of these very important components of fair jurisprudence and law enforcement are broken in the execution or obtaining of a warrant, then this can be raised immediately and further legal action taken. We know that this works, as there are hundreds of cases dismissed because of improper procedure every year, including some high-profile cases dealing with exactly this issue in the mass collection of citizen's information in America.

So we come to the conclusion.

Security researchers and cryptologists have been here so many times before. We pose the same argument for encryption, defining it's importance and presenting scenarios to attempt to justify our argument. Those against encryption do the same.

If one was to be uninformed of the definition and purpose of encryption and read media accounts of the arguments and government calls for anti-encryption legislation, it would all seem so simple. "Bad guys are doing bad things with software that allows them to mask their operations and communications." When looking at it through the glasses of realism, you understand the complexities of encryption - its history - its intended purpose - and how it surrounds us already through technology integration. This is too often over-looked when calls are made to reign in encryption use.

We remain confident that common-sense will prevail in the long-term, however it does not mean that we must remain complacent. We will not stand by and watch encryption and security software be attacked. Freedom Publishers Union remains dedicated to upholding civil liberties for all citizens around the world, including encryption and privacy.

Freedom Publishers Union is yet to view any actual EU legislative proposal which has potential to affect, change or outlaw encryption from the current form. We will watch with a keen eye and publish any documents as they become available.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

August 27, 2016 | European Copyright Leak Exposes Plans to Force the Internet to Subsidize Publishers

A just-leaked draft impact assessment on the modernization of European copyright rules could spell the end for many online services in Europe as we know them. The document's recommendations foreshadow new a EU Directive on copyright to be introduced later this year, that will ultimately bind each of the European Union's 28 member states. If these recommendations by the European Commission are put in place, Europe's internet will never be the same, and these impacts are likely to reverberate around the world.

The 182-page document identifies three general objectives-ensuring wider access to content, adapting copyright exceptions to the digital and cross-border environment, and achieving a well-functioning marketplace for copyright. In this initial article we examine the recommendations that fall under the third of these three objectives, which are amongst the most alarming proposals, including new obligations on Internet platforms, and new copyright-like powers for news publishers.

More specifically, this article will look at two of the proposals for what the Commission calls "upstream" problems, or difficulties faced by copyright owners in extracting value from the use of content online. We'll deal with other parts of the document in later posts.

"Sharing of Value" Proposal Exposes Rights-holder Greed

The assumption that copyright owners should be entitled to share in any value created by online platforms is never really examined by the Commission. The theory is that because online platforms are doing rather well in the digital environment, and because traditional publishing industries are doing less well, this gives the publishers some kind of claim to share in the profits of the platforms. It's a questionable starting point, and as we'll see, the recommendations that flow from it are ill-considered and harmful.

The first of the two problems that copyright owners supposedly face in extracting such value is that there is a large amount of user-generated content uploaded by users to sharing platforms, and that European law does not place an obligation on platforms to proactively police this content for possible copyright infringement, but instead relies on the latter to identify that the material has been uploaded without authorization and to request its removal. That existing law strikes a reasonable balance, similar to Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the US.

Major entertainment companies characterize this as a problem because it means that copyright owners have less ability to ask online platforms to pay licensing fees for their content. In the case of user-generated content platforms (think YouTube and SoundCloud), the platform can simply offer to remove a copyright-owner's content rather than paying for it-or, in practice, to voluntarily offer a compromise such as YouTube's Content ID that automatically scans uploaded content and shares ad revenues for content identified as the copyright owner's.

As for platforms that offer access to their own library of content (think Netflix and Spotify), rights-holders contend that they may be willing to pay less in order to remain competitive with the user-generated content platforms. In either case, major copyright holders contend that platforms should be paying them more for the content that the platforms make available online.

The European Commission's proposed solution, however, is worse than the supposed problem. The Commission is proposing that user-generated content platforms should be forced to seek, in good faith, to conclude private agreements with copyright owners and to put in place "appropriate and proportionate content identification technologies". In short, the use of something like YouTube's Content ID system is being made compulsory.

This is a treacherous idea for many reasons, but just to give two:

More broadly, this kind of insidious regime of private agreements pushed by government is the kind of cop-out from good lawmaking that EFF calls "Shadow Regulation"; a concept that we'll be introducing in more depth in subsequent Deeplinks posts, where we will give some other examples of the same. But in short, such agreements can embody the worst of all possible approaches, by combining the coercion of government regulation, with the lack of accountability of corporate self-regulation.

A Link Tax in Favor of News Publishers

The European Commission doesn't stop there, but also has a similarly ham-fisted proposal to address the declining revenues of news publishers from their print publications, which leaves them with fewer resources to continue to invest in journalism.

We have previously agreed that this is a real problem. But where the Commission errs is to pin responsibility for this problem on the reuse of news content by web platforms under exceptions to copyright; and it compounds this error by seeking to limit their use of such copyright exceptions going forward.

The Commission's proposal is to award publishers a new copyright-like veto power, layered on top of the copyright that already exists in the published content, allowing them to prevent the online reuse of news content even when a copyright exception applies. This veto power may last for as little as one year, or as many as 50-the Commission leaves this open for now.

This kind of veto power has been described as a link tax-notwithstanding the Commission's protestations that it isn't one-because when the publisher controls even the use of small snippets of news text surrounding a hyperlink to the original article, it essentially amounts to a tax on that link. The result, as seen in Spain, will be the closure of online news portals, and a reduction in traffic to news publishers.

A new wrinkle on this link tax proposal is that the Commission also proposes that publishers who have received a transfer of copyright from authors should also be entitled to collect revenue from whatever copyright levies member states may impose to "compensate" authors for use of their content under copyright exceptions. The notion that "compensation" is needed for users exercising their rights under copyright is a thoroughly perverse one, as we have previously explained. This addition to the link tax proposal is a gift to copyright collecting societies that will further increase the cost and complexity of lawfully reusing content.

What Happens Now?

The impact assessment is not yet a draft law, but it is a crystal clear indication from the European Commission about the content of the law that is is proposing to develop as a draft for approval by the other European institutions, namely the European Parliament, and the Council of the European Union. Users will have further opportunities for input into the proposals when they reach that stage. But we'll have the best chance of stopping these misguided proposals if European officials are alerted to our concerns right away. They need to understand that Internet users won't accept the "Shadow Regulation" of intermediaries by requiring them to enter into expensive and error-prone arrangements with copyright owners for the automating flagging of user content. Neither will they accept a new "link tax" for news publishers that could stifle the dissemination of news online.

Jeremy Malcolm, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

Re-Published by Freedom Publishers Union

Original link, published under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States (CC BY 3.0 US)

July 13, 2016 | An Appeal for the Reduction of Confinement of Chelsea Manning

Freedom Publishers Union has consistently called for better treatment of Chelsea Manning and our call for Clemency remains.

Most notable Chelsea Manning leaks:

Chelsea Manning completed her 6 years of imprisonment by May 21, 2016. While it is still a point to ponder whether she should be called a whistleblower or a traitor, as she violated the terms and conditions of her employer. She was charged with 16 charges including those under the Espionage Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

At Freedom Publishers Union we do not declare whether her confinement is right or wrong, but to analyze the fact that her punishment is much more than her crime (if whatever she did should be referred to as a crime).


Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) is responsible for the biggest military leak in history [at the time of going to press], which showed the 'other' face of modern warfare. An aspect our governments do not want us to know.

The first leak was a video of a US Army Apache helicopter brutally killing civilians in Baghdad, Iraq. Helicopters misidentified two Reuters journalists as terrorists carrying guns. Without any warning or opportunity to surrender, the video shows the helicopter's engagement, killing the innocent civilians.

Later, they also fired on a van which came on-site to collect the bodies of injured and dead. The people from the van also received the same fate. Two children were also injured due to deliberate civilian firing. The children were sitting in front seat of the van yet the pilots ignored the fact and claimed that it was their fault that they bring children to a crime scene.

The video was leaked to Wikileaks which then produced the video and released it under the title of "Collateral Murder". Many activists agreed on the name as the video clearly describes just that. Manning also leaked ~91,000 reports covering the war from 2004 to 2010 known as "Afghan War Diary". Reports also describe the number of persons stated to be killed, wounded or detailed during the course of the war in Afghanistan.

The Afghan War Diary is the most significant archive about the reality of war to have ever been released during the course of a war. The deaths of tens of thousands is normally only a statistic but the archive reveals the locations and the key events behind each most of these deaths. "We hope its release will lead to a comprehensive understanding of the war in Afghanistan and provide the raw ingredients necessary to change its course", says Wikileaks Editor, Julian Assange.

Manning is also responsible for ~390,000 classified military documents on the war and occupation in Iraq, from 2004 to 2009, as told by soldiers in the US Army. Notably, the months of May 2004 and March 2009 are absent. This is known as "Iraq War Diary" and is one of the biggest military warfare data leaks in history. The majority of deaths in the Iraq war is civilians (60%) which is [average] 31 civilians dying everyday over the span of 6 years. During that time Iraq was five times more lethal with respect to equivalent population.

"Cablegate" is another affiliation of Manning's data leaks, in which ~250,000 US diplomatic cables were leaked which comprised of talk from 274 embassies around the world. This data shows the spying nature of US Government and how governments have many faces.


Since her confinement, Manning has been awarded many times. She is also three time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. Which clearly indicates her good deeds towards the data leak concept. But as the charges are applied on her, it is clearly a battle between law and ethics. Everyone must agree that no law is flawless and ethics are the same throughout the world. We are taught from our early childhood about how transparency, truth and honesty are essential qualities and one must do good no matter what. Chelsea Manning did the right thing and got many appraisals for that but the law is clearly not happy with her.

She was reported to authorities by one of her confidants, a renowned hacker [at the time]. After confinement she stated that her intention was not to hurt anyone or give the leaked information into the wrong hands, but to ensure transparency. Manning's leaked documents showed us how modern warfare looks and how innocent civilians are caught up in conflict and killed because of corrupt and unethical politics.

Many of us will agree that the Iraq and Afghan war(s) changed the world, but not for the better. The Arab Spring is a result of multiple failures of US operations in these countries and their neighbors.

Then we have the violent terrorist group, known as "Islamic State [also known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh]" which effectively developed as a result of the power vacuum left by the Western invasion in the Middle-East.

War is bad and these documents are proof of that.

Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die. --Herbert Hoover

This was not the first time when documents regarding the war became helpful and showed wider harms to the rest of the world. The Diary of Anne Frank describes the situation of war [World War II, 1947] and today we can imagine the torridness of that era just by analyzing such documents. Back in those days when Adolf Hitler was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize [1939], these documents show us their importance. Some of us agree that single photo of Napalm Girl helped end the Vietnam War. So we can say that the data leaks by Chelsea Manning is good for whole mankind.


Now, the more important thing is how this whole incident is going to affect all of us. Whistleblowers are definitely seen as selfless martyrs doing the right thing for the right cause. But this incident shows how whistleblower protection must be a real thing with real powers. And Manning's imprisonment for this duration [35 years] is too much punishment and this contrasts with the decision of the rest of the world where Manning is appreciated for her contributions. If the confinement period is not reduced very soon, then surely whistleblowing will be a thing of the past and we will keep struggling with corruption and selfishness of our leaders.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center

July 9, 2016 | Data or Just Numbers? British Intelligence Gathering Dates Back to 1990's

On April 21, 2016, The Guardian published an article referencing documents released by Privacy International which detailed extensive surveillance, which dates back to the 1990's and how it was to be the primary source of intelligence gathering for Britain's intelligence organizations - GCHQ, MI5 and MI6.

Freedom Publishers Union has viewed the documents, which includes 116 documents detailing intelligence gathering information across many hundreds of pages.

The document dump was provided by Privacy International.

Through our US Press Office, upon closer review of the document dump by Freedom Publishers Union Sub-Editor, Brett Brennan, he provided the following analysis of the history of intelligence, whether privacy still exists and how encryption is still so important, as failing on encryption marks you as just another 'suspect' on a very long list.

I work with clients that take available data sources - most of them open in the public record - and use data warehouses to compile multiple sources of information into a detailed profile of literally millions of people. Financial institutions and risk analysis firms have access to additional private data which they can legally, whilst following privacy guidelines, combine with other data sources - often the same public data - to create even more detailed profiles of individuals. Then, law enforcement can take the data and combine it with their legally obtained sources to create an even more detailed insight into people's lives.

There are rules and laws surrounding what can and cannot be done with this information. Most of these agencies work within those rules. Many of the rules didn't exist a decade ago, far less back through the 20th century. FOIA works both ways: I can walk into a courthouse or records office and look at data about anyone that is on public record, then take that information with me and composite it with other information that obtain - legally and openly - from other sources and build a profile that would be scary to anyone other than a data scientist.

What we all need to consider is not so much the collection and correlation of this data. What is far, far more important is the uses that this data is often compiled for. Taking a bulk collection of CDR's (Call Detail Records - telephone bills) and using it as an input into a profiling system doesn't violate legal privacy. No one is identified in the bulk data, it's just data - impersonal, anonymous and massive. Creating a profile of anyone based on the data in that data-set also isn't an invasion of privacy - it's still just data, with more attributes.

It's only when that data is put through a filter and a model is created to use the data that we first start getting close to pin-pointing the individuals contained within. It's all in the 'context of the use', not the data itself, that defines an invasion of privacy or anonymity. And in most of the Western world, that last step requires legal oversight.

Let me put it another way. My Wife mines huge amounts of data from public records doing genealogy research. Most of the data she dumps, simply because it doesn't fit the model (family history) that she is using as the filter criteria. She has "viewed" private information that is in the public domain, but doesn't act on it. When she does use the data and enhances it with other sources, she can paint a more detailed picture of the people that she is analyzing. Cheating husbands and wives can be identified, splits in a family that even the family didn't know about at the time, along with a lot more information about the financial and even mental state of those individuals that have their data in public records.

But even armed with that information, she still has not violated any privacy laws of morals. Her correlation is not the causation of the events that happened to these people. If she publishes the newly correlated data - which she (and everybody else involved in genealogy research does) - she still hasn't violated privacy laws. The data is in public domain and effectively, anyone can do the same process and arrive at the same data-set. The consequence of this publication may cause people who are unaware of the information to feel as though their privacy has been violated, simply because this new view of the data breaks their preconceived and strongly held belief of what the 'story' of their ancestors and living relatives is.

When a Government or other associated agency collects data, it is simply taking the data-sets and correlating them into a suitable model. The result set is still nothing but just data, but it is now data that meets the criteria of the model - the filter - being applied to it. It is only when that data is used to precipitate an action does it trigger consequences.

This brings us to the 'real' fears about data collection. When there are thousands of laws being enforced, all of us are in violation of some law at some point. Maybe we skipped out on paying a parking ticket back in 1979 and that minor violation has gone to warrant for arrest due to the failure to comply with the parking law. If that data is put into a database that any law enforcement agency can access and they choose to check the ownership record of a vehicle against outstanding warrants (mostly looking for stolen vehicles and criminals known to possess a specific vehicle), they might just find that the person who skipped that $12 parking ticket is wanted back in Kansas City for a criminal charge. They can then stop and arrest that person legally - and because there is a crime involved - perform additional actions to determine if more crimes have been committed by that individual. Like having an open beer can in the car, which remains a crime in most of the 50 States in the US, that requires arrest and arraignment. So an unsuspecting person who has completely forgotten about a trivial crime committed 20 years in the past and who has some trash in his car, ends up incarcerated for a day or two, loses their driving privileges and pays a hefty $2000 fine.

People are scared of being arrested for something minor. This is simply because with new data collection capabilities, law enforcement can uncover the violation and make a legal arrest. Cops have been doing this for centuries without the help of bulk data collection. All computers do is make enforcing the law - even completely trivial laws - that much easier.

Privacy is about hiding information. The same as State Secrets. The reason we hide information is to prevent moral or legal implications to change our lives. If we had a single law - one single law - in force throughout the world, there would be people who had violated it always worrying about being caught. Discovery of this violation through data analysis would be a violation of their privacy. A completely legal and acceptable violation because laws protect the rights of the many against the transgressions of the few.

It can not be disputed that privacy is dead and gone. Never collecting any data won't change that. We simply return to the halcyon days of the 1960's where testimony (unreliable) and opinions (less reliable) substitute for evidence. Any laws we enact around the use of data to prevent unauthorized use are completely mooted when we live our lives on Facebook and Twitter, literally.

Until strong and evolving encryption is used by everyone, then anyone who uses encryption will be flagged by traffic analysis as a suspect. Instead, let's deal with privacy from the root cause backwards. Let's fix the laws so that anyone can understand which law they violate immediately, rather than worrying about something that they just don't know.

Data is extra-judicial. It has no value, use or worth as a raw piece of information. Phone numbers are just a random string of numbers, until a model translates them into a useful piece of information. Data is a Heisenberg uncertainty: until you give it context and a model, it doesn't exist. Only by understanding the context of the data we generate in our life-wake can we understand its value. And by removing the cause of the fear most people feel, more so in a post-Snowden era, they can get on with their lives without worrying about who has access to their data. Because without laws to provide context, it's just Heisenberg numbers.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

June 17, 2016 | Death Penalty: Is it Justified or Just Plain Wrong and Unethical?

May 13, 2016, The Guardian published an article on pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, and their decision to ban its products, through increased control in an effort to ensure that the company's products are not used for the purpose of lethal injection in prisons.

Freedom Publishers Union as an organization takes a strong stance against the death penalty in any country. On June 9, 2015, we released a Press Statement which initiated our global condemnation against any nation that practices the death penalty.

Death as a punishment has been the reason of debate for a long time. Before we start analyzing the pros and cons of death as punishment, we must consider the opinions and mindset of whole humanity.

In many religions, people celebrate the death as it appears to them as a gateway of another life. But there are very few communities that celebrate the death of young ones.

It can not be questioned that death penalty is extreme punishment. Usually, we humans try to separate some individuals from the rest of us because we think that these individuals are dangerous to others as they violate some laws who are made for betterment of everyone. We hope that within the time of solitude, that criminal will either learn to live as everyone or he/she will be too weak to commit a crime after the solitude.

But a criminals perspective is totally different. Punishment for them is not related with introspection but pain for them and their loved ones. They fear to commit crime because they and their loved ones will be tortured for their heinous act. The gentlemen who decide the punishment for a criminal hope that during the imprisonment, the person will look into their inner-self and he/she will try to be good. But that is not true always.

Death punishment comes as a liberty to some criminals. They do not think much while committing a crime because their pain is for once only. Above all these, terrorists affiliated with Jihad embrace death. Their mindset tells them that death while committing a crime is guarantee to be martyr. They believe and hope that after death they will go to heaven, so-called Jannat, where they'll be caressed by fairies. These criminals are more worried about their after life. Death is not a punishment for them at all. But these incidents encourage others like them to commit crime and reserve some place in heaven.

While we are talking about artificial death, we must make equal consideration of euthanasia. It is also known as "death due to mercy". Euthanasia can be categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries. Non-voluntary euthanasia (patient's consent unavailable) is illegal in all countries, as we understand.

Involuntary euthanasia (without asking consent or against the patient's will) is also illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.

Methods which are used to carry out euthanasia are selected in such a way that the candidate feels the least amount of pain. But the same is true for the death penalty as well, or supposedly. We stress there are many cases and claims of abuse of the practice of the death penalty through lethal injection. And these claims can not be ignored. Some countries do not kill people for crime. Other countries who still believe in law and democracy attempt to use the least painful method for death. In India, where hanging is method for death, the executioner prepares a special rope for hanging. He will even go to lengths to apply wax on the rope so that death is instantaneous and painless.

So we can see that criminals fear of pain and the ultimate penalty of death does not provide the pain they should in-fact be afraid of. While a majority of criminals embrace death. In all ways, the death penalty is totally illogical because people who commit the heinous crimes and get punished by death are abnormal people. They are mentally unstable and not enough attention is paid to this fact and the immediate need for more medical treatment, as an alternative to the death penalty.

However, the death penalty itself is not designed to impact the mental state of the individual being killed. Rather, it is intended to act as a deterrent to those elements of society that may be contemplating the commission of a heinous crime. It also acts to provide a sense of justice to other, 'decent' people in that society: the perpetrator of this horrid, heinous crime is being removed completely from society for all eternity.

It is this distinction that centers the debate on societal ritual killing for justice. The debate is whether the death penalty is a sufficient deterrent to others and if it truly provides society with the catharsis and closure needed to heal from the emotional upset of the crime.

In most modern societies, the majority of murders are committed as crimes of passion. They are the result of a momentary event that causes insanity in the perpetrator. Enough to override their instilled morality. It is difficult to see societal value in death as punishment for these crimes. Many of these perpetrators end up committing suicide on their own when the impact of their actions finally hits them.

The few murders that remain - those committed by psychopaths and fanatics (which are just a special case of psychopath) - are not going to feel remorse over their crime. Indeed, most feel satisfaction as a result of their actions and are expecting complete release and approbation from their deaths. Keeping them alive does nothing to cause remorse; killing them does nothing but satisfy them.

In these cases, the benefit to the greater society needs to be analyzed. If society is going to benefit psychologically from their killing, then it would be best to provide this closure, as the perpetrator just doesn't care. However, the way that the killing is done may need to be altered in order for it to not only assuage society's feelings, but to send a message to other potential murderers that this will not get them the satisfaction they want. This would probably involve setting aside the "cruel and unusual" punishment clauses that promise a humane death. How this is done is a topic for another debate on this already very complex and sensitive topic.

US Press Office - Salt Lake City News

April 28, 2016 | Australia's Continued Attempt to Silence Off-Shore Detention Center Whistleblowers

Freedom Publishers Union originally raised concerns over Australia's Border Force legislation in an Editorial published on June 25, 2015.

The Border Force Bill 2015 contains disturbing elements which aim to gag whistleblowers who could potentially speak out against Government wrongdoing or from associated organizations contracted by the Australian Government.

Detainees on Australia's off-shore detention facilities of Nauru and Manus Island are held under conditions which have been deemed to violate international treaties on human rights. Amnesty International called the conditions witnessed on Nauru "a human rights catastrophe".

Freedom Publishers Union has continuously raised concerns over the conditions of detainees of Australia's off-shore detention facilities. Additionally, our calls have remained consistent that the conditions on these facilities that asylum seekers and refugees are held under is ethically and morally unacceptable and a violation of human rights.

In another Editorial published on October 2014, questions were being raised whether Australia was following the basic principles set out in the United Nations - Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Then on April 26, 2016, came a landmark decision from Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court, which concluded that the detention of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island is illegal, a violation of the country's Constitution and a violation of human rights and civil liberties. Further, the Supreme Court urged both Papua New Guinea and Australia to take immediate steps to ensure detainees have freedom of passage and movement. Justice Terence Higgins said that to continuously have those seeking refugee status "as prisoners irrespective of their circumstances or status, is to offend against their rights and freedoms".

Freedom Publishers Union has accessed the legal document released from the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea. Australia's public broadcaster ABC, aired on its television program Four Corners, details of the stories from former medical staff who have worked on off-shore detention centers, under the operations of International SOS and its subsidiary, International Health and Medical Services.

International Health and Medical Services runs the medical services provided on Manus Island.

The medical practitioners who have spoken out on the program are essentially defying the restrictions put on them under the aforementioned Australian Border Force Bill. Under the Bill, the medical practitioners could potentially be prosecuted and jailed for revealing the disturbing details and mismanagement of medical staff and the operations that have been occurring on Manus Island.

The details revealed by the former staff who have either worked directly at the facility or associated with its operations, are alarming. Equally alarming is the gross mismanagement and sheer ignorance put forth by Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Force who are outright ignoring the advice and recommendations of medical staff and healthcare workers, which is resulting in an already dire situation of detainee's health conditions, getting worse. This very mismanagement and ignorance from Department of Immigration and Border Force resulted in the death of Iranian detainee Hamid Khazaei.

It was advised from several medical workers on Manus Island that Hamid Khazaei be transferred to a better equipped medical hospital, without delay. Immigration officials in Australia halted any transfer of Mr. Khazaei citing that there were issues with his visa. His medical condition continued to deteriorate further and the Department was again advised that Mr. Khazaei be transferred, but this time to mainland Australia and to a hospital in the city of Brisbane. This request from medical staff was also initially ignored and delays continued.

After much delay by Australian Immigration officials, a transfer to Brisbane was eventually approved for Mr. Khazaei. This decision came at a time when doctors already suspected him to be "brain-dead", as revealed by medical staff who have spoken out about the details. Their suspicions were proven correct when Mr. Khazaei arrived at Brisbane's Mater Hospital. His condition was so bad he was kept alive only by life-support machine. Mr. Khazaei's life-support was switched off several days after his arrival on mainland Australia.

It's important to understand the two different sides to the story. However, Freedom Publishers Union believes they are directly related. The rules which have been set out in the Border Force legislation are a clear indication of the policy's failures. By disallowing and restricting visits from journalists and media into the detention facility on Manus Island, making it illegal to report on operations of the facility and scaling back all forms of operational transparency allows the detention center to operate in near-secrecy which resembles something of a military base.

Section 42 of the Act is titled "Secrecy". The term "Entrusted person" essentially means employees, consultants and contractors. In short, everyone involved in the operations of these torrid facilities. "Protected information" means A information held by detention centers.

Continued attempts to restrict the exposure of the concerns expressed by whistleblowers by gagging and the lingering potential of 2-year imprisonment for those who reveal such operational details and information, is not how democracy should function.

By disallowing and literally shutting down every window of opportunity which sees off-shore detention centers scrutinized by the wider public, we will almost certainly continue to see more examples of clear mismanagement and dysfunction at these centers and also in the operational back-end of the Department of Immigration and Border Force. This is not simply an administration error which has resulted in the death of Mr. Khazaei. It is a direct result of flawed and failed Border Force legislation and immigration policy which has enabled this to happen.

If the Australian Government or Government appointed contractors are violating the United Nations and Papua New Guinea human rights laws (or any other Constitutional or civil liberties laws) then there is clear justification for a legal case against Australia. [As we go to press with this story and following on from the legal decision from PNG deeming the Manus Island detention center illegal and violating the PNG Constitution through loss of civil liberties, the PNG Government has now ordered that the center be closed. The PNG Government and Australia are currently making arrangements to resettle/move current detainees held at the Manus Island facility. No final decision has yet been made as this is currently developing news.]

One can not question the knowledge and understanding of the direct operations and what occurs on off-shore detention centers which house asylum seekers and refugees. The Australian Government is well aware of the problems that are present in off-shore detention facilities, in addition to its clear administrative problems present which are on display by the Department of Immigration and Border Force being unable to cope with the workload of everyday operations, let alone deal with serious problems when they do arise. Such is clear with the terrible case and tragic death of Hamid Khazaei, which if dealt with swiftly and as recommended by medical staff as they are experts in their field, the fatality of an asylum seeker/refugee who is under the care of Australia could possibly have been avoided.

What are the real and viable options Australia has in dealing with its asylum seekers and refugees? Well, there are options of establishing a new facility on mainland Australia which can be operated with much closer supervision and which should allow for media and journalists to visit the facility, paving the way for much more transparent operations than what off-shore detention currently offers. Such proposals have been made by some Australian Politicians and Senators. The concerns continue to grow as more details of human rights violations are exposed. In-fact, it has become party policy of some small political parties in Australia that the off-shore detention centers of Nauru and Manus Island be closed immediately, following the establishment of a new facility of the mainland. Such a solution would also have a realistic added benefit of a more cost effective solution than the current expensive operations of off-shore detention. Human rights of those seeking asylum and those with who have acquired genuine refugee status could also be closely scrutinized and to some degree, we would see their civil liberties be upheld. After all, seeking asylum is not illegal. Violating human rights and stripping people of civil liberties in a democratic sovereign State is illegal. That is what is being carried out by the Australian Government, its contractors and its Department of Immigration and Border Force, through the use of the Border Force legislation and allowing it to all occur in secret whilst gagging those who speak out of this abuse.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center | Permission to republish | Donate

February 19, 2016 | Site Blocking and Censorship Will Not Reduce Piracy

As reported on the torrent news website TorrentFreak, the attacks against Australian internet users has jumped into another stage.

The next stage of the attack is being led by Australian premium cable subscriber, Foxtel. Additionally, in a separate yet related legal filing, Village RoadShow have also launched their own legal action.

Combined, the legal action of the two entertainment entities is supposedly in-favor of site-blocking mechanisms through DNS blocking. Any site blocking implemented would aim to block mainstream file sharing websites and websites that 'supposedly' promote and enable piracy.

Freedom Publishers Union has always advocated freedom of information flow on the internet, without blocking, without censorship and without restriction. We do not condone piracy and do not believe a majority of Australian (and International) internet users are mass-pirates. This majority use file sharing websites for a combination of reasons, including lack of access to compatible legal material which is free of any type of digital rights management (DRM) and a genuine intent of personal viewing/listening and fair use.

Detailed in a Report compiled for the Australian Department of Communications, released on June 24, 2015, which focused on online copyright infringement of Australians aged 12+, key findings revealed that 28% of users who downloaded illegal content in some form, had also paid for legal content. So there is a positive perspective. There is definitely room for improvement, yet there is equal room for improvement from entertainment companies offering digital content to Australian internet users which can match or better the quality that can easily be accessed for free through file sharing websites.

Let's be realistic; Apple has done a fine job for delivering music tracks and albums through its iTunes service. However, if a user chooses to use the Linux operating system, iTunes is simply not an option for them as the operating system is not supported by Apple. Movies are much the same. Movie files are normally accessed through some type of portal which requires a user to register to all kinds of untrustworthy services and way too many sign-up details required. And if a user is patient enough to tolerate all the associated sign-up rubbish and reach a point where the movie is ready to be delivered to the user digitally via download, it usually requires them to download and install a proprietary media player distributed by the studio providing the digital download. Both mainstream options for music and movie entertainment and limited, restricting and highly inflexible. This is why internet users pirate music and movies. More so in Australia because the access and options are often limited in comparison to that of the United States.

So let's get to the crux of the entire problem; flexibility. It is what internet users want. Music lovers want to be able to simply click DOWNLOAD on that MP3/AAC file or album and get exactly what they want within minimal effort and getting a resulting digital file free from all DRM. And the scenario is exactly the same for movies. Movie buffs simply want to perform the same actions as above and get a resulting file, again, free from all forms of DRM and in MKV/MP4 format.

Internet users like files in formats which can be migrated, moved and copied to their personal music devices, smartphones and media players. Only when the music industry and movie studios can emulate the ease-of-access and flexibility that file sharing websites offer, and on all operating systems and platforms will the legal alternatives offered become equally attractive. So far, both the music industry and movie studios have failed. In fact, they have failed so badly that they have not even commenced to recognize where the problem lies. Well, there it is. It's ironic that they spend millions of dollars every year attempting to counteract piracy levels, when the real solution is so simple and written right in front of their eyes - Ease-of-access, DRM free and flexible file format.

Freedom Publishers Union and our media partner Quality Publishing Works has released many Press Statements, combined with the many Editorials on the same topic, all in support of freedom of information flow and fair use policy of digital media and access to file sharing websites. We do believe that file sharing websites and legal media entertainment websites offering the same files for reasonable cost can live in harmony on the internet.

On March 6, 2015, Freedom Publishers Union along with limited collaboration with Pirate Party Australia, made a 8-page submission to Communications Alliance Ltd. in response to the Copyright Notice Scheme Draft Industry Code.

In the submission's opening Statement, former Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Publishers Union, Chris Jones, made claim that the Copyright Notice Scheme was on the right track to becoming a viable code, if Clauses and Provisions were included which enable "fair use". The terms of "fair use" can not be under-recognized, as they always are. It is not a method of escaping penalty for illegally downloading content. It is simply something that actually does occur and should be recognized exactly for what it is - fair use of the media accessed.

Currently, all legal action filed from Foxtel and Village RoadShow, along with the potential for more in the future, are still outstanding and it will take time to go through all the usual legal channels of process. So nothing will change without prior warning. File sharing websites are not going to suddenly become inaccessible for Australian internet users.

In conclusion, we must point out the obvious; piracy is real. We have never denied this. But so is the realistic scenario of genuine innocent internet users who do use file sharing websites for genuine personal entertainment listening and viewing, often on a very reasonable scale. It's well documented that these types of users also do purchase legal material in addition to testing the waters with illegally downloaded content. Again, this is why we strongly advocate on fair use policy as it would potentially eliminate time wasting legal pursuit of these types of users.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to support and advocate for the open access and freedom of information flow on the internet, which also extends to file sharing websites. Finally, as a precaution of concern for internet security and privacy of users, we also take this opportunity to re-iterate our call for internet users to use Tor Browser where appropriate and where specific blocking and censorship measures are implemented.

Internet censorship must stop. Freedom of information and data must flow freely without interference or limits and net neutrality must be upheld.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center | Permission to republish | Donate

January 4, 2016 | Tribute to Debian Founder, Ian Murdock


On December 28, 2015, the free software world lost of one its smartest programmers and software engineers, Ian Murdock. Ian was most well known for his founding and creation of one of the most respected Linux distributions to date, Debian.

Through Ian's creation of Debian, the Linux operating system has gained a reputation for being one of the most solid, reliable and versatile Linux operating systems for the server and desktop sectors.

Debian has provided the basis for many Linux based operating systems, including the world's most popular Linux system [at the time of going to press], Ubuntu.

Debian development continues today through the volunteer efforts of thousands of software developers and engineers. Whilst Linus Torvalds is often considered the grandfather of Linux, Debian is equally considered the grandfather of Linux based operating systems.

The tireless work that Ian Murdock put into Debian and other projects earned him the respect that he deserved.

In January, 2006 Ian's hard work led him to a role as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) with the Free Standards Group, which eventually evolved into the Linux Foundation. Ian continued his role as CTO until the following year of March 2007 where he was employed at Sun Microsystems to lead Project Indiana. When Sun Microsystems merged with software giant Oracle, Ian resigned from the company.

From 2011-2015 Ian was employed by Salesforce Marketing Cloud, until in November 2015 he joined Docker Inc. His role with Docker was short-lived, when on December 30, 2015, Docker announced his tragic passing.

Whilst specific circumstances surrounding his passing have not been officially released, there are indications that Ian Murdock had taken his own life. Absolutely tragic and deeply saddening for Ian's family, friends, colleagues and all of the free and open-source software community.

It's important to remember the legacy that Ian left behind, through his work as a free and open-source software developer and engineer. More specifically, Ian will always be remembered for the founding and creation of the world's most loved and respected Linux operating systems, Debian.

May you rest in peace Ian Murdock, you will be sorely missed.

As a sign of our respect to Ian, today we finish our tribute by publishing the "Debian Manifesto" written by Ian Murdock in 1994:

Debian Manifesto

A.1 What is Debian Linux?

Debian Linux is a brand-new kind of Linux distribution. Rather than being developed by one isolated individual or group, as other distributions of Linux have been developed in the past, Debian is being developed openly in the spirit of Linux and GNU. The primary purpose of the Debian project is to finally create a distribution that lives up to the Linux name. Debian is being carefully and conscientiously put together and will be maintained and supported with similar care.

It is also an attempt to create a non-commercial distribution that will be able to effectively compete in the commercial market. It will eventually be distributed by The Free Software Foundation on CD-ROM, and The Debian Linux Association will offer the distribution on floppy disk and tape along with printed manuals, technical support and other end-user essentials. All of the above will be available at little more than cost, and the excess will be put toward further development of free software for all users. Such distribution is essential to the success of the Linux operating system in the commercial market, and it must be done by organizations in a position to successfully advance and advocate free software without the pressure of profits or returns.

A.2 Why is Debian being constructed?

Distributions are essential to the future of Linux. Essentially, they eliminate the need for the user to locate, download, compile, install and integrate a fairly large number of essential tools to assemble a working Linux system. Instead, the burden of system construction is placed on the distribution creator, whose work can be shared with thousands of other users. Almost all users of Linux will get their first taste of it through a distribution, and most users will continue to use a distribution for the sake of convenience even after they are familiar with the operating system. Thus, distributions play a very important role indeed.

Despite their obvious importance, distributions have attracted little attention from developers. There is a simple reason for this: they are neither easy nor glamorous to construct and require a great deal of ongoing effort from the creator to keep the distribution bug-free and up-to-date. It is one thing to put together a system from scratch; it is quite another to ensure that the system is easy for others to install, is installable and usable under a wide variety of hardware configurations, contains software that others will find useful, and is updated when the components themselves are improved.

Many distributions have started out as fairly good systems, but as time passes attention to maintaining the distribution becomes a secondary concern. A case-in-point is the Softlanding Linux System (better known as SLS). It is quite possibly the most bug-ridden and badly maintained Linux distribution available; unfortunately, it is also quite possibly the most popular. It is, without question, the distribution that attracts the most attention from the many commercial "distributors" of Linux that have surfaced to capitalize on the growing popularity of the operating system.

This is a bad combination indeed, as most people who obtain Linux from these "distributors" receive a bug-ridden and badly maintained Linux distribution. As if this wasn't bad enough, these "distributors" have a disturbing tendency to misleadingly advertise non-functional or extremely unstable "features" of their product. Combine this with the fact that the buyers will, of course, expect the product to live up to its advertisement and the fact that many may believe it to be a commercial operating system (there is also a tendency not to mention that Linux is free nor that it is distributed under the GNU General Public License). To top it all off, these "distributors" are actually making enough money from their effort to justify buying larger advertisements in more magazines; it is the classic example of unacceptable behavior being rewarded by those who simply do not know any better. Clearly something needs to be done to remedy the situation.

A.3 How will Debian attempt to put an end to these problems?

The Debian design process is open to ensure that the system is of the highest quality and that it reflects the needs of the user community. By involving others with a wide range of abilities and backgrounds, Debian is able to be developed in a modular fashion. Its components are of high quality because those with expertise in a certain area are given the opportunity to construct or maintain the individual components of Debian involving that area. Involving others also ensures that valuable suggestions for improvement can be incorporated into the distribution during its development; thus, a distribution is created based on the needs and wants of the users rather than the needs and wants of the constructor. It is very difficult for one individual or small group to anticipate these needs and wants in advance without direct input from others.

Debian Linux will also be distributed on physical media by the Free Software Foundation and the Debian Linux Association. This provides Debian to users without access to the Internet or FTP and additionally makes products and services such as printed manuals and technical support available to all users of the system. In this way, Debian may be used by many more individuals and organizations than is otherwise possible, the focus will be on providing a first-class product and not on profits or returns, and the margin from the products and services provided may be used to improve the software itself for all users whether they paid to obtain it or not.

The Free Software Foundation plays an extremely important role in the future of Debian. By the simple fact that they will be distributing it, a message is sent to the world that Linux is not a commercial product and that it never should be, but that this does not mean that Linux will never be able to compete commercially. For those of you who disagree, I challenge you to rationalize the success of GNU Emacs and GCC, which are not commercial software but which have had quite an impact on the commercial market regardless of that fact.

The time has come to concentrate on the future of Linux rather than on the destructive goal of enriching oneself at the expense of the entire Linux community and its future. The development and distribution of Debian may not be the answer to the problems that I have outlined in the Manifesto, but I hope that it will at least attract enough attention to these problems to allow them to be solved.

Freedom Publishers Union - Public Relations Department

September 30, 2015 | Tribute to the Father of the C Programming Language, Dennis Ritchie


Dennis Ritchie, the man behind the scenes who created the C programming language or as they call him, the Father of the C programming language. Richie was born on September 9, 1941 in Bronxville, New York. His father Alistair Ritchie, was a switching systems engineer at Bell Laboratories. Dennis was later moved to Summit, New Jersey with his family. Dennis graduated from Summit High School, then got a bachelors degree from Harvard University in Physics and Applied Mathematics field in 1963, and a PhD in Mathematics in 1968 from Harvard University. He later moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dennis was a key developer of the UNIX operating system, and co-author of the book "The C Programming Language". He worked along with Ken Thompson (A scientist who wrote the original UNIX). Later, he developed a collaboration on the C programming language with Brian Kernighan and they were known together as K&R (Kernighan & Ritchie). Dennis Ritchie had an important contribution to UNIX which was that UNIX ported to different machines and platforms. His ideas still live on, at the center of modern operating systems design, in almost all new programming languages, and in every bit of open systems.

Richie started his career in 1967, as he started to work at the Bell Laboratories - Computing Sciences Research Center. (One of the most famous centers of digital innovation in the world at that time and the birthplace of the transistor).

Jeong Kim, President of Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs said, "Dennis was well loved by his colleagues at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, and will be greatly missed. He was truly an inspiration to all of us, not just for his many accomplishments, but because of who he was as a friend, an inventor, and a humble and gracious man. We would like to express our deepest sympathies to the Ritchie family, and to all who have been touched in some way by Dennis.".

At Bell Laboratories, Ritchie worked on the Multics project. Multics was an operating system which could replace the idea of batch processing with interactivity. (Programs were running one at a time from a cards stack by an operator and the programmer or user themselves had full control during the writing of a software). There, Dennis met Ken Thompson, who later became one of Ritchie's main collaborators.

Dennis said, "One of the obvious things that went wrong with Multics as a commercial success was just that it was sort of over-engineered in a sense. There was just too much in it.".

Bell Laboratories stopped working on Multics, Ritchie and Ken decided to not abandon the ideas of interaction and collaboration and they began to work on a successor, called UNIX. That modern operating system (UNIX) spread within Bell Laboratories and later was announced to the world in 1973.

Computer hardware design in the 70's had many variations and experimentations which reflected badly on software writers' life as they had to either spend more time and energy recreating their software for each new platform or limit their programs to run only on one particular platform.

The original UNIX kernel was written in the Assembly language, but Ritchie and Ken decided that they need a higher level language, to give them more control over all the data which spanned the operating system.

Richie and Thompson used BCPL (Basic Combined Programming Language) to write UNIX by squeezing it into 8 kilobytes and renamed it "B".

Ritchie responded to that problem by designing a new computer language, called "C" as an upgrade of the B language by adding data types and new syntax to it. B was an interpreted language that was executed by an intermediate piece of software running over CPU, but C was a compiled language translated into machine code and then executed directly on the CPU.

Dennis once stated, "UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity.".

C was able to easily and quickly move between different hardware. Software that were written in C language could run with little or even no modifications on any device that could run C.

C used very few syntax and little instructions, but it was extremely modular and structured. Because of this C was easy to use in different computers. There were huge blocks of C functions which were already written and programmers could copy the whole code into their own software without any need to start from scratch, making it easier and faster to implement. Such functions blocks were easily accessible and available in libraries, so programmers could access them.

Ritchie and Ken rewrote the UNIX in the C language and they could give UNIX the portability option as well as they gave programmers the chance to learn one operating system, one programming language, and some set of tools. Only one side effect that UNIX later became a natural place for experiments and inter-networking between various systems.

Dennis declared, "Obviously, the person who had most influence on my career was Ken Thompson.".

In 1978, "The C Programming Language" book was published by Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan. The book covered a brief definition of the C language and a peerless introduction to different styles and techniques of programming in C. This book still remains an inspiration reference and practical guide for programmers, today.

By the middle of the 1980's, the C language became one of the most popular programming languages in the world. Because of the functionality and speed with which C could be easily used to write software and run them, many companies started to use C to develop their own applications.

The C programming language is still being universally used nowadays as the second most popular programming language in the world in application systems, operating systems and embedded systems development, and its influence is still seen in most modern programming languages. Also UNIX influences in establishing concepts and principles which are now computing precepts.

"C was already implemented on several quite different machines and operating systems. UNIX was already being distributed on the PDP-11, but the portability of the whole system was new.", says Dennis.

The last important technical contribution that was made by Dennis Richie to UNIX was the Streams Mechanism which was used for interconnecting devices, applications and protocols.

UNIX and C's spiritual descendants are hard to count, but they respectively include Linux, Android, Mac OS, iOS, JavaScript, C++ and many more that are used in internet technology and by a world full of software developers.

Numerous amounts of applications were and still are written in C language and its object oriented successor C++. C was standardized by ANSI and ISO, that's why it was multi-purpose and becomes in almost every aspect of the computing industry today.

As an example, languages which came later (such as C++ and Java) were derived from the C language, [some] browser's code are written in C. Also, Microsoft Windows was initially written in C. Even Both of Apple's operating systems (Mac OS and iOS) are based on the UNIX-derived system of FreeBSD.

There is no doubt that Dennis Ritchie's contributions on the computing industry has significantly altered the core of the history of computing industry.

Dennis said, "The kind of programming that C provides will probably remain similar absolutely or slowly decline in usage, but relatively, JavaScript or its variants, or XML, will continue to become more central.".

Ritchie later became the head of Systems Software Research Department at Lucent Technologies, and was striving to make computers work better and more easily for users, until his retirement in 2007.

Dennis had admitted that his personal life and his professional life were mixed together as he stated in an interview, "I've done a reasonable amount of traveling, which I enjoyed, but not for too long at a time. I'm a home-body and get fatigued by it fairly soon, but enjoy thinking back on experiences when I've returned and then often wish I'd arranged a longer stay in the somewhat exotic place.".

Dennis lived alone at his home in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. He was found dead on October 12, 2011. The cause and exact time of his death are unknown.

He spent several years in frail health following treatment for prostate cancer and heart disease. He died a week after death of Steve Jobs but his death did not receive as much media coverage as Jobs.

The Fedora 16 Linux Distribution, was released and dedicated to his memory in 2012.

The computer historian, Paul E. Ceruzzi, stated on Dennis Ritchie's death, "Dennis Ritchie was under the radar. His name was not a household name at all, but if you had a microscope and could look in a computer, you'd see his work everywhere inside.".

On Linux, Dennis stated, "I think the Linux phenomenon is quite delightful, because it draws so strongly on the basis that UNIX provided. Linux seems to be among the healthiest of the direct UNIX derivatives, though there are also the various BSD systems as well as the more official offerings from the workstation and mainframe manufacturers.".

Rest in peace Dennis Ritchie. We miss you.

Freedom Publishers Union - Public Relations Department

June 25, 2015 | Australia's Democracy, Freedom and Civil Liberties Under Threat

The Australian Government has gone out of its way to make a dramatic shift towards ripping the democratic freedoms and civil liberties from its citizens.

Since the Liberal Government was elected to Parliament in September 2013, under the leadership of Tony Abbott, Freedom Publishers Union has witnessed too much controversial legislation which directly attacks multiple facets of Australia's freedom. Intertwined inside all the complex legislation, freedom of expression has been attacked and freedom of the press has also taken a hit. As has journalism and publishing.

The current Government has been heavily criticized for legislation which literally stampedes on these freedoms, which Australia has previously enjoyed. Unfortunately, Australia's Liberal Government has not solely had Australian citizens in its cross-hair. Refugees and asylum seekers have also had a target painted on their backs and their boats, along with the country's digital society, with recent passing of copyright reform legislation and measures to implement website blocking and filtering technology - paving the legal path to a censored and filtered internet for Australia.

Australians holding dual-citizenship (also known as dual-nationals) are now in the political spotlight, as the Government has just introduced measures to enable easy revocation of Australian citizenship and deportation to a country of origin, through amendments being made to the Citizenship Act 2007. The final details are yet to be finalized.

On almost every occasion, the opposition Labor Party of Australia has effectively failed the Australian public by providing almost nil opposition or alternative proposal to counteract the controversial and unfair legislation which attacks Australia's freedom and citizen's rights.

The Labor Party of Australia has simply followed suit, based on misinformation (and often lies) and rhetoric from the Liberal Party, in an effort to get its suite of counter-terrorism legislation passed through the Australian Parliament and Senate.

The Border Force Bill 2015 raises concerns in relation to gagging potential whistleblowers. In the legislation, there is potential 2-year imprisonment for health workers who reveal details and information on conditions of detention centers, where refugees and asylum seekers are detained, such as Nauru and Manus Island. Both for which have been criticized internationally and by Australia's own Human Rights Commissioner in a recently released detailed report, for human rights abuse and treatment of detainees.

Australia's national public television and radio broadcaster, ABC, points out-Section 42 of the Act is titled "Secrecy". The term "Entrusted person" essentially means employees, consultants and contractors. In short, everyone involved in the operations of these torrid facilities. "Protected information" means any information held by detention centers.

The terminology used and for which the Border Force Bill contains, is vast and very wide-spread. This is deliberate in an effort to ensure no leaks occur from inside Nauru or Manus Island - an attempt at gagging and preventing any potential whistleblowers.

We have grave concerns for both of the aforementioned bills and their included provisions. Specifically, we have concerns with the proposed changes for the dual-citizenship legislation. The changes would be made through expansion of Section 35 of the current Citizenship Act 2007. Under the new laws, Australian citizenship status can be revoked from Australians holding dual-citizenship and can then be forcefully removed from Australia and deported back to country of origin.

How is this decided? By one single Government Minister. Yes. There is no judicial oversight or involvement in the process and the decision will be handed down by the Australian Immigration Minister of the day, currently Peter Dutton MP.

The process and final decision from the Minister is supposedly based off evidence and information on the individual and their activities, both home and abroad, as provided and sourced by Australia's intelligence and spy agency, ASIO.

And it doesn't end there. The Liberal Government has flagged proposals for getting the new laws to apply to retrospective cases, which raises the concern of what so-called evidence and information the Government is using to apply the new laws to old cases and how reliable this information can be. How far back does it want to go? As yet, this much is unclear.

As we have typically seen with all this over-hyped legislation, it all comes presented and shrouded under the buzz-terms of the day - "terrorism" and "national security". Media outlets have publicly criticized the proposals. The ABC has deemed the dual-citizenship changes "unconstitutional" and possibly "illegal". Whilst one of Australia's most prominent advocates for refugees, asylum seekers and human rights, Julian Burnside, has also been critical of the legislation.

At the time of going to press, the proposals are under closer review of the Parliament Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Update: On July 1, 2015, The Guardian published an Open Letter written and signed by 41 professionals, ranging from health workers, medical practitioners, school teachers, youth workers, social services workers and humanitarian officers.

The Guardian reports, "More than 40 staff who have worked at detention centers on Manus Island, Nauru and across the Australian mainland have spoken out on the same day that a new offence comes into force that criminalizes the disclosure of information.".

The letter effectively defies the new law and challenges the Federal Government, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to prosecute the signatories of the letter, so the matter can be resolved in the public presence in open court proceedings.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center | Permission to republish | Donate

October 4, 2014 | Australian Government May Be in Violation of 11 Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Freedom Publishers Union is publishing our growing concerns that with new amendments and legislation the Australian Government is currently implementing, it genuinely raises the legitimate question of whether Australia is violating human rights, based on the United Nations' very own document.

Freedom Publishers Union is not claiming that any specific legislation or section of any legislation does actually violate any of these rights. We simply note there are specifics in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights document, which we believe require very careful consideration from the Australian Government.

We also understand that the said document from the United Nations is not a legally binding document and United Nations countries are not legally bound to abide by the Declaration. But it does provide the basic fundamentals of civil and human rights within a supposed free and democratic country. Something Australia is quickly shifting away from.

As the Declaration is not legally binding, it begins to raise the question of whether there is a valid point of having the Declaration in the first place if countries are to simply outright ignore the civil rights of its citizens and go ahead and introduce legislation which legally wavers the country responsible for these human and civil rights.

Australia proudly touts itself as being one the eight original countries involved in drafting the original Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Australia also so proudly chants how much of important role it played in the founding of the United Nations and the UN Charter. If Australia is so proud of its achievements and its involvements in the United Nations, then it raises further questions of the integrity of the current Australian Government and how it so proudly and possibly, breaks up to 11 of the Articles in the United Nations - Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Asia/Pacific Press Office - Mumbai Press Center


January 31, 2019 | Submission [#2] to Digital Platforms Inquiry

Freedom Publishers Union continues to emphasize the importance of the Digital Platforms Inquiry and we very much appreciate the continued opportunity for comment, following the release of the Preliminary Report.

In our first Submission, prior to the release of the Preliminary Report, Freedom Publishers Union stated that, "Primarily, we believe the Inquiry will naturally focus largely on the operations of Google and Facebook, simply due to the sheer scale of the company's combined market share, which can not be ignored and probably should be taken into consideration. However, we warn against making these two companies the sole focus and recommend that all other companies involved in the distribution of digital media, news and information also be considered.". We continue to stand by this statement.

The Preliminary Report assessed that Google and Facebook currently enjoy significant and influential market power, without any foreseeable reduction. Freedom Publishers Union concurs with the aforementioned assessment, however, we remain adamant that the concentration of the Inquiry should not remain limited to Google and Facebook. This does not mean that the level of marketing power of Google and Facebook should be ignored. We will make the clarification that the issues and concerns raised by Freedom Publishers Union in this Submission and our previous, are based on our assessment of the [media] industry as a whole and is certainly not limited to the level of marketing power of Google and Facebook.

In our first Submission we outlined our key issues. We will take the opportunity to reiterate those issues, in summary and in simplified text:

i. The global market share dominance of a concentrated selection of digital media distributors are continuing to abuse their power, through dominance of their services without regard to the wider effects on the quality of journalism and accessibility of content;

ii. There exists the potential for global implications from the impact the platform service providers are having on reduced choice and the quality and accuracy of content;

iii. Continued and increasing business focus on targeted content is effectively impeding on consumer choice;

iv. The free distribution model has morphed into an effective proxy for a fast and targeted distribution model designed to entice consumers to click on targeted content so the digital media distributors benefit from advertising revenue;

v. The impact of technology trends on competition in media and advertising could result in reduced choice and more targeted content.

Specifically in relation to points (iii), (iv) and to a lesser extent (v) [above], but not limited to these points, Freedom Publishers Union is immediately concerned over implications of current data collection methods, necessity of such large amounts of data and the rapid frequency of data being collected. It is primarily used to better target consumers based on their content consuming habits to increase advertising revenue. We believe the concerns we have expressed over data collection habits are so serious that they cannot be dealt with sufficiently within the current scope of this Inquiry, but should not be ignored completely.

Specifically in relation to point (v), but not limited to this point, Freedom Publishers Union fears more traditional publishers will be forced to shut down as subscription models will not have the required room to grow at the same rate that free models can.

Specifically in relation to Preliminary Recommendation 3-choice of browser and search engine, Freedom Publishers Union commends the recommendation and understands its importance. We have some reservations of any positive overall effect that the recommendation would have if acted upon and specifically within the current scope of this Inquiry.

Our consideration of Preliminary Recommendation 3 (a), combined with third-party expert advice, concludes that operating system developers should provide an option to install the web browser of choice, in no specific order and without favoring a specific web browser and should not have a web browser pre-installed as this potentially minimizes consumer choice.

Furthermore, our consideration of Preliminary Recommendation 3 (b), combined with third-party expert advice, concludes that web browser developers should provide an option to select the search engine of choice to use as the default option, in no specific order and without favoring a specific search engine and should not have a search engine selected automatically as this potentially minimizes consumer choice.

The Preliminary Report outlines issues surrounding low levels of transparency of the algorithms of Google and Facebook. Algorithms are key tools to the success of these businesses and Freedom Publishers Union takes the position that to a large extent, the secrecy surrounding precise details and functions of algorithms is justified and must be respected, along with their right(s) to have them considered a 'trade secret'. Instead, Freedom Publishers Union emphasizes that any suggestion of increased transparency should be focused on getting a better understanding of the algorithm's relationship between the platform service providers and advertisers.

Freedom Publishers Union fears that without significant and effective reform, which should theoretically come as a result of any recommendations that are presented from this Inquiry, there will be less quality and less accurate journalism produced and distributed. And, consumers will be faced with the difficult and confusing decision of making a determination of what can be classified as reliable source based content and content that is typically and more commonly referred to as 'fake news', or simply unreliable source based content.

Freedom Publishers Union remains confident in our previous determination, which concluded that consumers will generally be presented less journalism, from less quality publications which will have less access and availability to sustainable revenue sources necessary to produce quality and accurate content.

Amit Gautam - Spokesperson

January 24, 2019 | Submission to Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (India)

Freedom Publishers Union understands and acknowledges the problems related to false and misleading information that have arisen in India, particularly over the duration of the past 12-24 months and specifically on the WhatsApp social platform. However, we cannot support the Government of India using these specific set of challenges as a means to justify further encroachment on civil liberties of the citizens of India through proposals to Section 79 of the IT Act which would force WhatsApp, and potentially other encrypted platforms, to decrypt secure data for the benefit of the Government of India, under the all too typically used reason of "national security".

We believe the proposals are a great concern and also believe that they are only the tip of the iceberg, as the Government of India attempts to further emulate the civil liberties encroachment and removal of basic freedoms of the citizens as has already been done, aggressively, and against the expert advice by digital rights organizations and activists, by Western democracies. The Government of India has already authorized increased powers to phone taps, which were then followed by further authorization for 10 government security and intelligence agencies to intercept sensitive internet data and seize electronic devices - All further evidence of the motivation of the Government of India to emulate the behavior of Western governments to increase mass-surveillance networks and increase government capabilities to 'legally' remove the freedoms and basic rights of citizens.

Although we welcome the opportunity on this occasion to make a public Submission, we do not believe that the Government of India has done enough on previous occasions in relation to what we consider quite important and invasive changes that do have real-world impact on the computer and internet usage habits of the citizens of India. It is of the political opinion of Freedom Publishers Union that the citizens should always be provided advanced notice of proposed changes and should always be provided with the opportunity for public Submission, where possible.

Data and messages that are encrypted is done so to guarantee and accommodate the right to privacy of users. Any attempt(s) to modify, break or bypass encryption technology is condemned by Freedom Publishers Union and a majority of the technology industry. Privacy is a right to be upheld, and not a right to allow for open abuse by law enforcement, intelligence or any other government associated agency. Furthermore, enabling the Government of India the ability the decrypt data would pose a significant threat to censorship of India's internet. Based on the expert advice we have sought, Freedom Publishers Union remains confident that internet censorship is not the intent of this specific proposal, however we warn that further imposition of censorship on India's internet could only be condemned, for adding to an already messy censorship regime the country suffers.

The proposals, as Freedom Publishers Union interprets them, mirror elements of the recent changes which have been implemented in Australia which the Government claim will achieve the same intent of the proposals by the Government of India. We strongly condemned and opposed the Australian legislation, as did the technology industry. Therefore, we are in a position where we must also oppose any legislation of the Government of India which attempts to replicate legislation to the same relative effect as Australia.

It is currently unclear what level of cooperation WhatsApp and other affected technology companies will offer the Government of India, in response to any future changes to the law. Freedom Publishers Union urges the collective technology and software security industry to unite and push back against any changes that are approved by the Government of India.

Freedom Publishers Union will continue to advocate and educate our supporters and internet users on technical methods and software that can be used to increase their security through strong encryption that cannot be cracked and to bypass censorship. We do this not in defiance of any specific country's laws, but because an open internet and free flow of information free from censorship and government interference is a core principle of our philosophical founding.

Amit Gautam - Spokesperson

April 15, 2018 | Submission to Joint Standing Committee on Treaties

Freedom Publishers Union would like to present our formal Submission, in response to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific (CPTPP/TPP-11).

Our organization has remained in a consistent position of opposition to this extremely complex and detailed trade deal.

As the CPTPP enters the final stages of administrative approval, and despite our position of continued opposition, we remain realistic and take the understanding that the agreement has enough support and momentum from the Australian Parliament to be ratified.

The path to approval is very close, but we still wish to outline that we remain very disappointed in the lack of transparency that has accompanied the entire process for the duration of the negotiation stages, from when the agreement was negotiated in the original TPP format through to the latest iteration which has been reformed as the CPTPP. The path of negotiation was carried out in absolute secrecy. It is very disappointing that the negotiations for CPTPP followed the same path of secrecy.

We remain concerned about key issues in the agreement, specifically:

The focus of advocacy for Freedom Publishers Union will now shrink, and shift to key political decision making points and legislation on these specific issues.

Amit Gautam - Spokesperson

March 11, 2018 | Submission [#1] to Digital Platforms Inquiry

Freedom Publishers Union considers the Digital Platforms Inquiry to be of great importance, which will act as an attempt of grabbing a snapshot of the current climate of Australian media and how it has been affected by the encroachment onto Australia media by numerous digital media distributors.

We believe that any information technology company that pursues distribution of digital media, news and information over the internet should be of interest to the Inquiry's goals. Primarily, we believe the Inquiry will naturally focus largely on the operations of Google and Facebook, simply due to the sheer scale of the company's combined market share, which can not be ignored and probably should be taken into consideration. However, we warn against making these two companies the sole focus and recommend that all other companies involved in the distribution of digital media, news and information also be considered.

The Inquiry must focus on the distribution models of the content that is under review as part of this Inquiry. It should not matter whether the content is created inside the borders of Australia or overseas. Its creation origins are not going to have any overall effect to the quality of journalism and news accessibility in Australia. It is the actual distribution models that will have the greatest effect.

Freedom Publishers Union prides on our publishing and pays particular attention to accuracy and fact checked information, which has been properly researched and processed through our strict editorial procedures. We believe if we can achieve this with a small amount of staff members which of most are volunteers, combined with absolute minimal costs and resources, then large media companies can achieve the same if the effort is made to resource them appropriately. If it is deemed that Australian media is failing to deliver quality journalism and news on digital platforms in accordance to the processes that we outlined, then the questions must be asked as to why it is not happening. To a large degree, cost savings measures constantly being refined are having a dramatic effect on allowable allocation of resources for large media companies to achieve this. This should be taken into consideration for this Inquiry.

In the Digital Platforms Inquiry Issues Paper, which has been accessed by Freedom Publishers Union prior to preparation of our Submission, it outlines the vast resources and platforms of distribution that Google has at the company's disposal. Google can effectively deliver digital media, news and information through its Search engine, Google News, Play Newsstand and YouTube. These are only the core platforms that Google can utilize. It must be understood that the company has much more potential than solely these platforms and it must also be taken into consideration how intertwined Google's services are. The company's extensive advertising network has very far reach and much dominance in the digital advertising sector.

Following on from the information on Google detailed in the Issues Paper, is profiling information on Facebook. Facebook is at a transition. The company was once primarily known as a social media company. It is now entering the field of media. Some industry analysts already identify Facebook as a media company. We identify Facebook as a fully established software company. As Facebook seeks to work out more ways to monetize its gradual, yet inevitable slide into the media sphere, its influence will also grow. Not too dissimilar to Google, Facebook also has a vast advertising network which is constantly expanding throughout its portfolio of software services including Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. It has a lot of market share and has great potential to take even much more.

In our Submission, we do not wish to focus too much on Google and Facebook. But as smaller information technology companies and startups use these two giants as Silicon Valley role models, it gives some indication of the areas that smaller and more aggressive companies seeking to prove themselves will also begin to focus on as they also grow and look for new markets, potentially in digital media distribution.

To make any credible analysis on the quality of the distribution of digital media, news and information in Australia, Freedom Publishers Union believes that any argument should start the basic question of 'free versus subscription'. Nobody can deny that the word "free" grabs attention. It is within human nature that when we are offered two choices - free or paid - by our very human nature we will almost every time choose free. The issue of quality journalism, news and its accessibility is much more complex than just a simple choice of free versus subscription. On news, consumers must understand the difference between the two distribution models and understand what they sacrifice to get something for free and what they receive for their money when paying for subscriptions. Currently, public education is not so good and as a country, Australia must do much better at educating those who consume news, of any differences.

The argument was examined by us a little closer in September 2017 by our (former) Editor-in-Chief, who published a column on Freedom Publishers Union in which he poses the most obvious question, "why would you pay for news when you can still read it for free.". The opinion piece concludes that paying for news subscriptions is not only a sign of appreciation for quality journalism and the publication that publishes the piece, but it also goes a long way to supporting the Australian media industry. News generated by bots and other forms of artificial intelligence are accelerating the pace of which news can be distributed to consumers. This is having an overall negative effect on the quality of proper journalism through traditionally respected publications. It is putting great pressure on traditional publishers to follow suit and join the 'publish now and publish fast' revolution that has engulfed global media. At the very least, paid subscriptions go a long way to restoring the traditional model of journalism, eases the pressure to some degree and also restores confidence in traditional media agencies by giving assurance that their readers are willing to pay for quality journalism if it is produced. This is reiterated in the aforementioned opinion piece when it is said that if you "pay for news through subscriptions services, it not only has benefits for the media agency producing the news you consume", but "retains the quality of the journalistic efforts".

Google, Facebook and other information technology companies are not really content creators. The news and information delivered by their services are usually aggregated by the use of computer operated algorithms. These algorithms make it easy for these services to generate news summaries and headlines which grab the attention of the user. Often, data already held by these companies is also used by the algorithm to determine which news articles and stories are presented to the consumer and which are disposed as not relevant. Freedom Publishers Union believes this to be unfair as it does not give the consumer the complete offer of available news articles and stories. Naturally, the particular stories that will be shown will be based on personality traits of the consumer, which has been determined through the deep and often much too intensive personal data collection. It is by allowing these companies to collect and store your data and share it with advertisers and trade with data brokers, which makes these services free. When consumers agree to the terms and conditions upon signing up to these services, they are actually giving the companies permission to raid their personal information. This is not the sole fault of the consumer and is not a case of simply not reading the terms and conditions. They are usually very lengthy and written in very complex legal jargon which is not easily understood by the consumer.

Freedom Publishers Union believes that it is outright abuse of consumer habit to take advantage of their natural reaction to just click "Agree" and carry on with setting up their profile without thinking of the eventual consequences of what the company will do with the consumer's data and how the tweaking of the company's algorithms is performed to adapt to certain personality traits which results in presenting the consumer with a very limited set of news stories. It is having an effect on the quality of journalism and accessibility of certain stories which are not being offered the complete opportunity they deserve to have their creative works distributed to the widest audience possible across the networks of digital media distributors.

The result has been traditional publishers placing pay-walls onto their news websites. There is various models of accessibility in place with publishers. Some allow a set number of free articles before you are forced to pay for a subscription, while others will not let the reader view anything without a paid subscription. We believe that these pay-walls are not the best design for protecting quality journalism and retaining accessibility to as many people as possible. But we also completely understand that due to aggregation services effectively stealing the content from traditional publishers and integrating them into their own services which are delivered to their consumers for free, is both morally wrong and should be considered stealing.

To conclude, we return to five key points of matters to be taken into consideration, outlined in the Issues Paper and add our footnotes on each to summarize our position. Our position should be taken as general in nature and is not focused on any specific digital media distributors:

i. the extent to which platform service providers are exercising market power in commercial dealings with the creators of journalistic content and advertisers;

Freedom Publishers Union believes primarily due to the shear massive scale and global market share, digital media distributors abuse their power through dominance of their services without regard to the wider effects on the quality of journalism and accessibility of digital media, news and information.

ii. the impact of platform service providers on the level of choice and quality of news and journalistic content to consumers;

The practices that are carried out by digital media distributors are not producing appropriate choice of digital media, news and information to the consumer. By offering targeted content, it is effectively impeding on any consumer choice and is making the choice for them.

iii. the impact of platform service providers on media and advertising markets;

It is clear that the free distribution model is not aimed at producing quality content for consumers. Rather, it is aimed at fast and targeted distribution which is further aimed at getting the consumer to click on targeted and selective content so the digital media distributor benefits from advertising revenue that is produced. If Australia were to have a majority subscription based media, then the advertising sector would remain unaffected by any large degree and consumers would see an increase in the quality of digital media, news and information.

iv. the impact of longer-term trends, including innovation and technological change, on competition in media and advertising markets;

If the current trends are permitted to continue, Freedom Publishers Union fears that consumers will see less choice and more targeted content distributed. This will undoubtedly have a flow on effect and force more traditional publishers into shutting down operations as their subscription models will not be allowed to grow at the same rate that free models can. This will unfortunately lead to much less proper journalism and lower quality digital media, news and information distributed. And consumers will see a dramatic increase in unreliable news and information produced by bots and other forms of artificial intelligence.

v. the impact of information asymmetry between platform service providers, advertisers and consumers and the effect on competition in media and advertising markets;

Taking all of the information, opinions and analysis that we have outlined in this Submission into consideration, Freedom Publishers Union remains certain that the eventual path will lead to less journalism, less quality publications, less revenue to produce it and make news and information unreliable and riddled with errors and unchecked claims.

Unless serious action is taken and reform is introduced by the Australian Government which can protect traditional media distribution models, which is effectively protecting the quality of journalism and guarantee their continued operations, Freedom Publishers Union can only conclude that quality journalism will drop back to just a few small independent publications and digital media distributors, that will remain dedicated to delivering services using the proven traditional media distribution models.

If this were to be allowed to occur, it would not be good for Australian democracy or the media industry.

Amit Gautam - Spokesperson

January 25, 2017 | Increased access to Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Data Retention Data/Meta-data

Freedom Publishers Union would like to make a formal Submission in response to the Access to telecommunications data in civil proceedings matter.

We are firmly against any extension of access to data/meta-data collected from the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Data Retention regime, to civil proceedings. Freedom Publishers Union is against the regime which legally allowed for surveillance to be implemented in Australia, on a mass scale in comparison to the operations that were already being carried out by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

We do respect that Australia's democratic and Parliamentary process allowed this Bill to pass, and we must respect it. However, we believe that any extension of access of any information, data and meta-data collected through this program is completely unjustifed and unnecessary. This is backed by the Advisory Report, carried out by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security - where it has clearly been defned in the Report that it is not recommended that civil proceedings be allowed access of the said data.

We echo this recommendation from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Freedom Publishers Union would like a better explanation of what any new law will do. We express concern and do not want any court to be able to do an unnecessary 'NSA - style' data grab for civil proceedings. To our understanding, no reason(s) has (or have) been outlined by the Attorney General's website for any specifc scenario that could justify any extension of access.

Copyright remains at the heart of our concerns, that any new law(s) that permit increased access would be used to pursue cases of copyright infringement , which we must point out is not the reason this surveillance Bill was established. There are already copyright laws that allow for investigation into possible copyright infringement. We believe that current copyright laws are sufficient and provide enough access to allow for investigations into copyright infringement. Albeit we acknowledge these laws are very much outdated and advocate that any amendment to these laws should remain separate.

Additionally, and in conclusion, we do want to preserve access to court records as required, to permit appropriate appeals and legal research. But we specify, this should remain completely separate to permitted access of data/meta-data from the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Data Retention regime.

Amit Gautam - Spokesperson

May 12, 2016 | Productivity Commission Publication of Intellectual Property Arrangements Draft Report

Freedom Publishers Union would like to make a formal Submission in response to the Intellectual Property Arrangements Draft Report.

We commend the report and its greater detail, as it provides the best source of information related to recommendations for reform to intellectual property and copyright in Australia.

Freedom Publishers Union has always advocated and supported calls which demonstrate the need for a sensible and realistic approach to assist the reform of the aforementioned laws and legislation in Australia, whilst upholding current outstanding international obligations.

We commend the following key recommendations as presented in the Intellectual Property Arrangements Draft Report:


We support a free and open internet across the entire world which provides unrestricted flow of information and adheres to proper net neutrality principles. Geoblocking is a major hurdle which puts restrictions on internet users rights and permissions to access specific content. Companies and persons who carry out technical operations which go towards implementing geoblocking mechanisms are failing to uphold the very basic principles of net neutrality and Freedom Publishers Union condemns this behavior of restricting specific internet users to specific content and deem it unacceptable.

Internet users who aim to and successfully circumvent geoblocking in an effort to simply access legal content which should be available to them without having to resort to the use of such circumvention techniques, should not be presented as criminals and should not be punished, in cases where they are accessing and paying for legal content and of which has no financial burden or effect on the content producers and/or distributors.

Essentially, we would support any recommendations made by the Productivity Commission which would support and legally allow for use of geoblocking circumvention techniques.

Copyright reform

In its current form, we believe that Australia's (and the entire world's) copyright laws are much too restrictive, are far out-dated and are a major contributor to high levels of piracy. Consumers have demonstrated their frustrations with out-dated copyright laws which do not reflect current content and media use in a digitally connected world. When copyright laws were devised, digital media and the way it is used by consumers today (legally and illegally) was not considered, for obvious reasons.

Therefore, we would support the Productivity Commission's recommendations to have copyright law reformed and the duration of copyright reduced to a more reasonable time frame. Currently, copyright is having a negative effect to what it is supposed to control - fair-use of material, content and media covered under copyright law.


Emphasis must be made on fair-use of copyrighted material, content and media. Currently, we can see no fair-use provisions or clauses which accommodate the behavior and methods of how material, content and media is sourced, used and shared in the 'modern age'. It's a trait of our very human nature to want to use, try, test and share everything that we access, at a personal level. Copyright laws put heavy restrictions and burdens on consumers and do not allow for any type of defined fair-use of such content.

Freedom Publishers Union urges the Productivity Commission to place emphasis on recommendations that promote implementation of fair-use provisions and clauses to be amended into copyright reform. With legally allowable fair-use, we believe that this will ease the burden off content and media producers who feel that their content usage that is copyrighted is being abused or the copyright being ignored. In many cases it is not and in-fact, the content and media is being used or shared in a very fair, acceptable and what we consider 'reasonable' manner which has absolute minimal or no financial impact on producers of copyrighted content.

With all of the above taken into consideration, Freedom Publishers Union believes that the Productivity Commission's key recommendations which primarily promote reform of intellectual property rights in Australia, whilst maintaining our international obligations under current (and future) international trade agreements is a great start to achieving overdue reform of the IP sector and to assist in promoting a positive approach to legislative reform that could potentially be fair for all parties.