Tag Archives: 2013

Google & Apple Order Telegram to Nuke Channel Over Taylor Swift Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-apple-order-telegram-to-nuke-channel-over-taylor-swift-piracy-171123/

Financed by Russian Facebook (vKontakte) founder Pavel Durov, Telegram is a multi-platform messaging system that has grown from 100,000 daily users in 2013 to an impressive 100 million users in February 2016.

“Telegram is a messaging app with a focus on speed and security, it’s super-fast, simple and free. You can use Telegram on all your devices at the same time — your messages sync seamlessly across any number of your phones, tablets or computers,” the company’s marketing reads.

One of the attractive things about Telegram is that it allows users to communicate with each other using end-to-end encryption. In some cases, these systems are used for content piracy, of music and other smaller files in particular. This is compounded by the presence of user-programmed bots, which are able to search the web for illegal content and present it in a Telegram channel to which other users can subscribe.

While much of this sharing files under the radar when conducted privately, it periodically attracts attention from copyright holders when it takes place in public channels. That appears to have happened recently when popular channel “Any Suitable Pop” was completely disabled by Telegram, an apparent first following a copyright complaint.

According to channel creator Anton Vagin, the action by Telegram was probably due to the unauthorized recent sharing of the Taylor Swift album ‘Reputation’. However, it was the route of complaint that proves of most interest.

Rather than receiving a takedown notice directly from Big Machine Records, the label behind Swift’s releases, Telegram was forced into action after receiving threats from Apple and Google, the companies that distribute the Telegram app for iOS and Android respectively.

According to a message Vagin received from Telegram support, Apple and Google had received complaints about Swift’s album from Universal Music, the distributor of Big Machine Records. The suggestion was that if Telegram didn’t delete the infringing channel, distribution of the Telegram app via iTunes and Google Play would be at risk. Vagin received no warning notices from any of the companies involved.

Message from Telegram support

According to Russian news outlet VC.ru, which first reported the news, the channel was blocked in Telegram’s desktop applications, as well as in versions for Android, macOS and iOS. However, the channel still existed on the web and via Windows phone applications but all messages within had been deleted.

The fact that Google played a major role in the disappearing of the channel was subsequently confirmed by Telegram founder Pavel Durov, who commented that it was Google who “ultimately demanded the blocking of this channel.”

That Telegram finally caved into the demands of Google and/or Apple doesn’t really come as a surprise. In Telegram’s frequently asked questions section, the company specifically mentions the need to comply with copyright takedown demands in order to maintain distribution via the companies’ app marketplaces.

“Our mission is to provide a secure means of communication that works everywhere on the planet. To do this in the places where it is most needed (and to continue distributing Telegram through the App Store and Google Play), we have to process legitimate requests to take down illegal public content (sticker sets, bots, and channels) within the app,” the company notes.

Putting pressure on Telegram via Google and Apple over piracy isn’t a new development. In the past, representatives of the music industry threatened to complain to the companies over a channel operated by torrent site RuTracker, which was set up to share magnet links.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

AWS Achieves FedRAMP JAB Moderate Provisional Authorization for 20 Services in the AWS US East/West Region

Post Syndicated from Chris Gile original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-achieves-fedramp-jab-moderate-authorization-for-20-services-in-us-eastwest/

The AWS US East/West Region has received a Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO) from the Joint Authorization Board (JAB) at the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) Moderate baseline.

Though AWS has maintained an AWS US East/West Region Agency-ATO since early 2013, this announcement represents AWS’s carefully deliberated move to the JAB for the centralized maintenance of our P-ATO for 10 services already authorized. This also includes the addition of 10 new services to our FedRAMP program (see the complete list of services below). This doubles the number of FedRAMP Moderate services available to our customers to enable increased use of the cloud and support modernized IT missions. Our public sector customers now can leverage this FedRAMP P-ATO as a baseline for their own authorizations and look to the JAB for centralized Continuous Monitoring reporting and updates. In a significant enhancement for our partners that build their solutions on the AWS US East/West Region, they can now achieve FedRAMP JAB P-ATOs of their own for their Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings.

In line with FedRAMP security requirements, our independent FedRAMP assessment was completed in partnership with a FedRAMP accredited Third Party Assessment Organization (3PAO) on our technical, management, and operational security controls to validate that they meet or exceed FedRAMP’s Moderate baseline requirements. Effective immediately, you can begin leveraging this P-ATO for the following 20 services in the AWS US East/West Region:

  • Amazon Aurora (MySQL)*
  • Amazon CloudWatch Logs*
  • Amazon DynamoDB
  • Amazon Elastic Block Store
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
  • Amazon EMR*
  • Amazon Glacier*
  • Amazon Kinesis Streams*
  • Amazon RDS (MySQL, Oracle, Postgres*)
  • Amazon Redshift
  • Amazon Simple Notification Service*
  • Amazon Simple Queue Service*
  • Amazon Simple Storage Service
  • Amazon Simple Workflow Service*
  • Amazon Virtual Private Cloud
  • AWS CloudFormation*
  • AWS CloudTrail*
  • AWS Identity and Access Management
  • AWS Key Management Service
  • Elastic Load Balancing

* Services with first-time FedRAMP Moderate authorizations

We continue to work with the FedRAMP Project Management Office (PMO), other regulatory and compliance bodies, and our customers and partners to ensure that we are raising the bar on our customers’ security and compliance needs.

To learn more about how AWS helps customers meet their security and compliance requirements, see the AWS Compliance website. To learn about what other public sector customers are doing on AWS, see our Government, Education, and Nonprofits Case Studies and Customer Success Stories. To review the public posting of our FedRAMP authorizations, see the FedRAMP Marketplace.

– Chris Gile, Senior Manager, AWS Public Sector Risk and Compliance

Pirate Site Owner Found Guilty, But He Can Keep The Profits

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-owner-found-guilty-can-keep-profits/

Traditionally, Sweden has been rather tough on people who operate file-sharing sites, with The Pirate Bay case as the prime example.

In 2009, four people connected to the torrent site were found guilty of assisting copyright infringement. They all received stiff prison sentences and millions of dollars in fines.

The guilty sentence was upheld in an appeal. While the prison terms of Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundström were reduced to eight, ten and four months respectively, the fines swelled to $6.5 million.

This week another torrent related filesharing case concluded in Sweden, but with an entirely different outcome. IDG reports that the 47-year-old operator of Filmfix was sentenced to 120 hours of community service.

Filmfix.se offered community-curated links to a wide variety of pirated content hosted by external sources, including torrent sites. The operator charged users 10 Swedish Krona per month to access the service, which is little over a dollar at the current exchange rate.

With thousands of users, Filmfix provided a decent income. The site was active for more than six years and between April 2012 and October 2013 alone it generated over $88,000 in revenue. Interestingly, the court decided that the operator can keep this money.

Filmfix

While the District Court convicted the man for facilitating copyright infringement, there was no direct link between the subscription payments and pirated downloads. The paying members also had access to other unrelated features, such as the forums and chat.

Henrik Pontén, head of the local Rights Alliance, which reported the site to the police, stated that copyright holders have not demanded any damages. They may, however, launch a separate civil lawsuit in the future.

The man’s partner, who was suspected of helping out and owned the company where Filmfix’s money went to, was acquitted entirely by the District Court.

The 120-hours of community service stands in stark contrast to the prison sentences and millions of dollars in fines in The Pirate Bay case, despite there being quite a few similarities. Both relied on content uploaded by third parties and didn’t host any infringing files directly.

The lower sentence may in part be due to a fresh Supreme Court ruling in Sweden. In the case against an operator of the now-defunct private torrent tracker Swepirate, the Court recently ruled that prison sentences should not automatically be presumed in file-sharing cases.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

Google: Netflix Searches Outweigh Those For Pirate Alternatives

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-netflix-searches-outweigh-those-for-pirate-alternatives-171112/

When large-scale access to online pirated content began to flourish at the turn of the decade, entertainment industry groups claimed that if left to run riot, it could mean the end of their businesses.

More than seventeen years later that doomsday scenario hasn’t come to pass, not because piracy has been defeated – far from it – but because the music, movie and related industries have come to the market with their own offers.

The music industry were the quickest to respond, with services like iTunes and later Spotify making serious progress against pirate alternatives. It took the video industry far longer to attack the market but today, with platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Video, they have a real chance at scooping up what might otherwise be pirate consumption.

While there’s still a long way to go, it’s interesting to hear the progress that’s being made not only in the West but also piracy hotspots further afield. This week, Brazil’s Exame reported on a new study published by Google.

Focused on movies, one of its key findings is that local consumer interest in Netflix is now greater than pirate alternatives including torrents, streaming, and apps. As illustrated in the image below, the tipping point took place early November 2016, when searches for Netflix overtook those for unauthorized platforms.

Netflix vs Pirates (via Exame)

While the stats above don’t necessarily point to a reduction in piracy of movies and TV shows in Brazil, they show that Netflix’s library and ease of use is rewarded by widespread awareness among those seeking such content locally.

“We’re not lowering piracy but this does show how relevant the [Netflix] brand is when it comes to offering content online,” Google Brazil’s market intelligence chief Sérgio Tejido told Exame.

For Debora Bona, a director specializing in media and entertainment at Google Brazil, the success of Netflix is comparable to the rise of Spotify. In part thanks to The Pirate Bay, Sweden had a serious piracy problem in the middle of the last decade but by providing a viable alternative, the streaming service has become part of the solution.

“The event is interesting,” Bona says. “Since the launch of streaming solutions such as Netflix and Spotify, they have become alternatives to piracy. Sweden had many problems with music piracy and the arrival of Spotify reversed this curve.”

Netflix launched in Brazil back in 2011, but Exame notes that the largest increase in searches for the platform took place between 2013 and 2016, demonstrating a boost of 284%. Even more evidence of Netflix’s popularity was revealed in recent surveys which indicate that 77% of surveyed Brazilians had watched Netflix, up from 71% in 2016.

Importantly, nine out of ten users in Brazil said they were “extremely satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the service, up from 79% in the previous year. An impressive 66% of subscribers said that they were “not at all likely to cancel”, a welcome statistics for a company pumping billions into making its own content and increasingly protecting it (1,2), in the face of persistent pirate competition.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

Say Hello To Our Newest AWS Community Heroes (Fall 2017 Edition)

Post Syndicated from Sara Rodas original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/say-hello-to-our-newest-aws-community-heroes-fall-2017-edition/

The AWS Community Heroes program helps shine a spotlight on some of the innovative work being done by rockstar AWS developers around the globe. Marrying cloud expertise with a passion for community building and education, these heroes share their time and knowledge across social media and through in-person events. Heroes also actively help drive community-led tracks at conferences. At this year’s re:Invent, many Heroes will be speaking during the Monday Community Day track.

This November, we are thrilled to have four Heroes joining our network of cloud innovators. Without further ado, meet to our newest AWS Community Heroes!

 

Anh Ho Viet

Anh Ho Viet is the founder of AWS Vietnam User Group, Co-founder & CEO of OSAM, an AWS Consulting Partner in Vietnam, an AWS Certified Solutions Architect, and a cloud lover.

At OSAM, Anh and his enthusiastic team have helped many companies, from SMBs to Enterprises, move to the cloud with AWS. They offer a wide range of services, including migration, consultation, architecture, and solution design on AWS. Anh’s vision for OSAM is beyond a cloud service provider; the company will take part in building a complete AWS ecosystem in Vietnam, where other companies are encouraged to become AWS partners through training and collaboration activities.

In 2016, Anh founded the AWS Vietnam User Group as a channel to share knowledge and hands-on experience among cloud practitioners. Since then, the community has reached more than 4,800 members and is still expanding. The group holds monthly meetups, connects many SMEs to AWS experts, and provides real-time, free-of-charge consultancy to startups. In August 2017, Anh joined as lead content creator of a program called “Cloud Computing Lectures for Universities” which includes translating AWS documentation & news into Vietnamese, providing students with fundamental, up-to-date knowledge of AWS cloud computing, and supporting students’ career paths.

 

Thorsten Höger

Thorsten Höger is CEO and Cloud consultant at Taimos, where he is advising customers on how to use AWS. Being a developer, he focuses on improving development processes and automating everything to build efficient deployment pipelines for customers of all sizes.

Before being self-employed, Thorsten worked as a developer and CTO of Germany’s first private bank running on AWS. With his colleagues, he migrated the core banking system to the AWS platform in 2013. Since then he organizes the AWS user group in Stuttgart and is a frequent speaker at Meetups, BarCamps, and other community events.

As a supporter of open source software, Thorsten is maintaining or contributing to several projects on Github, like test frameworks for AWS Lambda, Amazon Alexa, or developer tools for CloudFormation. He is also the maintainer of the Jenkins AWS Pipeline plugin.

In his spare time, he enjoys indoor climbing and cooking.

 

Becky Zhang

Yu Zhang (Becky Zhang) is COO of BootDev, which focuses on Big Data solutions on AWS and high concurrency web architecture. Before she helped run BootDev, she was working at Yubis IT Solutions as an operations manager.

Becky plays a key role in the AWS User Group Shanghai (AWSUGSH), regularly organizing AWS UG events including AWS Tech Meetups and happy hours, gathering AWS talent together to communicate the latest technology and AWS services. As a female in technology industry, Becky is keen on promoting Women in Tech and encourages more woman to get involved in the community.

Becky also connects the China AWS User Group with user groups in other regions, including Korea, Japan, and Thailand. She was invited as a panelist at AWS re:Invent 2016 and spoke at the Seoul AWS Summit this April to introduce AWS User Group Shanghai and communicate with other AWS User Groups around the world.

Besides events, Becky also promotes the Shanghai AWS User Group by posting AWS-related tech articles, event forecasts, and event reports to Weibo, Twitter, Meetup.com, and WeChat (which now has over 2000 official account followers).

 

Nilesh Vaghela

Nilesh Vaghela is the founder of ElectroMech Corporation, an AWS Cloud and open source focused company (the company started as an open source motto). Nilesh has been very active in the Linux community since 1998. He started working with AWS Cloud technologies in 2013 and in 2014 he trained a dedicated cloud team and started full support of AWS cloud services as an AWS Standard Consulting Partner. He always works to establish and encourage cloud and open source communities.

He started the AWS Meetup community in Ahmedabad in 2014 and as of now 12 Meetups have been conducted, focusing on various AWS technologies. The Meetup has quickly grown to include over 2000 members. Nilesh also created a Facebook group for AWS enthusiasts in Ahmedabad, with over 1500 members.

Apart from the AWS Meetup, Nilesh has delivered a number of seminars, workshops, and talks around AWS introduction and awareness, at various organizations, as well as at colleges and universities. He has also been active in working with startups, presenting AWS services overviews and discussing how startups can benefit the most from using AWS services.

Nilesh is Red Hat Linux Technologies and AWS Cloud Technologies trainer as well.

 

To learn more about the AWS Community Heroes Program and how to get involved with your local AWS community, click here.

Me on the Equifax Breach

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/11/me_on_the_equif.html

Testimony and Statement for the Record of Bruce Schneier
Fellow and Lecturer, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School

Hearing on “Securing Consumers’ Credit Data in the Age of Digital Commerce”

Before the

Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection
Committee on Energy and Commerce
United States House of Representatives

1 November 2017
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Mister Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today concerning the security of credit data. My name is Bruce Schneier, and I am a security technologist. For over 30 years I have studied the technologies of security and privacy. I have authored 13 books on these subjects, including Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World (Norton, 2015). My popular newsletter CryptoGram and my blog Schneier on Security are read by over 250,000 people.

Additionally, I am a Fellow and Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government –where I teach Internet security policy — and a Fellow at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. I am a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, AccessNow, and the Tor Project; and an advisory board member of Electronic Privacy Information Center and VerifiedVoting.org. I am also a special advisor to IBM Security and the Chief Technology Officer of IBM Resilient.

I am here representing none of those organizations, and speak only for myself based on my own expertise and experience.

I have eleven main points:

1. The Equifax breach was a serious security breach that puts millions of Americans at risk.

Equifax reported that 145.5 million US customers, about 44% of the population, were impacted by the breach. (That’s the original 143 million plus the additional 2.5 million disclosed a month later.) The attackers got access to full names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers.

This is exactly the sort of information criminals can use to impersonate victims to banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, cell phone companies and other businesses vulnerable to fraud. As a result, all 143 million US victims are at greater risk of identity theft, and will remain at risk for years to come. And those who suffer identify theft will have problems for months, if not years, as they work to clean up their name and credit rating.

2. Equifax was solely at fault.

This was not a sophisticated attack. The security breach was a result of a vulnerability in the software for their websites: a program called Apache Struts. The particular vulnerability was fixed by Apache in a security patch that was made available on March 6, 2017. This was not a minor vulnerability; the computer press at the time called it “critical.” Within days, it was being used by attackers to break into web servers. Equifax was notified by Apache, US CERT, and the Department of Homeland Security about the vulnerability, and was provided instructions to make the fix.

Two months later, Equifax had still failed to patch its systems. It eventually got around to it on July 29. The attackers used the vulnerability to access the company’s databases and steal consumer information on May 13, over two months after Equifax should have patched the vulnerability.

The company’s incident response after the breach was similarly damaging. It waited nearly six weeks before informing victims that their personal information had been stolen and they were at increased risk of identity theft. Equifax opened a website to help aid customers, but the poor security around that — the site was at a domain separate from the Equifax domain — invited fraudulent imitators and even more damage to victims. At one point, the official Equifax communications even directed people to that fraudulent site.

This is not the first time Equifax failed to take computer security seriously. It confessed to another data leak in January 2017. In May 2016, one of its websites was hacked, resulting in 430,000 people having their personal information stolen. Also in 2016, a security researcher found and reported a basic security vulnerability in its main website. And in 2014, the company reported yet another security breach of consumer information. There are more.

3. There are thousands of data brokers with similarly intimate information, similarly at risk.

Equifax is more than a credit reporting agency. It’s a data broker. It collects information about all of us, analyzes it all, and then sells those insights. It might be one of the biggest, but there are 2,500 to 4,000 other data brokers that are collecting, storing, and selling information about us — almost all of them companies you’ve never heard of and have no business relationship with.

The breadth and depth of information that data brokers have is astonishing. Data brokers collect and store billions of data elements covering nearly every US consumer. Just one of the data brokers studied holds information on more than 1.4 billion consumer transactions and 700 billion data elements, and another adds more than 3 billion new data points to its database each month.

These brokers collect demographic information: names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, gender, age, marital status, presence and ages of children in household, education level, profession, income level, political affiliation, cars driven, and information about homes and other property. They collect lists of things we’ve purchased, when we’ve purchased them, and how we paid for them. They keep track of deaths, divorces, and diseases in our families. They collect everything about what we do on the Internet.

4. These data brokers deliberately hide their actions, and make it difficult for consumers to learn about or control their data.

If there were a dozen people who stood behind us and took notes of everything we purchased, read, searched for, or said, we would be alarmed at the privacy invasion. But because these companies operate in secret, inside our browsers and financial transactions, we don’t see them and we don’t know they’re there.

Regarding Equifax, few consumers have any idea what the company knows about them, who they sell personal data to or why. If anyone knows about them at all, it’s about their business as a credit bureau, not their business as a data broker. Their website lists 57 different offerings for business: products for industries like automotive, education, health care, insurance, and restaurants.

In general, options to “opt-out” don’t work with data brokers. It’s a confusing process, and doesn’t result in your data being deleted. Data brokers will still collect data about consumers who opt out. It will still be in those companies’ databases, and will still be vulnerable. It just don’t be included individually when they sell data to their customers.

5. The existing regulatory structure is inadequate.

Right now, there is no way for consumers to protect themselves. Their data has been harvested and analyzed by these companies without their knowledge or consent. They cannot improve the security of their personal data, and have no control over how vulnerable it is. They only learn about data breaches when the companies announce them — which can be months after the breaches occur — and at that point the onus is on them to obtain credit monitoring services or credit freezes. And even those only protect consumers from some of the harms, and only those suffered after Equifax admitted to the breach.

Right now, the press is reporting “dozens” of lawsuits against Equifax from shareholders, consumers, and banks. Massachusetts has sued Equifax for violating state consumer protection and privacy laws. Other states may follow suit.

If any of these plaintiffs win in the court, it will be a rare victory for victims of privacy breaches against the companies that have our personal information. Current law is too narrowly focused on people who have suffered financial losses directly traceable to a specific breach. Proving this is difficult. If you are the victim of identity theft in the next month, is it because of Equifax or does the blame belong to another of the thousands of companies who have your personal data? As long as one can’t prove it one way or the other, data brokers remain blameless and liability free.

Additionally, much of this market in our personal data falls outside the protections of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. And in order for the Federal Trade Commission to levy a fine against Equifax, it needs to have a consent order and then a subsequent violation. Any fines will be limited to credit information, which is a small portion of the enormous amount of information these companies know about us. In reality, this is not an effective enforcement regime.

Although the FTC is investigating Equifax, it is unclear if it has a viable case.

6. The market cannot fix this because we are not the customers of data brokers.

The customers of these companies are people and organizations who want to buy information: banks looking to lend you money, landlords deciding whether to rent you an apartment, employers deciding whether to hire you, companies trying to figure out whether you’d be a profitable customer — everyone who wants to sell you something, even governments.

Markets work because buyers choose from a choice of sellers, and sellers compete for buyers. None of us are Equifax’s customers. None of us are the customers of any of these data brokers. We can’t refuse to do business with the companies. We can’t remove our data from their databases. With few limited exceptions, we can’t even see what data these companies have about us or correct any mistakes.

We are the product that these companies sell to their customers: those who want to use our personal information to understand us, categorize us, make decisions about us, and persuade us.

Worse, the financial markets reward bad security. Given the choice between increasing their cybersecurity budget by 5%, or saving that money and taking the chance, a rational CEO chooses to save the money. Wall Street rewards those whose balance sheets look good, not those who are secure. And if senior management gets unlucky and the a public breach happens, they end up okay. Equifax’s CEO didn’t get his $5.2 million severance pay, but he did keep his $18.4 million pension. Any company that spends more on security than absolutely necessary is immediately penalized by shareholders when its profits decrease.

Even the negative PR that Equifax is currently suffering will fade. Unless we expect data brokers to put public interest ahead of profits, the security of this industry will never improve without government regulation.

7. We need effective regulation of data brokers.

In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission recommended that Congress require data brokers be more transparent and give consumers more control over their personal information. That report contains good suggestions on how to regulate this industry.

First, Congress should help plaintiffs in data breach cases by authorizing and funding empirical research on the harm individuals receive from these breaches.

Specifically, Congress should move forward legislative proposals that establish a nationwide “credit freeze” — which is better described as changing the default for disclosure from opt-out to opt-in — and free lifetime credit monitoring services. By this I do not mean giving customers free credit-freeze options, a proposal by Senators Warren and Schatz, but that the default should be a credit freeze.

The credit card industry routinely notifies consumers when there are suspicious charges. It is obvious that credit reporting agencies should have a similar obligation to notify consumers when there is suspicious activity concerning their credit report.

On the technology side, more could be done to limit the amount of personal data companies are allowed to collect. Increasingly, privacy safeguards impose “data minimization” requirements to ensure that only the data that is actually needed is collected. On the other hand, Congress should not create a new national identifier to replace the Social Security Numbers. That would make the system of identification even more brittle. Better is to reduce dependence on systems of identification and to create contextual identification where necessary.

Finally, Congress needs to give the Federal Trade Commission the authority to set minimum security standards for data brokers and to give consumers more control over their personal information. This is essential as long as consumers are these companies’ products and not their customers.

8. Resist complaints from the industry that this is “too hard.”

The credit bureaus and data brokers, and their lobbyists and trade-association representatives, will claim that many of these measures are too hard. They’re not telling you the truth.

Take one example: credit freezes. This is an effective security measure that protects consumers, but the process of getting one and of temporarily unfreezing credit is made deliberately onerous by the credit bureaus. Why isn’t there a smartphone app that alerts me when someone wants to access my credit rating, and lets me freeze and unfreeze my credit at the touch of the screen? Too hard? Today, you can have an app on your phone that does something similar if you try to log into a computer network, or if someone tries to use your credit card at a physical location different from where you are.

Moreover, any credit bureau or data broker operating in Europe is already obligated to follow the more rigorous EU privacy laws. The EU General Data Protection Regulation will come into force, requiring even more security and privacy controls for companies collecting storing the personal data of EU citizens. Those companies have already demonstrated that they can comply with those more stringent regulations.

Credit bureaus, and data brokers in general, are deliberately not implementing these 21st-century security solutions, because they want their services to be as easy and useful as possible for their actual customers: those who are buying your information. Similarly, companies that use this personal information to open accounts are not implementing more stringent security because they want their services to be as easy-to-use and convenient as possible.

9. This has foreign trade implications.

The Canadian Broadcast Corporation reported that 100,000 Canadians had their data stolen in the Equifax breach. The British Broadcasting Corporation originally reported that 400,000 UK consumers were affected; Equifax has since revised that to 15.2 million.

Many American Internet companies have significant numbers of European users and customers, and rely on negotiated safe harbor agreements to legally collect and store personal data of EU citizens.

The European Union is in the middle of a massive regulatory shift in its privacy laws, and those agreements are coming under renewed scrutiny. Breaches such as Equifax give these European regulators a powerful argument that US privacy regulations are inadequate to protect their citizens’ data, and that they should require that data to remain in Europe. This could significantly harm American Internet companies.

10. This has national security implications.

Although it is still unknown who compromised the Equifax database, it could easily have been a foreign adversary that routinely attacks the servers of US companies and US federal agencies with the goal of exploiting security vulnerabilities and obtaining personal data.

When the Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed in 1970, the concern was that the credit bureaus might misuse our data. That is still a concern, but the world has changed since then. Credit bureaus and data brokers have far more intimate data about all of us. And it is valuable not only to companies wanting to advertise to us, but foreign governments as well. In 2015, the Chinese breached the database of the Office of Personal Management and stole the detailed security clearance information of 21 million Americans. North Korea routinely engages in cybercrime as way to fund its other activities. In a world where foreign governments use cyber capabilities to attack US assets, requiring data brokers to limit collection of personal data, securely store the data they collect, and delete data about consumers when it is no longer needed is a matter of national security.

11. We need to do something about it.

Yes, this breach is a huge black eye and a temporary stock dip for Equifax — this month. Soon, another company will have suffered a massive data breach and few will remember Equifax’s problem. Does anyone remember last year when Yahoo admitted that it exposed personal information of a billion users in 2013 and another half billion in 2014?

Unless Congress acts to protect consumer information in the digital age, these breaches will continue.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I will be pleased to answer your questions.

Now Available – Compute-Intensive C5 Instances for Amazon EC2

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/now-available-compute-intensive-c5-instances-for-amazon-ec2/

I’m thrilled to announce that the new compute-intensive C5 instances are available today in six sizes for launch in three AWS regions!

These instances designed for compute-heavy applications like batch processing, distributed analytics, high-performance computing (HPC), ad serving, highly scalable multiplayer gaming, and video encoding. The new instances offer a 25% price/performance improvement over the C4 instances, with over 50% for some workloads. They also have additional memory per vCPU, and (for code that can make use of the new AVX-512 instructions), twice the performance for vector and floating point workloads.

Over the years we have been working non-stop to provide our customers with the best possible networking, storage, and compute performance, with a long-term focus on offloading many types of work to dedicated hardware designed and built by AWS. The C5 instance type incorporates the latest generation of our hardware offloads, and also takes another big step forward with the addition of a new hypervisor that runs hand-in-glove with our hardware. The new hypervisor allows us to give you access to all of the processing power provided by the host hardware, while also making performance even more consistent and further raising the bar on security. We’ll be sharing many technical details about it at AWS re:Invent.

The New Instances
The C5 instances are available in six sizes:

Instance Name vCPUs
RAM
EBS Bandwidth Network Bandwidth
c5.large 2 4 GiB Up to 2.25 Gbps Up to 10 Gbps
c5.xlarge 4 8 GiB Up to 2.25 Gbps Up to 10 Gbps
c5.2xlarge 8 16 GiB Up to 2.25 Gbps Up to 10 Gbps
c5.4xlarge 16 32 GiB 2.25 Gbps Up to 10 Gbps
c5.9xlarge 36 72 GiB 4.5 Gbps 10 Gbps
c5.18xlarge 72 144 GiB 9 Gbps 25 Gbps

Each vCPU is a hardware hyperthread on a 3.0 GHz Intel Xeon Platinum 8000-series processor. This custom processor, optimized for EC2, allows you have full control over the C-states on the two largest sizes, allowing you to run a single core at up to 3.5 GHz using Intel Turbo Boost Technology.

As you can see from the table, the four smallest instance sizes offer substantially more EBS and network bandwidth than the previous generation of compute-intensive instances.

Because all networking and storage functionality is implemented in hardware, C5 instances require HVM AMIs that include drivers for the Elastic Network Adapter (ENA) and NVMe. The latest Amazon Linux, Microsoft Windows, Ubuntu, RHEL, CentOS, SLES, Debian, and FreeBSD AMIs all support C5 instances. If you are doing machine learning inferencing, or other compute-intensive work, be sure to check out the most recent version of the Intel Math Kernel Library. It has been optimized for the Intel® Xeon® Platinum processor and has the potential to greatly accelerate your work.

In order to remain compatible with instances that use the Xen hypervisor, the device names for EBS volumes will continue to use the existing /dev/sd and /dev/xvd prefixes. The device name that you provide when you attach a volume to an instance is not used because the NVMe driver assigns its own device name (read Amazon EBS and NVMe to learn more):

The nvme command displays additional information about each volume (install it using sudo yum -y install nvme-cli if necessary):

The SN field in the output can be mapped to an EBS volume ID by inserting a “-” after the “vol” prefix (sadly, the NVMe SN field is not long enough to store the entire ID). Here’s a simple script that uses this information to create an EBS snapshot of each attached volume:

$ sudo nvme list | \
  awk '/dev/ {print(gensub("vol", "vol-", 1, $2))}' | \
  xargs -n 1 aws ec2 create-snapshot --volume-id

With a little more work (and a lot of testing), you could create a script that expands EBS volumes that are getting full.

Getting to C5
As I mentioned earlier, our effort to offload work to hardware accelerators has been underway for quite some time. Here’s a recap:

CC1 – Launched in 2010, the CC1 was designed to support scale-out HPC applications. It was the first EC2 instance to support 10 Gbps networking and one of the first to support HVM virtualization. The network fabric that we designed for the CC1 (based on our own switch hardware) has become the standard for all AWS data centers.

C3 – Launched in 2013, the C3 introduced Enhanced Networking and uses dedicated hardware accelerators to support the software defined network inside of each Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Hardware virtualization removes the I/O stack from the hypervisor in favor of direct access by the guest OS, resulting in higher performance and reduced variability.

C4 – Launched in 2015, the C4 instances are EBS Optimized by default via a dedicated network connection, and also offload EBS processing (including CPU-intensive crypto operations for encrypted EBS volumes) to a hardware accelerator.

C5 – Launched today, the hypervisor that powers the C5 instances allow practically all of the resources of the host CPU to be devoted to customer instances. The ENA networking and the NVMe interface to EBS are both powered by hardware accelerators. The instances do not require (or support) the Xen paravirtual networking or block device drivers, both of which have been removed in order to increase efficiency.

Going forward, we’ll use this hypervisor to power other instance types and plan to share additional technical details in a set of AWS re:Invent sessions.

Launch a C5 Today
You can launch C5 instances today in the US East (Northern Virginia), US West (Oregon), and EU (Ireland) Regions in On-Demand and Spot form (Reserved Instances are also available), with additional Regions in the works.

One quick note before I go: The current NVMe driver is not optimized for high-performance sequential workloads and we don’t recommend the use of C5 instances in conjunction with sc1 or st1 volumes. We are aware of this issue and have been working to optimize the driver for this important use case.

Jeff;

Hard Drive Stats for Q3 2017

Post Syndicated from Andy Klein original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/hard-drive-failure-rates-q3-2017/

Q3 2017 Hard Drive Stats

In Q3 2017, Backblaze introduced both 10 TB and 12 TB hard drives into our data centers, we continued to retire 3 TB and 4 TB hard drives to increase storage density, and we added over 59 petabytes of data storage to bring our total storage capacity to 400 petabytes.

In this update, we’ll review the Q3 2017 and lifetime hard drive failure rates for all our drive models in use at the end of Q3. We’ll also check in on our 8 TB enterprise versus consumer hard drive comparison, and look at the storage density changes in our data centers over the past couple of years. Along the way, we’ll share our observations and insights, and as always, you can download the hard drive statistics data we use to create these reports.

Q3 2017 Hard Drive Failure Rates

Since our Q2 2017 report, we added 9,599 new hard drives and retired 6,221 hard drives, for a net add of 3,378 drives and a total of 86,529. These numbers are for those hard drives of which we have 45 or more drives — with one exception that we’ll get to in a minute.

Let’s look at the Q3 statistics that include our first look at the 10 TB and 12 TB hard drives we added in Q3. The chart below is for activity that occurred just in Q3 2017.

Hard Drive Failure Rates for Q3 2017

Observations

  1. The hard drive failure rate for the quarter was 1.84%, our lowest quarterly rate ever. There are several factors that contribute to this, but one that stands out is the average age of the hard drives in use. Only the 4 TB HGST drives (model: HDS5C4040ALE630) have an average age over 4 years — 51.3 months to be precise. The average age of all the other drive models is less than 4 years, with nearly 80% of all of the drives being less than 3 years old.
  2. The 10- and 12 TB drive models are new. With a combined 13,000 drive days in operation, they’ve had zero failures. While all of these drives passed through formatting and load testing without incident, it is a little too early to reach any conclusions.

Testing Drives

Normally, we list only those drive models where we have 45 drives or more, as it formerly took 45 drives (currently 60), to fill a Storage Pod. We consider a Storage Pod as a base unit for drive testing. Yet, we listed the 12 TB drives even though we only have 20 of them in operation. What gives? It’s the first step in testing drives.

A Backblaze Vault consists of 20 Storage Pods logically grouped together. Twenty 12 TB drives are deployed in the same drive position in each of the 20 Storage Pods and grouped together into a storage unit we call a “tome.” An incoming file is stored in one tome, and is spread out across the 20 storage pods in the tome for reliability and availability. The remaining 59 tomes, in this case, use 8 TB drives. This allows us to see the performance and reliability of a 12 TB hard drive model in an operational environment without having to buy 1,200 of them to start.

Breaking news: Our first Backblaze Vault filled with 1,200 Seagate 12 TB hard drives (model: ST12000NM007) went into production on October 20th.

Storage Density Continues to Increase

As noted earlier, we retired 6,221 hard drives in Q3: all 3- or 4 TB hard drives. The retired drives have been replaced by 8-, 10-, and 12 TB drive models. This dramatic increase in storage density added 59 petabytes of storage in Q3. The following chart shows that change since the beginning of 2016.

Hard Drive Count by Drive Size

You clearly can see the retirement of the 2 TB and 3 TB drives, each being replaced predominantly by 8 TB drives. You also can see the beginning of the retirement curve for the 4 TB drives that will be replaced most likely by 12 TB drives over the coming months. A subset of the 4 TB drives, about 10,000 or so which were installed in the past year or so, will most likely stay in service for at least the next couple of years.

Lifetime Hard Drive Stats

The table below shows the failure rates for the hard drive models we had in service as of September 30, 2017. This is over the period beginning in April 2013 and ending September 30, 2017. If you are interested in the hard drive failure rates for all the hard drives we’ve used over the years, please refer to our 2016 hard drive review.

Cumulative Hard Drive Failure Rates

Note 1: The “+ / – Change” column reflects the change in the annualized failure rate from the previous quarter. Down is good, up is bad.
Note 2: You can download the data on this chart and the data from the “Hard Drive Failure Rates for Q3 2017” chart shown earlier in this review. The downloaded ZIP file contains one MSExcel spreadsheet.

The annualized failure rate for all of the drive models listed above is 2.07%; this is the higher than the 1.97% for the previous quarter. The primary driver behind this was the retirement of all of the HGST 3 TB drives (model: HDS5C3030ALA630) in Q3. Those drives had over 6 million drive days and an annualized failure rate of 0.82% — well below the average for the entire set of drives. Those drives now are gone and no longer part of the results.

Consumer Versus Enterprise Drives

The comparison of the consumer and enterprise Seagate 8 TB drives continues. Both of the drive models, Enterprise: ST8000NM0055 and Consumer: ST8000DM002, saw their annualized failure rates decrease from the previous quarter. In the case of the enterprise drives, this occurred even though we added 8,350 new drives in Q3. This brings the total number of Seagate 8 TB enterprise drives to 14,404, which have accumulated nearly 1.4 million drive days.

A comparison of the two drive models shows the annualized failure rates being very similar:

  • 8 TB Consumer Drives: 1.1% Annualized Failure Rate
  • 8 TB Enterprise Drives: 1.2% Annualized Failure Rate

Given that the failure rates for the two drive models appears to be similar, are the Seagate 8 TB enterprise drives worth any premium you might have to pay for them? As we have previously documented, the Seagate enterprise drives load data faster and have a number of features such as the PowerChoiceTM technology that can be very useful. In addition, enterprise drives typically have a 5 year warranty versus a 2 year warranty for the consumer drives. While drive price and availability are our primary considerations, you may decide other factors are more important.

We will continue to follow these drives, especially as they age over 2 years: the warranty point for the consumer drives.

Join the Drive Stats Webinar on Friday, November 3

We will be doing a deeper dive on this review in a webinar: “Q3 2017 Hard Drive Failure Stats” being held on Friday, November 3rd at 10:00 am Pacific Time. We’ll dig into what’s behind the numbers, including the enterprise vs consumer drive comparison. To sign up for the webinar, you will need to subscribe to the Backblaze BrightTALK channel if you haven’t already done so.

Wrapping Up

Our next drive stats post will be in January, when we’ll review the data for Q4 and all of 2017, and we’ll update our lifetime stats for all of the drives we have ever used. In addition, we’ll get our first real look at the 12 TB drives.

As a reminder, the hard drive data we use is available on our Hard Drive Test Data page. You can download and use this data for free for your own purpose. All we ask are three things 1) you cite Backblaze as the source if you use the data, 2) you accept that you are solely responsible for how you use the data, and 3) you do not sell this data to anyone: it is free.

Good luck and let us know if you find anything interesting.

The post Hard Drive Stats for Q3 2017 appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

The Pirate Bay’s .SE Domain is Back in Action

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bays-se-domain-is-back-in-action-171024/

Last week The Pirate Bay’s .SE domain name expired and, soon after, it was deactivated.

As a result, many people could no longer use their old bookmarks, which traditionally pointed them to the most recent domain of the notorious torrent site.

This appeared to mark the end of this historic domain but today it’s clear that this is not the case. For the past few hours, Thepiratebay.se has been operating as usual again, directing visitors to the current .org domain.

A quick look at the Whois information shows that the domain has been reactivated and the registration updated to October next year. This means that it’s safe, at least for a while.

Thepiratebay.se back in action

At the time of writing it’s unclear whether the Pirate Bay listed the deactivation or if this was done on behalf of the Swedish Court of Appeal.

In 2013, a local anti-piracy group filed a motion to have it seized. This resulted in a lengthy legal battle where the Swedish Court of Appeal eventually ruled that The Pirate Bay’s domain had to be confiscated and forfeited to the state.

The forfeiture has yet to take place, though, as the case is still pending at the Supreme Court. Because of this, the Pirate Bay’s owners are not allowed to change the domain details, which may be why it expired initially.

However, without re-registering it, the domain would be released to the public again. This means that outsiders could pick it up, which isn’t supposed to happen, and this is likely why it’s now active again.

The Pirate Bay has yet to comment on the domain issue. When we hear from the team this article will be updated accordingly.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Google Asked to Delist Pirate Movie Sites, ISPs Asked to Block Them

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-asked-to-delist-pirate-movie-sites-isps-asked-to-block-them-171018/

After seizing several servers operated by popular private music tracker What.cd, last November French police went after a much bigger target.

Boasting millions of regular visitors, Zone-Telechargement (Zone-Download) was ranked the 11th most-visited website in the whole of the country. The site offered direct downloads of a wide variety of pirated content, including films, series, games, and music. Until the French Gendarmerie shut it down, that is.

After being founded in 2011 and enjoying huge growth following the 2012 raids against Megaupload, the Zone-Telechargement ‘brand’ was still popular with French users, despite the closure of the platform. It, therefore, came as no surprise that the site was quickly cloned by an unknown party and relaunched as Zone-Telechargement.ws.

The site has been doing extremely well following its makeover. To the annoyance of copyright holders, SimilarWeb reports the platform as France’s 37th most popular site with around 58 million visitors per month. That’s a huge achievement in less than 12 months.

Now, however, the site is receiving more unwanted attention. PCInpact says it has received information that several movie-focused organizations including the French National Film Center are requesting tough action against the site.

The National Federation of Film Distributors, the Video Publishing Union, the Association of Independent Producers and the Producers Union are all demanding the blocking of Zone-Telechargement by several local ISPs, alongside its delisting from search results.

The publication mentions four Internet service providers – Free, Numericable, Bouygues Telecom, and Orange – plus Google on the search engine front. At this stage, other search companies, such as Microsoft’s Bing, are not reported as part of the action.

In addition to Zone-Telechargement, several other ‘pirate’ sites (Papystreaming.org, Sokrostream.cc and Zonetelechargement.su, another site playing on the popular brand) are included in the legal process. All are described as “structurally infringing” by the complaining movie outfits, PCInpact notes.

The legal proceedings against the sites are based in Article 336-2 of the Intellectual Property Code. It’s ground already trodden by movie companies who following a 2011 complaint, achieved victory in 2013 against several Allostreaming-linked sites.

In that case, the High Court of Paris ordered ISPs, several of which appear in the current action, to “implement all appropriate means including blocking” to prevent access to the infringing sites.

The Court also ordered Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo to “take all necessary measures to prevent the occurrence on their services of any results referring to any of the sites” on their platforms.

Also of interest is that the action targets a service called DL-Protecte.com, which according to local anti-piracy agency HADOPI, makes it difficult for rightsholders to locate infringing content while at the same time generates more revenue for pirate sites.

A judgment is expected in “several months.”

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

More Raspberry Pi labs in West Africa

Post Syndicated from Rachel Churcher original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pi-based-ict-west-africa/

Back in May 2013, we heard from Dominique Laloux about an exciting project to bring Raspberry Pi labs to schools in rural West Africa. Until 2012, 75 percent of teachers there had never used a computer. The project has been very successful, and Dominique has been in touch again to bring us the latest news.

A view of the inside of the new Pi lab building

Preparing the new Pi labs building in Kuma Tokpli, Togo

Growing the project

Thanks to the continuing efforts of a dedicated team of teachers, parents and other supporters, the Centre Informatique de Kuma, now known as INITIC (from the French ‘INItiation aux TIC’), runs two Raspberry Pi labs in schools in Togo, and plans to open a third in December. The second lab was opened last year in Kpalimé, a town in the Plateaux Region in the west of the country.

Student using a Raspberry Pi computer

Using the new Raspberry Pi labs in Kpalimé, Togo

More than 400 students used the new lab intensively during the last school year. Dominique tells us more:

“The report made in early July by the seven teachers who accompanied the students was nothing short of amazing: the young people covered a very impressive number of concepts and skills, from the GUI and the file system, to a solid introduction to word processing and spreadsheets, and many other skills. The lab worked exactly as expected. Its 21 Raspberry Pis worked flawlessly, with the exception of a couple of SD cards that needed re-cloning, and a couple of old screens that needed to be replaced. All the Raspberry Pis worked without a glitch. They are so reliable!”

The teachers and students have enjoyed access to a range of software and resources, all running on Raspberry Pi 2s and 3s.

“Our current aim is to introduce the students to ICT using the Raspberry Pis, rather than introducing them to programming and electronics (a step that will certainly be considered later). We use Ubuntu Mate along with a large selection of applications, from LibreOffice, Firefox, GIMP, Audacity, and Calibre, to special maths, science, and geography applications. There are also special applications such as GnuCash and GanttProject, as well as logic games including PyChess. Since December, students also have access to a local server hosting Kiwix, Wiktionary (a local copy of Wikipedia in four languages), several hundred videos, and several thousand books. They really love it!”

Pi lab upgrade

This summer, INITIC upgraded the equipment in their Pi lab in Kuma Adamé, which has been running since 2014. 21 older model Raspberry Pis were replaced with Pi 2s and 3s, to bring this lab into line with the others, and encourage co-operation between the different locations.

“All 21 first-generation Raspberry Pis worked flawlessly for three years, despite the less-than-ideal conditions in which they were used — tropical conditions, dust, frequent power outages, etc. I brought them all back to Brussels, and they all still work fine. The rationale behind the upgrade was to bring more computing power to the lab, and also to have the same equipment in our two Raspberry Pi labs (and in other planned installations).”

Students and teachers using the upgraded Pi labs in Kuma Adamé

Students and teachers using the upgraded Pi lab in Kuma Adamé

An upgrade of the organisation’s first lab, installed in 2012 in Kuma Tokpli, will be completed in December. This lab currently uses ‘retired’ laptops, which will be replaced with Raspberry Pis and peripherals. INITIC, in partnership with the local community, is also constructing a new building to house the upgraded technology, and the organisation’s third Raspberry Pi lab.

Reliable tech

Dominique has been very impressed with the performance of the Raspberry Pis since 2014.

“Our experience of three years, in two very different contexts, clearly demonstrates that the Raspberry Pi is a very convincing alternative to more ‘conventional’ computers for introducing young students to ICT where resources are scarce. I wish I could convince more communities in the world to invest in such ‘low cost, low consumption, low maintenance’ infrastructure. It really works!”

He goes on to explain that:

“Our goal now is to build at least one new Raspberry Pi lab in another Togolese school each year. That will, of course, depend on how successful we are at gathering the funds necessary for each installation, but we are confident we can convince enough friends to give us the financial support needed for our action.”

A desk with Raspberry Pis and peripherals

Reliable Raspberry Pis in the labs at Kpalimé

Get involved

We are delighted to see the Raspberry Pi being used to bring information technology to new teachers, students, and communities in Togo – it’s wonderful to see this project becoming established and building on its achievements. The mission of the Raspberry Pi Foundation is to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world. Therefore, projects like this, in which people use our tech to fulfil this mission in places with few resources, are wonderful to us.

More information about INITIC and its projects can be found on its website. If you are interested in helping the organisation to meet its goals, visit the How to help page. And if you are involved with a project like this, bringing ICT, computer science, and coding to new places, please tell us about it in the comments below.

The post More Raspberry Pi labs in West Africa appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Pirate Bay’s Iconic .SE Domain has Expired (Updated)

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bays-iconic-se-domain-has-expired-and-is-for-sale-171016/

When The Pirate Bay first came online during the summer of 2003, its main point of access was thepiratebay.org.

Since then the site has burnt through more than a dozen domains, trying to evade seizures or other legal threats.

For many years thepiratebay.se operated as the site’s main domain name. Earlier this year the site moved back to the good old .org again, and from the looks of it, TPB is ready to say farewell to the Swedish domain.

Thepiratebay.se expired last week and, if nothing happens, it will be de-activated tomorrow. This means that the site might lose control over a piece of its history.

The torrent site moved from the ORG to the SE domain in 2012, fearing that US authorities would seize the former. Around that time the Department of Homeland Security took hundreds of sites offline and the Pirate Bay team feared that they would be next.

Thepiratebay.se has expired

Ironically, however, the next big threat came from Sweden, the Scandinavian country where the site once started.

In 2013, a local anti-piracy group filed a motion targeting two of The Pirate Bay’s domains, ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se. This case that has been dragging on for years now.

During this time TPB moved back and forth between domains but the .se domain turned out to be a safer haven than most alternatives, despite the legal issues. Many other domains were simply seized or suspended without prior notice.

When the Swedish Court of Appeal eventually ruled that The Pirate Bay’s domain had to be confiscated and forfeited to the state, the site’s operators moved back to the .org domain, where it all started.

Although a Supreme Court appeal is still pending, according to a report from IDG earlier this year the court has placed a lock on the domain. This prevents the owner from changing or transferring it, which may explain why it has expired.

The lock is relevant, as the domain not only expired but has also been put of for sale again in the SEDO marketplace, with a minimum bid of $90. This sale would be impossible, if the domain is locked.

Thepiratebay.se for sale

Perhaps the most ironic of all is the fact that TPB moved to .se because it feared that the US controlled .org domain was easy prey.

Fast forward half a decade and over a dozen domains have come and gone while thepiratebay.org still stands strong, despite entertainment industry pressure.

Update: We updated the article to mention that the domain name is locked by the Swedish Supreme Court. This means that it can’t be updated and would explain why it has expired.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Sweden Supreme Court: Don’t Presume Prison Sentences For Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/sweden-supreme-court-dont-presume-prison-sentences-for-pirates-171010/

The trend over the past several years is for prosecutors to present copyright infringement offenses as serious crimes, often tantamount to those involving theft of physical goods.

This has resulted in many cases across the United States and Europe where those accused of distributing or assisting in the distribution of copyrighted content face the possibility of custodial sentences. Over in Sweden, prosecutors have homed in on one historical case in order to see where the boundaries lie.

Originally launched as Swepirate, ‘Biosalongen‘ (Screening Room) was shut down by local authorities in early 2013. A 50-year-old man said to have been the main administrator of the private tracker was arrested and charged with sharing at least 125 TV shows and movies via the site, including Rocky, Alien and Star Trek.

After the man initially pleaded not guilty, the case went to trial and a subsequent appeal. In the summer of 2015 the Court of Appeal in Gothenburg sentenced him to eight months in prison for copyright infringement offenses.

The former administrator, referenced in court papers as ‘BH’, felt that the punishment was too harsh, filing a claim with the Supreme Court in an effort to have the sentence dismissed.

Prosecutor My Hedström also wanted the Supreme Court to hear the case, seeking clarity on sentencing for these kinds of offenses. Are fines and suspended sentences appropriate or is imprisonment the way to deal with pirates, as most copyright holders demand?

The Supreme Court has now handed down its decision, upholding an earlier ruling of probation and clarifying that copyright infringement is not an offense where a custodial sentence should be presumed.

“Whether a crime should be punished by imprisonment is generally determined based on its penal value,” a summary from International Law Office reads.

“If the penal value is less than one year, imprisonment should be a last resort. However, certain crimes are considered of such a nature that the penalty should be a prison sentence based on general preventive grounds, even if the penal value is less than one year.”

In the Swepirate/Biosalongen/Screening Room case, the Court of Appeal found that BH’s copyright infringement had a penal value of six months, so there was no presumption for a custodial sentence based on the penal value alone.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court found that there are no legislative indications that copyright infringement should be penalized via a term of imprisonment. In reaching this decision the Court referenced a previous trademark case, noting that trademark
infringement and copyright infringement are similar offenses.

In the trademark case, it was found that there should be no presumption of imprisonment. The Court found that since it is a closely related crime, copyright infringement offenses should be treated in the same manner.

According to an analysis of the ruling by Henrik Wistam and Siri Alvsing at the Lindahl lawfirm, the decision by the Supreme Court represents a change from previous case law concerning penalties for illegal file-sharing.

The pair highlight the now-infamous case of The Pirate Bay, where three defendants – Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundström – were sentenced to prison terms of eight, ten and four months respectively.

“In 2010 the Svea Court of Appeal concluded that the penalty for such crimes should be imprisonment. The Supreme Court did not grant leave to appeal,” they note.

“The Supreme Court has now aligned the view on the severity of IP infringements. This is a welcome development, although rights holders may have benefited from a stricter view and a development in the opposite direction.

The full ruling is available here (pdf, Swedish)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Spotify Threatened Researchers Who Revealed ‘Pirate’ History

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/spotify-threatened-researchers-who-revealed-pirate-history-171006/

As one of the members of Sweden’s infamous Piratbyrån (Piracy Bureau), Rasmus Fleischer was also one of early key figures at The Pirate Bay. Over the years he’s been a writer, researcher, debater, and musician, and in 2012 he finished his PhD thesis on “music’s political economy.”

As part of a five-person research team (Pelle Snickars, Patrick Vonderau, Anna Johansson, Rasmus Fleischer, Maria Eriksson) funded by the Swedish Research Council, Fleischer has co-written a book about the history of Spotify.

Titled ‘Spotify Teardown – Inside the Black Box of Streaming Music’, the publication is set to shine light on the history of the now famous music service while revealing quite a few past secrets.

With its release scheduled for 2018, Fleischer has already teased a few interesting nuggets, not least that Spotify’s early beta version used ‘pirate’ MP3 files, some of them sourced from The Pirate Bay.

Fleischer says that following an interview earlier this year with DI.se, in which he revealed that Spotify distributed unlicensed music between May 2007 to October 2008, Spotify looked at ways to try and stop his team’s research. However, the ‘pirate’ angle wasn’t the clear target, another facet of the team’s research was.

“Building on the tradition of ‘breaching experiments’ in ethnomethodology, the research group sought to break into the hidden infrastructures of digital music distribution in order to study its underlying norms and structures,” project leader Pelle Snickars previously revealed.

With this goal, the team conducted experiments to see if the system was open to abuse or could be manipulated, as Fleischer now explains.

“For example, some hundreds of robot users were created to study whether the same listening behavior results in different recommendations depending on whether the user was registered as male or female,” he says.

“We have also investigated on a small scale the possibilities of manipulating the system. However, we have not collected any data about real users. Our proposed methods appeared several years ago in our research funding application, which was approved by the Swedish Research Council, which was already noted in 2013.”

Fleischer says that Spotify had been aware of the project for several years but it wasn’t until this year, after he spoke of Spotify’s past as a ‘pirate’ service, that pressure began to mount.

“On May 19, our project manager received a letter from Benjamin Helldén-Hegelund, a lawyer at Spotify. The timing was hardly a coincidence. Spotify demanded that we ‘confirm in writing’ that we had ‘ceased activities contrary to their Terms of Use’,” Fleischer reveals.

A corresponding letter to the Swedish Research Council detailed Spotify’s problems with the project.

“Spotify is particularly concerned about the information that has emerged regarding the research group’s methods in the project. The data indicate that the research team has deliberately taken action that is explicitly in violation of Spotify’s Terms of Use and by means of technical methods they sought to conceal these breaches of conditions,” the letter read.

“The research group has worked, among other things, to artificially increase the number of plays and manipulate Spotify’s services using scripts or other automated processes.

“Spotify assumes that the systematic breach of its conditions has not been known to the Swedish Research Council and is convinced that the Swedish Research Council is convinced that the research undertaken with the support of the Swedish Research Council in all respects meets ethical guidelines and is carried out reasonably and in accordance with applicable law.”

Fleischer admits that part of the research was concerned with the possibility of artificially increasing the number of plays, but he says that was carried out on a small scale without any commercial gain.

“The purpose was simply to test if it is true that Spotify could be manipulated on a larger scale, as claimed by journalists who did similar experiments. It is also true that we ‘sought to hide these crimes’ by using a VPN connection,” he says.

Fleischer says that Spotify’s lawyer blended complaints together, such as correlating terms of service violations with violation of research ethics, while presenting the same as grounds for legal action.

“The argument was quite ridiculous. Nevertheless, the letter could not be interpreted as anything other than an attempt by Spotify to prevent us from pursuing the research project,” he notes.

This week, however, it appears the dispute has reached some kind of conclusion. In a posting on his Copyriot blog (Swedish), Fleischer reveals that Spotify has informed the Swedish Research Council that the case has been closed, meaning that the research into the streaming service can continue.

“It must be acknowledged that Spotify’s threats have taken both time and power from the project. This seems to be the purpose when big companies go after researchers who they perceive as uncomfortable. It may not be possible to stop the research but it can be delayed,” Fleischer says.

“Sure [Spotify] dislikes people being reminded of how the service started as a pirate service. But instead of inviting an open dialogue, lawyers are sent out for the purpose of slowing down researchers.”

Spotify Teardown. Inside the Black Box of Streaming Music is to be published by MIT Press in 2018.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Six Strikes Piracy Scheme May Be Dead But Those Warnings Keep on Coming

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/six-strikes-piracy-scheme-may-be-dead-but-those-warnings-keep-on-coming-171001/

After at least 15 years of Internet pirates being monitored by copyright holders, one might think that the message would’ve sunk in by now. For many, it definitely hasn’t.

Bottom line: when people use P2P networks and protocols (such as BitTorrent) to share files including movies and music, copyright holders are often right there, taking notes about what is going on, perhaps in preparation for further action.

That can take a couple of forms, including suing users or, more probably, firing off a warning notice to their Internet service providers. Those notices are a little like a speeding ticket, telling the subscriber off for sharing copyrighted material but letting them off the hook if they promise to be good in future.

In 2013, the warning notice process in the US was formalized into what was known as the Copyright Alert System, a program through which most Internet users could receive at least six piracy warning notices without having any serious action taken against them. In January 2017, without having made much visible progress, it was shut down.

In some corners of the web there are still users under the impression that since the “six strikes” scheme has been shut down, all of a sudden US Internet users can forget about receiving a warning notice. In reality, the complete opposite is true.

While it’s impossible to put figures on how many notices get sent out (ISPs are reluctant to share the data), monitoring of various piracy-focused sites and forums indicates that plenty of notices are still being sent to ISPs, who are cheerfully sending them on to subscribers.

Also, over the past couple of months, there appears to have been an uptick in subscribers seeking advice after receiving warnings. Many report basic notices but there seems to be a bit of a trend of Internet connections being suspended or otherwise interrupted, apparently as a result of an infringement notice being received.

“So, over the weekend my internet got interrupted by my ISP (internet service provider) stating that someone on my network has violated some copyright laws. I had to complete a survey and they brought back the internet to me,” one subscriber wrote a few weeks ago. He added that his (unnamed) ISP advised him that seven warnings would get his account disconnected.

Another user, who named his ISP as Comcast, reported receiving a notice after downloading a game using BitTorrent. He was warned that the alleged infringement “may result in the suspension or termination of your Service account” but what remains unclear is how many warnings people can receive before this happens.

For example, a separate report from another Comcast user stated that one night of careless torrenting led to his mother receiving 40 copyright infringement notices the next day. He didn’t state which company the notices came from but 40 is clearly a lot in such a short space of time. That being said and as far as the report went, it didn’t lead to a suspension.

Of course, it’s possible that Comcast doesn’t take action if a single company sends many notices relating to the same content in a small time frame (Rightscorp is known to do this) but the risk is still there. Verizon, it seems, can suspend accounts quite easily.

“So lately I’ve been getting more and more annoyed with pirating because I get blasted with a webpage telling me my internet is disconnected and that I need to delete the file to reconnect, with the latest one having me actually call Verizon to reconnect,” a subscriber to the service reported earlier this month.

A few days ago, a Time Warner Cable customer reported having to take action after receiving his third warning notice from the ISP.

“So I’ve gotten three notices and after the third one I just went online to my computer and TWC had this page up that told me to stop downloading illegally and I had to click an ‘acknowledge’ button at the bottom of the page to be able to continue to use my internet,” he said.

Also posting this week, another subscriber of an unnamed ISP revealed he’d been disconnected twice in the past year. His comments raise a few questions that keep on coming up in these conversations.

“The first time [I was disconnected] was about a year ago and the next was a few weeks ago. When it happened I was downloading some fairly new movies so I was wondering if they monitor these new movie releases since they are more popular. Also are they monitoring what I am doing since I have been caught?” he asked.

While there is plenty of evidence to suggest that old content is also monitored, there’s little doubt that the fresher the content, the more likely it is to be monitored by copyright holders. If people are downloading a brand new movie, they should expect it to be monitored by someone, somewhere.

The second point, about whether risk increases after being caught already, is an interesting one, for a number of reasons.

Following the BMG v Cox Communication case, there is now a big emphasis on ISPs’ responsibility towards dealing with subscribers who are alleged to be repeat infringers. Anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp was deeply involved in that case and the company has a patent for detecting repeat infringers.

It’s becoming clear that the company actively targets such people in order to assist copyright holders (which now includes the RIAA) in strategic litigation against ISPs, such as Grande Communications, who are claimed to be going soft on repeat infringers.

Overall, however, there’s no evidence that “getting caught” once increases the chances of being caught again, but subscribers should be aware that the Cox case changed the position on the ground. If anecdotal evidence is anything to go by, it now seems that ISPs are tightening the leash on suspected pirates and are more likely to suspend or disconnect them in the face of repeated complaints.

The final question asked by the subscriber who was disconnected twice is a common one among people receiving notices.

“What can I do to continue what we all love doing?” he asked.

Time and time again, on sites like Reddit and other platforms attracting sharers, the response is the same.

“Get a paid VPN. I’m amazed you kept torrenting without protection after having your internet shut off, especially when downloading recent movies,” one such response reads.

Nevertheless, this still fails to help some people fully understand the notices they receive, leaving them worried about what might happen after receiving one. However, the answer is nearly always straightforward.

If the notice says “stop sharing content X”, then recipients should do so, period. And, if the notice doesn’t mention specific legal action, then it’s almost certain that no action is underway. They are called warning notices for a reason.

Also, notice recipients should consider the part where their ISP assures them that their details haven’t been shared with third parties. That is the truth and will remain that way unless subscribers keep ignoring notices. Then there’s a slim chance that a rightsholder will step in to make a noise via a lawyer. At that point, people shouldn’t say they haven’t been warned.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

The Data Tinder Collects, Saves, and Uses

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/09/the_data_tinder.html

Under European law, service providers like Tinder are required to show users what information they have on them when requested. This author requested, and this is what she received:

Some 800 pages came back containing information such as my Facebook “likes,” my photos from Instagram (even after I deleted the associated account), my education, the age-rank of men I was interested in, how many times I connected, when and where every online conversation with every single one of my matches happened…the list goes on.

“I am horrified but absolutely not surprised by this amount of data,” said Olivier Keyes, a data scientist at the University of Washington. “Every app you use regularly on your phone owns the same [kinds of information]. Facebook has thousands of pages about you!”

As I flicked through page after page of my data I felt guilty. I was amazed by how much information I was voluntarily disclosing: from locations, interests and jobs, to pictures, music tastes and what I liked to eat. But I quickly realised I wasn’t the only one. A July 2017 study revealed Tinder users are excessively willing to disclose information without realising it.

“You are lured into giving away all this information,” says Luke Stark, a digital technology sociologist at Dartmouth University. “Apps such as Tinder are taking advantage of a simple emotional phenomenon; we can’t feel data. This is why seeing everything printed strikes you. We are physical creatures. We need materiality.”

Reading through the 1,700 Tinder messages I’ve sent since 2013, I took a trip into my hopes, fears, sexual preferences and deepest secrets. Tinder knows me so well. It knows the real, inglorious version of me who copy-pasted the same joke to match 567, 568, and 569; who exchanged compulsively with 16 different people simultaneously one New Year’s Day, and then ghosted 16 of them.

“What you are describing is called secondary implicit disclosed information,” explains Alessandro Acquisti, professor of information technology at Carnegie Mellon University. “Tinder knows much more about you when studying your behaviour on the app. It knows how often you connect and at which times; the percentage of white men, black men, Asian men you have matched; which kinds of people are interested in you; which words you use the most; how much time people spend on your picture before swiping you, and so on. Personal data is the fuel of the economy. Consumers’ data is being traded and transacted for the purpose of advertising.”

Tinder’s privacy policy clearly states your data may be used to deliver “targeted advertising.”

It’s not Tinder. Surveillance is the business model of the Internet. Everyone does this.

Какво искат каталунците? (Част 2)

Post Syndicated from Йовко Ламбрев original https://yovko.net/what-catalans-want-2/

След 1939 г. Испания потъва в мрачния период на диктатурата на Франко. Каталуния отново е наказана да не говори своя език под смъртна заплаха. Докато живях в Барселона, лично се запознах със съвсем млади каталунци, загубили дядо или баба заради това. Рани, твърде скорошни, за да бъдат забравени или простени. Още по-малко, че прошка не е поискана.

Първите години след войната са кошмарно тежки за цяла Испания. Едва в края на 50-те и началото на 60-те започва икономическо и културно възстановяване на Каталуния. Езикът все още е забранен в медиите, но бива позволен в театрите, иначе въпреки забраната книгопечатането на литература на каталунски, макар и силно затруднено, не е прекъсвало. Както вероятно вече сте разбрали от първата част каталунците са смели и много упорити хора.

Каталунският език

Един от митовете за каталунския език е, че той е диалект на кастилския (испанския), което обаче изобщо не е вярно. Езикът има само някои прилики с кастилския, както има с френския и италианския, което е нормално, доколкото са в една езикова група и с близка география. Думите, значението и произношението са в огромна степен различни. Глаголите са различни и с различни корени, макар да има сходни. Има и капани – такива глаголи, които се изписват еднакво, но в различните езици имат напълно друго значение (напр. acostar на кастилски е лягам, докато на каталунски е да донеса нещо по-близо). Ако искам да кажа простичкото как се казвам – на кастилски ще е Me llamo Yovko или Mi nombre es Yovko, а на каталунски Em dic Yovko (произнася се ам дик Йовко) или ако спазим горния конструкт El meu nom és Yovko (обърнете внимание на членуването). Кастилският е еволюирал и се е опростил значително в доста отношения заради по-масовата му употреба, докато каталунският е останал по-близо до древността и корените, носи по-сложна граматика.

Живо доказателство, че каталунският е различен език, е, че говорещите кастилски не могат да говорят каталунски. Разбират по смисъл думите, които са сходни, но дотам. По същия начин испанците и италианците се разбират в прилична степен дори и всеки да говори на своя език – това не означава, че единият език е диалект на другия, нали?

В моят курс по каталунски със съпругата ми бяхме единствените, на които кастилският не им е майчин език или поне не основен. Нещо повече – нашият кастилски беше ужасно базов. И макар да учехме нов език (каталунски), чрез друг език, който не владеем добре (кастилския), ние завършихме сред отличниците, докато на доста курсисти с роден кастилски им беше трудно да достигнат дори средни резултати. Иначе казано познанията по кастилски не носеха никакво предимство.

Сега тук по-веселото е, че самият каталунски има поне три диалекта, без да броим валенсианския, който си е всъщност каталунски с някои дребни разлики. Но пък тук ще вземем да вбесим валенсианците, затова млъквам!

Така или иначе темата за езика е чувствителна за каталунците – те си го обичат много, изстрадали са възможността да го говорят и имат всички основания да го пазят като репер на своята културна идентичност. Това е тяхно право, достойно за уважение от всички ни!

Управлението на автономията

По време на своето управление Франко всъщност не възстановява монархията, едва малко преди да умре кротко в леглото си през 1975 г. е посочил наследника си – поредният Бурбон, внук на последния крал и дочакал да седне на престола на Кралство Испания под крилото на Франко – Хуан-Карлос.

Каталунци-конституционалисти оказват сериозна юридическа помощ при съставянето на днешната Испанска конституция от 1978 г., с която Каталуния възстановява своята политическа и културна автономия. Година по-късно, през 1979 г., е приет и Статутът на автономията (основният закон на областта).

Според този основен закон Каталуния е автономна област със самостоятелно политическо и юридическо самоуправление. Парламентът се избира през 4 години и излъчва президент (който е и министър-председател) и правителство.

Каталуния има собствена военизирана полиция (жандармерия) – Mossos d’Esquadra, която е под командването на каталунското правителство и не е подчинена на националните Guardia Civil (жандармерия) и Policía Nacional (полиция). Единствено ако бъде суспендирана автономията, Испания може да подчини Mossos-ите на националните сили за сигурност (чл.155 от Конституцията). Затова, когато ви разиграват сценки от селски вечеринки, че някакъв си прокурор, бил той и главен или гневен, се бил разпоредил каталунската полиция да се подчини на Guardia Civil, им кажете, както направиха каталунците – да си гледат работата – защото това не може да се случи с прокурорско разпореждане. Испанските закони бива да важат и за Испания, нали?

Националните сили за сигурност в Каталуния имат правомощия само да охраняват пристанища, летища, крайбрежие, национални граници, митници и да се грижат за имиграционния контрол и антитерористични операции.

Народната партия и Мариано Рахой

През 2006 г. е одобрен новият Статут на Каталуния чрез референдум, както е по правилата. Гласуван е също и с мнозинство от каталунския и от испанския парламент. Промените обаче са обжалвани пред Конституционния съд от кръгове около дясно-консервативната Народна партия (Partido Popular), която от 2004 г. се ръководи от Мариано Рахой, а от 2011 г. досега управлява Испания. През 2015 г. те всъщност загубиха изборите, но понеже не се сформира правителство, останаха на власт до следващите предсрочни избори през 2016 г., след които управляват в правителство на малцинството, тъй като социалистите от PSOE тихо съдействаха, отказвайки се да участват в гласуването, което позволи Pахой да прокара кабинета си през парламента с обикновено мнозинство. Реално подкрепата на изборите за Народната партия бе едва 33% (от 70% гласували) – иначе казано се ползва с доверието на едва 23% от имащите право на глас в Испания.

Partido Popular е консервативна християндемократическа партия, член на ЕНП (Европейската народна партия). Под ръководството на Рахой партията все повече залита към патриотични и националистически тези, а политическата му стратегия е основана на две базови теми – едната да противостои на административната и политическа еволюция на Каталуния (вкл. оспорвайки дефакто одобрения ѝ статут), а другата – да противостои на политическите договорки с баските. Чудно, нали?

Partido Popular и Рахой не са в състояние да генерират никакво модерно и ново политическо послание. Единственото им спасение е да концентрират влияние чрез десен популизъм и радикализиране на патриотични тези, защото на тази плоскост могат да пързалят гласоподавателите си, които са предимно сред по-възрастните, консервативните, религиозните и по-заможните испанци. В същия момент профилът на техните гласоподаватели е най-слаб откъм образование.

Partido Popular е затънала в корупционни скандали – точно утихне един и се случва следващ – черни партийни каси и странни парични потоци във всякакви посоки, очевидно за търговия с влияние, все излизат на яве, изгаря по някой бушон, но Мариано Рахой се крепи над водата. Интересен факт е, че цели петима последователни ковчежници на партията му са съдени, разследвани, обвинени или отстранени. И Европа, и ЕНП си мълчат и стискат широко затворени очи, щото нали, в името на стабилността, че иначе ако дойде Подемос на власт…

Всъщност, испанската политика в последните години се изразява горе-долу в това Partido Popular и PSOE да си подават топката. Това ще ви обясни защо испанците са склонни да търсят изход в Подемос и други нови партии, опитвайки се да избягат от пинг-понга между двете основни големи партии, потънали в корупционни скандали и безгранични сфери на задкулисно влияние.

Най-близкото приближение на Partido Popular у нас е ГЕРБ (те са и членове на ЕНП неслучайно), а на PSOE е БСП. И сега си представете ту да ви управлява ГЕРБ, ту БСП… познато ли ви е усещането? А присви ли ви душичката. Ами така и трябва! И испанците ги присвива от доста време насам!

Но да се върнем в Каталуния…

Възпалението на раната

През 2010 г. Конституционният съд, сезиран от хора на Partido Popular, отмени част от текстовете в Статута. Важно е да уточним, че в състава на този съд преобладават членове, които дължат постовете си на Partido Popular. В момента през 2017 г. това е още по-вярно. Конституционният съд на Испания, включително самият му Председател, е тежко зависим от партията на премиера Мариано Рахой! И да не си помислите сега, че искам да внушавам нещо – съвсем си е законно всичко. Това са едни почтени и достолепни хорица, в които нямаме никакво право да се усъмним. Поглеждате към нашия Конституционен съд или ВСС и… чувствате хармонията, нали? Хайде, опитайте се да прокарате нещо смислено през тях, да ви видя…

Та нищо че каталунските и испанските парламенти одобряват промените в Статута с нужното мнозинство, нищо че цяла Каталуния се е произнесла и е одобрила промените чрез законен Референдум. Излизат една шепа съдии и отменят 14 члена като противоконституционни и дават ограничителни тълкувания на други 27. Текстовете им са свързани предимно с автономната правосъдна система на Каталуния, някои важни детайли в преразпределянето на финансирането, статутът на каталунския език и определянето на Каталуния като нация.

След всичко това през 2010 г. каталунците истински се ядосаха! По улиците на Барселона излязоха между милион и милион и половина души. Сформира се гражданска организация, която се нарече ANC – Assemblea Nacional Catalana (Национално събрание на Каталуния), която си постави за цел да постигне независимост. А всяка година на 11 септември – националният празник на Каталуния – оттогава насам се организират масови демонстрации за независимост.

Още масло в огъня

Уточнихме вече, че драмата с каталунския език е чувствителна тема, след всички забранявания и преследвания и загинали заради езика си до съвсем скоро. Испанската конституция обаче се грижи за задължителността единствено на кастилския език (това, което сме свикнали да наричаме испански), а каталунците вписаха като задължителен и каталунския в границите на автономията си, но точно този текст бе сред отменените.

Не стига това, ами през 2012 г. министърът на образованието на Испания се изцепи, че неговата цел е “да се испанизират (“españolizar”) каталунските ученици” и вкара законопроект, който не само противоречи на каталунската юрисдикция, ами позволява каталунските деца да бъдат обучавани едноезично на испански, което от една страна е тъпо, когато детето ти може да излезе с два езика от училище, да го насилваш да излезе с един, а от друга – каталунците възприеха това като колониална политика, каквато тя недвусмислено беше.

Та испанската държава и управляващите от Partido Popular вместо да ходят на пръсти по тънкия лед на регионалната си политика, скачат шумно с кални обувки отгоре му.

На 23 януари 2013 г. каталунският парламент прие Декларация за суверенитет и право на самоопределение на Каталуния, която, разбира се, беше първо суспендирана от Конституционния съд, а после отменена частта ѝ за суверенитета. След още купчина юридически пречки все пак Правителството на Каталуния организира необвързващ референдум за независимост на 9 ноември 2014 и 81% от участвалите се произнесоха в полза на независима Каталуния. Активността обаче беше ниска (37-42% според зависи кой и как брои, защото Референдумът беше необвързващ и беше дадена възможност на 16 и 17-годишни да гласуват, както и на неиспански граждани, което иначе не би било възможно). Заради организирането на това допитване тогавашният президент Artur Mas, вицепрезидентът Joana Ortega и образователният министър Irene Rigau бяха обвинени и осъдени на около две години да не заемат обществени постове, както и на глоби – най-голямата за Мас, възлизаща на 36 500 евро. Има и нови обвинения за 5.2 милиона евро заради разходване на публични средства за същото допитване. Преди това обаче Мас разпусна правителството си и свика извънредни парламентарни избори на 27 септември 2015, които бяха спечелени от коалиция от партии, които подкрепят независимостта.

Кралят

Междувременно покрай тези събития Хуан Карлос абдикира в полза на сина си, Фелипе VI – нещо, което испанската конституция също не допуска, но беше променена скоростно за по-малко от седмица, което само показа на каталунците колко невъзможна е тяхната кауза в текущия политически контекст в Мадрид.

След лавината от скандали в кралското семейство на Хуан Карлос, свързани с извънбрачна връзка на краля и негов незаконен син, харчовете на двореца, особено в кризата, ловджийските му гафове, скандалите с корупционни схеми на едната му дъщеря и прането на пари и укриването на данъци от зет му, имиджът на монархията в Испания напоследък хич не е висок. Прехвърлянето на топката към Фелипе VI изглеждаше като спасителен ход в контекста на зачестилите демонстрации, искащи референдум за република, и доколкото младият крал изглежда умерен и по-рационален, за разлика от баща си – женен е за простосмъртна съпруга (била е журналистка преди да се омъжи за него), говори свободно каталунски, освен испански. Дори се бяха появили надежди, че с перфектния си каталунски може да спечели сърцата на всички като поеме ролята на медиатор и спаси ситуацията в Каталуния, но до този момент не се забелязва такова негово желание и едва ли някой още мисли, че това е възможно, доколкото той вече избра обичайната позиция на кралска надменност към проблемите на простосмъртните.

Подготовката на процеса за независимост

Предсрочните избори от 2015 г. имаха допълнителна цел. Основните партии, подкрепящи независимостта, участваха с обща гражданска (непартийна) листа, към която впоследствие се присъедини и една по-малка партия. Така управляващата коалиция в Каталуния има мнозинство в локалния парламент, с което прокара няколко закона от ключово значение за евентуална бъдеща независима република – например за Каталунска данъчна администрация, за въпросния референдум и т.н.

Реално юристите от двете страни спорят каква част от това законодателство е ОК, но предвид сложността на юрисдикциите на автономните области в Испания отговорът не е еднозначен. Тук за Рахой работи простичката теза – абе, не може локалното законодателство да има превес над националното и тези закони са “незаконни” – но всъщност не е така, зависи от много неща. Каталуния не е област Стара Загора, а автономия със собствен основен закон и локално законодателство. То не може да противоречи на националното, но може да бъде много различно от него в много посоки. И не подценявайте юридическата култура и опит на каталунците, моля – обърнете се назад и вижте натрупванията им…

Всъщност популярна теза, която испанските медии и Народната партия на Рахой непрекъснато повтарят, е, че всичко, което се случва в Каталуния, е “незаконно”. Това е непрецизно и популистко обобщение. Доказателство е, че дори приятелски настроеният към Рахой и партията му Конституционен съд на Испания не твърди такова нещо. Няма твърдение, че референдумът е незаконен или противоконституционен, а е само суспендиран от Конституционния съд, докато той прегледа законосъобразността му и се произнесе.

Не четете само El País – това е все едно да се информирате само от “24 часа”.

Вярно, редно е да признаем, че и каталунците използват всички процедурни хватки в своя полза. Законите бяха гласувани в последния момент, за да оставят в цайтнот тромавия Конституционният съд. Но реално това не е нарушение. Войната на нерви се води с всички средства и от двете страни. Особено когато няма желание за диалог.

Данъците

Популярна теза е, че каталунците искат повече пари за себе си и това е проява на егоизъм от тяхна страна. От друга те са богат, индустриален район, който осигурява солидна част за националната икономика – 20% от БВП на Испания и 25% от износа, а е само един от седемнайсетте района. Богатите райони подкрепят бедните региони при преразпределение на данъците, но проблемът е в математиката и кой как пресмята.

Според каталунските икономисти фискалният дефицит на региона надвишава 8% от БВП, което според всички международни стандарти е твърде голяма стойност и спъва развитието на икономиката. Те спорят, че реално стойността е по-голяма, защото има разминаване между разпределения дял (на хартия) за Каталуния от националните финанси, които се връщат най-вече под формата на инфраструктура, и това, което реално Каталуния получава.

Испанската държава не е съгласна. И това е нещо, което се решава на масата на преговорите, с експертни оценки и експертни спорове. Народната партия и Мариано Рахой обаче с години отказват да дискутират каталунските теми – така това се превърна в ключов аргумент на индепендистите.

И не е случайно, че прогресивните испанци твърдят, че основният двигател на процеса на независимост на Каталуния е правителството в Мадрид.

Политически диалог ли?

И за среднограмотен човек е ясно, че ако беше проведен някакъв политически диалог, всичко можеше да се размине. Но двете страни си говорят през медиите и с декларации. Испания пропиля 7 пълни години, през които можеше да потуши напрежението. Пропиля ги генерално и пълноценно, отказвайки всяко предложение да диалог. Лично Рахой се грижеше да аргументира всеки отказ.

В пространно интервю в края на август президентът на Каталуния потвърди, че дори и в последния момент, ако испанската държава се реши на диалог, той ще откликне.

Уви, Мариано Рахой е от друга планета и думите “преговори” и “политически диалог” очевидно са му чужди. Всъщност това отговаря напълно на неговия сценарий – конфронтация и радикализация. Рискува да счупи миноритарното си управление, но това е единствената стратегия, която празната му откъм идеи глава може да роди.

На 15 септември 2017 г. отново Президентът на Каталуния, Вицепрезидентът, Председателката на Каталунския парламент и кметът на Барселона заедно изпратиха писмо до Рахой и краля с предложение за диалог.

Същият ден Рахой каза само, че неговото правителство ще направи всичко възможно да осуети референдума, неговият говорител пък, че в Мадрид не са получили писмото, но в последния момент можели да го тълкуват само като заплаха, а кралят… той, както обикновено, запази царствено мълчание.

Всичко това не е от вчера

Друга весела теза е, че каталунците едва ли не вчера им е хрумнала идеята за независимост. По повода ще остава само тази картинка – отляво е вестник Guardian от края на 1918 година, а отдясно статия в същия вестник отпреди няколко дни. Открийте разликите 🙂

guardian

Републиката

Нещо, което някак остава под килима, но е редно да отчетем, е фактът, че каталунците в мнозинството си са прорепубликански настроени. Това обяснява антипатията на краля и монархистите към тях, но всеки обсъждан дотук референдум не поставя под никакво съмнение, че евентуалната независима Каталуния ще бъде република.

В Испания също се чуват гласове за референдум за ново държавно устройство и това кара определени консервативни и влиятелни кръгове да потръпват при мисълта това да се случи.

Демократичността на испанската конституция

Каталунците често критикуват демократичността на испанската конституция по принцип, макар двама от бащите ѝ да са каталунци. Истината е, че имат основания. Четирима от седмината “бащи” на испанската конституция са били част от фашисткия апарат, включително един от тях е Министърът на пропагандата на Франко. Представете си дали е възможно съвременната германска конституция да е писана от Гьобелс?

Армията е оказала силно влияние в процеса на създаване на конституцията, за да опази своя интерес, и макар одобрена на референдум с 88%, съмненията, че зад този резултат стои пряката или косвена заплаха на бившите военни на Франко, са напълно основателни.

Обобщение

Всъщност, макар и тлеещ отдавна, проблемът не беше нерешим. Каталунците са сговорчиви и работливи хора, които в мнозинството си искат да бъдат оставени на мира да си вадят хляба, да правят музика, книги и изкуство и да се веселят на многобройните си фестивали. Те са адски толерантни и широкоскроени хора, с модерни възгледи за себе си, бъдещето и Европа.

Каквото и да четете в испанските медии, в мнозинството си каталунците нямат нищо против испанците. Това, което им тежи, не са съседите, а испанската държава. Те точно така наричат държавата си – испанската държава – за да акцентират на административния апарат, а не на нацията, и… за да намекнат, че не е тяхната държава…

А тя не е тяхна, защото в общия национален парламент те имат скромно присъствие, обусловено от тежестта на региона върху картата. Не биха могли да прокарат нищо през националния парламент без подкрепата на основните испански партии, които рядко изобщо обръщат внимание на регионите. Локалното им законодателство е под терора на Конституциония съд, който особено откакто Рахой и Partido Popular са на власт, действа по поръчка.

Испания отказва всякакъв диалог с каталунските представители, въпреки че те са легитимно избрани и овластени от хората. Прави го и защото се страхува, че ако изгуби Каталуния, ще последват баските, а после може би Галисия. Баските също от години чакат обещанията на Мадрид да се реализират и все повече губят търпение, но и за това няма да прочетете много в испанските, нашите или европейските медии…

Каталуния е разделена

Истината е, че въпреки всичко Каталуния е разделена. Важно е да правим разлика между това, че 70-80% от каталунците са с нагласа да гласуват на този Референдум, и това как точно ще гласуват.

Ако не се беше стигнало до тази ескалация в последните дни, реално по-малко от половината каталунци щяха да гласуват за отделяне в неделя и всичко щеше да утихне поне за някакъв период от време. Рахой обаче изпрати жандармерия и полиция в нечуван обем, арестува каталунски политици, претърси медии и печатници, конфискува бюлетини, урни и плакати, обвини предварително стотици кметове, че съдействат на организацията по референдума, заплаши да спре националната каталунска телевизия, блокира каталунски сайтове и заплаши да спре целият top level domain на Каталуния .cat, докато междувременно е насъскал прокуратурата да рови за някоя мръсна риза на текущия каталунски президент от времето, когато е бил кмет, чрез прокурорско разпореждане се опита да вземе контрола над каталунската жандармерия, което е незаконно и противоречи едновременно на испанската конституция и на каталунския статут.

Всичко това преди референдумът да се е случил и преди да е обявен за незаконен от Конституционния съд – иначе казано, дори да допуснем хипотезата, че референдумът е престъпление – то още не е се е случило, за да има виновни за него!

След всичко това никой вече не знае как ще гласуват каталунците, защото ескалацията и радикализацията и от двете страни е факт и играта на нерви вече не е безопасна.

Европа мълчи, защото основните европейски партии са обречени заради своите “приятелски” зависимости. Иска им се това да си остане вътрешна работа на Испания и нещата да се оправят някак от само себе си. Отдавна трябваше да бъде предложено посредничество в този спор, да бъде уговорен Рахой да отстъпи нещичко и да изглади нещата. Но ЕНП няма този кураж. А европейците за пореден път виждат една куха бюрокрация, която не работи, скатава се и прибира дъждобрана точно когато завали проливен дъжд (ако изобщо е имало дъждобран). Затова не се чудете, когато хората залитат насам и натам, търсейки изход – кой в популизма, кой в национализма, кой в крайнолеви и дори понякога утопични концепции.

Искат гласът им да се чува и да има значение!

Всъщност каталунците искат едно нещо – да гласуват и гласът им да има значение – и това не може и не бива да противоречи на никоя конституция! Още по-малко в Европа! Днес. Правото на глас и самоопределение е основно човешко право и е наднационално!

Събудете се, хора! Какви легенди са наблъскали в главите ви, ако ви е нужна причина или повод, за да признаете правото на някого да изрази позиция – особено пък когато това са няколко милиона души? Наистина ли сте затрили чувствителността си към свободата, това което сте – а сте свободни хора – когато не са ви нужни причини и правила, за да изразите волята си. Правилата са за да ви гарантират това право, а не за да ви го отнемат. Правилата идват после – първо е свободната воля!

Дали каталунците ще се отделят или не е второстепеннен въпрос. По-важният е да могат да решат това свободно! А ние, останалите, няма да сме европейци и не заслужаваме да се наричаме свободни хора, ако не защитим това им право – звучно и категорично!

Visca Catalunya!

Russia’s Largest Torrent Site Celebrates 13 Years Online in a Chinese Restaurant

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russias-largest-torrent-site-celebrates-13-years-online-in-a-chinese-restaurant-170923/

For most torrent fans around the world, The Pirate Bay is the big symbol of international defiance. Over the years the site has fought, avoided, and snubbed its nose at dozens of battles, yet still remains online today.

But there is another site, located somewhere in the east, that has been online for nearly as long, has millions more registered members, and has proven just as defiant.

RuTracker, for those who haven’t yet found it, is a Russian-focused treasure trove of both local and international content. For many years the site was frequented only by native speakers but with the wonders of tools like Google Translate, anyone can use the site at the flick of the switch. When people are struggling to find content, it’s likely that RuTracker has it.

This position has attracted the negative attention of a wide range of copyright holders and thanks to legislation introduced during 2013, the site is now subject to complete blocking in Russia. In fact, RuTracker has proven so stubborn to copyright holder demands, it is now permanently blocked in the region by all ISPs.

Surprisingly, especially given the enthusiasm for blockades among copyright holders, this doesn’t seem to have dampened demand for the site’s services. According to SimiliarWeb, against all the odds the site is still pulling in around 90 million visitors per month. But the impressive stats don’t stop there.

Impressive stats for a permanently blocked site

This week, RuTracker celebrates its 13th birthday, a relative lifetime for a site that has been front and center of Russia’s most significant copyright battles, trouble which doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon.

Back in 2010, for example, RU-Center, Russia’s largest domain name registrar and web-hosting provider, pulled the plug on the site’s former Torrents.ru domain. The Director of Public Relations at RU-Center said that the domain had been blocked on the orders of the Investigative Division of the regional prosecutor’s office in Moscow. The site never got its domain back but carried on regardless, despite the setbacks.

Back then the site had around 4,000,000 members but now, seven years on, its ranks have swelled to a reported 15,382,907. According to figures published by the site this week, 778,317 of those members signed up this year during a period the site was supposed to be completely inaccessible. Needless to say, its operators remain defiant.

“Today we celebrate the 13th anniversary of our tracker, which is the largest Russian (and not only) -language media library on this planet. A tracker strangely banished in the country where most of its audience is located – in Russia,” a site announcement reads.

“But, despite the prohibitions, with all these legislative obstacles, with all these technical difficulties, we see that our tracker still exists and is successfully developing. And we still believe that the library should be open and free for all, and not be subject to censorship or a victim of legislative and executive power lobbied by the monopolists of the media industry.”

It’s interesting to note the tone of the RuTracker announcement. On any other day it could’ve been written by the crew of The Pirate Bay who, in their prime, loved to stick a finger or two up to the copyright lobby and then rub their noses in it. For the team at RuTracker, that still appears to be one of the main goals.

Like The Pirate Bay but unlike many of the basic torrent indexers that have sprung up in recent years, RuTracker relies on users to upload its content. They certainly haven’t been sitting back. RuTracker reveals that during the past year and despite all the problems, users uploaded a total of 171,819 torrents – on average, 470 torrents per day.

Interestingly, the content most uploaded to the site also points to the growing internationalization of RuTracker. During the past year, the NBA / NCAA section proved most popular, closely followed by non-Russian rock music and NHL games. Non-Russian movies accounted for almost 2,000 fresh torrents in just 12 months.

“It is thanks to you this tracker lives!” the site’s operators informed the users.

“It is thanks to you that it was, is, and, for sure, will continue to offer the most comprehensive, diverse and, most importantly, quality content in the Russian Internet. You stayed with us when the tracker lost its original name: torrents.ru. You stayed with us when access to a new name was blocked in Russia: rutracker.org. You stayed with us when [the site’s trackers] were blocked. We will stay with you as long as you need us!”

So as RuTracker plans for another year online, all that remains is to celebrate its 13th birthday in style. That will be achieved tonight when every adult member of RuTracker is invited to enjoy Chinese meal at the Tian Jin Chinese Restaurant in St. Petersburg.

Turn up early, seating is limited.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

EU Piracy Report Suppression Raises Questions Over Transparency

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/eu-piracy-report-suppression-raises-questions-transparency-170922/

Over the years, copyright holders have made hundreds of statements against piracy, mainly that it risks bringing industries to their knees through widespread and uncontrolled downloading from the Internet.

But while TV shows like Game of Thrones have been downloaded millions of times, the big question (one could argue the only really important question) is whether this activity actually affects sales. After all, if piracy has a massive negative effect on industry, something needs to be done. If it does not, why all the panic?

Quite clearly, the EU Commission wanted to find out the answer to this potential multi-billion dollar question when it made the decision to invest a staggering 360,000 euros in a dedicated study back in January 2014.

With a final title of ‘Estimating displacement rates of copyrighted content in the EU’, the completed study is an intimidating 307 pages deep. Shockingly, until this week, few people even knew it existed because, for reasons unknown, the EU Commission decided not to release it.

However, thanks to the sheer persistence of Member of the European Parliament Julia Reda, the public now has a copy and it contains quite a few interesting conclusions. But first, some background.

The study uses data from 2014 and covers four broad types of content: music,
audio-visual material, books and videogames. Unlike other reports, the study also considered live attendances of music and cinema visits in the key regions of Germany, UK, Spain, France, Poland and Sweden.

On average, 51% of adults and 72% of minors in the EU were found to have illegally downloaded or streamed any form of creative content, with Poland and Spain coming out as the worst offenders. However, here’s the kicker.

“In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements,” the study notes.

“That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect.”

For a study commissioned by the EU with huge sums of public money, this is a potentially damaging conclusion, not least for the countless industry bodies that lobby day in, day out, for tougher copyright law based on the “fact” that piracy is damaging to sales.

That being said, the study did find that certain sectors can be affected by piracy, notably recent top movies.

“The results show a displacement rate of 40 per cent which means that for every ten recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally,” the study notes.

“People do not watch many recent top films a second time but if it happens, displacement is lower: two legal consumptions are displaced by every ten illegal second views. This suggests that the displacement rate for older films is lower than the 40 per cent for recent top films. All in all, the estimated loss for recent top films is 5 per cent of current sales volumes.”

But while there is some negative effect on the movie industry, others can benefit. The study found that piracy had a slightly positive effect on the videogames industry, suggesting that those who play pirate games eventually become buyers of official content.

On top of displacement rates, the study also looked at the public’s willingness to pay for content, to assess whether price influences pirate consumption. Interestingly, the industry that had the most displaced sales – the movie industry – had the greatest number of people unhappy with its pricing model.

“Overall, the analysis indicates that for films and TV-series current prices are higher than 80 per cent of the illegal downloaders and streamers are willing to pay,” the study notes.

For other industries, where sales were not found to have been displaced or were positively affected by piracy, consumer satisfaction with pricing was greatest.

“For books, music and games, prices are at a level broadly corresponding to the
willingness to pay of illegal downloaders and streamers. This suggests that a
decrease in the price level would not change piracy rates for books, music and
games but that prices can have an effect on displacement rates for films and
TV-series,” the study concludes.

So, it appears that products that are priced fairly do not suffer significant displacement from piracy. Those that are priced too high, on the other hand, can expect to lose some sales.

Now that it’s been released, the findings of the study should help to paint a more comprehensive picture of the infringement climate in the EU, while laying to rest some of the wild claims of the copyright lobby. That being said, it shouldn’t have taken the toils of Julia Reda to bring them to light.

“This study may have remained buried in a drawer for several more years to come if it weren’t for an access to documents request I filed under the European Union’s Freedom of Information law on July 27, 2017, after having become aware of the public tender for this study dating back to 2013,” Reda explains.

“I would like to invite the Commission to become a provider of more solid and timely evidence to the copyright debate. Such data that is valuable both financially and in terms of its applicability should be available to everyone when it is financed by the European Union – it should not be gathering dust on a shelf until someone actively requests it.”

The full study can be downloaded here (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

What the NSA Collects via 702

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/09/what_the_nsa_co.html

New York Times reporter Charlie Savage writes about some bad statistics we’re all using:

Among surveillance legal policy specialists, it is common to cite a set of statistics from an October 2011 opinion by Judge John Bates, then of the FISA Court, about the volume of internet communications the National Security Agency was collecting under the FISA Amendments Act (“Section 702”) warrantless surveillance program. In his opinion, declassified in August 2013, Judge Bates wrote that the NSA was collecting more than 250 million internet communications a year, of which 91 percent came from its Prism system (which collects stored e-mails from providers like Gmail) and 9 percent came from its upstream system (which collects transmitted messages from network operators like AT&T).

These numbers are wrong. This blog post will address, first, the widespread nature of this misunderstanding; second, how I came to FOIA certain documents trying to figure out whether the numbers really added up; third, what those documents show; and fourth, what I further learned in talking to an intelligence official. This is far too dense and weedy for a New York Times article, but should hopefully be of some interest to specialists.

Worth reading for the details.