Cypherpunk: Freedom and the Future of the Internet, free download pdf

19/07/2018

assange-cypherpunks

Just found this download link for Julian Assange’s 2012 book Cypherpunk: Freedom and the Future of the Internet.  I found it literally less than thirty minutes ago, so I’m posting it here before I’ve had a chance to read it myself.  Once I have, I’ll tell you what I think of it.  In the meantime, check it out for yourselves!  And here is an excerpt from a review by Marienna Pope-Weidemann at http://www.counterfire.org:

A watchman’s shout in the night

Since the infamous PRISM surveillance system was exposed by the NSA analyst Edward Snowden, the existence of what the cypherpunks have long called ‘the transnational surveillance state’ is beyond doubt. Conspiracy has become reality, and paranoia has become the number-one necessity of investigative journalism.

Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet, published last year, describes itself as ‘a watchman’s shout in the night’. An apt description, given everything we have learned lately. What the book is trying to hammer home is the immense importance of the internet as a new political battleground: how it is structured, monitored and used has serious ramifications for political organisation, economics, education, labour, culture and just about every other area of our lives, because increasingly, their world is our world. And if knowledge is power, and it is never been as ubiquitous as it is in cyberspace, there is a great deal at stake.

Who are the cypherpunks?

Begun by a circle of Californian libertarians, the original cypherpunk mailing list was initiated in the late 1980s, as individuals and activists, as well as corporations, started making use of cryptography and, in response, state-wide bans were introduced (p.64). For the cypherpunks, the use of encryption for anonymity and secure communication was the single most important weapon for activists in the internet age.

Their rallying cry was ‘privacy for the weak, transparency for the powerful’; the dictum to which Wikileaks has dedicated itself. As discussed in the book, the subsequent evolution of the internet has taken it in the opposite direction: citizens, politically active or otherwise, law-abiding or otherwise, have lost all right to privacy, while the powerful hide increasingly behind secret laws and extrajudicial practices.

Cypherpunks is a collective contribution of four authors, three of them leading figures in the cypherpunk movement. First we have Julian Assange, who needs less and less introduction as time goes by (there are even two films now devoted to this problematic figure, the independent Australian feature, Underground, and the highly inaccurate box-office disaster We Steal Secrets). Assange has been hacking since the age of seventeen, when he founded the Australian group, the International Subversives, and wrote down the early rules of this subculture: ‘Don’t damage computer systems you break into (including crashing them); don’t change the information in those systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share information.’ Next we have German journalist Andy Müller-Maguhn of the Chaos Computer Club, co-founder of European Digital Rights and writer for Bugged Planet. Jacob Appelbaum, also a member of the Chaos Computer Club, is the developer who founded Noisebridge, an award-winning educational hackerspace in San Fransisco and international advocate for the Tor Project. Finally, we have the co-founder of the La Quadrature du Net advocacy group, Jérémie Zimmerman, a leading figure in struggles for net neutrality and against the Anti-Counterfeit and Trade Agreement (ACTA) who does not seem to be able to get on a plane without being harassed by government officials over his ties to Wikileaks.

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Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2010 to avoid extradition to Sweden and USA. Pic from http://www.extremetech.com


Why won’t Theresa May just say clearly if she intends to allow Sweden to extradite Assange to USA?

27/07/2012

Interesting article in the Guardian: Julian Assange, and the Ecuadorian government (in whose London embassy Assange has taken refuge for the past five weeks),have no problem per se with extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations. Ecuador, which wants to be an “honest broker” in this matter, is concerned that Sweden will go on to send Assange to the US where he faces possible charges of espionage and a natural life prison sentence for his role in Wikileaks’ publication of “top secret” diplomatic dispatches. Assange’s US lawyer, Michael Ratner, has said he was certain Assange had already either been secretly indicted by a grand jury in Washington or would face extradition with a view to prosecution. He believed the death penalty remained a possibility – which is a major reason why Ecuador opposes the extradition.

According to the Guardian article, there is a concept in extradition law called “specialty”: this means that if the UK extradite Assange to Sweden, the Swedes will not be allowed to extradite him to a third country (such as the USA) once they’ve finished with him – they will have to give him a 45 day grace period during which time he will be allowed to travel somewhere else (perhaps Ecuador). However, specialty can be waived by the country granting the initial extradition request – in this case the UK – thereby allowing an individual to be extradited to a third country. If home secretary Theresa May waives specialty under section 58 of the Extradition Act 2003, Sweden will be able to extradite Assange to the USA.

Assange is willing to be extradited to Sweden if specialty is not waivered. But the British government refuses to make this commitment. Instead they keep coming out with non-committal statements like:

Since Mr Assange first entered the Ecuadorean embassy five weeks ago, we have repeatedly made clear to the Ecuadorean government that the UK has a binding legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual offences. We have been seeking a diplomatic solution and expect Ecuador to resolve this issue in accordance with its international obligations.

The UK courts, including the supreme court, have confirmed that Mr Assange’s extradition to Sweden complies with all the requirements of the UK’s Extradition Act, including as regards the protection of his human rights. We have gone to great lengths to explain to Ecuador the human rights protections inherent in our law.

Britain usually refuses to extradite people to countries where there exists a possibility of cruel and unusual punishment – which includes the death sentence. Of course, if Assange is extradited to Sweden, this principle will have been upheld – Sweden has no plans to execute Assange. But if May waives specialty, she will effectively be sending him to the USA, where cruel and unusual punishment is a distinct possibility (remember, the USA would like to make an example of Assange, a foreigner whose own government doesn’t give a toss for – the US authorities can’t take action against the New York Times or the Guardian, the papers that actually published the leaked documents, because of how that would look in a country that supposedly prides itself on the “freedom of the press” – but destroying Assange would barely raise an eyebrow amongst Americans).

So come on May – tell Ecuador what your plans are regarding specialty in the Assange extradition case. Are you planning to have him sent on to the USA and possible execution? Or are you really just trying to abide by your legal obligations to Sweden?

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Assange extradition hearing day 1: can he get a fair trial in Sweden

07/02/2011

Today, 7 Feb 2011, Wikileaks founder and spokesman Julian Assange attended Belmarsh magistrates court, London, for the first day of his extradition hearing. Prosecutors in Sweden want to put him on trial for “molestation” – an odd law, perhaps found only in Sweden, which can classify consensual sex as some sort of crime.

Assange’s lawyer believes that all the negative publicity attracted to case makes a fair trial in Sweden impossible. But of course, what Assange really believes that Sweden will in turn extradite him to the USA, where various commentators and politicians have declared him guilty of treason(?) and espionage and are calling for the death penalty. A bizarre situation, as it wasn’t Assange that illegally obtained the American cables at the centre of this palaver – he merely published them, as did the New York Times, the Guardian and the Spiegel.

I’m very concerned that this mad chain of events will result with Assange in a US jail cell. Maybe on Death Row, if some idiots get their way. And for what: publishing a bunch of diplomatic cables, some of which are embarrassing to various people and organizations, but none of the revelations has put anyone in danger. It’s all a re-run of the Gary McKinnon affair, where another American administration was embarrassed and tried to strike back. Let’s hope that the USA will see sense and withdraw their ridiculous allegations. And that Britain will grow enough balls to tell the USA to STFU.

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2600’s Emmanuel Goldstein says that “Anonymous” DDOS attacks/protests are bad… FFS…

23/12/2010

Emmanuel Goldstein, aka Eric Corley, editor of the hacker magazine 2600 and presenter of the weekly podcast and New York WBAI radio show “Off The Hook”, said on this week’s show that he thought the DDOS attacks being aimed at anti-Wikileaks organizations like Amazon by so-called members of the pseudo-group “Anonymous” are bad, counterproductive and basically a hypocritical way to protest against censorship. What I understand from his argument is that he thinks censoring the censors is just as bad as Wikileak’s opponents attacking the messenger instead of the message.

Thing is, Emmanuel is wrong wrong wrong. I see the widespread use of tools like LOIC (the “Low Orbit Ion Cannon” program) to mess with companies like Amazon, Mastercard, PayPal and others who’ve decided to stop doing business with Wikileaks, as similar to the flash protests which saw massive chain stores like Top Shop in the UK being forced to close because the stores were suddenly filled with hundreds of students and other victims of government cuts who think the owners of these stores, like Sir Philip Green the billionaire owner of Top Shop cynically avoids paying tax by being officially “domiciled” in some tax haven country, while he advises the government to make massive cuts in public spending. The flash protests at billionaire tax dodgers’ businesses, and the denial of service attacks on companies who’ve been unmasked as agents of US foreign policy, are the new way of getting our voices heard. In 1968, workers and students in Paris protested together against their government’s obscene policies, and direct action in other countries forced change; now, in the age of the internet, these new forms of protest are being tried, to see if they can bring about the social change that the whole world urgently needs.

To be honest, I’m a little worried that something has been done to Emmanuel by Wikileaks’ Swedish governmental enemies. During the show he told us a story about a shopkeeper whose CCTV system caught images of the Stockholm suicide bomber – and he actually said that CCTV is good because it can film these kinds of events. The bombing was a tragedy, obviously; but Emmanuel would usually recognize that any good resulting from CCTV is just a by-product of our Orwellian 1984-like surveillance culture. It’s pretty ironic that Emmanuel took his name from the character Emmanuel Goldstein in the novel 1984 – a mysterious, manufactured bogeyman created to justify Big Brother’s totalitarian control of society.

“Off the Hook” is usually a great show, and I’d normally recommend it to anyone with at least a couple of brain cells to rub together. But if Big Brother really has done a number on Emmanuel Goldstein… yikes, where did I put my tin-foil hat?!!!

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Wikileaks.org is back up! Not a *huge* victory for freedom and common sense – but a victory nevertheless

15/12/2010

On 3 December, we reported that you could no longer reach the Wikileaks site by using the wikileaks.org URL. Well, that is no longer the case: aim your browser at “http://wikileaks.org” and you get rerouted to http://mirror.wikileaks.info/ – one of the many, many mirrors that sprouted after the USA’s clumsy efforts to limit free speech. Not a major victory by any means. But a victory nevertheless.

In other (Wikileaks/Assange-related) news: Julian Assange is still in prison even though he was granted bail yesterday. The Swedish prosecutors have appealed against the bail ruling, claiming that he would pose a major flight risk. I’m not sure how the Swedes think he’ll flee: Assange’s face must be one of the best known in border security circles, plus they have his passport… but as things stand, he must remain in HMP Wandsworth for at leat another couple of days while this judicial circus runs its course.

This case is highlighting the problems with the new European arrest warrant system. Usually, it is only possible to extradite someone if the crime he’s accused of is also a crime in the country he’s “hiding” in. As far as I can tell, Assange’s alleged crimes are not illegal in Britain (what the Swedes call “rape” and “sexual molestation” are very different to the UK’s definitions – I believe one of the charges relates to Assange refusing to use a condom; the complainant admits that the sex was consensual, so how in hell can this be called a crime? He didn’t force her to have unprotected sex).

Anyway, a blog like this one is not really a good place to discuss the intricacies of Swedish law. But what I will say is this: Sweden has got very accommodating rendition agreements with the USA. If Assange is extradited to Sweden, it won’t be long before he ends up in America. And if you look at what politicians are saying about Assange it’s pretty clear he won’t receive a free trial and he’ll end up on a slab.

But do these people really believe that Assange is Wikileaks? The leaks will continue, regardless of his fate. All that will happen is that Assange’s colleagues will improve their security and anonymity. Killing (or imprisoning) Assange will not kill Wikileaks. And all politicians need to beware: if they treat Assange like a piece of shit, the leaks will become more and more damaging to the so-called “liberal” European “democracies” who are currently baying for his blood. So watch out, fools: the day of reckoning is nearly upon us… and you.

UPDATE: I just noticed this, a page that lists the very many sites that are mirroring Wikileaks in an attempt to stop the authorities ever again closing them down. Well, when I say “stop”, I actually mean “make it very difficult”. The USA has already demonstrated the length of its reach. But when Wikileaks is mirrored in a huge number of countries, some of whom dislike America intensely, the job of censorship becomes much more difficult.

There’s also info on the page about how you too can mirror Wikileaks on your web server. I say go for it! I think it’s about time that the USA learned what “democracy” actually means: rule by the people for the people; not rule by a bunch of rich geezers on behalf of their billionaire buddies. Or is my dictionary out of date?

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Julian Assange jailed while Sweden tries to extradite him

07/12/2010

Unbefuckinglievable – a London judge has remanded Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange re Sweden’s attempt to extradite him on sex crime charges.

Actually that’s a load of crap: it’s completely believable. We’re talking about Britain here; the same country that refused to extradite Augusto Pinochet to Spain to stand trial on charges of crimes against humanity.

So Julian Assange is banged up in HMP Wandsworth awaiting the possibility that he’ll be sent to Sweden to stand trial on sex crime charges. Only he won’t stand trial in Sweden at all – this is all happening so the USA will be able to get hold of him. Of course, if he is sent to America he will be executed as a terrorist.

And Sweden says there has been no political pressure to do this. Liars.

BTW: the site wikileaks.ch is still up and running, as of this post (8.12pm, Tue 7 Dec 2010). Give Wikileaks your support, moral if not financial. We cannot allow the USA and its serf-allies to stop the truth from being told.


Wikileaks in trouble (again)

03/12/2010

Wikileaks, the website that helps whistleblowers make their info public whilst remaining anonymous, is in trouble again. I guess it’s inevitable that anyone who releases onto the internet hundreds of thousands of classified US government documents is going to face hardship in one way or another – the USA is not a nice enemy to have. First they got Amazon to stop their Wikileaks-based business (the 250,000 US embassy cables recently leaked were stored on servers owned by Amazon) and now they’ve got Everydns, the American-owned company that provided DNS service to Wikileaks, to drop the wikileaks.org site. Tell your browser to go to “wikileaks.org” and it’ll tell you that there’s no server at that address.

Everydns, the company involved, say they had to drop wikileaks.org because the denial-of-service and other cyber attacks aimed at the Wikileaks site were also affecting the internet company’s other customers. And that’s a plausible explanation. Plausible deniability, anyone? Because it seems to me that a more likely explanation is that the US government leaned on Everydns and told them: “Drop Wikileaks or we’ll drop you!” And there’s the fact that Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate’s committee on homeland security, called for a boycott of Wikileaks-related business by all American companies. Amazon have admitted that they acted under pressure from the government – so why are Everydns being so shy? Are they ashamed of what they’ve done? I know that I would be ashamed of myself if I did anything like that.

While this has harmed Wikileaks, it wasn’t fatal. Wikileaks quickly got themselves a Swiss URL – wikileaks.ch – and there’s also the IP address 46.59.1.2 – type that into your browser’s address bar and it’ll take you to the site that makes the US government so scared!!

I think that Wikileaks are providing a much-needed service. If democracy is to be taken seriously, there needs to be transparency of government. And the constant refrain we hear from politicians – that these leaks put the lives of service men and women in danger – is complete BS. The government put its troops’ lives in ganger when it sent them off to war. Also, Wikileaks have collaborated with experienced journalists from the New York Times, the Guardian and others) to ensure that individual identities are not revealed needlessly. The plain truth is that Wikileaks has exposed the politicians’ unethical greed and war-mongering. Good work, Wikileaks… but watch your back.

One Wikileaks-related figure, Julian Assange, has more reason than most to watch his back. Wikileaks works best as an anonymous network of activists and truth-seekers. But Assange has put himself into the story. Go to front of the current Wikileaks site (213.251.145.96) and you’ll find a photo of the man, looking rather contemplative and honest (the direct eye-contact between the man and the camera lens screams “Trust me!” Maybe he’s deliberately hogging the limelight, to distract attention away from the men and women in the shadows doing the actual work. Or maybe he’s a narcissistic sexual predator. I don’t know. But I do know that Wikileaks is incredibly important. Don’t let your government take them down!

Julian Assange: what a lovely guy!

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