Netflix helps Saudi autocracy’s censorship


This 9 November 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Netflix BOWS To Saudi Arabia Pressure

Netflix bows to Saudi Arabia pressure canceling an episode of ‘Patriot Act’. John Iadarola and Ryan Grim break it down on The Damage Report.

Saudi Arabia’s Children Are Learning From Anti-Semitic Textbooks … According to a State Department-funded study, assorted religious schools have adopted Saudi state textbooks in a variety of countries around the world. These texts were even adopted at one point in territory controlled by ISIS. … we found that the kingdom’s 2018-2019 curriculum still encouraged hatred or violence against Jews, Christians, Shi’ite Muslims, women, gay men: here.

Australian media protest against government censorship


Australian newspapers' blackened front pages, in protest against government censorship, EPA photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Australian newspapers black out their front pages against censorship

The biggest Australian newspapers today have their front pages painted black, as a joint statement against government censorship and interference. “When government keeps the truth from you, what are they covering up?” was written under the black lines.

The campaign was prompted by raids earlier this year against a journalist of the media company News Corp. and at the headquarters of the public broadcaster Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). A search was made for leaked government documents.

The journalist had written a story about Australia’s intention to give secret services more powers. The raid on ABC came after a scoop about misconduct by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.

A former lawyer who worked for the army has been charged in the latter case. He is said to have leaked the information to ABC. Several journalists may also be prosecuted.

Decrease in press freedom

According to Australian media, the freedom of the press has decreased after the attacks on September 11, 2001. Since then, more than 70 anti-terror laws and measures have been adopted in the country, which politicians abuse according to media.

Eg, the government refuses to share in which care homes abuse is taking place, where the elderly are neglected and how much agricultural land has been sold to foreign corporations.

Prime Minister Morrison said today in response to the campaign that he could give no guarantees that the journalists will go free.

This 20 October 2019 video from Australia says about itself:

Media unites to rally for press freedom: Taking the campaign to front pages and airwaves | ABC News

The nation’s media companies have redacted their front pages to highlight the constraints on media organisations under strict national security legislation.

National mastheads, including The Australian and the Financial Review, ran special covers on Monday morning arguing the media is subject to a regime of intense government secrecy and the threat of criminal charges for journalists doing their job.

The nation’s broadcasters began running campaigns on air during their Sunday prime time line-ups, depicting redacted Freedom of Information requests and arguing the media cannot fulfil its duty in keeping the public informed if its work is being hampered.

The Right To Know coalition, of which the ABC is a member, is behind the campaign, calling for the decriminalisation of public interest journalism, and greater protection for the media and whistleblowers.

It follows the Australian Federal Police (AFP) raiding the Canberra home of News Corp political journalist Annika Smethurst and the ABC’s Sydney headquarters earlier this year.

Read more here.

The threat is a clear application by the government of the “Assange precedent.” The arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London last April, and the unveiling in May of 17 US Espionage Act charges against him over lawful publishing activities, has opened the floodgates for an assault on journalists and media freedom around the world: here.

Trump’s Pentagon prepares mass internet censorship


Diagram of the Semantic Forensics online censorship system sought by the United States Defense Department

This is a diagram of the Semantic Forensics online censorship system sought by the United States Defense Department.

By Kevin Reed in the USA:

DARPA requests proposals for “Semantic Forensics” system

US Defense Department prepares for mass internet censorship

6 September 2019

The US military has issued a call for research proposals from technology partners for the development of an automated system capable of scanning the entire internet and locating and censoring content deemed as “false media assets” and “disinformation”. According to government documents, the requested solution would provide “innovative semantic technologies for analyzing media” that will help “identify, deter, and understand adversary disinformation campaigns.”

On August 23, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) issued a solicitation for a so-called Semantic Forensics (SemaFor) program on the federal government business opportunities website. According to the bid specifications, SemaFor “will develop technologies to automatically detect, attribute, and characterize falsified multi-modal media assets (text, audio, image, video) to defend against large-scale, automated disinformation attacks.”

In other words, the US Defense Department is seeking a technology partner that will build a platform to enable the Pentagon to locate any content it identifies as an adversarial “disinformation attack” and shut it down. This technology will cover anything on the internet including web pages, videos, photo and social media platforms.

The documents released as part of the DARPA request say that the technology and software algorithms it is seeking would “constitute advances to the state of the art” that will be top secret and do not include “information that is lawfully publicly available without restrictions.”

Several recent media reports have pointed to the rise of government Internet shutdowns internationally as a mechanism of censorship, repression and control in response to growing political turmoil and mass protests. Based largely on data maintained by Access Now—an organization that “defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world”—these reports show a trend of dramatically accelerating Internet shutdowns over the past three years: here.

‘Russiagate conspiracy’ campaign based on double agent?


This video says about itself:

The Secrets Of The CIA‘s Iraq Media War

Media War (2003): How the CIA rewrote their intelligence to build support for the Iraq War.

Disturbing evidence suggests the CIA fed faulty intelligence to handpicked journalists to win support for the war against Iraq.

The defection of Iraqi engineer Adnan al Haideri in 2001 was a massive coup for the White House. “He was probably the single most significant defector who came out of Iraq”, states an INC spokesman. Al Haideri claimed to have been hired by Saddam Hussein to build facilities for testing WMD. His story was widely circulated and used to justify the war. Unfortunately, it now appears that his remarkable testimony was a lie. Not one of the hundreds of bunkers detailed by him has been found. “Al Haideri’s evidence is a perfect example of the kind of garbage that was disseminated by Ahmed Chalabi,”

a CIA-Iranian double agent

states former weapons inspector Scott Ritter. New information has also emerged about the way Al Haideri’s story was leaked to the media. “They misled us”, states Ritter “Thousands of innocent Iraqis perished in a war that didn’t need to be fought.”

One of the conspiracy theories used by the United States George W Bush administration to start their war on Iraq was that Iraq supposedly had ‘weapons of mass destruction’.

Another conspiracy theory of the George W Bush administration to start their war on Iraq was supposed Iraqi involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA.

That lying theory was based on torture.

The Bush administration’s other conspiracy theory, on ‘Iraqi weapons of mass destruction‘, was based on a taxi driver’s gossip; and on Iranian-CIA double agent Ahmed Chalabi.

Now, more double agent news, this time about the ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

New York Times: Main source for anti-Russia campaign may have been a “double agent”

11 September 2019

In a further exposure of the concocted claims of the New York Times and the Democrats of Russian “subversion” of the US political system, the Times acknowledged Tuesday that the key source used by the intelligence agencies to claim Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement “could be a double agent”.

On October 7, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said they were “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions.”

According to this narrative, amplified by the Democratic Party and the New York Times itself, Putin personally intervened to try to get Donald Trump elected by directing the Russian state to steal incriminating emails from the Clinton campaign and release them to WikiLeaks for publication.

But this sweeping conspiracy theory, alleging a plot spanning continents involving Russia, a sovereign state, the Republican presidential nominee, and WikiLeaks, the world’s most famous dissident news organization, has fallen apart.

In August, a federal court dismissed a Democratic National Committee (DNC) civil suit against Trump, the Russian government and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Now, the main editorial outlet driving the Democrats’ anti-Russia campaign has admitted that serious concerns were raised within the US intelligence establishment about the primary source behind its hyperventilating denunciations of Russian “meddling”. The Times reported that the source, later identified by the Russian press as Oleg Smolenkov, gained an “influential position that came with access to the highest level of the Kremlin.”

Smolenkov “became one of the CIA’s most important—and highly protected—assets”, according to the Times. CNN reported that he was able to photograph documents on Putin’s desk and send them to Washington.

The Times wrote: “The Moscow informant was instrumental to the CIA’s most explosive conclusion about Russia’s interference campaign: that President Vladimir V. Putin ordered and orchestrated it himself. As the American government’s best insight into the thinking of and orders from Mr. Putin, the source was also key to the CIA’s assessment that he affirmatively favored Donald J. Trump’s election and personally ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.”

There was just one problem. When the United States, concerned that media reports of Russian “meddling” might compromise their asset in the Kremlin, offered to exfiltrate their spy from Russia, where he risked a life sentence or execution if caught, he at first refused, leading to the conclusion that he might be a double agent, feeding false information to the Americans on behalf of elements within the Russian state.

The Times wrote that in 2016 “the source’s rejection of the CIA’s initial offer of exfiltration prompted doubts among some counterintelligence officials. They wondered whether the informant had been turned and had become a double agent, secretly betraying his American handlers. That would almost certainly mean that some of the information the informant provided about the Russian interference campaign or Mr. Putin’s intentions would have been inaccurate.”

The Times continued, “Some operatives had other reasons to suspect the source could be a double agent, according to two former officials, but they declined to explain further.” …

In the name of combating “Russian meddling”, politicians pressured American technology firms to undertake the most onerous program of political censorship in the history of the internet in the US. Accounts with millions of followers were deleted overnight, while Google manipulated search results to bury left-wing viewpoints.

There was a massive effort to poison public opinion against Julian Assange, the courageous publisher and exposer of war crimes. He was slandered by the Democrats and the Times as a Russian agent who colluded with Trump, setting the stage for his imprisonment.

More information will no doubt emerge about the background and possible motivations of Smolenkov. But regardless, the fact that the source behind allegations the newspaper breathlessly proclaimed as fact had serious credibility problems makes clear that the Times made no serious efforts to question, much less validate, its chosen political narrative.

This newspaper functions as a clearinghouse for unquestioned, unexamined dispatches from within the American intelligence apparatus. Its role in promoting the Bush administration’s lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was not an aberration, but its modus operandi.

Australian right-wing government wants more internet censorship


This June 2018 video is called Censorship in Australia.

By Oscar Grenfell in Australia:

Australian PM calls for new internet censorship measures at G7

27 August 2019

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison used a trip to the G7 international summit in France over the weekend to aggressively push for an escalation of online censorship, on the pretext of combating “violent” and “extremist” material.

Morrison’s proposals were part of a months-long campaign that his government has waged to exploit the fascist terrorist attack in Christchurch last March to erode online freedom of speech.

While Australia is not a member of the G7, Morrison was invited to attend the summit and took part in a series of sideline meetings, including with US President Donald Trump. Morrison’s performance underscored Australia’s central role as a loyal ally of the US, and an attack dog of its global Five Eyes spying and surveillance network, which has been intimately involved in online censorship.

The centrepiece of Morrison’s intervention was a call for the adoption of an international agreement, that would pressure the major social media companies to report on their response to “extremist” and “terrorist” content on their platforms.

According to the Australian Associated Press, this would establish protocols for the social media corporations to regularly issue public reports on “how many attempts there were to upload violent or extremist content, how many the platform stopped before they went up, how many were posted for more than an hour, how many downloads there were, and how the company dealt with the material that was downloaded.”

As in previous calls from the Australian government for more stringent regulations, the terms “violent” and “extremist” are undefined. They could include exposures of police and state violence, footage or images from demonstrations or virtually any controversial political content.

In the wake of the Christchurch attack, senior government ministers warned against “right-wing and left-wing extremism

Most terrorist violence is right-wing white supremacist violence; though Donald Trump is in denial about that. The anti-fascist ‘left-wing’ has killed exactly 0 (zero) people.

signalling that mounting popular opposition to war, social inequality and authoritarianism is a central target of the censorship drive.

While the reporting regime would be voluntary, Australian government representatives said they anticipated that the social media companies would come under “pressure” to comply. Like other measures floated by the Morrison government, this is aimed at compelling the platforms to more aggressively remove content, lest they come under public attack from the authorities.

Significantly, Morrison’s policy has been backed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which announced prior to the G7 that it would provide an unspecified funding package to facilitate its roll-out.

At a one-on-one meeting with Morrison on Sunday, OECD head Angel Gurria reportedly gushed that the Australian prime minister had played the central role in a global crackdown on the internet since the Christchurch attack.

“But then somebody has to lead the charge, to make this have staying power, to make this stick in a way. And that was your role,” Gurria reportedly told Morrison, adding, “What happened then is that the idea caught fire.”

Morrison’s proposals have met with an enthusiastic response, because they dovetail with an attempt by governments throughout Europe and internationally to create a legislative framework for the suppression of political speech on the internet.

In March, the European parliament voted in favour of a directive which, under the guise of copyright reforms, would enforce the use of so-called upload filters in social media. This is aimed at ensuring that all content uploaded to YouTube and other platforms is scanned in advance by powerful computer censorship programs.

Similar measures have been taken by individual European states. In January 2018, the German Network Enforcement Law came into effect, requiring operators of internet platforms with more than two million users to remove or block access to “obviously illegal content within 24 hours of receiving the complaint.”

Last May, French President Emmanuel Macron called an international meeting, along with the New Zealand government, to call for social media corporations to prevent the sharing of “terrorist and violent extremist content.” Macron’s government has also been implicated in attempts to censor social media associated with mass “Yellow Vests” protests against social inequality and austerity.

In addition to furthering these international efforts, Morrison’s intervention over the weekend was aimed at providing even more draconian measures his government is preparing to implement domestically, with a veneer of global legitimacy.

The Australian prime minister reiterated plans his government first announced in June to allow telecommunication companies and Internet Service Providers to block access to websites that host “harmful” or “extremist” content.

A spokesman for federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher told the Sydney Morning Herald on the weekend that “the new blocking arrangements would give telcos the legal backing to address fringe websites that wilfully host abhorrent violent material and refuse to engage constructively with government.”

The government has not specified what role it would play in determining which websites are blocked. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, however, signalled that the police and intelligence agencies would be intimately involved, declaring in a statement: “This new protocol will better equip our agencies to rapidly detect and shut down the sharing of dangerous material online, even as a crisis may still be unfolding.”

Dutton’s comments raise the spectre of the government shutting-down political and news websites in the event of civil unrest or the emergence of mass oppositional movements.

In 2009, WikiLeaks published the then federal Labor government’s secret list of blacklisted websites. While Labor ministers had previously claimed that targeted sites shared illicit content, such as child pornography, WikiLeaks revealed that many of the blacklisted domains were law-abiding.

The move to again ban websites follows the bipartisan passage of online censorship laws in April. The legislation makes it an offence for social media platforms not to “expeditiously” remove “abhorrent violent material,” punishable with up to three years’ imprisonment or fines of as much as 10 percent of the platform’s annual turnover. It also compels them to report the sharing of prohibited material to the Australian Federal Police “within a reasonable time,” or face massive fines.

At the time, the New York Times noted that the bill was establishing a new global precedent for online restrictions, declaring: “No established democracies have ever come as close to applying such sweeping restrictions on online communication.”

These attacks on democratic rights are above all directed against growing social anger within the working class against militarism, inequality and authoritarianism.

Governments and the intelligence agencies are deeply fearful that social media via the internet provides the means for these sentiments to coalesce into powerful movements of opposition, by facilitating the organisation of protests, demonstrations and political gatherings. Above all, they are concerned that online platforms enable workers and youth to access genuine alternatives to the lies and government propaganda of the corporate press.

In April 2017, Google, in collaboration with the US intelligence agencies, introduced a new search engine algorithm aimed at reducing traffic to progressive, left-wing and anti-war websites. The World Socialist Web Site was among the hardest hit, with a 74 percent decrease in Google search referrals within months of the policy being implemented. Facebook and other social media platforms have adopted similar measures.