#IMWeekly: October 17, 2014

by jiou park

United States: Intercept releases new documents from Snowden leak showing NSA’s use of agents in foreign countries to compromise networks and devices.

The latest disclosures from the Snowden leak expose clandestine operations deemed part of the “core secrets” of the NSA. According to the documents, the NSA has undercover operatives in China, Germany, and South Korea, as well as in domestic locations in Hawaii, Texas, and Georgia, working to gain access to telecommunication companies’ data and systems. The new leaks show that beyond known cooperation between the NSA and telecommunication companies, the NSA places covert agents within commercial entities (which may also include American firms) without their knowledge. In addition, vague references to foreign companies are included, signalling that the NSA may cooperate with foreign commercial entities as well.

United States: Anonabox, a tiny Tor-based router raises over $600,000 on Kickstarter, but will it withstand scrutiny?

Earlier this week, Tor-based router Anonabox came under the spotlight as a device that can potentially be a one-stop solution to privacy concerns online. The Kickstarter campaign launched by the developers soon raised over $600,000 in pledges, over 80 times their initial goal – a modest $7,500. However, it has since then been questioned whether Anonabox is indeed what it claims to be. Pictures of a router available on Alibaba that looks almost identical to Anonabox have been posted on Reddit, leading to accusations of fraud. As the router continues to undergo public scrutiny, criticism and doubts regarding Anonabox’s security features have also been levied.  For now, seems like the jury is still out for Anonabox.

Hong Kong, China: As tensions in Hong Kong escalate, China blocks BBC website.

Tension has been growing at an alarming rate in Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement since the police started clearing protest barricades earlier this week. On Wednesday, October 15th, BBC issued a statement that the Chinese government has fully blocked BBC’s English website inside mainland China, and denouncing the block as an act of “deliberate censorship.” This is the second time the BBC has been blocked in China, the first being in 2010, coinciding with the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony for Chinese dissident Liu Xiabo.

United States: Wikileaks publishes latest Trans-Pacific Partnership draft on intellectual property, including worrisome provisions on DRM, ISP liability, and trade secrets, among others.

A new draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ‘s intellectual property chapter, dated May 2014, was published on Wikileaks on Thursday, October 16th. The draft chapter contained worrisome language on several issues, including: continuing insistence on punishing circumvention of DRM; a copyright term provision specifying a minimum term of years; criminalization of unauthorized, wilful access of trade secrets going far beyond existing trade secret laws; limits on safe harbour for ISPs against user-side copyright infringement; and possibility of a broader definition of criminal copyright infringement to include non-commercial acts.

#imweekly is a weekly round-up of news about Internet content controls and activity around the world. To read more, click here.