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Notes on Civil Liberties for August 3

Here’s today’s blog for the latest news and updates on civil liberties and digital freedom issues. If you have any news tips and would like to contact me, email

2011 promises to be a year of growth for the cyber defense industry. The industry will benefit from those who need help addressing online theft, fraud, identity theft and espionage. They also are useful to heads of intelligence agencies like David Irvine of Australia’s ASIO, who complained, “The rampant use of the internet, the democratisation of communication, has resulted in new and effective means for individuals to propagate and absorb unfettered ideas and information and to be radicalised?—?literally, in their lounge rooms.”

Both the Bush and Obama administrations passed on opportunities to place sanctions on Syria, WikiLeaks cables reveal. The US knew Ali Mamluk, chief intelligence for Syrian President Bashar Assad, was suppressing internal dissent but no action was taken. And so far the Obama administration has not called on Assad to leave office. [Here’s one of the cables cited in the story: 07DAMASCUS269

AT&T plans to throttle the bandwidth of remaining unlimited data plan users. They say approval of T-Mobile merger could change their mind. Pure blackmail.

Syria government hired an international PR firm helped to coordinate Vogue magazine’s profile of Syria’s first lady Asma el-Assad. The piece was published in March, just as Syria began to escalate a crackdown on protesters, and has been heavily criticized.

Much more to come out on News International’s use of phone hacking, says Labour MP Tom Watson. Watson reports more “people who aren’t household names” but have been “victims of high-profile crimes” will come out in the coming days.

Network World provides a brief biography of some of the major hacker groups that have been making headlines. Anonymous, LulzSec, Zeus, Night Dragon, Green Army Corp, and Inj3ct0r Team and the goals and methods they use to effectively hack into business and government systems.

Judge will allow a former US military contractor to sue former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for damages. The man advancing the suit claims he was about to come home to the US on annual leave when the US military abducted him. His family had no idea where he was. Government claims he passed along “classified information” to “the enemy” but they never charged him with any crime.

McAfee believes it found a single perpetrator of cyberattacks on governments that last five years. Yet, the New York Times reports “as with a number of other alarming recent reports on computer spying, it offered few details that would allow independent verification, and it was difficult to immediately assess the damage done. It did not identify the location of the attacking computer system, say what kinds of documents or information were stolen, or offer any direct evidence of a state actor.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is one lawmaker who has been on “the vanguard for protecting the Internet itself.” He continues to hold up the PROTECT IP bill, which could give ISPs a greater inclination to “muzzle free speech.”

And, today’s video, Egyptian activist and freelance journalist Mona Eltahaway on former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s trial—

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."