Arkiv

Archive for the ‘Ondska’ Category

Put’em on a pole

[Courtesy of sandb]: The post has been given a substantial plastic surgery. There is nothing as weird as Vlad III the Impaler going on.

Apart from having become more civilized, why don’t we hang pirates anymore? Well. It’s cruel, of course. There are many good reasons for why not to hang people, and at that, many good reasons for not having a death penalty at all.

In 2008 the issue of what to do with, or how to punish, pirates caught in the Red Sea was, according to WSJ, uncertain. Now, they shall die! Horribly! They shall now be put in American prisons. For a life time. By American hands! That is certainly [a very] certain [sentence].

South Korea applies very capital measures against pirates. Which may or may not be worse, of course.

put'em on a pole

India, gracefully, just arrests 61 of them. A Seychelle courts has sent some to jail. European countries, it appears, also sentence pirates to jail.

Pirates have previously been sent to neighbouring country Kenya for trials. Kenya is now over-crowded with piracy cases and El País notes that talks of international courts in the UN Security Council are at the same time accompanied by criticism of calling this a war on piracy. They are wrong. Wars are very trendy.

Not only can you impose on Somalis capital measures. You can also capitalise on Somalis.

With recent American measures against African conmen, I wonder quietly what will happen with the Nigerian 410 scammers recently caught in Californa. Although they seem to have ran their operations from the US.

My hearts are extended to the losses for Pirate Families.

Korean Zombie PCs

Update: Prof. Keechang Kim has now provided two blogposts in English on the matter: On Zombie MPs and suggestion in parl and the strangeness of the DDoS attacks:

It was the 3rd of March 2011. South Korea was under attack. A ddos attack, but not your average ddos attack, in fact, it was no ddos attack at all. It was an attack targetting social networks, banks, businesses and private citizens infecting them with a worm wiping the harddisks of infected computers and then self-destruct.

It was the 7th of July 2009.
South of Korea was under attack. A ddos attack, but not your average ddos attack, in fact, it was no ddos attack at all. It was an attack targetting social networks, banks, businesses and private citizens infecting them with a worm wiping the harddisks of infected computers and then self-destruct.

The observant reader will have seen by now that these numbers boil down to 3.3 and 7.7, an observation also made by Korean openweb activist Keechang Kim.

Why would a worm herder kill off her worms? And why is there no political nor economic message attached to the attack? A surprise attack, like Hannibal and the elephants emerging from the mists of the Alps. Well. It’s a second surprise attack and you would expect war elephants to work only once. In the case of anything involving computers this is not so. Virii, for instance, have made governments and computer users insecure since the dawn of time. I don’t know what to make of the fear against Stuxnet, for instance. Technically the only thing it does is make a reactor unable to produce refined fissionable material for possible nuclear weapons. By attacking, as far as I understand, SCADA systems that are anyway not secured very well. Instead of securing SCADA systems, the fear makes governments want regulation. We think. Why?

A reader with good memory will have remembered by now that the French internet authority HADOPI last year suggested a universal piece of (open source) software installed on all French computers to help users determine whether they are in fact downloading copyrighted material or not. I guess you’d have to be pretty informed to know that there was a similar proposal in South Korea pursued happily by an ambitious government in 2009, called the Zombie PC Prevention Act. See, I am very concerned about the EU-South Korea FTA effects on European internet policies, and many Korean activists (most notably IPLeft) are similarly concerned about the US-South Korea FTA effects on Korean internet policies. But this is not a free trade agreement. It’s an own-initiative report.

Popular support is rising for a helpful Zombie PC Act giving a government-controlled authority the mandate to access and scrutinize commercial, official and private datasystems. The authortity will help the government determine if the system is infected by any potential virus. Lacking appropriate anti-virus software shall, according to the bill, lead to repercussions.

FTA with Republic of Korea possibly invalid

A brief recap: in the 10th chapter of the trade agreement negotiated between the Republic of Korea and the European Union between 2007 and 2009, articles 62-64, a literal recital of European legislation (more specifically 2000/31/EC on electronic commerce) minus half of an introductory paragraph (number 43) makes it uncertain whether or not the trade agreement will have an impact on the interpretation of European Union law. Apparently there are similar concerns in the Republic of Korea, although in Korea activists have dug up discrepancies between the Korean and the English versions of the final agreement that have now led to the text of the agreement having to be revisited.

Geraldine Juarez recently made an an interview with me on alt1040.org about free trade agreements, ACTA and for me the most important part is probably bilateral free trade agreements. Now I am reached by the news that the free trade agreement (bilateral) concluded between the European Union and the Republic of Korea last year, and recently approved by the European Parliament has encountered yet another hurdle when the Korean government discovered a discrepancy between the English and the Korean texts. Therefore the request for parliamentary approval in ROK has had to be withdrawn and the government will now have to sort out this discrepancy before the ratification can move any further.

The flawed text in question appears to be a missing ”as it existed immediately before amended” in the Korean version. It is present in both the Korean and English reservations in the English language version, and concerns the parties’ bilateral or plurilateral preferential arrangements outside of the treaty. What it says explicitly is that, of course, such preferential agreements and clauses therein must be in compliance with the Most Favoured Nation provisions of the World Trade Organisation pillar agreements. Interestingly, the European Union has several such preferential agreements in place with former colonial states, among which are included several African countries, that are thus far not renegotiated in full.

The full text of the provision is

The European Union may amend any measure only to the extent that the amendment does not decrease the conformity of the measure, as it existed immediately before the amendment, with obligations to market access, national treatment and most-favoured-nation in these economic integration agreements.

Given that the preferential agreements do not conform with those principles to begin with, as is established three times by WTO arbitration panels, does this provision hold any meaning? Especially as it applied to ”all countries”? What does it insinuate with regards to EPAs with African countries or Pacific countries, the renegotiation of which the European Union has been unsuccessful for the past 16 years?

Another objection from the ROK activists is that the safeguards to the treaty approved by the European Parliament in the same sitting may not be in compliance with international law. As always, and as with Korean agreements with the United States, it is the Korean automobile industry that is the target of protectionist measures from the two largest economies in the world. For the European Union, it is said, the potential non-compliance of these safe-guards may not be a problem since the agreement will ultimately fall under national legislations rather than EU legislation (although, to my best of knowledge, this must surely amount to the same thing? If the European Court of Justice gives a verdict based on the provisions of the agreement or a decision following the Commission, this is immediately applicable in all member states and any fallacy instated by the Union is therefore applied in all member states as soon as the European Parliament and the Commission decide to act on a whim). In South Korea, a trade agreement falls immediately on top of national legislation, in most member states of the Union, having dualistic legal systems, this is not the case. Except in the Netherlands. Are the safeguards compliant with Dutch law in relation to Dutch international obligations? That is up for someone to determine who holds more knowledge on Dutch legislation than me.

Interestingly, the Swedish car of the populace Volvo is a luxury car in both Argentina as well as in China.

More about free trade agreements, and specifically the South Korean free trade agreements on this blog:

Exporting legislation: democracy disabled [2010-01-14]

757 (I probably indended for this post to have the title Canadian CETA and South Korean FTA set precedent for ACTA) [2010-01-15]

Insidious trade agreements afoot [2010-01-18]

Rigid laws are a problem for everyone (on rigid international frameworks for intellectual property rights), [2010-01-19]

EU and Tunisia II

I realise that I may sound slightly sarcastic about the parliament’s efforts to be diplomatic when I’m picking out only the parts of Tunisian praise.

Actually the parliament has, at times, been very critical of the development of human rights in Tunisia. See for example the parliamentary debate from February 2010 where all political groups praise the Tunisian developments except Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL who say:

You have all rightly pointed out that Tunisia was our first partner to sign an association agreement. This is true, and that is why all this is very worrying, because we are not talking here about gaps, Commissioner, or about small steps. No. There is a huge, ongoing decline in human rights and democracy in Tunisia.

Hélène Flautre, Greens

Since September [2009], there has been a real drift towards an authoritarian police state, as the case of Taoufik Ben Brik, who will be tried next Saturday, shows. However, we could also mention Zouhair Makhlouf and Fahem Boukadous, one of whom was convicted for talking about the environmental conditions in his country, and the other for taking part in workers’ demonstrations in his country.

Yes, this is the social situation in Tunisia. Human rights defenders such as Kamel Jendoubi, Sihem Bensedrine, Sana Ben Achour, and Kemais Chamari are victims of a disgraceful press campaign. Sadok Chourou has been rotting in jail for the last 16 years, and Radhia Nasraoui, who acts as his lawyer, has been dragged through the mud, her career permanently damaged.

Marie-Christine Vergiat, GUE/NGL

I do not deny that the parliament in a resolution in 2006 said

21. Believes, however, that border checks and action to combat illegal immigration can be only one aspect of the EU’s policy towards third countries, to which an active country of origin and transit development policy must be applied with a view to minimising the damaging effects of emigration;

23. Stresses that any measures to combat illegal immigration and step up external border controls, even where in cooperation with third countries, must be compatible with the safeguards and the fundamental rights of the individual laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, notably the right to asylum and the right of non-refoulement;

Or that the parliament has called all Member States to

/…/ contribute to the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, to monitor technical assistance to third countries in order to prevent this technical assistance from being misused for the production of goods for the purpose of capital punishment or torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

Or that the parliament wants the EU to

urge third countries to prevent the use, production and trade of equipment which is designed to inflict torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and prevent the abuse of any other equipment to these ends,

This is why the parliament has been praising Tunisia’s development, and it is why I feel so overcome by cynicism and despair. Trade sanctions should really not be used lightly, and the trade embargo in Iraq through the 1990s brought absolutely no good. They were ill targetted and remained in place for a long time to the detriment of civilians all over the country. I find it worrying that the arms trade with the Magreb countries is so extensive, and I find the French nuclear trade with Tunisia to be a cause for concern. It is worrying that in a time of food crisis in Tunisia, their main export to Europe is agricultural products and that that 50% of total Magreb country exports go to Europe. I can be as worried as the European parliament in text, and I can be as outraged, but why noone wants to do anything but text is really beyond me.

EU och Tunisien

januari 11, 2011 1 kommentar

Hemma hos pojkvännen har vi diskuterat Tunisien en del över de senaste dagarna. Eftersom vi båda engagerat oss i piratpolitik och speciellt situationen i Tunisien flödar informationen från alla möjliga vinklar. Jag har, i en kraftsträngning, följt Tunisiens relation till EU sedan 1995.

1995 slöt Tunisien som första land i Magrebregionen ett associationsavtal med EU. Det innebär ökat samarbete kring handel och flyktingfrågor. Sedan dess har relationen gradvis fördjupats inom dessa områden och nådde en sorts topp i februari förra året, då en utvärdering av det senaste frihandelsavtalet från 2008 blev föremål för diskussion i parlamentet.

Givetvis täcker parlamentets arbete inte upp alla aktiviteter kommissionen och medlemsländerna haft med Tunisien över året, men de resolutioner parlamentet antagit relaterat EU-Tunisien-samarbete är ändå ganska talande.

Mänskliga rättigheter står i mitten av agendan. Högst upp står emfasen på bättre handel och gränssamarbete. Runt 2007, när jag under franska ordförandeskapet följde Sarkoszys ansträngningar för ett Medelshavssamarbete stod det mycket klart att invandring var en hög prioritet för de sydeuropeiska länderna. Detta har parlamentet tydligt stött i en resolution sedan 2005, och villkorligt stött i två andra. Parlamentet ska ha heder för en resolution från 2006 som villkorade immigrationskontroll med att mänskliga rättigheter stärks i Magrebregionen.

Ministerrådet ska ha mindre heder med tanke på Frankrikes upptrappade vapenhandel i regionen. Den norska databasen prio.no, som fokuserar särskilt på handel med små vapen, har till exempel inte brytt sig om Rådets enade aktionen från 2002 som bekämpar vapenexport till länder där de kan leda till ”destabiliserande ackumulation.” I ett dokument från 2003 påtalar de också risken av att exportera vapen och ammunition som kan samlas illegitimt och säljas vidare. Tunisien är en känd medelshavsport för vidareförsäljning av europeiska vapen.

Parlamentet antog 2010 en tveksam resolution som ska förhindra försäljning av tortyr, med undantag för flera av de vapen som för närvarande används av tunisiska polisen. I en annan resolution från 2009 uttrycker parlamentet starkt stöd för friare handel, men vagt stöd för vidare social utveckling. Språk är viktigare än man tror i resolutioner, och hur ord används visar tydligt vilka prioriteringar parlamentet gör.

En toppresolution kommer från 2006 där Tunisien plötsligt blivit Medelhavets bästa freds-, demokrati- och utvecklingsområde. Vilket kanske också stöds av parlamentets komplimanger om Ben Alis regims motstånd mot extrem islamism.

Så vitt jag kan uttyda är Tunisiens åtaganden med avseende på mänskliga rättigheter faktiskt gjorda innan Ben Ali kom till makten. Det enda åtagande som gjorts sedan 1987 avser avhållande från kidnappning av personer utan information om var de förts. Kanske är det ett slag av ironi, men jag har faktiskt noterat på globalvoices.org att personer i Tunisien inte försvinner till okänd plats, utan att de bara utsätts för tortyr och förnedrande beteende vilka är föremål för en konvention Tunisiens parlament skrev under 1987, alltså precis vid den nuvarande regimens tillträdande.

Nu har vi sett Catherine Ashton, EU:s höga representant för utrikesfrågor, uttalat sig i diplomatiskt hård ton mot tunisiska regimens behandling av fångar. Människorättsorganisationer är klart upprörda över de många civilpersoner som dödats under polisens och militärens motaktioner.

Därför är EU-Tunisien-debatten som hölls i februari 2010 säkert av särskilt intresse, men de behöver förmodligen läsas i sin helhet för att uppskattas i den utsträckning de förtjänar.

Jag blir lite trött av Catherine Ashtons hårda ord. Jag uppskattar diplomati, och tycker att positiva incitament att stärka vidare arbete i Tunisien med mänskliga rättigheter är en fundamental god idé. Men protesterna i Sidi Bouzid är resultatet av åtminstone 15 års diplomati och uppskattning. Femton år. Jag är trött på fina ord. Handelssanktioner. Nu.

(Tack till Thijs Markus)

Andra som skriver om Tunisien: HAX, Christian Engström, Torrentfreak, 24sur24, al-Jazira, DN, SR, Sydsvenskan, SvD, jag själv

HR, .tn, trade

Major protests broke out in Tunisia following the self-immolation of a student in late December. The demonstrators are protesting unemployment and government violence, and as opposed to a previous norm of protests from spontaneous worker unions the recent uprisal seem to engaged a much larger part of the population to participate. The unemployment protesters were joined by net activists causing an alarm around the extensive web filtering and repression of journalists, soon followed by international assistance from Anonymous groups and OP:Tunisia. Several government agencies have been DDoS:ed or had their webpages defaced.

The Tunisian dictatorship has responded with riot police and arrests starting late December 2010 with several arrests of lawyers.

In Europe the issue started getting media attention a few days ago. Reporting up until that point had been scarce but is now spreading through several international venues, especially in the European Union. In a response that might be related, late afternoon yesterday the dictatorship started arresting a large number of Tunisian information activists and journalists. While Tunisian bloggers have been subject to disappearances, arrests and torture in the past, actions against them have not previously been this large in scale.

About 20% of the Tunisian population are connected to the internet, a large part of whom have connections in their homes. The infrastructure and subscription fees are some of the lowest in Northern Africa.

Getting media coverage of the recent protests in Europe is good, but hardly sufficient. The European Union has an obligation under their own framework treaties to use trade as a tool for encouraging democratic development in foreign trade partners. In Northern Africa, this instrument has sadly been poorly used. France Telecom and Orange hold large stakes in the Tunisian telecommunications market. In a criticized France is ramping up their firearms exports to Khaddafi’s dictatorship in Libya, but they are also since many years back one of the largest providers of firearms and other weapons to Tunisia. Unfortunately, the foreign trade policies of one of the largest economies in Europe, and a founder country of the European Union at that, makes it unlikely that the European Commission will take trade action against Tunisia.

My understanding of the European Commission is that the Directorate Generals responsible for human rights, justice or telecoms have limited influence when it comes to foreign trade and the policies that would put effective pressure on foreign regimes. Commissioner Karel de Gucht and President José Manuel Barroso may underestimate the impact they have on the human rights situation in third countries. Unfortunately, parliamentarians in Europe and member states have limited influence on those positions, and we may have to hope for European governments and Council of Ministers to take a stronger stand for human rights in other countries.

Bééé-Bééé-Bééélgacom

In the Nigel Farage speech against the EU president Herman van Rompuy he not only succeeds in insulting the EU-president in a relatively amusing way, but he also points to the silliness of the Belgian nationstate. And I’m not talking about the six parliaments and unstable federal governments (elections approximately every two years, latest on June 9th 2010) but their telecoms industry.

The former state monopoly of Belgium is called Belgacom. They own all the copper networks. Twelve years after the deregulation of the telecoms industry they are getting larger and larger market shares in the ADSL sector (currently 77%).

There’s a few cable operators. The operator Telenet owns all the infrastructure. They are also the largest service provider in the cable sector.

Fibre in Belgium is not common. I haven’t in fact seen any regular provider of fibre connections. Belgacom started experimenting cautiously with FTTH last year.

Belgacom has now decided that it’s a good idea to raise the prices for all services except TV. But why?! Belgium already has 50% more expensive services than the European average! Even though Spain is worse, it does put me off.

For this amount of money, surely you can at least do unlimited downloading? Well yes, if you have the Belgacom rental of €56 per month you can, since March 2010, do unlimited downloading. The number of computers per household is limited to four in the contract. The contract is enough to keep most consumers in line. But cable then? Telenet recently adjusted the problem with consumers trying to escape otherwise proliferent download limits. The Belgian telecoms minister has boldly criticized both companies for lying about how unlimited their services actually ain’t.

With the amount of money Belgian consumers are charged for their communication services, you would expect the employees of the telecoms enterprises to be either well-paid or large in numbers. Yesterday they went on strike for working overtime every day and also having to work Saturdays. Either they are outrageously inefficient, the infrastructure needs far too much maintenance, or there’s too few of them. Probably in customer service. No way Belgian consumers aren’t upset about this rip-off.

A quick overview of the mobile telephone market is probably not going to make anyone happier either. Belgacom has preliminarily been convicted to paying €1.84 million to BASE and Mobistar for engaging in anti-competetive behaviour: they charge too much for roaming. De Morgen further explains that this will result in less money for the share holders next year. The Belgian state constitutes 53.4% of the share holders. Surely this has to do with spectrum licenses being expensive? No. Belgacom received a free five-year license for spectrum last year. Not until March 2010 Telenet was the first provider in Belgium deciding to invest in LTE this. Before 2015.

Somebody did point out to me on Facebook the other day the Belgium at least has produced some good things. But with the standards of Belgian railroads in mind, it’s no wonder the song is titled Moskow Diskow.