Featured Science, IT, Nature — 12 July 2013

Osho News attemps to give a picture of what is happening with Microsoft, NSA, Prism, etc… and how it affects us all.

Microsoft in Bed with NSA

Yesterday we read the following article in The Guardian, disclosing the collaboration between Microsoft and the NSA: How Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages.1

NSA stands for the US National Security Agency and is the central producer and manager of signals intelligence (using phone and internet transmission whilst the CIA uses personnel), operating under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense).

In this light it seems rather odd that just recently Microsoft peddled the slogan ‘Your privacy is our priority’:

Your privacy is our priority

The reason why we are writing about this now on Osho News is the fact that much of the entire NSA scam is not mentioned in many of the media, or just as small articles in inner pages. It is important that we all know what is happening. When Punya first put a link about this subject on her Facebook wall there was not one ‘Like’ or any comment. As she is a rather popular girl because she usually gets lots of ‘Likes’ such as on an innocent cartoon she posted later on, we are wondering, why?

Your data is being collected

Already in June Yahoo, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other companies were identified in NSA documents as participating in a secret surveillance scheme known as Prism –  all in the guise of ‘war against terrorism’. Their servers were declared not safe to use, as metadata2 as well as content of messages are being collected. Read NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others (6th June 2013).

And now it has been disclosed that Microsoft has since a long time opened the back-entrance for NSA to collect encrypted data on the users of their products. So now you might be wondering what happens when Windows is doing its weekly updates…. But let us not go down that route as this may sound as if we were believing in conspiracy theories. We have been bombarded with so many of them, even films about events of this sort have been released, so that now, when something so drastic is really happening, our minds just put it aside with a “I have heard this before.”

What can we do about it?

The implications of this revelation (Microsoft working with NSA), assuming that you are not using your computer detached from any internet connection (which is highly unlikely) is that whatever you do on your computer, your data can be collected.

One way out – and a way to vote with our feet – would be to install another operating system instead of Windows. The open source OS (operating system) Linux has been there for a long time, but we have always been too lazy to go down this less trodden path because you have to install it by yourself, i.e. it does not automatically come with the PC when we buy it, as Windows does (see how Niyam puts me right on his comment below).

‘Open source’ means that anyone who can understand the language of the OS can see if it has been compromised or not. By the way, Microsoft has fought all these years against disclosing the back-end of Windows, despite repeated requests by developers!

On the Prism~Break’s website we can find alternative OS and internet services which are safe to use.

So what we  could do is:

  1. install the ‘open source’ operating system: Linux
  2. instead of Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, use as a browser Firefox which has already become a favourite for many
  3. add to Firefox the add-on Ghostery to check who’s tracking our web browsing and block them
  4. replace Outlook as a mailer with Thunderbird
  5. as an online mailer, instead of Hotmail or Gmail, use kolabsys.com (we are still experimenting with this) or check out for more possibilities on this list
  6. instead of using Google search, we can use DuckDuckCo
  7. instead of Skype maybe use Jitsi?
  8. and now what about Facebook with all my friends’ contacts? Will it now be pump.io, buddycloud, Diaspora, Driendica or RetroShare?

And what could we use for our communications via phone and mobiles?

No business secrets any longer

All companies have been severely affected. Businesses will need to change their securities for saving data and for communication unless they want to continue to be open to trade espionage. Read Kolb.org’s article: Life post-PRISM: No More Business Secrets or The Guardian’s European firms ‘could quit US internet providers over NSA scandal’ (4th July 2013)

Hard to believe that the Russian intelligence service has now reverted to using paper and FAX. Read: Russian guard service reverts to typewriters after NSA leaks

Europe in Bed with USA

UK: The British spy agency GCHQ was the first to be found out to be cooperating with NSA. The UK is so closely knit with the USA since the cold war when the UK was their green aircraft carrier. The transatlantic communications cables between Europe and US start in the UK, the place where the information had been diverted and tapped by GCHQ for their US partners NSA (technically speaking it is the UK who spies on the US citizens, only that the data are then shared with NSA – this to circumvent the 4th and 5th amendments in their constitution). Read: GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world’s communications. The Commonwealth countries (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.) are, understandably, in the same boat as the UK.

The reaction of the press, particularly those in print, was mostly to ignore the subject, except for The Guardian and the BBC News. When British ministers where asked about the implications of the tapping the answer was: “If you have nothing to hide there is nothing to fear.” 

There is also talk about secret laws in the UK and the US and about secret tribunals. These secret laws are mentioned in Edward Snowden’s statement: ‘It was the right thing to do and I have no regrets’ (12th July 2013). How can there be a law of which the law-abiding citizen is unaware of and how can you possibly defend yourself in a secret court?

Germany: The first reaction by chancellor Angela Merkel was one of outrage, until it was discovered that they also collaborate with NSA.

1) US and Germany to hold talks over European NSA surveillance concerns (4th July 2013)
2) Edward Snowden tells Der Spiegel NSA is ‘in bed with the Germans’ (7 Jul 2013)

France: Le Monde disclosed early on that also France was involved with the surveillance. France ‘runs vast electronic spying operation using NSA-style methods’

Snowden creates a diplomatic storm

The whistleblower Edward Snowden (see chapter and video at end of article) who has disclosed this avalanche of information has created a big storm within international diplomacy also with his own person exposing the degree of subjugation to the US by the various countries.

On 3rd July it was suspected he was on the same plane as Bolivian president, Evo Morales, who was returning home from a conference in Moscow. Several European countries denied him access to their airspace suspecting Snowden was on board, an assumption made because they had met earlier. Evo Morales’ plane was force landed in Vienna where it was searched. Bolivia accused the US of putting pressure on Europe to obstruct any possible assistance to Snowden. Does this ring a bell? Osho stranded at London airport, was imprisoned for the night and denied entry to all European countries on his world tour in 1986. Was not the Reagan Administration behind that?

South America taking a stance

We remember how Osho, the day after being granted permanent residency in Uruguay, was asked to leave the country within a month. This because Sanguinetti, the then President of Uruguay, had received a call from Washington DC saying that if Osho stayed in Uruguay the US loans of six billion dollars would be called in and no future loans given. The day after Osho left (18th June 1986), Sanguinetti and Reagan announced from Washington a new US loan to Uruguay of 150 million dollars.3 Read Osho’s story: What Do You Call Freedom?

The South American countries have behaved differently this time with Snowden, despite a few backing off after their first signs of rebellion. Some of them, after Snowden had asked for asylum, refused to accept him with the excuse that the asylum seeker needed to apply within their country (for Snowden being trapped in Moscow after his US passport was declared invalid by his home country this was not a possibility). For updates Follow live the developments in Moscow (12th July 2013).

But some signs of rebellion like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia offer asylum to Edward Snowden (6th July 2013), Evo Morales threatens to close US embassy in Bolivia (5th July 2013) as well as Brazil demands explanation from US over NSA spying (8th July 2013) have been observed.

Implications of global surveillance for minorities
or
Persecution of minorities

Many of us might remember how we had to dress up in coloured clothes when we wanted to apply for an Indian visa to visit Osho, how many of us were ‘listed’ and had to enter India via bus routes in order to avoid scrutiny at the airports and being blocked from entry. This was during the time Osho was considered a ‘dangerous man’ because he could still expose the then current Indian politicians in his discourses. As soon as Osho left his body he was accepted in India and is now hailed as one of the most important personalities of the century.

We might also remember how we had to hide our mala when we wanted to apply for a job. We also knew that the ashram in India, Rajneeshpuram in Oregon and the communes around the world were infiltrated or watched by the CIA, FBI or local police, and that all sannyasins were on file.

Now things have changed for us and we happily disclose our sannyas names in public and on Facebook.

But let’s assume that, instead of the sannyas minority, suddenly another minority is targeted (gays, activists, anti-nuclear demonstrators, religious groups, etc.). The minorities to be targeted can vary according to the prevalent views of the governments of the moment. To be gay can suddenly become illegal again, as it was only 46 years ago in the UK, if a fundamental religious party is at the helm – this just to make an example – and the persecution can continue in an even more sophisticated way: through the collected metadata their contacts can be extrapolated, their daily routine studied….

Also politicians, professionals, middle management can easily be hindered in their path towards success through blackmail (being gay, having had an extra-marital affair, having smoked dope, visited a porno site) thanks to the information now available.

Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things’

Edward Snowden is the computer analyst whistleblower who provided the British newspaper The Guardian with the top-secret NSA documents which lead to the revelations about US surveillance on phone and internet communications. He secretly contacted their journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras and met them later in Hong Kong where the videos were taken (see below). His revelations are now coming out piece by piece which allows the issue to remain alive in the media, and hopefully sink into the public consciousness. He also disclosed that the information he has gathered would be disclosed even in case of his death. (This last statement is wrong according to journalist Glenn Greenwald.)

After Hong Kong received an extradition request from the US to release him, Snowden flew to Moscow from where he has been applying for asylum to 21 countries (Russia, Ecuador, France (fr), response of other countries) and today he called a meeting with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch at Sheremetyevo airport where he has been living since his arrival in Russia.

Below is the first video published in the article Edward Snowden: US surveillance ‘not something I’m willing to live under’ (8th July 2013):

Watch on YouTube

The second video can be watched in this article by The Guardian (8th July 2013): Edward Snowden: ‘The US government will say I aided our enemies’

For further reading

The NSA Files on The Guardian
Boundless Informant: the NSA’s secret tool to track global surveillance data
Osho: What do You Call Freedom?

Your input

If you have some useful knowledge about this issue please write to us via our contact form.

The Osho News Team


1) Also Der Spiegel reports on the very top of their German home page: NSA Scandal: Microsoft soll seit Jahren mit US-Ermittlern kooperieren whilst we cannot find any mention of it in their international section. Or if you are reading this from Italy go to La Repubblica’s: Datagate, nuove accuse a Microsoft: “Ha dato all’Nsa le ‘chiavi’ di chat e Skype”

2) Metadata is the ‘envelope’ of a phone call or internet communication. For a phone call this could include the duration of a phone call, the phone number and when it happened. For an email it would include the sender and recipient, time, but not the subject or content. In both cases it could include location information. (Credit: Guardian Limited)

3) Source: Osho’s bio in Osho Viha Blog


Comments

Don´t you recognize, that all this surveillance revelations are in the interest of NSA, GCHQ, etc.? They try to make a scandal out of something, which everybody already knows. Much more interesting is the cyber-war! And there is no news company reporting about that, because they are not allowed to do so by NSA, GCHQ, etc.! (There are secret contracts between news companies and secret agencies from the 70ties on!) Snowden has reveiled a lot of documents about the ongoing cyber war, but we cannot read anything about it. And I don´t mean the cyber-war aginst certain countries, I mean the cyber-war against all of us users. But you are probably too manipulated already to recognize such things.
lefteris

Thank you for pointing out the adoption of Linux to regain your digital freedom. However, you err in mentioning that Linux needs to be installed manually by each user. Not necessarily. Almost all vendors of laptops and desktops usually have one or two models with Linux pre-installed ready-to-use. There’s also a thriving cottage industry and community everywhere, from where you may find someone to come and install to your existing laptop or desktop, and optionally also offer you support, for a small fee. For smaller businesses to large enterprises you may find companies dedicated to providing you with complete installation, training and support. So pick your need.

You also fail to mention TOR, a reasonably powerful technology to erase your footprints on the web while you browse in complete anonymity.

Lastly, there is something called ‘PGP’ for Pretty Good Privacy. Until you use PGP, all emails, messages, and even documents you send over the internet are as private as postcards sent from post-office to post-office around the world.

Hope this helps. Love,

Niyam Bhushan

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