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February 11 2014

[Video] Reclaim Our Privacy

Thanks to the generosity of supporters who helped crowd-fund it, and of Benoît Musereau who volunteered to direct it, La Quadrature du Net publishes ”Reclaim Our Privacy”, a three-minute movie that explains the threat to, the importance of protecting, and the tools to reclaim our privacy online. If you want to contribute to the funding of this movie, it is still possible to do so here. Any funds received above the target amount will be shared between Benoît Musereau and La Quadrature du Net. The movie is released under CC BY-SA, so feel free to share or remix it! <3

Download it!

For further information on these issue:

Movie's credits

Crowd-funded by (thanks, and lots of Datalove to you all! <3)

Aknok, Anaelita, Arofarn, Azerka, Bamban, Beeaware, Benjamin Piouffle, Benjamin Sonntag, Billecoq, Billux, Bmoc, Bourbaki, Cartron, Cellular, Cerran, Chato, Chopopope, Christian P. MOMON, Cioccu, Coucouf, Crowder, Cryptie, Dalb75, Darathor, Datarmine, David de Beleville, Ddadon, Didier_b-2, Djean, Domaccord, Elessar, Elfabixx, Elizabeth Nicholson, Elpouyou, f.0x2501.org , Fabhuy, Faereth, Fenn, Fflo, Florent_ato, Florent Darrault, Fraanek, Franck-awo, Franckpaul1984, François Tessier, Francoist-2, Galou Gentil, Gastavocats, Gawel, Geodelc, Gllm, Glatteispogo, gty, Gwendanc, Hadelie, Hebus63, Irslo, Ischiros, J4mes, Janval5, Jean-Louis Séré, jeey, Jean-Sébastien, Jeffman78, Jérémy GUEROUT, Jfch_, Jfomhover, Jimi_dave, Julien Fastré, Kadcom, Kaulian, Keplerpondorskell, Klorydryk, Kyriog, Laelaeta, Lcottereau, Le_Coyote, Lesauterhin, Les chats cosmiques, m09, Maillon, mamzelle_S, Martin Bahier, Mathieu HAAGE, Matrium, Milhouse_fr, Morgiou, Mrtino, Mulot, Mutokenji, Myoshi, Natim, Nicolasrtt, Nicorr, Nitot, Number, Olivier Cortès, Oneveu, Osmoze950, Ouroboros75, Outils Conviviaux, Pep1, P Ernewein, Petch, P Moniez, Puilliack, Raphette, Renk, Rikle_s, Rogdham, Rouroux, Saian, Saintraph, Samuel Tardieu, Se7h, Sempiternel, Snifiboy, Spiwit, Steph3187, Sureau, Sylvain Cazaux, Tael67, Taker, Taziden, Tekarihoken, Thd_it, Thomas Moreau, Thorleif_, Tomlefol, Torlus, Txitua, Vehem, Widokristus, Wookie51, Xixo, Yann2192, Ygster, yost3d, Yoya971, Yoygldstn

February 10 2014

The Day We Fight Against Surveillance and in Support of Privacy

Paris, 11 February 2014 — Over the last year the public across the globe was made aware of massive global surveillance conducted by the NSA and its partners or counterparts, but also by private tech companies. In response, and in celebration of the victory against SOPA, PIPA and ACTA two years ago and in memory of one of its key architects, Aaron Swartz, La Quadrature du Net joins this day of mobilisation The Day We Fight Back against mass surveillance, which will mark actions by civil rights groups from all over the world. This day is a perfect occasion for all citizens to get informed, and to act to defend our privacy against private and public surveillance. Below are actions carried out by La Quadrature and its supporters today.

“Together we will push back against powers that seek to observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action. Together, we will make it clear that such behavior is not compatible with democratic governance. Together, if we persist, we will win this fight.”

This Tuesday 11 February is a global call to arms against surveillance. Many organisations around the world defending human rights in all its forms, such as freedom of speech, privacy, or press freedom, have joined forces for a day of mobilisation against mass surveillance. The global problem is that surveillance, public and private, has gone way beyond embarrassement between countries. It is undermining the basis on which our democratic systems and thus our rights as citizens rely, such as the protection of journalistic sources or confidential communication with a lawyer. As the Necessary and Proportionate petition, signed by La Quadrature du Net and more than 300 other NGOs stated, any legitimate surveillance has to be, amongst other things, established by legal statutes, transparent, have a legitimate aim, be necessary and proportional to the threat, involve user notification and have adequate public oversight.

Several actions, online and offline, are planned by organisations across the globe. Events are listed here. Since the first Snowden revelations, La Quadrature du Net has consistently advocated new asylum rules for whistle-blowers reporting serious violations of fundamental rights, but also the suspension of the Safe Harbour agreement between the EU and the US for all companies listed as participating to PRISM and other NSA programs, reinforcement of the data protection regulation against similar circumvention of fundamental rights and support to decentralized free software applications based on strong cryptography. Today, La Quadrature has coordinated the launch of several projects:

Reclaim Our Privacy

Thanks to the generosity of supporters who helped crowd-fund it, and of Benoît Musereau who volunteered to direct it, La Quadrature du Net publishes ”Reclaim Our Privacy”, a three-minute movie that explains the threat to, the importance of protecting, and the tools to reclaim our privacy online. If you want to contribute to the funding of this movie, it is still possible to do so here. Any funds received above the target amount will be shared between Benoît Musereau and La Quadrature du Net. The movie is released under CC BY-SA, so feel free to share or remix it! <3


Download it!

NSA Observer Website

Volunteers supported by La Quadrature du Net put together a website about “Things the NSA doesn't want you to know (and why you should know about it)”: NSA-observer.

The numerous revelations on NSA surveillance represents a lot of information that no one had presented in a format that was easy to access and understand. The authors gathered the information into a public-domain licensed website and freely-downloadable database. Moreover, in order to comprehend the system, the website provides visuals of the connections between NSA programs, attack vectors and compartments. The website is a work in progress and the authors welcome involvement by others in order to keep the data up to date and make it more accessible to the general public.

“Nothing To Hide” by La Parisienne Libérée and Jérémie Zimmermann

La Parisienne Libérée is a French journalist who sings the news once a week. She invited Jérémie Zimmermann, cofounder of La Quadrature du Net, for a song on personal data and privacy.

On this global day of action, La Quadrature encourages all citizens to get informed and share information about surveillance and the need for better legal and technical protection for privacy in the digital age. For more information, visit:



Support La Quadrature du Net!

January 31 2014

Support the Making of the Animated Movie "Reclaim Our Privacy!"

Paris, 31 January 2014 — La Quadrature du Net launches a crowd-funding campaign to support the making of the upcoming animation movie about privacy, mass surveillance, and the urgency to rethink our relationship with technology. Help us finance this project!


Benoît Musereau, which whom La Quadrature du Net collaborated on the “NO to ACTA” movie, will be the director, as a volunteer, to make this new movie. The €3000 objective of this crowd-funding campaign will help pay for Marion Leblanc, the graphic designer, and Mawashi, the musician and sound designer. A movie such as this would usually cost around €10-15000. Funding above €3000 will be split equally between Benoît and La Quadrature du Net.

Help us fund it and “Reclaim Our Privacy!” should be released by the 11th of February as part of The Day We Fight Back, a day of mobilisation against mass surveillance. Nice rewards, including posters of the movie, are available to supporters, and the names of all supporters will be included in the credits.

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

January 10 2014

La Quadrature du Net, Version 2.0

Paris, 10 January 2014 — After almost six years as spokesperson and coordinator of La Quadrature du Net, Jérémie Zimmermann's role will change at the end of January. He will continue to act as part of our Strategic Directions Council1, but will leave his position as coordinator and spokesperson. We thank him for his superhuman efforts, which were rewarded in 2012 by the Electronic Frontier's Pioneer Award, and are happy for him that he will regain time to develop his personal activities. This collective and considered decision was taken in the context of the consolidation of our structure, following our registration as a French association [fr] one year ago. Here is how La Quadrature du Net will reorganise itself.

Due to your continued support La Quadrature du Net's team has grown over the last year to include seven paid staff in the operational team (including three interns) – without counting Jérémie – and six active members in the Strategic Directions Council (which will increase in size in the coming months). Moreover, numerous volunteers are heavily involved in our activities, which allows La Quadrature to function on a daily basis. The change in Jérémie's position will accelerate the establishment of the new organisational structure.

Firstly, La Quadrature is hiring a Campaign Manager [fr]. Their role will be to communicate with decision makers, parliamentarians, other citizen organisations and the wider public on La Quadrature's projects, and to coordinate volunteers involved in these actions. It requires a particular kind of engagement and work style, and Jérémie was until now in the front line of all this, especially on the European level.

Secondly, the management of La Quadrature's public voice, including its interaction with the media, for which Jérémie was solely responsible until now, will become more inclusive. Initiated six months ago, this change is the occasion to make use of the different approaches, styles and points of view represented in our organisation. This shift towards a more collective work dynamic in La Quadrature du Net will ensure our ability to react quickly and in-depth to events and requests, from journalists, politicians, associations or citizens. It is also represent a development opportunity for everyone in our enlarged team.

You can count on us to do the utmost to ensure that this reorganisation makes La Quadrature du Net more efficient in its defence of Internet freedom and its promotion of citizens' ability to act in the digital sphere. And if you have the slightest concern, remember that Jérémie will be right there in the Strategic Directions Council, ready to spur us on. <3

The Administration and the operational team of La Quadrature du Net

  • 1. Strategic Directions Council which in our structure [fr] corresponds to the Board of Directors and which can be extended to include the operational team and participating members
Tags: general news

January 01 2014

Spain: A Summary of 2013 in 10 News Stories and 10 Photos

1. Princess Cristina de Borbón, charged

Princess Cristina. Image from Diego Armario's blog.

Princess Cristina. Image from Diego Armario's blog.

In April, Princess Cristina was summoned to appear in court by the judge hearing the Palma Arena case. The Spanish population watched the first accusation of a member of the royal family on a corruption charge with a mixture of surprise and incredulity. Their incredulity [es] was born out by the almost immediate lifting of the charges against the Princess. The anti-corruption prosecutor himself, Pedro Horrach was, ironically, Cristina de Borbón's best defence attorney [es]. The affair did irreparable damage to the royal family, increasingly isolated from a population which observes time and again that the King's declaration last Christmas that “justice is equal for everyone” was merely empty words.

2. The Prestige disaster, without convictions

Chapapote

Oil spill on a Galician beach. Photo from Wikimedia Commons under CC licence by SA 3.0

The shipwreck of the Prestige oil tanker off the coast of Galicia and subsequent oil spill which caused the worst ecological disaster ever seen in Spain and prompted one of the largest popular mobilisations in the country's history was settled without convictions following ten years of legal proceedings and a nine month long trial. The politicians implicated in the case, whose decisions were broadly criticised, did not even reach the dock. The Spanish citizens will have to foot the 4,328 million euro bill which this disaster has cost – so far.

3. The Parot Doctrine, annulled 

vista.general

View of the Plaza Colón in Madrid occupied by a protest organised by the Association of Victims of Terrorism. Photo uploaded to Twitter by Isabel Durán (@IsabelDuran_).

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg issued its final decision on the so-called “Parot doctrine” [es] on October 21st, ruling that the increase in prison sentences could not be applied retroactively. This ruling had the immediate effect of liberating several ETA terrorists and dangerous common criminals, which prompted furious reactions on the social networks both in support of and in opposition to the European Court. The Association of Victims of Terrorism (ATV) organised a protest march [es] on October 27th.

4. The Citizens’ Security Law

antiprotesta

Greenpeace activists unfurl a banner from the top of a building in Plaza de España in Madrid. Photo uploaded to Twitter by @thomsh1.

The end of November brought to light the new Citizens’ Security Law which the government intends to pass. This law reclassifies certain misdemeanours as offences, allowing the government to fine citizens directly without taking them to court, thus avoiding a process which frequently decides in favour of the accused. If the law is passed, attending certain unauthorised protests could result in fines of up to 600 000 € and “offences” against Spain would be punished with fines of up to 30 000 €. Various political parties and lawyers’ associations have questioned the constitutionality of the new law.

5. The “escrache” protests

escraches1

PAH escrache protest in Zaragoza. Photo from the blog El ventano.

In March and April, the Platform of People Affected by Mortgages (PAH) carried out a campaign of “escraches” [a type of direct action protest] targeting politicians, banks and party headquarters while the mortgages law was being debated in Parliament. The escraches were angrily criticised by politicians from the PP and like-minded media outlets, which went as far as to accuse the PAH of being “nazis” and “pro-ETA”. However, in June the European Parliament awarded the 2013 European Citizens’ prize to the PAH.

6. Wert, against the world

Ministro.Wert1

The Spanish Minister for Education, José Ignacio Wert. Photo from the blog Cinereverso.org.

The education minister is implementing the worst campaign of cuts in education which the country has ever seen. But he also has time to anger the entire population with his mottos, which have become something of a classic on the social networks. In October, the minister was on the verge of leaving hundreds of students “stranded” in Europe when he drastically reduced the Erasmus scholarships, and shortly afterwards he was publicly discredited by the European Commission, whose education spokesperson described as “rubbish” declarations made by Wert in which he claimed that the funds designated by the EC to Spain for Erasmus scholarships would see a significant reduction in 2014.

7. The right to be forgotten

Online privacy

EU statistics on internet privacy. Image from the European Parliament website, used with permission. Source: European Parliament.

Spain took Google to the EU Court of Justice to defend the right to be forgotten, which would give European citizens the option to demand that any personal information which they do not wish to be made public be deleted from the Internet. This right to privacy clashes frequently with the right to information, creating controversy between those who support access to information and those who support privacy. In the end, the court ruled in Google's favour.

8. The advance of the far right

la-extrema-derecha.01

Far right protest in Spain. Photo from Xavier Casals‘ blog.

With the approach of the European Parliament elections, many European citizens are worried about the resurgence of far right groups and political parties, which take advantage of the economic crisis to launch their aggressively populist and xenophobic discourses. The Greek group Golden Dawn was banned following the death of a young man, allegedly at the hands of its members, but in some European countries, far right parties are reaching levels of power unseen since World War II. In Spain, the governing People's Party systematically justifies its members’ behaviour each time the media demonstrates that they have links to the far right.

9. Eurovegas

Eurovegas2

Construction project for the Eurovegas city. Image from Eurovegas Spain on Facebook.

In a country with almost 5 million unemployed, the overambitious Eurovegas project, which promised the creation of more than 300 000 jobs, arrived in Madrid like a true panacea. But alarm bells soon began to ring: Las Vegas Sands, the company owned by Sheldon Adelson, the project's architect, demanded numerous exemptions with regard to labour rights, taxation and even public health, attempting to create a bubble of alegality within Spanish territory. Although some politicians appeared ready to grant LVS's every desire, the armour-plating of the investment which Adelson intended to impose and poor forecasts by the ratings agencies meant that the project ground to a halt and was definitively abandoned in December.

10. «A relaxing cup of café con leche»

Madrid made a bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games. In order to argue the city's case, a huge delegation – more than 200 people – travelled to Buenos Aires in September. Although the bid was rejected [es] in the first round, the lamentable English spoken by Ana Botella, mayor of Madrid, and the theatrical nature of her speech prompted a collective outburst of laughter around the country and left us with a phrase for posterity: «a relaxing cup of café con leche in Plaza Mayor».

Ana Botella's speech to the IOC. Video uploaded to YouTube by BEGO DANGER

December 26 2013

La Quadrature Welcomes You at 30C3 for some Tea, Massages and Strategic Thinking

Hamburg, 26 December 2013 — La Quadrature du Net's staff, supporters and volunteers will build a common space for cosyness and strategic thinking at the 30th Chaos Communication Congress (30C3) in Hamburg, from Dec 27th to Dec 30th. This unique event will happen for its 30th annual edition the very year Edward Snowden and the GNU project turn 30. La Quadrature du Net's space will be a new iteration of "La Quadra'Tea House", initiated at Ohm, last summer's hacker camp.

Everyone is welcome to enjoy cups of delicious tea (green tea, oolong, pu erh, panyong among others) and yerba mate. One can also participate in "Hacking with Care", a program by Emily and Baba aiming at bringing balance, embodiment, body & soul awareness and care to the hackers’ communities, or book a wonderful massage with Emily. It will also be an occasion to discover La Quadrature du Net's book scanner and scan your rare books to contribute them to our library.

La Quadrature du Net aims at providing 30C3 with a shared, common infrastructure for relaxation and cozyness, a perfect place for sharing knowledge and projecting strategic thinking about the crucial challenges ahead on the fronts of surveillance, privacy, net neutrality, copyright, life the Universe and everything!

Come and share Datalove on La Quadrature du Net's village located on the top floor, near saal2!

For more information, use La Quadrature du Net's village page on 30C3 wiki:
https://events.ccc.de/congress/2013/wiki/Assembly:LaQuadratureDuNet

Tags: general news

December 22 2013

World Forum for Democracy 2013: Connecting Citizens and Institutions

World Forum for Democracy 2013 in Strasbourg: plenary session. Photo by Suzanne Lehn.

World Forum for Democracy 2013 in Strasbourg: plenary session. Photo by Suzanne Lehn.

The second World Forum for Democracy took place in Strasbourg from 27 to 29 November, 2013. Two and a half days of intense in sessions presented by experts at the Council of Europe, for which the public could register, and an off programme lasting over a week in various settings around the city seem to have installed this event in the landscape and calendar of the capital of Europe. Rue 89 Strasbourg set out the event [fr] the evening before it opened:

Plusieurs dizaines de manifestations, un public attendu au in de 1 700 personnes (800 participants en 2012), diplomates, fonctionnaires européens et Strasbourgeois, au minimum de 700 à 800 personnes au off (estimations 2012). Le tout pour un budget d’1,2 millions d’euros auxquels s’ajoutent 300 000€ de la Ville de Strasbourg auparavant « fléchés » sur d’autres opérations dans l’année, concentrées désormais sur la période du Forum.

Several dozen presentations, an in public expected to reach 1,700 people (800 took part in 2012), diplomats, civil servants representing both Europe and the city, at least 700 to 800 people for the off events (estimations for 2012). All for a budget of 1.2 million euros [1.6 million US dollars], with an additional 300,000 euros [410,000 US dollars] from the City of Strasbourg previously ‘ring-fenced’ for other events throughout the year, but now concentrated on the period when the Forum takes place.

The Lab 18 panel. Photo by Suzanne Lehn.

The Lab 18 panel. Photo by Suzanne Lehn.

The first Forum in 2012 focussed on the theme of “Democracy on Trial: Between Old Models and New Realities”, and was surrounded by the hope brought by the Arab spring and attended by global personalities. The 2013 Forum, on the other hand, which took place in the presence of the Secretary General of La Francophonie Abdou Diouf [fr] and the writer Amin Maalouf, claimed a more technical focus, both in its subject matter, “Re-wiring Democracy: connecting institutions and citizens in the digital age” and in its organisation, with 4 topics addressed in 21 ‘Labs', with expert presentations having been selected months in advance.

As a Global Voices representative and living only a few steps from the Palais de l'Europe where the forum took place, here is a review of some of the Labs I attended:

Liquid democracy - Lab 1. Photo by Suzanne Lehn.

Liquid democracy – Lab 1. Photo by Suzanne Lehn.

- Alternatives to representative democracy? Lab 1: Liquid democracy, with a presentation by the German Pirate Party, and Lab 3: Fostering public debate and building a shared vision of the future, with particular reference to young people (Phillipines, France);

- Democracy 2.0: Lab 9: Election alert, with our friends from the iHub in Kenya;

- Governing with citizens;

- Envisioning the future: Lab 17: Making films, making society, focussing on the Tunisie 4.0 Nesselfen project, and my favourite, Lab 18: “Solution journalism” in action in the presence of the Bangladeshi blogger Shahidul Alam and the Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas. Finally more human density.

The presentations were then summarised in two plenary sessions, including a vote on the initiatives presented; a somewhat empty process given that approval was invariably between 70 to 80%.

To provide more information, a Facebook page and a Twitter hashtag #CoE_WFD (the same as for the 2012 Forum) were created. The Council of Europe website put videos and photos (here and here) of the sessions online, and created Google groups to continue discussions.

The Médiapart blog provides detailed coverage of all of the sessions [fr] – including some of the off conferences.

A design artist was present at each Lab. Photo by Suzanne Lehn.

A design artist was present at each Lab. Photo by Suzanne Lehn.

In this podcast, 5 student bloggers from Holland and Germany give their opinions. As part of the off events, the Global Voices author Alexey Sidorenko was interviewed [fr] by the Franco-German television channel Arte on the freedom of information in Russia.

Although the Forum was attended by participants from all over the world, it had very little in common with the designer chaos of a World Social Forum [fr], despite the Democracy Innovation Fair grouping together stands of organisations presenting their initiatives in a space within the Council of Europe, where access is reserved. The off programme [fr], coordinated by the City of Strasbourg, presented those living in and visiting Strasbourg with a diverse range of concerts, cinema festivals, debates and meetings organised by Reporters without Borders, the newspaper Le Monde, France Culture… That being so, one of the main purposes of the event seemed to be to stimulate reflection and increase the propositions of the Council of Europe in its role as a defender of democracy. The ‘young leaders’ from Europe, who are currently following courses given by the Council of Europe's network of schools of political studies, actively participated in sessions.

The Franco-German newspaper Eurojournal commented [fr] somewhat maliciously:
Hier, juste après la fin du FMD, les illuminations du Marché de Noël ont été lancées. Chic. Mais une nouvelle fois, de nombreux participants ont regretté le manque de résultats concrets que l’on est en droit d’attendre d’une telle manifestation qui se veut mondiale et qui aurait effectivement le potentiel de le devenir. Si seulement les organisateurs affichaient un peu plus d’ambitions.

 Yesterday, just after the end of the WFD, the lights of the Christmas market were switched on. Chic. But once again, numerous participants were disappointed by the lack of concrete results which are to be expected from such a presentation claiming to represent the world and which certainly has the potential to do so. If only the organisers were more ambitious. 

The blog Décrypter la communication européenne [Decrypting European Communication] decrypted [fr] the issues of this Forum, based on the World Forum for Democracy 2013 Issues Paper: “Exploiting the web as a tool of democracy: new ways forward in the study and practice of digital democracy” [pdf], concluding:
Au total, la révolution de la démocratie numérique européenne est en marche, mais plutôt que d’opposer des « forces de progrès » cyberenthousiastes à des « rétrogrades » cybersceptiques, la ligne de fracture dépend d’abord de ce que les citoyens et les institutions font ou ne font pas d’Internet, en tant qu’outil fonctionnel de démocratie.  

Overall, the revolution of European digital democracy is underway, but rather than opposing the ‘force-for-progress’ cyberenthusiasts and the ‘backwards-looking’ cybersceptics, the fracture line depends first of all on what citizens and institutions do or don't do with the internet as a functional tool for democracy.

“E-toile” installation on the side of the Council of Europe during the Forum. Photo by Suzanne Lehn.

Has the World Forum for Democracy reached maturity with this second event? Led by the Council of Europe, an institution still lacking wider recognition [fr], and the City of Strasbourg, other French institutions, whether governmental, regional or local, were barely visible. The contributions and debates were rich, although their concentration over a short period of time – two half days of ‘Lab’ presentations – meant that only two out of twenty one could be attended in full. The organisation was effective and creative, in particular with regard to the participation of artists, and has found a good cruising speed. Unfortunately, friendliness seemed to have been somewhat forgotten – unless it was hiding away in one of the famous ‘winstubs‘ found in the European and Alsatian capital? 

Women and democracy: World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg 2013.

Women and democracy: World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg 2013.

All of Suzanne Lehn's photos of the World Forum for Democracy 2013 can be found on Flickr (licence CC).

This post was proofread in English by Georgi McCarthy.

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

December 19 2013

Final Adoption of Generalised Surveillance in France: a Disturbing Political Drift

Paris, 19 December 2013 — The French President promulgated [fr] the 2014-2019 Defense Bill last night. Adoption of article 20 (former article 13) opening the door to generalised surveillance of communications and the failure to request its constitutional challenge demonstrate the deep crisis of a political system which does not hesitate anymore to massively compromise fundamental rights. La Quadrature du Net thanks all those who contributed to oppose this article. It calls for the continuation of the fight against surveillance of our communications on the Internet, by any means: before Parliament or judges, through technology and usage choices.

The French 2014-2019 Defense Bill1 has been officially published last night in the Journal Officiel. Its article 20 (former article 13) opens the way to generalised surveillance of online information and communications, notably through live capturing of data from hosting services and Internet service providers and for purposes going way beyond the mere national security.

The adoption of this article – with its ambiguous wording and misleading place in a Defense Bill meant to schedule the military budget – and the faillure to obtain its constitutional review reflect the deep crisis democratic representation is going through, failling to protect citizens fundamental rights. This Bill has been unanimously adopted by François Hollande's left wing party – Parliament's majority group –, despite wide inner divisions on article 20 and a previous opposition on similar but temporary and less harmful texts in 2006 and 2008. The right wing, ecologists and the far-left voted against the Bill in both chambers.

However, once the Bill was adopted, despite the strong citizen mobilization and numerous warnings by various organizations, political divisions and group discipline prevented the collection of the 60 signatures required to call upon the Conseil Constitutionnel (French constitutional court) to review any new law. A strict party discipline from the left-wing majority party (PS), sectarianism from the right-wing party (UMP) refusing to sign together with green and far-left groups, and an aggressive campaign by the leader of the right-wing group against its MPs signing the request, will be remembered as symbols of the drift toward a post-democratic system.

Many other steps will enable citizens to continue the fight against the development of a generalised surveillance, which has become a tool for political powers unable to act for the common good. In legal terms, the future publication of the Decree by the Conseil d'État (Highest administrative court) and announced French laws on intelligence and freedoms online will provide new opportunities for discussion, decision, and challenge. But it is on the political and usage fronts that our rights and freedoms will be determined.

“With the others associations of defense of human rights and freedoms who have acted on this issue, we will campaign restlessly against surveillance and these violations of the separation of powers. We call for a strong affirmation of the role of the judiciary, of the right to privacy and of the individuals freedoms in the upcoming laws, and any form of challenge” concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, cofounder and spokesperson of La Quadrature du Net.

“A balance of rights can only be restored if citizens strongly demonstrate that there is no democracy or human beings free to express themselves in a surveillance State, and if everyone, in their choices of services, tools and usage, reclaims what we abandoned to centralized operators” concludes Phillipe Aigrain, cofounder of La Quadrature du Net.

December 14 2013

Uruguayan Trade Union Federation Backs Launch of Worker-run Airline

alas-uruguay

Photograph published by Jimmy Baikovicius on Flickr under a Creative Commons licence (CC BY-SA 2.0)

[Links to English language web pages are indicated by [en]; all other links lead to Spanish language web pages]

The Uruguayan national trade union federation PIT-CNT [en] has come out in support of the new Alas Uruguay [en] airline by investing union resources into the project after the airline's launch suffered numerous setbacks.

The PIT-CNT (Intersyndical Plenary of Workers–National Convention of Workers) has shown its solidarity with Alas Uruguay due to its status as an autonomously administered company consisting of ex-workers of the previously state owned airline PLUNA [en]. With the Uruguayan government no longer able to meet the airline's growing debts, Pluna was liquidated in mid-2012 after 76 years of service. 

However, in November of this year the Supreme Court of Justice ruled that the law allowing for the liquidation of Pluna, which saw seven of the its aeroplanes handed over to trustees and special treatment awarded to certain creditors, was unconstitutional. As a result, Alas Uruguay’s plan to buy three of the seven Bombardier planes held by trustees has returned to Earth with a resounding thud after the court’s ruling led to the suspension of a previously approved loan by the development fund FONDES.    

As Alas Uruguay officially state on the website of Portal de Américas in the article “Alas Uruguay rompe el silencio” [Alas Uruguay break the silence], this has delayed the awarding of mandatory certificates from the National Civil Aviation and Aviation Infrastructure Directorate which could further hinder the airline’s launch and leave workers unable to meet the numerous financial commitments made in recent months. 

Maintenance of the aeroplanes has been carried out by ex-employees of Pluna with the aim of keeping them operative as even a short break in upkeep leads to the withdrawal of airworthiness certificates. This would result in an immediate fall in their sale price.

In addition to the failed attempt to purchase the three aircraft, Alas Uruguay has already registered as a Public Limited Company having incorporated its managerial staff. According to statements made by the company, office spaces have already been let, bank accounts have been opened, documents have been submitted for the insurance of aircraft (including to Uruguay’s state owned insurance company), websites have been designed and telephone services put in place. Furthermore, the General Manager recently made a presentation before an International Forum on aviation and preliminary talks were underway with national and international service providers.

One particularly worrying detail, however, is that by not finalising the creation a new airline, the government has to continue to pay workers unemployment benefit for a period of two years in order to cover expenses and loss of income. Estimates suggest that this could end up costing the government in excess of US $20 million without any chance of the sum being recovered.

Leo Pintos (@huesopintos) ironically tweeted:

Uruguay 2030: Alas Uruguay workers demand unemployment benefit for ten more years.

Jose Pedro Urraburu (@urraburu), on on the other hand, declared himself against continuing to pay income support:

#Plunagate and its baby #AlasU: The state shouldn’t be paying unemployment benefits to merged companies. Pay layoffs, now

Despite accusations, workers have stated that they are financially committed to Alas Uruguay, alongside PIT-CNT who have also made guarantees for the realisation of the project. Furthermore, workers of Alas Uruguay have given 25% of their salary to the company as a means of financing the venture.

With regards to the Pluna aeroplanes, if these are not subject to constant maintenance then were they to be sold it would be for a drastically lower price than the US $15 million per plane previously agreed with Alas Uruguay.  

The Minister of Economy and Finance, on the other hand, has stated that he is not aware of any law that allows for the state to act as guarantor for a private company in which it does not have an active participation. Indeed, the Uruguayan government is already paying a fee of US $8 million every six months to Scotiabank in its role as guarantor of the seven Bombardier planes that were acquired by the former Pluna CEO, Matías Campiani [en], in 2008. Consequently, if Alas Uruguay does not keep up with its payments then the government would be liable to Pluna’s creditors thus creating a type of ‘double guarantee’ on the same aeroplanes.

The Uruguayan president, José Mujica, in a recent speech spoke about the possibility of the government financing the venture, saying: “I would ask that people have a little bit of heart because the PIT-CNT is even offering part of its monthly income as a guarantee. The Government, if it can, will take that step.”

The senator Alfredo Solari (@senadorsolari) commented on this statement, saying:

Mujica: “People should have a little bit of heart over Alas Uruguay” In the meantime, we’re all paying for it.

In their article “Alas Uruguay más cerca del despegue” [Alas Uruguay, closer to take off], the tourism website TurisUY stressed the importance of this project in kick starting the local tourist industry while also benefiting Uruguayan travellers who are currently paying over the odds for airfares.

The upshot of the closure of Pluna and the delay to the launch of Alas Uruguay has been reflected in an increase in airfares for flights to and from Carrasco International Airport [en] which has ended up benefiting BQB [en], a rival airline run by the Argentine entrepreneur Juan Carlos López Mena who, coincidentally, has since been implicated in Alas Uruguay's failed attempt to buy the Pluna aircraft.

The economist and broadcaster Laura Raffo (@lauraraffo) commented on a photograph published by the Uruguayan newspaper El Observador in which López Mena and his son Juan Patricio can be seen lunching with the Minister of Economy and Finance, Fernando Lorenzo, and Hernán Antonio Calvo Sánchez, the vice-president of the Spanish airline Cosmo, saying:

Great photos of the López Mena – Lorenzo lunch!! Some surprised faces and some poker faces :)

One of the leading newspapers in Uruguay, El País, in their article “Aerolínea de López Mena sumó 56 vuelos tras el cierre de Pluna” [López Mena’s airline adds 56 flights after closure of Pluna], claim that in “the year and a half since the closure of Pluna, López Mena has not only expanded his river transport business [en] [that connects Uruguay to Argentina] but has also seen a significant growth in his airline business.”

The official Twitter account of Alas Uruguay responded by saying:

businessmen like this should be sent back to their country with their tail firmly between their legs. Obviously after having been arrested!!!

December 05 2013

Presseurop, a News Website on European Affairs on the Verge of Termination

The European Commission will stop financing Presseurop, the largest news website on European affairs on December 22. The website curates the top international news and translate it in 10 different languages. Readers can share and comment the news in the language of their choice thanks to its multilingual platform [fr]. The blog Décrypter la communication européenne worries [fr] that this decision is symptomatic of the increasing isolation of European affairs in the media. An online petition to support Presseurop can be found here.    

December 02 2013

Surveillance or Privacy… ? Support La Quadrature du Net!

Paris, 30 November 2013 — Today we find ourselves at a crossroads: surveillance or privacy? Net neutrality or discrimination of our communications? “Copywrong” threatening the public or copyright reform to sanctuarize our cultural practices? These decisions will have a radical impact on our relationship with technology and power and affect society as a whole. We all know this. And we also know that without a concerted effort by citizens, the political and economic powers will take the line that will lead us to the worst case scenario.

Support La Quadrature du Net!The outline of surveillance states based on spying on citizens and their behaviours is begin drawn more precisely by the day. Social and cultural movements experience an increasing online repression. Big U.S. American Internet and entertainment companies have become police auxiliaries by engaging everywhere in this surveillance. We are faced with a critical choices for the future of our society. The future depends on each one of us, but the defence and the reconstruction of a free and open Internet for all will only be feasible if organisations, independent of private and governmental pressure, such as La Quadrature du Net, are there to contribute.

Support La Quadrature du Net!La Quadrature du Net is a team of five permanent staff members and one intern who labour every day to inform citizens and to help them to engage in the public debate. More than 50% of its budget is covered by individuals' donations. Most of the rest is met by general interest foundations and a small part is covered by social funds. Your impressive generosity has allowed us to exist for more than five years and to build up a considerable body of work on a great amount of topics and issues. The budget of the current year 2013 is however falling short of €35 000. This is why we are soliciting you again.

Supporting La Quadrature du Net financially ensures the independence of the association and gives it the means to continue its actions on a long-term basis. The above mentioned crucial questions will not be solved in a couple of weeks or even in a couple of months, but we are certain that collectively and democratically we can find answers to them that are appropriate to their gravity. For this, your support is needed.

It is more of a symbolic compensation, but your support will be represented by a "Pi-xel" in the logo on this page. If you have already supported La Quadrature du Net this year, your previous contributions will be taken into account when we send you thank you gifts. And you will also be able to upgrade your “Pi-xel” and make it blink!

<3

Tags: general news

November 22 2013

10 Years After Fatal Police Operation, Ecuadorian Court Reopens the ‘Fybeca Case’

Ten years after a police operation in a Guayaquil pharmacy left three missing and eight dead – two civilians and six suspected assailants – the case remains unsolved.

On the morning of November 19, 2003, suspected assailants and police agents forming part of the Grupo Especial Antidelincuencial group (a grupo [es] operating outside of the law which was dismantled after the incident) clashed at a branch of the pharmacy Fybeca. Pistols, machine guns and even grenades were found at the scene.

Student Fernando Monro (@FernandoMONRO) shared a photo which was published throughout the country's media channels following the incident.

This is what the Fybeca pharmacy looked like ten years ago [Fybeca Case]

In December of 2003, a police court trial began against the 20 police officers who participated in the operation. On April 27, 2004, the officers were declared innocent due to lack of evidence and the trial brought to a close.

Almost eight years later on January 17, 2012 [es], the Comisión de la Verdad y Derechos Humanos de la Ficalía [es] [Commission of Truth and Human Rights Watch of the Attorney General] reopened investigations into that morning's events. Seventy testimonies were gathered during the inquiries of people present at the incident, including victims’ family members, witnesses, employees and police officers.

On November 14, 2013, the Attorney General Galo Chiriboga appeared [es] before the National Court of Justice to file charges against 31 people [es] for the presumed crime of extrajudicial execution, carrying a sentence of 16-25 years prison. El Universo [es] reports that police officers and “three lawyers who in 2003 were judges in the police court. One of whom currently performs duties as district attorney,” are among the 31 accused.

[Fybeca Case]The District Attorney's Office will file charges for the serious presumed violation of human rights demonstrated by an extrajudicial execution.

Jorge Blum, a National Court of Justice judge, accepted the request [es] made by district attorney Galo Chiriboga and remanded [es] 20 of the 31 accused in custody.

Meanwhile, in Twitter there are many messages of support for victims and their families as well as several displays of happiness that the case now seems to be advancing. However, many stress that the process has been slow and that there is still a lot of ground to be covered.

Eduardo Delgado (@eddepi) tweeted:

Fybeca Case: it goes to show that in this country the law is now being applied, no more impunity nor abuse from the authorities…

On the other hand, Segundo Veloz (@Veloz2002) wrote, outraged:

They want to block out the sun with a finger [A Spanish expression similar to "put out a fire with a thimble of water"]. The Fybeca Case was always a true investigative disgrace, and the worst is that the guilty are never anywhere to be seen.

Vivian Assange (@VivianAssange) emphasised:

10 years have passed since one of the worst forced disappearance cases in Ecuador! 10 years since the Fybeca Case – we don't want to return to that country!

CarlosLucio (@CarlosFLucioR), for his part, wrote a message of solidarity:

Today marks 10 years since the cold-blooded massacre in the Fybeca de la Alborada [referring to its address]. God keep the innocent who died in his Glory.

In the same way, Rodolfo de la Roca [es] wrote a message of support for the widows on his Facebook status [es].

Es una pena lo sucedido con el CASO FYBECA esta clarito lo que paso allí … tuve la oportunidad de conocer a una de las viudas. Es una de las tantas perlas de nuestra policía.

It's a shame what happened with the FYBECA CASE, it's all too clear what happened there…I had the opportunity to meet one of the widows. This is one of the many charming factors of our police force.

The families of the victims of the Fybeca pharmacy incident have fought for years to clarify the facts of the case. In fact, as they share the same first name, three of the widows are known as “the three Dolores,” [a nickname with the added element that, in Spanish, "dolor" means aches or pains]. Dolores Briones’ husband was the pharmacy's courier and died that day alongside Dolores Vélez's husband, who was in the store shopping for diapers. Dolores Guerra's husband is one of three people missing after being detained by the police.

“The three Dolores” have made a formal complaint to the Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos [Inter-American Commission on Human Rights] and demonstrate each year [es] outside the pharmacy, calling for justice.

Ten years after the incident, thanks to the Attorney General's request, “the three Dolores” again have hope to continue fighting for the state to respond to the events of that day.

November 13 2013

October 28 2013

Internet Needs an Uncompromising "Marco Civil" in Brazil!

Paris, 28 October 2013 — Major organizations from all around the world, defending free speech and freedoms online, signed this open letter initiated by La Quadrature du Net. It encourages for a swift adoption, in Brazil, of an uncompromising "Marco Civil de Internet" that would truly guarantee freedoms online. The vote is scheduled on Tuesday. (Your organization can still sign the letter, after its publication, by sending an email to signature (AT) laquadrature.net)

Internet Needs an Uncompromising “Marco Civil” in Brazil!

The “Marco Civil da Internet” is a remarkably progressive legislative text to protect Internet and fundamental rights online in Brazil. It has been drafted through an unprecedented collaborative effort involving citizens. But for the past 3 years, it has remained stuck in Parliament, under heavy pressure by industry – mostly telecom – lobbies.

Recent revelations of massive illegal spying by the US on citizens worldwide, as well as on companies such as Petrobras, urged the president of Brazil Dilma Rousseff to put “Marco Civil” back on track in Parliament, in an emergency procedure.

The “Marco Civil”, guaranteeing Net Neutrality, protecting privacy and freedom of publication online, is more necessary than ever. If adopted, this law will be a model of what citizens and their representatives in all countries can do together to enable the development of a free and open Internet and protect freedoms online.

A corporate takeover of the text such as on the questions of copyright (paragraph 2 of art.15) would amount to empty the text of its meaning.

Provisions aiming at protecting privacy and preventing surveillance should be added and all measures which risk harming the possibility for citizens to collaborate on an international scale should be removed.

We encourage Brazilian citizens and Members of the Parliament to work towards adopting swiftly an uncompromising “Marco Civil”, consistent with its initial spirit, free from corporate influence, and that would truly guarantee freedoms online.

You can count on our support as such a law would be of global importance for the Internet!

Signatories:

October 15 2013

Peruvian Congressman Michael Urtecho Accused of Corruption

Michael Urtecho, foto de Congreso de la República del Perú en Flickr, bajo licencia Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

Michael Urtecho, photo of Congress of the Republic of Peru in Flickr, under the Creative Commons licence (CC BY 2.0)

[All links lead to Spanish language pages unless otherwise noted]

Peruvian Congressman Michael Urtecho is accused, amongst other things, of pocketing a large percentage of the Congress workers’ salaries, of being inconsistent with donations of wheelchairs for disabled groups and of falsifying and altering expense receipts (and payments to “ghost companies”) in order to radically increase the amount he was reimbursed.

Last week, Congress approved the suspension and constitutional accusation order that the Ethics Commission requested against Urtecho, who, at one point, was part of this Commission in Congress. Urtecho will be suspended from his roles for 120 days and will be charged constitutionally for four crimes. Furthermore, the group National Solidarity [en], a centre-right party to which Urtecho belongs, said that the congressman would be separated from their ranks if the suspension was approved.

Congress’ approval has awakened the debate in social networks surrounding this particular case that has already been present for nearly two weeks in the Peruvian press.

Internet users have been discussing this case, focusing primarily on the presumed entrenched corruption in Congress, in the lack of morality of the Congressman, and in the need to establish exemplary sanctions for these cases.

Regarding the matter, Mario C. Rosina commented on twitter:

The matter of M.Urtecho seems to be only the tip of the iceberg of a criminal custom installed in the Congress of the Republic for many years.

Carlos Francisco Herrera Díaz expresses his scepticism on Facebook:

El caso Urtecho ha incrementado las dudas sobre el Congreso en general, por lo que mal haría una gestión que ha ofrecido un trabajo con manos limpias, no adoptar medidas que ayuden en algo a pensar que todavía se puede creer en los congresistas.

Urtecho's case has increased doubts surrounding Congress in general, so it would be a mistake if an administration that has offered clean-handed management didn't adopt measures that help to maintain a belief in the credibility of Congressmen.

Pamela (@Pamelof) speculates about other types of scams:

Urtecho's former workers should also be sanctioned for their complicity, or at least demonstrate that they were deceived.

If proven that the Congressman was involved in these acts (typified as general misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and embezzlement by Peruvian law), Urtecho (who suffers from muscular hypotonia [en]) awaits a sentence of fifteen years in prison

October 09 2013

Snowden Should Get the Sakharov Prize

Open letter by 23 European organisations in support of Snowden's nomination for the Sakharov prize

Today, 23 European non-governmental organisations released an open letter to the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament in support of Edward Snowden's nomination for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2013:

Dear Presidents,

We write to you on behalf of 23 European non-governmental organisations protecting fundamental rights, including the freedom of expression and information, to lend our support to the selection of Edward Snowden for the Sakharov Prize.

Edward Snowden’s recent disclosures have triggered a necessary and long-overdue public debate in the United States and beyond about the acceptable boundaries of surveillance in a democratic state and about the legitimacy and proportionality of counter-terrorism intelligence activities. The revelations also have prompted debates in the European Union.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was established to recognise individuals actively working to defend human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the right to freedom of expression. We believe that by his personal example, Snowden meets these criteria. His nomination to the Prize is in itself a contribution to the development of democracy and the rule of law in the European Union, in particular with regards to the protection of whistleblowers. It also sends a message of respect for international law. Awarding the Prize to Snowden would give a clear signal to the world that the EU values and protects those who are attacked for speaking out on violations of human rights. Daniel Ellsberg and earlier NSA whistleblowers have praised Snowden's actions. We are convinced that Andrei Sakharov would have done the same.

Sakharov – a nuclear physicist turned opponent of a repressive state – used his position in national security and defence to raise concerns about the preservation of human rights. Similarly, Snowden used his professional knowledge to draw attention to abuses of the fundamental rights of individuals and their effect on entire societies. In their transition from state servants to citizens' rights advocates, both men became dissidents, in the full knowledge of the likely cost of this action to them. It is the moral duty of the European Union to acknowledge a man who bravely stood up for our basic human rights, anticipating the cost that his action would have for his personal liberty. We are fully aware that all shortlisted candidates fully deserve their nomination and we understand that the choice is difficult. However, not all candidates are in the same position. Other nominees have already been provided with many other awards and are less controversial, as their activism is directed against totalitarian regimes.

When deciding the winner of the Sakharov Prize, please remember that Snowden has shown to the world that blanket and unaccountable surveillance is not limited to dictatorships, but that democracies can also undermine citizens' fundamental freedoms. Please also keep in mind that one of the few things the European Union can do right now is to support Edward Snowden.

Snowden’s actions represent a challenge to unfettered state power at the global level, and without regard to conventional and simple nationalist dynamics. An award would point the way towards safeguarding activism without borders in a networked world. So far Edward Snowden has received neither recognition for his courageous deeds nor support from the European Union collectively, from any individual Member State or from any single European institution.

As European citizens we believe that the Sakharov Prize would be the best way to change this undesirable state of affairs. Therefore we strongly encourage you to award the Sakharov Prize to Edward Snowden in honour of his courage and commitment to values that the Prize represents.

Sincerely yours

  • Alternative Informatics Association (Turkey)
  • ApTI (Romania)
  • Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung (Germany)
  • ARTICLE 19 (International)
  • Bits of Freedom (The Netherlands)
  • Chaos Computer Club e.V. (Germany)
  • DFRI (Sweden)
  • Digitalcourage (Germany)
  • Digitale Gesellschaft (Germany)
  • Electronic Frontier Finland
  • European Digital Rights (EDRi) (Europe)
  • Foundation for Information Policy Research (UK)
  • Initiative für Netzfreiheit (Austria)
  • Internet Society (Poland Chapter)
  • IT-Political Association of Denmark
  • Iuridicum Remedium (Czech Republic)
  • La Quadrature du Net (France)
  • Modern Poland Foundation (Poland)
  • Net Users' Rights Protection Association (NURPA) (Belgium)
  • Open Rights Group (UK)
  • Panoptykon Foundation (Poland)
  • Transnational Institute (The Netherlands)
  • Vrijschrift (The Netherlands)
Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

September 27 2013

[Video] Happy Birthday to GNU! <3

30 years of GNU
30 years of free/libre software


Many thanks and tons of Datalove to Richard Stallman, everyone involved in the GNU project, every contributer and user of free/libre software!

<3

For more information, see: https://www.gnu.org/gnu30/gnu30.html and https://www.gnu.org/gnu/initial-announcement.en.html

Download and watch the video on our mediakit: http://mediakit.laquadrature.net/view.php?full=1&id=1178

Tags: general video

September 10 2013

Hundreds of Complaints Filed Against TV Show About Pinochet Dictatorship

Foto del usuario de Flickr RiveraNotario, utilizada bajo una licencia Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Photo from Flickr user RiveraNotario, used under creative commons license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

With a few days until the fortieth anniversary of the coup d'etat that put an end to the government of Salvador Allende, there are many media outlets which, using collective memory and unpublished archive footage, attempt to remind and instruct new generations about the human rights violations that occurred during the military government of Augusto Pinochet through reports and documentaries. These have not been free from controversy.

Already in its debut, the program “Chile, The Prohibited Images” [es] (“Chile, las imágenes prohibidas” in Spanish), broadcast by the television station Chilevisión, showed through high audience numbers that many Chileans are interested in revisiting and understanding what occurred between the September 11, 1973 coup and the plebiscite that returned Chile to democracy in the end of the 1980s. However, the opinions generated by the audience have been varied, as much in favor as opposed.

Without going farther than the the broadcast of the first two episodes on August 14 and 21, the program received more than 100 complaints before the National Television Counsel (CNTV) [es], the institution in charge of “ensuring the proper functioning of the Chilean television through institutional policies that tend to guide, encourage and regulate the activity of the actors involved in television” [es].

The complaints against the program stated that it generated “hatred and division in the country,” because it delivers, according to 40 of the claims, “a biased view of history” [es]. This argument was ultimately dismissed given the liberty of expression to which every citizen is entitled.

This idea was discussed in the blog El huevo revuelto [es] (The Scrambled Egg) on August 29, when columnist Marcel Castro (@marcelocastrob) [es], taking the flag of the opponents of the program, referred to the complaints before the CNTV:

Pero no todo es color de rosa, o más bien rojo, para ellos, ya que acumulan más de 80 denuncias en el Consejo Nacional de Televisión, sólo el capitulo del 14 de agosto tuvo 62 reclamos, 40 de ellos por que “el programa presenta una visión sesgada de la historia”, cosa que es verdad, ya que muestra lo que le conviene a los bolcheviques, y otros 22 denuncios por “provocar odiosidades y división en el país”. Estas ultimas siguen vigentes ya que las otras 40 fueron desechadas debido a la libertad que tienen los realizadores de mostrar lo que a ellos se les plazca.

But not everything is rose-colored, or red, for them who have already accumulated more than 80 complaints before the National Television Counsel. Just one episode on August 14 had 62 complaints, 40 of them because “the program presents a biased view of history,” something that is true because it shows what suits the Bolsheviks, and another 22 complaints for “provoking hatred and division in the country.” These last remain valid even though the other 40 were dismissed due to the film makers’ freedom to show what they want to.

Reaffirming the biased-view argument, Natalia Ramos Briones (@nataliaramosb) [es] commented on her Twitter account that this is the result of confusion between the view of the writer and journalistic thoroughness:

Don't confuse the view of the writer with journalistic thoroughness. On the contrary it is an incomplete, biased and ignorant view.

Going along with the view against the television program and alluding to the program's name (“Chile, The Prohibited Images”), various Twitter-users published images that the Chilevisión program had not shown and that, in their opinion, were part of the “other side of the coin.” ["La moneda" refers to both a coin and the Presidential palace in Chile].

Lino González A (@LlinoGozalez) [es] shared through his Twitter account an image shown in the program “The 1000 days” [es] (a program with a similar theme broadcast by Channel 13). The photograph shows opponents of Salvador Allende who protested the scarcity of food and the economic inequality under his government (1970-1973).

“ENOUGH Mr. Allende.” The prohibited images that are not shown on the other channel

In a similar way, the image of two Chilean Carabineros [police officers], in which one checks the vital signs of the other who was injured during protests, was tweeted by the accounts @SeptiembreOnce [es] and Don Corleone (@Don_Corleone_) [es]:

Photo that will never appear in Prohibited Images because it isn't convenient to show the whole truth but rather just what they want to show

THIS PHOTO WILL NEVER BE SEEN IN “CHILE PROHIBITED IMAGES” from @Chilevision

On the other hand, addressing the root of the complaints from opponents of the program, the journalist Federico Zurita Hecht published in his blog [es] and in the Revista Intemperie [es] an article titled “Five false reasons to censor ‘Chile, The Prohibited Images’,” [es] among which the following stand out:

Primero El mencionado argumento de “la otra cara de la moneda” estaría sugiriendo que tanto las imágenes de represión en las poblaciones, en los funerales de las víctimas y en la visita del Papa, como los testimonios sobre la muerte de funcionarios de la Vicaría y sobre el incidente que terminó con Carmen Gloria Quintana y Rodrigo Rojas envueltos en llamas, corresponden a mentiras, porque habría otra supuesta versión (que incluso se sostendría en algo que ocurrió antes de 1973) que demostraría que esas medidas violentas fueron más bien una acción justiciera.

Segundo La idea de “la otra versión” sugiere que las seis mil personas asesinadas por los aparatos de inteligencia de la dictadura habrían formado parte de un plan tenebroso para devolver al país a la “dictadura marxista”. Esta idea que está implícita en la crítica al programa del que aquí hablo tampoco tendría sustento, porque la elite de la eventual “dictadura del proletariado” no podría haber sido tan grande (si ni siquiera hoy la elite empresarial que estrangula al resto del país, es tan grande), y porque finalmente muchas de esas seis mil personas no tenían vínculos con las estructuras de poder.

Primero The argument mentioned as the “other side of the coin” would suggest that in the images of repression of the population, the funerals of the victims and the Papal visit, as much as in the testimonies about the death of Vicarage officials and about the incident that ended with Carmen Gloria Quintana and Rodrigo Rojas in flames, correspond to lies because another alleged version (that includes something that happened before 1973) demonstrates that these violent methods were more a justified action.

Second The idea of the “other version” suggests that the 6 million people killed by the dictatorship's intelligence forces were part of a dark plan to return the country to the “Marxist dictatorship.” This idea that is implicit in the criticism of the program I do not discuss or support here, because the elite of the eventual “dictatorship of the proletariat” could not have been that big (nor is today the business elite that strangles the rest of the county that big), and finally because many of these six million people had no connection to the power structures.

The article continues:

Tercero Las palabras “la otra cara de la moneda” nos informan que se da por aceptada la idea caricaturesca que instituciones estadounidenses formularon sobre el marxismo y que difundieron ampliamente en Latinoamérica. De esta forma, Chile, las imágenes prohibidas intentaría ocultar esa otra cara en la que los marxistas se presentan como seres despiadados en su esencia.

Cuarto Cada vez que alguien reclama que se debe contar “la otra versión de los hechos”, además de abandonar la discusión original y suponer ridículamente que hay un plan maestro formulado por un movimiento marxista caricaturesco, propone que las formas de pensamiento de izquierda son homogéneas y que todos quienes adhieren a estas creencias quieren replicar lo hecho por Stalin en la URSS.

Third The words “the other side of the coin” [or presidential palace] inform us that the ridiculous idea that U.S. institutions formed around Marxism and spread amply around Latin America has been accepted. In this way, Chile, The Prohibited Images would attempt to hide this other side of the Marxists presenting themselves as essentially ruthless beings.

Fourth Each time that someone claims to tell “the other version of the facts,” more than abandon the original discussion and ridiculously suppose that there is a master plan formulated by a ridiculous Marxist movement, they propose the leftist way of thinking is homogeneous and that everyone who adheres to these beliefs want to replicate what was done by Stalin in the USSR.

Reactions on the part of those in favor of the program after the announcement of the complaints before the CNTV counsel soon became apparent. This was expressed by Marcelo Gomez (@MarceloGomezG) [es], who said the the complaints seemed to make little sense and then made a simile with another dictatorship:

To denounce CHV for #ImágenesProhibidas is like denouncing National Geographic for its reports about Hitler and WWII.

The Twitter account Difamadores (@Difamadores) [es], which describes itself as a space for “humor, politics and critical journalism focused on society,” did not let the situation pass and related the authors of the complaints to supporters of right-leaning politics:

Fascists denounce the showing of the prohibited images from the dictatorship and not from those who started it… Sacosdewea.

In the opinion of Don Jorgetaker (@Jorgetaker) [es], those who make the denunciations against the television program are adherents to Pinochet:

There are still fans of old Pinochet –> “Prohibited Images” on Chilevisión accumulates 83 complaints in CNTV http://t.co/A3F308vvlR

Andrea Zamora (@negracuriche) [es] signaled he feels ashamed about the number of complaints against the program:

This is embarrasing! “Chile, the prohibited images” has +100 complaints in CNTV http://t.co/FMpx6Tff4o through @soychilecl

For Cecilia C.B. (@ceciliacarolina) [es], the meaning of the complaints is a lack of acceptance or a distaste for the historical truth:

“Prohibited Images” on Chilevisión accumulated 83 complaings in CNTV http://t.co/mbRIEkNKkW /Incredible, there are people that do not like the truth.

Right or wrong, the complaints against the program suggest that Chile is still divided by an event that marked its history 40 years ago and continues dividing society today. Recognition? Historical memory? Reconciliation? Chilean society is anxious to heal its wounds.

The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it.

Oscar Wilde

September 03 2013

The Influence of Francophone Africa on the French Language

The news site Afrik.com features an article on the way in which African slang has influenced the French language [fr], and informs us that Verlan is no longer a preferred language of rappers :

For a long time, there have been certain words, such as [Arabic greetings] “Salam alaykum” or “hamdu’llah”, which everyone could understand, even though they are not part of the French language. Nowadays, we are witnessing a new wave of words of African origin (black and Maghreb, among others), which fit well into the language spoken by many young people, whether they are originally from Africa or from Europe. As surprising as it may seem, this “enrichment” comes from the “bzèze” (breasts) of their mothers. Since most of them incorporate words spoken in the mother language of their parents.

For example, Ivorians have invented a slang called Nouchi [fr]. On his blog, Behem writes in his article “Top 10 most-common expressions in Nouchi” [fr] :

This is a common language created in the 1980s, which is based on French, incorporating parts of the many vernacular languages found in our country. Poorly-educated youths in Abidjan, who had not learned French well, had to invent a language which incorporated their various dialects. So, this language was associated with the image of juvenile delinquents. This can be seen in its etymology:  The word “nou”, in the language of the Malinké ethnic group, in the north part of Côte d’Ivoire, means “the nose”. Meanwhile, the word “chi” means “hair”. The conjunction “Nouchi” means “moustache”, in reference to moustachioed thugs whom everyone was afraid of. Today, in Abidjan, “Nouchi” still means “a thug”.

For a long time, Nouchi was the preserve of street children, but later it managed to expand its presence, to the point that it is spoken today by all segments of the population. The President of the Republic himself is no exception. Nouchi has also been exported abroad, thanks to Ivorian Zouglou music, and thus it has reached the entire world.

September 02 2013

When Reality TV Meets Humanitarian Action in Italy

RAI 1, the flagship television channel of the national public service broadcaster and the most watched channel in Italy, is developing a humanitarian aid show in reality form. The first episode is planned to be broadcast next 4 December 2013.

“The Mission”, which is presented as a social experience, will show eight celebrities over two weeks working for the Italian NGO Intersos in refugee camps in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali. All of this will take place under the supervision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

On the blog African Voices, Carlo Catteneo explained more about the premise of the show in a post entitled  “Mission” by RAI 1. A time bomb?:

The goal of RAI would be to propose, through this social experiment, as a means of advertising the cause of the most excluded and the engagement of humanitarian workers in order to create greater awareness in the audience. From the rumors collected production will not be focused on the suffering and desperation of refugees but rather on the positive and concrete commitment of humanitarian workers on the stories of refugees and the reasons for fleeing from their native countries. Each episode of The Mission will be introduced by an accurate explanation of the social, historical, political and cultural development of each country visited in order to offer the public with adequate information and to avoid the spectacularization of refugees. Laura Lucci, head of UNHCR Italy ensures that they are focusing on a program of information. The presence of UNHCR will ensure that they are only collected the stories of refugees volunteers standing up supervisor of the right of privacy and personal freedom of each individual. The increase of awareness and private story telling by refugees will help, according intentions of the promoters, to make public opinion more open and sensible on issues such as illegal immigration and the reasons that lead to the desperate search of a better life through the Mediterranean.

Cattaneo also published a copy of the official authorisation to shoot the programme from the DRC

ministry-of-culture_authorization-for-filming_09-07-20132

 

Many Italians – whether humanitarian or not – have already begun to criticise the programme several months before it is to be broadcast. There is intense debate on the Internet. An online petition [it] asking for the programme not be be broadcast has already been signed by more than 91,000 people. They agree that the show plays with the lives of the refugees, and downplays the consequences of conflicts.

The site Afriqinfos [fr] argued that the world of reality TV is about to cross another line by going to refugee camps in Africa [fr]:

Change.org et Activism.org ont lancé chacun une pétition visant à annuler la mise en place de The Mission : « ça vous dirait de voir votre mère, qui a survécu à des violences inimaginables, être tournée en ridicule comme comparse d’un reality show ? » argumente la première organisation.

Change.org and Activism.org have each launched a petition to cancel the broadcasting of The Mission: “How would you like to see your mother, who has survived unimaginable violence, becoming an object of ridicule as an extra on a reality TV show?” argues the first of these organisations.

In addition to the recurrent criticisms, notably relating to the celebrities’ wages for the show [it], another argument against this show is that the celebrities chosen are second-class, B-listers [it] or attempting a comeback.

As zaccunu09 writes in the article Sfiga Africa: ci mancava Albano [it] (Poor Africa: Albano on top of everything else) of l'Espresso magazine [editor's note: Albano is an Italian singer who was popular in the 1970s and 80s]:

Che bella idea questa di Leone,figlio dell'ex Presidente della Repubblica,ed è superfluo dire perché oggi si trova a quel posto !, forte di un'autorità che non sappiamo bene da dove venga ,ha organizzato questa ridicola messinscena con personaggi che hanno un seguito da ridere se non fosse per la Rai che continua a farli apparire sulla scena televisiva,il più delle volte a sproposito. Albano, ci basta la presunzione e l'atteggiamento malandrino;il rampollo ruspante di casa Savoia,che non si sa a che titolo calca la scena Rai e con quali meriti se non una eredità che più scalcinata ed inquietante non poteva essere; Barale, ma esiste veramente? ,Cocuzza per più cocuzza non poteva essere,forse ho dimenticato qualcuno ma sicuramente sarà all'altezza degli altri. VIVA LA RAI ………

What a great idea from Leone – son of the ex-President of the Republic [Giovanni Leone] – and we don't need to ask how he's got that job today [director of RAI 1][it]! Relying on his authority from no one knows where, he has organised this farce with personalities who would no longer exist in the public sphere if RAI didn't take care of their media appearances by exhibiting them inappropriately as often as possible. We've had enough of Al Bano‘s complacency and mischief, and as for the direct descendant of the House of Savoy, we don't know how or why he is shown on RAI if not solely because of a legacy which could not be more pathetic and disturbing. Barale, does she even really exist? Cocuzza [the name of a RAI personality which also means thoughtless], you can't get any more thoughtless, I might have forgotten someone [it], but no doubt they will be at the same level as the others. LONG LIVE RAI……..

At Articolotre.com, Albano addressed some of these criticisms:

Io difendo questo programma, e non capisco davvero cosa ci vediate di male: ce l'avete con me? Non capisco perché si parli di reality quando si tratta di realtà. Non sarebbe stato uno spettacolo, ma un'indagine, un'occasione per accendere i riflettori sulla gente che soffre. A me piaceva proprio l'idea di andare in un luogo in cui le persone sono abbandonate. Io voglio accendere qual faro, far vedere cosa succede. Continuano a morire dappertutto, ma se non proviamo ad accendere le luci che succederà?

I defend this programme, and I don't really understand what you see as negative: do you have a problem with me? I don't understand why we are talking about reality TV when this is about reality. It won't be a spectacle, but an investigation, an opportunity to highlight the issue of these people who are suffering. Personally, I really liked the idea of going to a place where people have been abandoned. I want to shine a light on the problem, to see what is happening. People are continuing to die everywhere, but if we don't highlight the problems, what will happen?

While with Invisible Children's Stop Kony 2012 campaign, a great majority of African comments were negative, this time they seem to give a more nuanced view, particularly on Facebook [fr]:

Aragone Diger : Sortir les réfugiés de l'ombre, c'est aussi montrer les tares de la guerre et ainsi conscientiser les populations de pays impliqués dans les guerres surtout en Afrique.

Aragone Diger: Bringing refugees out of the shadows also means showing the destruction of war, and making people living in the countries affected, especially in Africa, more aware.

Renaud-Désiré Essoh Lath: Moi j'aime ça montre que dans la vie y'a pas que Kardashians et y'a des problèmes plus sérieux !!

Renaud-Désiré Essoh Lath: Personally, I like that it shows that there is more to life than the Kardashians and that there are more serious issues!!

Following rumours that the show would be cancelled, RAI published an official denial. Thanks to the debate it has started, “The Mission” has benefited from publicity that just can't be bought.

Abdoulaye Bah and Antonella Sinopoli contributed to this article
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