As elections approach, Iran cracks down on Internet activism with ‘advanced’ censorship tactics

Many popular censorship-circumvention tools have in recent weeks seen a large drop in their connections from Iran, according to Nariman Gharib, an Iranian researcher and activist based in the United Kingdom. Tools like Psiphon and Tor, the world’s most popular anonymity network, have seen large fluctuations and drops in Iranian connections over recent months.“There have been disruptions to services like ours in the last couple of months,” Kathuria said. “We’ve always kind of expected that would happen in the run up to the election.”Psiphon has become popular across the Middle East largely through word of mouth. It’s been used in Iraq and is now a popular tool in neighboring Iran. Along with use of other tools like Tor, Psiphon activity serves as a bellwether of a broader offensive being waged from Tehran.Kathuria recommends Iranian users experiencing difficulties connecting to Psiphon “go and get the software again” to obtain new updates. His team has released at least eight updates in the last month to counter the evolving Iranian disruptions.Although this election is bringing on “more advanced” censorship action from Iran, Kathuria stresses that attacks against circumvention tools “happens regularly.”“The message is to keep trying,” Kathuria said. “If people have problems, they should keep trying. We’re continually developing and doing what we can to keep them connected.”

Source: As elections approach, Iran cracks down on Internet activism with ‘advanced’ censorship tactics

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As elections approach, Iran cracks down on Internet activism with ‘advanced’ censorship tactics

Patrick Howell O’Neill

Election time in Iran means increased censorship for the country’s tens of millions of Internet users. But this months parliamentary election, experts say, comes with a new level of aggressive censorship from a government notorious for authoritarianism in cyberspace.

“What’s happening [right now] is far more advanced than anything we’ve seen before,” said Karl Kathuria, CEO of Psiphon Inc., the company behind the widely popular encryption and circumvention tool Psiphon. “It’s a lot more concentrated attempt to stop these services from working.”

Next to China, Iran is generally considered one of the world’s most heavily monitored and censored countries online. Censorship has been practiced in the country for over a decade, but ever since Internet activism helped spark the 2009 Green Protests, elections have been a hot spot of activism and, in turn, reactionary censorship in a country with an increasingly deep heritage of online advocacy.

“2009 was a big lesson in the mobilizing potentials of the internet,” Mahsa Alimardani, a researcher at the University of Amsterdam, told the Daily Dot. “So in 2013 they practiced throttling at sensitive moments—like when candidates were registering at the ministry of interior, etc.”

“There are attacks on our infrastructure all the time, they’ve become particularly acute over the past month or so.”
Many popular censorship-circumvention tools have in recent weeks seen a large drop in their connections from Iran, according to Nariman Gharib, an Iranian researcher and activist based in the United Kingdom. Tools like Psiphon and Tor, the world’s most popular anonymity network, have seen large fluctuations and drops in Iranian connections over recent months.

“There have been disruptions to services like ours in the last couple of months,” Kathuria said. “We’ve always kind of expected that would happen in the run up to the election.”

Psiphon has become popular across the Middle East largely through word of mouth. It’s been used in Iraq and is now a popular tool in neighboring Iran. Along with use of other tools like Tor, Psiphon activity serves as a bellwether of a broader offensive being waged from Tehran.

Kathuria recommends Iranian users experiencing difficulties connecting to Psiphon “go and get the software again” to obtain new updates. His team has released at least eight updates in the last month to counter the evolving Iranian disruptions.

Although this election is bringing on “more advanced” censorship action from Iran, Kathuria stresses that attacks against circumvention tools “happens regularly.”

“The message is to keep trying,” Kathuria said. “If people have problems, they should keep trying. We’re continually developing and doing what we can to keep them connected.”

The Tor connection

Tor developers too are not exactly being caught off guard, either. Later this month, they’ll be meeting in Spain. Because the Iranian election will take place at the same time, one of the long-suggested activities was to monitor Iranian disruptions and use it as a learning opportunity, according to early planning documents for the 2016 Tor developer’s meeting.

iran2

Despite its broad popularity, Tor is actually one of the less popular censorship circumvention tools used by Iranians for several reasons.

In addition to being aggressively targeted by government authorities, Tor also has a reputation of being excessively slow inside the country. Iran’s connection speeds are already often slow to start, and government authorities slow connections further as a means of censorship. Downloading and running a program like Tor is seen as impractical by many Iranians.

Tor developers did not respond to a request for comment.

In the last month, Gharib says, he’s received 198,000 emails requesting new proxy and circumvention tools in Iran, signaling increased difficulty in getting a free and clear connection from within the country. On Telegram, the most popular social network and messaging tool in Iran today, Gharib says he’s received 500,000 such requests.

This year’s parliamentary elections are a relatively small affair compared to the presidential contests of 2009 and 2013, making the government’s reaction seem disproportional.

“Most of the reformist candidates did not make the cut for the February elections,” Alimardani said, “which might mean there might not be that much excitement, as the exciting candidates have not made the cut.”

Even so, censorship is on the rise.

“There are attacks on our infrastructure all the time, they’ve become particularly acute over the past month or so,” Kathuria said. “The way we deal with that is, we divert as many resources as we can to keep our network stable and people connected.”

From Tehran to Telegram

In the last year, Telegram has become enormously popular within Iran, mirroring the app’s rise in the Middle East at large. Public institutions have embraced the social network, including Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who boasts over 200,000 followers on his account. Well over 10 million Iranians are using Telegram, according to government officials. Various surveys of Iranian netizens place that number at 20 million or higher.
Telegram offers encrypted chat, a feature that is meant to keep out eavesdroppers like Iranian authorities. And Iran’s Internet watchdog recently publicly announced they would not be filtering the app, despite their propensity for filtering and outright banning networks like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Viber.

The level of cooperation between Telegram and the Iranian government is not at all clear. Telegram CEO Pavel Durov denies any cooperation, but Iranian authorities have said that they’ve worked with the app’s developers on censoring explicit stickers and emojis and arranged for Telegram to store Iranian user data within the country. In addition, cybersecurity experts have criticized Telegram’s cryptography.

None of the experts interviewed for this story were quite sure of what’s happening between Iran and Telegram, but some prominent activists who are in danger of arrest due to their Internet activity in Iran have told the Daily Dot they can’t fully trust Telegram anymore due to the continued lack of clarity.

For most Iranians, though, Telegram remains the most popular choice for messaging, beating out even text messages and other apps.

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A Pan-Arab Army: Myth Or Reality?

Although the Arab-Israeli conflict had managed to create a security community in the face of Israel, at present, the Arab League and such countries as Egypt and Saudi Arabia cannot be considered as effective countries in the Arab security community, whose goal could be countering Israel. Therefore, Israeli analysts have not only avoided showing a negative reaction to establishment of the common Arab army, but have also welcomed this idea. This comes in contrast to the fact that for many years, the Eastern front, which consisted of the Arab countries, was considered as number one security threat to Israel. Once, David Ben-Gurion, the first leader of Israel, had announced that he could not sleep at night over the fear of a possible attack from the single front made up of Arab countries.

Source: A Pan-Arab Army: Myth Or Reality?

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A Pan-Arab Army: Myth Or Reality?

Graphic_10_Husseini_head_of_SS_Muslims-e1423129109981

By Javad Heirannia*

With regard to the idea of forming a Pan-Arab army as the military arm of the Arab League security organization, it must be noted that it would be enticing to take simple religious and ethnic configurations in the Middle East as a basis for the existence of mutual security dependence. If Arabs vs. “others” (Jews and Iranians) as well as the Ottoman legacy, which is based on adversity between Turks and Arabs, are taken as two main existing foci in the region, it would lead to an ethnic approach to current insecurity in the region. Religion can be also added to this process. From a religious viewpoint, Israel is different from its Arab neighbors, most of whose people are either Muslims or Christians, while Iran represents Shias in the Sunni – Shia divide of the Muslim world.

Rivalries among these identities and the emphasis put by countries on every one of them have given birth to an interesting mix of cooperation, opposition and conflict. Therefore, realization of security communities on the basis of what Karl Wolfgang Deutsch, the communication theorist, has explained, is hard and difficult in this region. While nationalism is considered as a characteristic and a reason for the existence of security communities in the West, in other parts of the world, this factor can serve to prohibit creation of such communities. Different understanding of the member states of a Pan-Arab army of security and security threats, and their different readings of nationalism will cause the member states of such an army not to be able to march toward a security community either of an integrated type, or a pluralistic one.

For example, two main members of this army, that is, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have their own different interpretations of terrorism. While Saudi Arabia is working with the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen and Syria, Egypt considers it a terrorist group. There are also severe differences between Saudi Arabia and Qatar about this group.

While some member countries of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council [(P)GCC] like Oman and Kuwait have cordial relations with Iran, relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and such countries as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are tense. Therefore, intersubjective understanding of security between Iran and Oman is different from understanding of the same issue between Iran and Saudi Arabia and, at the same time, Oman is not necessarily sharing Saudi Arabia’s viewpoints and interpretation of what Riyadh calls Iran security threat.

Another obstacle to forming a common Arab army is absence of powerful armies in member countries of such a common military force. At present, Egypt, whose powerful army was once exemplar, is facing major problems. Syria is practically on a totally different course, while the Iraqi army has been weakened. The littoral Arab states of the Persian Gulf can only provide funds. This is why even the Damascus statement about forming a common army, which would have the littoral Arab states of the Persian Gulf as financiers, with Egypt and Syria as main sources of the military force could not succeed in this regard and practically failed.

Forming a security regime needs to have a single and common definition of threat. In fact, as long as there is no common picture of threat and how to oppose it, we cannot talk about a common security regime. Therefore, a common understanding of threatening factors by countries that form the common Arab army is necessary in order to assess the possibility of forming such an army to counter “common” threats.

Although the Arab-Israeli conflict had managed to create a security community in the face of Israel, at present, the Arab League and such countries as Egypt and Saudi Arabia cannot be considered as effective countries in the Arab security community, whose goal could be countering Israel. Therefore, Israeli analysts have not only avoided showing a negative reaction to establishment of the common Arab army, but have also welcomed this idea. This comes in contrast to the fact that for many years, the Eastern front, which consisted of the Arab countries, was considered as number one security threat to Israel. Once, David Ben-Gurion, the first leader of Israel, had announced that he could not sleep at night over the fear of a possible attack from the single front made up of Arab countries.

It must be noted that, common military activities of Arab countries are mostly aimed at protecting the interests of those Arab regimes, which sway more power and influence. The attack by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries on Yemen and a previous incursion aimed at suppressing the revolution in Bahrain clearly show that common military operations stages by Arab states are not aimed at protecting the security of Arab countries in the face of foreign threats or to support Arab nations. At present, increasing influence and power of Iran in the region has greatly concerned Arab states. Following the conclusion of Iran’s nuclear agreement with the P5+1 group of world powers, Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar have been trying to obtain security guarantees from the United States. As a result, leaders of these countries even met with the US president at Camp David in order to sign with the United States a common defense pact like what gave birth to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but this goal was not finally achieved.

A difference in viewpoints between Saudi Arabia and Egypt about the mission of a common Arab force can be considered as the main obstacle to making a final decision on the creation of such force. Differences about creating a common Arab force during the Arab League meeting in Cairo have raised many questions about relations between Egypt and the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, especially when Saudi Arabia’s objection was mentioned as the reason that had deferred a final decision on this matter. After a special meeting of its defense and foreign ministers on the establishment of a common Arab force was postponed, the Arab League issued a statement in which it announced that the Saudi Arabia’s delegation had given it a note declaring Riyadh’s willingness to defer a meeting of the Arab League’s defense council, which consists of defense and foreign ministers of member countries.

Creating security regimes and security convergence require a high level of coherence and understanding among members of such regimes over the concept of security and security threats, on the one hand, and how to fight off those security threats, on the other hand. Different approaches taken to the issue of security and security threats by countries making the common Arab army and also their different approaches to regional issues and even domestic issues of one another have cast serious doubts on the possibility of forming such an army. The main countries taking part in this army, that is, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have basic and important differences over such issues as the Muslim Brotherhood, the future role of Bashar Assad in Syria’s power structure, and also on the situation in Libya, Yemen and other places, which make security convergence among them difficult. Therefore, establishment of a common Arab army under conditions when a model of security interdependence cannot be offered for the member states of the Arab League seems to be very difficult and even impossible.

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CIA Mission To Kidnap Edward Snowden

The CIA agents are following the moves of Snowden trying to exploit a trip in one of the European countries, it would be the moment when kidnaps the man.A CIA’s plane based-in Copenhagen is a Gulfstream V, registered under the number N977GA.“On the evening of 24 June 2013, as Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong intending to fly on to Cuba, an unmarked Gulfstream V business jet – tail number N977GA – took off from a quiet commercial airport 30 miles from Washington DC. Manassas Regional Airport discreetly offers its clients “the personal accommodations and amenities you can’t find at commercial airports”, wrote The Register.

Source: CIA Mission To Kidnap Edward Snowden

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CIA Mission To Kidnap Edward Snowden

Cyber Security

A paramilitary team belonging to the CIA is operative in Copenhagen and ready to kidnap Snowden the popular whistleblower and bring him in the US with an aircraft already in the same city.

The CIA agents are following the moves of Snowden trying to exploit a trip in one of the European countries, it would be the moment when kidnaps the man.

A CIA’s plane based-in Copenhagen is a Gulfstream V, registered under the number N977GA.

“On the evening of 24 June 2013, as Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong intending to fly on to Cuba, an unmarked Gulfstream V business jet – tail number N977GA – took off from a quiet commercial airport 30 miles from Washington DC. Manassas Regional Airport discreetly offers its clients “the personal accommodations and amenities you can’t find at commercial airports”, wrote The Register.

“Early next morning, N977GA was detected heading east over Scotland at the unusually high altitude of 45,000 feet. It had not filed a flight plan, and was flying above the level at which air traffic control reporting is mandatory.”

The same aircraft has been used by the CIA to transport captives to the CIA’s secret prisons which has been created since 9/11

The documents obtained by the Denfri confirmed the circumstance revealing that Danish police and government officers approved the positioning of the CIA plane in Copenhagen for unspecified “state purposes.”

The documents include a government letter from FBI representatives that ask for support of the Norwegian government. The law agency requested the Norwegian authorities immediately notify US intelligence agencies in the event that Snowden crossed to Norway, Finland, Sweden or Denmark. The Danish intelligence has sought to preserve total secrecy in relation to the stationing of the CIA aircraft in Copenhagen.

“Denmark’s relationship with the USA would be damaged if the information [content redacted from the documents] becomes public knowledge,” The Denmark’s interior ministry told Denfri.

Documents confirm rendition flight used Copenhagen Airport for mission to capture Edward Snowden

Justice Ministry documents were heavily redacted, but confirm landing

January 25th, 2016 10:51 am| by Philip Tees
The online media source Denfri.dk reports that, after gaining access to documents from the Justice Ministry, it has confirmed that in June 2013 Copenhagen Airport was used to hold an American rendition plane that was sent to capture Edward Snowden from Moscow Airport and return him to the USA.

Snowden, who shot into the international limelight after making extensive revelations about the USA’s intelligence activities at home and abroad, was confined to the airport in Russia before he was offered asylum in the country.

Mysterious plane
The story of a Gulfstream private aircraft with registration number N977GA on a course towards Russia being seen by plane spotters in Scotland but coming no further than Denmark was reported in the summer of 2014.

In August last year Denfri.dk applied for access to documents concerning an alleged arrangement for the Danish authorities to arrest and extradite Snowden if he set foot in the country and details of the mysterious plane that was reported to have used Copenhagen Airport.

Access to many of the documents sought was denied and much of the information was heavily redacted.

“Denmark’s relationship with the USA would be damaged if the information becomes public knowledge,” the Justice Ministry wrote in its reply.

The documents do, however, confirm that the Gulfstream aircraft used Danish airspace and landed at Kastrup. An overflying and landing permission for a “USA state flight” is included, as is email correspondence around the time of the landing from senior staff at the police and Justice Ministry concerning the landing.

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Iran said to hack former Israeli army chief-of-staff, access his entire computer

The Times of Israel reported on the Iranian hacking operation two weeks ago, after an Israeli cyber-security firm, Check Point, revealed its existence. Tuesday’s Channel 10 report also cited information from Check Point.Gil Shwed, CEO of Check Point Software Technologies, told Israel Radio in late January that the attack began two months earlier and that its targets received email messages aimed at sending spyware into their computers.More than a quarter of the recipients opened the emails and thus unknowingly downloaded spyware, allowing the hackers to steal information from their hard drives.

Source: Iran said to hack former Israeli army chief-of-staff, access his entire computer

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Iran said to hack former Israeli army chief-of-staff, access his entire computer

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Times of Israel

A cyber-hacker working for Iran hacked the computer of a former IDF chief-of-staff, an Israeli television report said Tuesday, and gained access to the unnamed army chief’s entire computer database.

The hacker was named by Channel 10 as Yaser Balaghi. He was said to have subsequently bragged about the hack, but he also inadvertently left behind a means to trace his identity. That error prompted Iran to halt the hacking operation, which targeted 1,800 people worldwide, including Israeli army generals, human rights activists in the Persian Gulf and scientists.

The Times of Israel reported on the Iranian hacking operation two weeks ago, after an Israeli cyber-security firm, Check Point, revealed its existence. Tuesday’s Channel 10 report also cited information from Check Point.

Gil Shwed, CEO of Check Point Software Technologies, told Israel Radio in late January that the attack began two months earlier and that its targets received email messages aimed at sending spyware into their computers.

More than a quarter of the recipients opened the emails and thus unknowingly downloaded spyware, allowing the hackers to steal information from their hard drives.

Over the last two years, Israel has been targeted by a number of cyber-attacks. Officials say hackers affiliated with Hezbollah and the Iranian government were behind some of the infiltration attempts.

Also in late January, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed that Israel’s Electric Authority was being targeted by a “severe cyber-attack,” although he did not say where it was coming from.

In June, the Israeli ClearSky cyber-security company said it had discovered an ongoing wave of cyber attacks originating from Iran on targets in Israel and the Middle East, with Israeli generals again among the targets. The goal is “espionage or other nation-state interests,” the firm said.

The hackers use techniques such as targeted phishing — in which hackers gather user identification data using false web pages that look like real and reputable ones — to hack into 40 targets in Israel and 500 worldwide, said ClearSky. In Israel the targets have included retired generals, employees of security consulting firms and researchers in academia.

Shwed warned that the pace of cyber-attacks is accelerating faster than the pace of investment in cyber safety.

Israel is second only to the United States in cyber-security technology, according to Gadi Tirosh, managing partner at Jerusalem Venture Partners, which has been one of the country’s most active investors in the field.

There are currently 173 companies in Israel big enough to be backed by venture capital companies and other major investors. That does not include the hundreds of others that are bootstrapped or relying on other sources of funds; altogether, there are 430 cyber companies currently operating in Israel, according to a report released earlier this month by the Israel Venture Capital (IVC) Research Center, with an average of 52 new cyber startups established annually since 2000.

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TWITTER PUTS ANTI-AMERICAN, ANTI-ISRAEL GROUP IN CHARGE OF CENSORSHIP

Stuart K. Hayashi had discussed the problems with Feminist Frequency earlier this year. Jonathan McIntosh,the man behind Feminist Frequency, is a radical leftist who has smeared American soldiers and attacked Israel and complained about people celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden. He attacked Charlie Hebdo after the massacre, ranting, “It’s telling that so many white folks are quick to jump to the defense of racist speech but can’t be bothered to fight institutional racism.”

Source: TWITTER PUTS ANTI-AMERICAN, ANTI-ISRAEL GROUP IN CHARGE OF CENSORSHIP

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TWITTER PUTS ANTI-AMERICAN, ANTI-ISRAEL GROUP IN CHARGE OF CENSORSHIP

Twitter has unveiled its creepily Orwellian “Trust and Safety Council” under the creepily Orwellian slogan, “When it comes to safety, everyone plays a role”. These groups will be helping set censorship policy for the site.

The Trust and Safety Council incorporates a laundry list of organizations, most obsessed with identity politics, bullying of hate speech, some of them more problematic than others. So while the Dangerous Speech Project suggests that countering speech is better than censorship, Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council also includes Feminist Frequency.

Stuart K. Hayashi had discussed the problems with Feminist Frequency earlier this year. Jonathan McIntosh,the man behind Feminist Frequency, is a radical leftist who has smeared American soldiers and attacked Israel and complained about people celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden. He attacked Charlie Hebdo after the massacre, ranting, “It’s telling that so many white folks are quick to jump to the defense of racist speech but can’t be bothered to fight institutional racism.”

Aside from McIntosh’s politics, it’s very problematic that a man who hates free speech this much will be helping set censorship policy for Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council.

Anita Sarkeesian, the front woman for Feminist Frequency, helped promote a UN Broadband Council report which quoted Lyndon LaRouche and was described by The Telegraph as a blueprint for internet censorship.

“Among other censorious suggestions, it openly urges governments to use their legislative powers and license only those Internet providers that “supervise content and its dissemination.”

This is a serious problem, especially since Twitter is putting political extremists with pro-censorship views in charge of censorship. And McIntosh has his own history of hateful views.

Twitter has forgotten that it owes its success to being an open platform. Turning it into a heavily censored forum moderated by radical leftists will alienate most of its global audience and kill its future.

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