Privacy News Roundup 17 October 2016

Hillary Clinton sticks to mass surveillance stance, leaked emails reveal

When it comes to government mass surveillance, US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s “instincts” will always side with law enforcement, according to a leaked email from her campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The email was sent last November during the notorious dispute between tech giant Apple and the FBI, when it was clarified that Clinton is unlikely to change her beliefs in an attempt to appeal to voters or to score political points.

“Her instincts are to buy some of the law enforcement arguments on crypto and Snowden-type issues,” wrote Podesta in the email to Luke Albee, a former chief of staff to Democratic senator Mark Warner.

WikiLeaks released over 5,000 emails from Podesta with this specific email being released on 12th October. In the email, Albee emphasized to Podesta how Clinton could lock down the Snowden leaks, which uncovered several surveillance programs in the US, the UK and elsewhere, in a bid against rival candidate Donald Trump.

“The Tea Party was born [because] of the perception of government encroachment in people’s lives […] The Snowden stuff confirmed what many felt…the government was collecting vast troves of information on everyone,” wrote Albee.

He continued: “Trump called for registering Muslims. He has called for a federal domestic police force that will be focussed on arresting and deporting 11 million people. Other candidates are talking about separating immigrants by religion. All of this is about building up and feeding the BIG BROTHER beast.”

“At a certain point, I think HRC might bring together all the different strands (mostly Trumps) of expanding federal Big Brother government –and talk about how it’s possible to be safe without creating some kind of large and cumbersome and intrusive police state. This will sew divisions and acrimony on the other side.”

In response to the email, titled “one idea for a little down the road”, Podesta wrote: “May be tough, but worth looking for an opening.” It appears the opening never came, as Clinton – less than a month after the email was sent – called for an “intelligence surge” in the US to help fight terrorism.

In terms of Snowden, Clinton claimed: “He stole very important information that has fallen into the wrong hands so I think he should not be brought home without facing the music.”

When Clinton was asked last year if she regretted voting for the controversial Patriot Act she said: “I don’t. I think that it was necessary to make sure that we were able after 9/11 to put in place the security that we needed.”

hillary clinton
Presidential hopeful Hiliary Clinton is sticking to her mass surveillance stance, according to a leaked email through WikiLeaks. Source: Flickr.

AllMyVideos.net to shut down, no longer profitable

Popular video-hosting site AllMyVideos.net will shut down next weekend. The operator has said it is no longer profitable due to a lack of revenue and encourages users to back up their files before the weekend.

The website was founded five years ago and has since become a household name in the world of video hosting. The site, which, at its peak, boasted millions of monthly users, now displays the following warning message:

“We are sorry to inform everyone that effective October 23, 2016 Allmyvideos.net will stop accepting new uploads and the site will close fully at the end of the month.”

The decision for closure coincides with a submission from the Hollywood industry group MPAA to the US Government, which listed AllMyVideos as one of the top pirated sites. However, the site was forced into closure not because of allegations of piracy but because of a lack of revenue.

“Honestly, the main reason why the site is closing is the fact that the video hosting business is not profitable any longer, not by any means. Over the years making the site break even has become a massive issue,” said Bill from AllMyVideos.

“It’s very difficult to get ads that will cover the bandwidth. And AllMyVideos sold maybe five premium subscriptions a week over the last few months, for a total of around $200,”

The loss of revenue is contrary to a report published by the Hollywood-supported Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) two years ago. The report claims that these services are highly profitable. For example, DCA’s report estimated the site’s yearly profit of $997,587 with a healthy profit ratio around 85%.

“Honestly, I don’t know how the MPAA thinks people make money off hosting. The unreal $ values they come up with are insane. A profit margin of -20% is more like it,” said Bill.

The UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill to become law

The last few months in UK politics have been tumultuous, what with the issue of “Brexit”, the murder of Labour Politician Jo Cox MP, the collapse of the pound, the resignation of David Cameron, as well as political unrest in most of UK’s political parties. During this time, an important piece of legislation has made its way through parliament without any serious public scrutiny.

The Investigatory Powers Bill, or the Snoopers’ Charter as its commonly known, is in its final stages before becoming law. Some parts of the bill have been deemed by privacy advocates to be deeply intrusive with little justification. The proposal of the bill includes a law which dictates that all internet traffic must be logged for a period of one year.

The previous version of the legislation, the Communications Data Bill, was brought to an end in 2013. Before the new bill is passed, Labour will have the chance to support the Lib Dems amendments. On 25 October there will be a third reading of the bill, when the House of Lords will have a chance to reject the bill.

Investigatory Powers Bill UK
The UK government is in the final stages of making law the Investigatory Powers Bill, which, if passed, will log the activity of every online user. Source: Wikipedia.

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