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


Ecuador grants Assange political asylum – but how will he get from London to Quito?

17/08/2012

News about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and his bid to avoid extradition to Sweden and the possibility of being sent to the USA to face spurious but all too serious espionage charges. In June he sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embasshy in London, requesting political asylum. Well, the Ecuador government has made its decision: as things stand, Assange is a potential political prisoner, and if he’s extradited to Sweden there is a very definite possibility that he will be forwarded to America, where faces charges relating to “top secret” communiques that were leaked by Wikileaks and published by the New York Times and the Guardian. Hmm, that’s a thought: how come the New York Times editor hasn’t been charged with espionage? Why isn’t the USA calling for the extradition of Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian? Rhetorical questions of course. Newspapers have been around a long time, as has been the notion of a free press. But many governments say that online reporting isn’t really journalism at all – and of course Wikileaks is a pain in the ass that the US/UK would like to stomp to death pour encourager les autres.

Countries usually respect the embassies of other nations, regarding diplomatic posts as the legal territory of that foreign nation. But William Hague, British foreign secretary and effectively the prime minister as the real prime minister (David Cameron) and the deputy PM (Nick Clegg) has made some ominous threats. He’s already said in public that Assange would be arrested if he leaves the embassy in London where he has lived for nearly two months, and Ecuador claim that British authorities are threatening to storm the embassy to arrest him.

Hague responded to the asylum decision saying it was “a matter of regret” that Assange had been granted asylum, and that Assange would be arrested when he left the embassy regardless.

The British government sent a letter to Ecuadorean officials in Quito outlining the powers of the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, which allows revocation of a building’s diplomatic status if the foreign power occupying it “ceases to use land for the purposes of its mission or exclusively for the purposes of a consular post”. Hague said this was not a threat, simply an explanation of British law, allegedly in line with international law.

If government agents (ie. the police) invade the embassy to arrest Assange, it will be setting a precedent with possibly explosive outcomes. In recent history foreign embassies have been sacrosanct. Earlier this year, the lawyer and dissident Chen Guangcheng took refuge in the US embassy in China; and the People’s Revolutionary Army didn’t storm the building – when Chen left the embassy it was completely freely. And many other people have gained sanctuary in another countries’ embassies – check out the list here. If the British government think the Ecuadorean embassy is fair game, what will happen to the British Embassy in Ecuador… or anywhere else?

Think, Hague, think. If Dave comes back from holiday to a diplomatic crisis, heads will roll. Even yours. :p

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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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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange seeks asylum in Ecuadorian embassy in London

19/06/2012

Another dramatic twist in the Julian Assange case: Assange has gone to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, seeking asylum.  For those unaware of this story: Julian Assange is a founder of the Wikileaks website, which allows whistle-blowers to upload files to the internet anonymously; files concerning US military activity were sent to Wikileaks, who decided to share them with the New York Times and the Guardian; the USA didn’t like that, and some influential US political figures think Assange should be put on trial for treason (even though Assange is Australian and therefore cannot commit treason against the USA); Assange is in the UK, and there is no way the UK will extradite him to the USA; so now an old Swedish rape allegation against Assange has popped back up, and Sweden wants Assange extradited for it (even though the Swedish prosecutors dismissed the allegations as false a long time ago); a lot of people think that once Sweden has Assange, they will send him on to the USA, where he will probably be electrocuted or stoned to death or something…

Assange is running out of appeal options in the UK (the Supreme Court has twice rejected his call for appeal), so obviously he wants to get the hell away from the country.  I’m not sure why he chose Ecuador (I would have thought Venezuela or Cuba would be better options), but that’s where he is seeking asylum.  It’s pretty obvious the US/Sweden action makes him a political prisoner, therefore he is entitled to political asylum.  But what will Ecuador decide?  Dare they defy the USA?  We’ll see…

 

 
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