In the US Jim Sensenbrenner, the Republican author of the 2001 Patriot Act, the act which authorised the bulk collection of phone records, has introduced a bill called the United and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act or USA Freedom Act, which would ban warrantless bulk phone metadata collection and prevent the NSA from querying its foreign communications databases to identify information on Americans.
Today Sensenbrenner has written for the Guardian to say that the NSA’s “overreach” infringes on American civil liberties and “poses a serious threat to our economic vitality”.
US companies seeking to expand to lucrative markets in Europe and Asia will find regulatory environments much less receptive to mergers and acquisitions because of NSA programs. German regulatory officials have made it clear, for instance, that AT&T, a massive American telecommunications company that provided customer telephone numbers to the NSA as ordered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (known as the Fisa court), would undergo intense scrutiny to ensure it complies with German privacy laws before it can acquire a German telecommunications company. This mandate would certainly impede efforts to expand its presence in the region.
He notes the possible damage to the increasingly ubiquitous cloud computing industry, in which documents are saved online – and so on companies’ servers – instead of on a user’s desktop:
The cloud computing industry will also suffer. Since many industries rely heavily on this technology, any disruption would ripple across all segments of the national economy. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the US cloud computing industry could lose between $22 and $35bn (pdf) over the next three years because of the NSA’s overreach. And smaller cloud service providers that partner with US companies have already cancelled contracts.
His bill has currently been “referred to committee”. Sensenbrenner writes: “If the USA Freedom Act is brought to the floors of Congress for an up or down vote, I am confident it will pass with strong bipartisan support.”
Hans-Christian Ströbele, the German Green MP who met Edward Snowden in Russia last month, has asked the British security services to reveal all information they hold on him.
Ströbele is in London today and is due to meet Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the chair of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, which oversees the intelligence agencies.
His request asked for information “including but not limited to, any information either of a professional or personal nature that you may have obtained through surveillance conducted in Berlin by either the British intelligence services and/or the US.”
The British do not worry about what their security services are doing because they do not have the same history that we do in Germany. Maybe if Mr Cameron was – or discovered he was – being spied on he would start to worry and implement some proper oversight of the intelligence agencies.
The website of the Australian Federal Police appears to have been targeted by Indonesian hackers, who claimed responsibility for crashing the site overnight on Wednesday Jakarta time, reports Oliver Laughland in Jakarta.
The online portal of Australia’s federal and international law enforcement body has crashed a number of times in the past few hours. This follows updated advice from the Australian department of foreign affairs and trade that protest is planned outside their embassy in Jakarta, telling Australian tourists to reconsider their travel plans.
In an address on Wednesday, Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed anger with Canberra over the phone-tapping revelations. He also urged all Indonesians for calm, while acknowledging many were angry.
The hashtag ganyangaustralia or “CrushAustralia” has been trending on Twitter in Indonesia over the past few hours. Indonesia has one of the highest Twitter user rates in the world.
Australians planning to visit Indonesia have been warned about the policy of civil unrest and political tension in Jakarta, the Age reports. A protest is planned at the Australian embassy in the Indonesian capital on Thursday morning.
The Australian travel advisory reads:
Local police advise that a demonstration is planned for outside the Australian embassy on 21 November 2013. Australians should monitor local media, avoid protests, maintain high levels of vigilance and security awareness.
The overall level of the travel advice remains steady at “Exercise a high degree of caution”, the newspaper writes.
As Time reports, “CrushAustralia” (#ganyangaustralia) has been trending on Twitter.
Indonesia has temporarily halted all co-operation with Australia on people smuggling in reaction to the phone-tapping scandal revealed by Guardian Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
My colleague Oliver Laughland is in Jakarta. I asked him what the public and media reaction had been to the scandal.
The media – both English-language and Bahasa – has been absolutely dominated by this story for the past couple of days now. It doesn’t look like it’s likely to go away. Obviously the president made an address earlier today, so I suspect that will very much dominate the headlines tomorrow as well.
I was out and about downtown in Jakarta yesterday and spoke to a number of people who all seemed to know about it, all seemed to be equally outraged.
I also went down to the Australian embassy earlier on today. There were a few police people outside. There were some security forces as well, I think employed by the Australians, waiting around outside, and they had coils of barbed wire at the ready. No protests as of yet, when I went down anyway; I’ve heard a few things filtering in of people burning Australian flags outside the capital …
The president, as well as talking about reviewing these people-smuggling co-operation deals they have with Australia, also called for calm, and that’s really been quite a lot of the way in which a lot of Australian politicians have conducted themselves when talking about these things. There’s a real yearning for clarity still.
Tony Abbott, the new Australian prime minister, made great play during the election campaign of his promise to “stop the boats” – to stop asylum seekers coming in by sea. For that he would need Indonesia’s help. So was this row damaging Abbott domestically?
It’s hugely damaging. As you say the pre-election pledge that the Coalition [the new Australian government] came in was to stop the boats, and they made it very, very clear as they came into government that this could not be done without the co-operation of the Indonesian authorities. They introduced quite a hardline policy on asylum, under the guise of Operation Sovereign Borders, which is their military-led strategy to ‘stop the boats’ – that’s Abbott’s catchphrase, and has been for a number of years.
But since they’ve come into power there’s been a lot of criticism that a number of these policies – which include things like buying up Indonesian fishing boats and offering Indonesian villagers money in exchange for information on people-smugglers – simply can’t be done without the co-operation of Indonesia. And I often go down to these press conferences where the immigration minister talks a lot about how they’re getting the co-operation they need from Indonesia. Well, that’s been completely taken off the [table] at the moment, at least until this is resolved.
So in terms of how it’s going to play domestically for Tony Abbott, it’s serious stuff.
In Britain, a Conservative MP has warned that the internet’s freedoms could be at risk as governments seek to exploit the Snowden leaks to increase their power and influence.
Alun Cairns, the MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, said some nations were questioning the US government’s relationship with the internet and intending to change it in the wake of intelligence exposed by the former NSA contractor. He told a Westminster Hall debate on governance of the internet:
While the internet is renowned for being a worldwide network free from central control and co-ordination, there is a technical need for some key parts of the internet to be globally co-ordinated and this co-ordination role is undertaken by Iana [Internet Assigned Numbers Authority].
The Icann [Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers] performs the Iana functions under the US government contract and I think that is particularly relevant. It is this relationship with the US government that some organisations and some nations are concerned about and are seeking to change.
The fallout from the Edward Snowden revelations was a genuine concern to some at the IGF [Internet Governance Forum] but I would suggest is being used as an opportunity to gain stronger control of the internet by others.
What I’m saying is that some governments are calling for changes to the way in which the internet is governed, potentially risking the freedoms it has brought about and using information shared by Edward Snowden as the reason, or should I say the excuse, to do so.
I believe that the internet must remain open, where the oversight arises from the joint action of international organisations, industry and civil society. But I am concerned that other nations are calling for control, which could limit its contents and as a result the innovation and ingenuity and investment.
The Brazilian government is hosting a summit next April to consider the issue. Cairns said:
It’s not yet clear what the exact purpose is but it is clear some nations see it as a key step to increasing their power and influence and the power and influence of governments in general over the internet. If these governments are successful this raises serious issues for us all. The great freedoms that have come from the internet as we know it may well be under threat.
Snowden has meant some nations are questioning the US government’s relationship with the internet. But let us remember they do have an unenviable reputation in defending human rights and freedoms of expression that many seeking to influence the internet governance debate simply do not have.
Welcome to our hub for all Edward Snowden, NSA and GCHQ-related developments around the world. As arguments rage over how much of our day to day life should be monitored in the name of security, we’ll be tracking the growing global debate about privacy in the digital age. We’d like to know what you think about the whole NSA story, what you’re worried about – and any new areas you’d like to read more about.
Good morning. Here are today’s headlines.
• Indonesia has temporarily halted all co-operation with Australia on people smuggling, its president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, announced on Wednesday as he continued to demand an explanation from the Australian government for the phone tapping revelations, write Oliver Laughland in Jakarta and Lenore Taylor in Canberra.
In a dramatic escalation of the row between the two countries, Yudhoyono spelled out a series of measures, including suspending all joint military exercises, in response to the scandal sparked by documents published by Guardian Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Speaking at the presidential palace, Yudhoyono said such phone tapping was “in violation of international law”, saying: “I don’t understand why it had to happen. Why Australia did it to Indonesia.”
He added: “I am expecting an official statement and stance from the Australian government.”
Yudhoyono said he would be writing to the Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, on Wednesday demanding an official explanation.
Abbott promised to reply “swiftly, fully and courteously” to Yudhoyono’s letter, in a statement to parliament on Wednesday night.
• Italian premier Enrico Letta has told his parliament that no communications by Italy’s political leaders or its embassies worldwide were compromised by the US National Security Agency’s surveillance work, the Associated Press reports.
Letta reported to lawmakers Wednesday on the results of intelligence checks and international queries. He also said there is no evidence that the privacy of ordinary Italians was violated by Italian or foreign intelligence activity, and that US authorities have assured him that intelligence gathering has not been “systematically” used against Italy.
Letta had previously given similar assurances to a closed-door briefing to a parliamentary commission.
• The world now faces total electronic penetration, with huge power available to those who control it, argues Simon Jenkins.
The idea that the assurances of a policeman or spy are “good enough for me” has been shown as deluded. No group should be trusted with such unconstrained leverage over others, least of all one revealed as systematically deceiving Congress.Expecting the west’s arcane democratic institutions to police the new digital power of states is to build a sandcastle against a tank. Yet they are all we have. Parliamentarians who discover they have been deceived by the spies must howl blue murder, as they are doing in America but not in Britain …
The press, showered with leaks, must resort to its own educated judgment in deciding where the public interest lies. Everyone knows secrets must be kept, but keeping them needs a framework built on public trust. That framework must be informed and argued. It can no longer rely on the bark of command and a cringing deference to the gods of security.
• Advances in technology have given undemocratic countries unparalleled opportunities to buy powerful off-the-shelf systems for spying on people, the head of a committee of MPs has warned.
I’ll have all the latest development in the NSA/Snowden controversies here throughout the day.
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