We open with an Apple spurned from The Register:
NSA sez NO to prez: Spooks ban Obama from using iPhones
Leader of the free world now chained to ‘super-secure’ BlackBerry One
In a speech at the White House promoting his healthcare changes to a youth audience, Obama said that he couldn’t use an iPhone, though he joked that his daughters seemed to spend a lot of time on theirs.
And on to the Snowden bombshell of the day, via the Associated Press:
Report: Sweden’s spying on Russia key to US
Sweden’s public broadcaster says it has obtained secret documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden suggesting a Swedish spy agency has been a key supplier of intelligence on Russian leaders to the NSA.
On its website, broadcaster SVT on Thursday published brief excerpts from the documents saying Sweden’s FRA agency provided the NSA with a “unique collection on high-priority Russian targets, such as leadership, internal politics.”
More from TheLocal.se, including a refreshingly frank acknowledgment:
‘No surprise’ Sweden spies on Russia: minister
Swedish Defence Minister Karin Enström said on Thursday that it was not surprising that Sweden cooperated with the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) in spying on Russia.
“The fact that we have this cooperation is completely natural,” Karin Enström told the TT news agency.
Yet another major leak, this time via The Guardian:
NSA considered spying on Australians ‘unilaterally’, leaked paper reveals
2005 draft directive says citizens of ‘5-Eyes’ countries may be targeted without knowledge or consent of partner agencies
The draft directive leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals how the NSA considered the possibility of “unilaterally” targeting citizens and communication systems of Australia, New Zealand and Canada – all “5-Eyes” partners which it refers to as “second party” countries.
From the Jakarta Globe, the latest blowback Down Under:
Australia Foreign Minister Airs Regret on Indonesia Spy Row, Agrees to ‘Hotline’
Australia’s foreign minister Thursday expressed regret over a spying row with Indonesia during talks in Jakarta aimed at repairing strained ties, agreeing to establish a “hotline” and code of conduct to restore trust.
Reports last month that Australian spies tried to tap the phones of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and several top officials in 2009 sparked one of the worst diplomatic crises between the two strategic allies in years.
From Al Jazeera America, advice from those who know:
Jailed whistle-blowers to Edward Snowden: Don’t come home
What happens to whistle-blowers after the whistle is blown
MintPress News with drone blowback:
Anti-Drone Blockade In Pakistan Forces Halt To US Military Shipments
Protesters vow to continue blockade until US ceases deadly drone strikes in that country.
Ongoing protests against U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan are fueling a non-violent blockade along its border that have now forced a halt to NATO military supply convoys heading to neighboring Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed Tuesday.
And The Verge with more drones coming:
US Navy successfully launches drone from a submerged submarine
First it was missiles, and now the US Navy can add unmanned drones to the list of things that can be launched from a submerged submarine. The Navy today announced that it did just that in a recent demonstration that took some six years to develop. The drone, called an XFC UAS-eXperimental, was launched in a standard torpedo tube from the Navy’s USS Providence using a similar technique to how the Navy deploys Tomahawk cruise missiles.
And the heat cointinues to build over China’s expansion of its Air Defense Identification Zone into the South China Sea. From the Japan Times:
Japan-ASEAN draft implies China’s new ADIZ is a security threat
Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will express their concern in a joint statement that any abuse of power in international civil aviation could pose a security “threat,” a Japan-ASEAN diplomatic source said Thursday, in an implicit reference to China’s new air defense zone.
Global Times covers the latest response from the emerging Japanese national security state:
New NSC discusses ADIZ
Japan launched on Wednesday a US-style National Security Council (NSC), under which cabinet ministers discussed China’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and other security challenges in the first meeting.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera attended the meeting at the prime minister’s office.
And the Japan Daily Press covers another response:
Regular security dialogue between Japan, South Korea now a possibility
Just a few weeks ago, the possibility of a regular dialogue between Japan and South Korea seemed improbable, but now according to the latter’s Foreign Ministry, talks are underway for a “two plus two” although there is no specific date set. The two East Asian neighbours have been having tense relations lately due to historical issues and a territorial dispute over the Takeshima/Dokdo islets.
And a key and very controversial plank in the new structure is almost a done, reports the Japan Times:
Secrets bill clears panel by force
Ruling bloc readies plenary vote, angering the opposition
The Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling coalition was set to forcibly pass the contentious state secrecy bill into law as early as Thursday night, after it rammed the legislation through the Upper House Special Committee on National Security earlier on the day.
The chairman of the committee abruptly motioned for a vote on the bill, and ruling bloc lawmakers voted, while opposition lawmakers tried to block it by surrounding and shouting at him.
More from the Mainichi:
Upper house to vote on secrecy bill Fri. despite opposition
Japan’s upper house of parliament will vote on a controversial bill for a new secrecy law on Friday, ruling party lawmakers said Thursday after opposition parties stepped up last-ditch efforts to prevent the ruling bloc from rushing to a vote.
The Japan Times with still more:
Protesters voice alarm over state secrets bill
More than 1,200 protesters gathered outside the Diet building Thursday in a last-ditch effort to thwart the controversial state secrets bill, which the Diet is expected to pass Friday.
Opponents of the bill argue it gives the government too much authority to designate and conceal state secrets.
Even Variety is on the story:
Japan Biz Opposes Secrecy Law
The film industry worries that not only might the legislation help the government cover up embarrassing situations – like the mismanagement at electricity generator TEPCO whose nuclear reactor at Fukushima melted down after the tsunami – but that film-makers may once again be required to produce propaganda movies.
On to Switzerland for some role reversal from TheLocal.ch:
Magazine spies on Switzerland’s top spy
A Swiss magazine says it spent 24 hours snooping on the Alpine country’s intelligence boss to give spies a taste of their own medicine.
Stefan Howald, deputy editor of the left-wing weekly WochenZeitung (WOZ), said on Thursday it had managed to gather a raft of private information about spy-in-chief Markus Seiler.`
“We wanted to show what it’s like when you’re spied on, and to reverse the roles,” Howald told AFP.
The Associated Press raises questions about colleagues:
Biden questions China treatment of US journalists
Vice President Joe Biden says the U.S. has “profound disagreements” with China over the treatment of U.S. journalists.
Speaking to American business leaders in Beijing, Biden says innovation thrives where newspapers can report the truth without fear of consequences.
The websites of The New York Times and Bloomberg have been blocked in China since late last year after each agency fell afoul of Beijing over some of its reporting. This week a Bloomberg reporter was excluded from a Beijing event with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
From South China Morning Post, other Chinese woes:
Mainland anti-corruption activist ‘beaten by police’
An anti-corruption campaigner put on trial in what activists say is a crackdown on dissent was beaten by police while in detention, lawyers said yesterday.
Liu Ping , together with Wei Zhongping and Li Sihua , faces a possible five year prison sentence for “illegal assembly” after the trio photographed themselves displaying banners calling for government officials to disclose their assets.
And in Spain, really secret agents from El País:
Catalan government denies knowledge of plan to set up secret service in region
Official body revealed to have been compiling information about activists
From an antivirus service to an IT pirate, and from IT pirate to a shipwreck. That sums up the short lifespan of Cesicat, a body set up in 2010 to ensure the security of telecommunications in the Catalonia region, but is now accused of spying on citizens.
El País again, with ghosts from a fascist past:
Judge confiscates passports of two Franco-era security officers wanted in Argentina
Extradition proceedings begin for “Billy the Kid” and former Civil Guard official accused of torture
Former police inspector Antonio González Pacheco, alias “Billy the Kid,” and former civil guard Jesús Muñecas Aguilar, known as “Captain Muñecas,” are wanted by a Buenos Aires judge who is investigating crimes committed against Spaniards during the 1939-75 Francisco Franco dictatorship.
The San Francisco Chronicle has secrets spilled — or not:
Lawyer: Former nuke lab scientist may change plea
A defense lawyer says a former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear physicist who admitted communicating classified nuclear weapons data may try to withdraw his guilty plea.
Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni and his wife, Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, were accused of offering to help develop a nuclear weapon for Venezuela through dealings with an undercover FBI agent posing as a representative of the Venezuelan government.
From The Guardian, hat colors don’t matter, black or white::
Microsoft likens government snooping to cyber attacks
Senior legal counsel says internal systems will adopt ‘Perfect Forward Secrecy’ to encrypt links between servers
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said that the company is adding encryption to connections between its servers, to thwart unauthorised snooping by government agencies tapping into fibre-optic cables. That follows identical moves by Google and Yahoo to protect their internal communications against unauthorised surveillance.
TheLocal.it covers klandestine ops:
Former Ku Klux Klan chief banned from Italy
David Duke, the former leader of the US xenophobic movement, the Ku Klux Klan, was told to leave Italy in early 2012 over fears he was planning “the extermination of black and Jewish races”. The news only came to light after his appeal to stay was rejected by a court in Veneto on Tuesday.
From the Express Tribune, increasing insecurity:
India expands nuclear weapons site: US think tank
India has expanded a secretive site that could be used to enrich more uranium for nuclear weapons, a US think tank said Wednesday, citing satellite imagery.
The Institute for Science and International Security, a private group opposed to nuclear proliferation, said that India appeared to be finishing a second gas centrifuge facility at its Rare Materials Plant near the southern city of Mysore.
The Independent has another cause for insecurity:
Cobalt-60 theft: Lorry transporting radioactive cargo found EMPTY in Mexico, but hijackers expected to die within days
And still another from PCWorld:
Study finds most mobile apps put your security and privacy at risk
The average smartphone user has 26 apps installed. If recent research conducted by HP is any indication, approximately, well, all of them, come with privacy or security concerns of some sort.
The HP study focused purely on custom business apps, but there’s no reason to believe the issue doesn’t extend to commercial apps you find in the Apple App Store or Google Play. Many apps have access to data or permission to perform functions they shouldn’t.
The Washington Post has a confirmation:
Flashlight app kept users in the dark about sharing location data: FTC
Up to 100 million users downloaded a popular Android app that turned their phones into flashlights. What they didn’t realize was that their smartphones also became sophisticated tracking devices, with the app collecting information that could pinpoint their precise location.
The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday issued its first enforcement action related to location-based technology, reaching a settlement with the maker of Brightest Flashlight Free for allegedly hiding the fact that it sold information about the location of its users and the unique string of numbers assigned to a device.
And for our last item, drone age anxieties from Vocativ:
Dismembered: Why Amazon Customers Should Fear Its Drone Delivery Service
Shipping could cost an arm and a leg
This is the story Amazon doesn’t want you to see: Delivery drones that want to chop your fingers off and slice open your face.