Category Archives: Surveillance capitalism

Edward Snowden Asked: Do You Want to be Watched?

This question applies to everyone, inclusive of those watching and ultimately a future for their children being watched and grandchildren having no privacy.

These days I always notice the cameras in lights. I am aware of the monitoring of Smart Meters.  I am conscious of cyber security used as a means of accessing people’s data and breaching privacy and justifying this intrusion by utilizing threats as bonifide reasons.  I am conscious of mass data gathering and I see it as a much greater threat than the cold war or nuclear postures.

I am monitoring government and business who may not be holding the public interest above all interests.  I am in service to humanity.

This video is on Edward Snowden who has risked his life to expose criminality and breaches of civilians privacy and indeed security.

My concern is the lack of empathy, human wellbeing and basic respect of a human’s right to privacy and safety through anonymity.

“THE AGE OF DISRUPTION” ‘a Perfect Storm’ goes Viral

In the public interest.

I felt to explore the disruption. It led me to the Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.  His speech is about digital disruption.  I contemplate in the midst of the Coronavirus we all have to go online.  Yet the virus is called mild I think people are sensing this perfect storm.

Perfect Stormnoun a detrimental or calamitous situation or event arising from the powerful combined effect of a unique set of circumstances:
a perfect storm battering corporate pension plans.

Yet the Prime Minister on the 15 March 2020 at his press conference stated the virus is mild…

“…But the truth is that while many people will contract this virus that it’s clear, just as people get the flu each year, it is a more severe condition than the flu, but for the vast majority, as I said last week, for the majority, around 8 in 10 is our advice, it will be a mild illness and it will pass. “ Prime Minister Scott Morrison..

Excerpts from Josh Frydenberg speech below:

“This perfect storm – decades in the making – has delivered what now seems like the overnight arrival of something that was previously inconceivable: artificial intelligence and machine learning...

In simple language, machines are providing insights and recognising patterns by rapidly processing data which allows predictions, and in many cases decisions, to be made….As companies adapt to this era of disruption, business transformation has become the order of the day....

This is where ensuring our education system, including early childhood, schools, VET and universities effectively respond to this challenge will be critical. Problem solving, data science and creative thinking are among the capabilities that will be in demand in this new work environment...

The services sector which makes up around 70 per cent of the Australian economy compared to around 60 per cent three decades ago, tends to by its nature to have lower levels of productivity. Services are more labour intensive and less likely to see capital substitution. However, with the maturation of emerging technologies this could change

Moreover, the nature of the services offered by both Google and Facebook allow them to collect an unprecedented amount of personal data, which is then monetised by providing advertisers with highly targeted opportunities…

While the opportunities are boundless, with McKinsey suggesting that automation technologies could add up to $4 trillion to the Australian economy over the next 15 years, the threats are also real

So how much and how quickly our productivity increases from here will depend in part on how governments, employees and employers respond to this changing technology landscape...

Our goal – which I am confident that we can achieve with the right policy settings across both the public and private spheres – is to ensure that when these technologies become part of our everyday life they will contribute to a more prosperous, secure and harmonious future for all Australians.

A few questions:

Should we as Australians or anyone in the global community have a vote on whether we want this digital future that gathers our data and knows everything about our lives ?

Who truly benefits – the community or global IT business?

What about public needs, wants and rights to privacy?

What about the vulnerable and the homeless?
How will they survive in disruption? To-date clearly the money to house every person is there but not actioned. What of the treatment of those vulnerable in detention centres? Who truly cares?

Will this imposed future be democratic and foster happiness in our society or will our lives be automated and focused on the cryptocurrency of inclusion and exclusion?

What of breaching ecological tipping points given economics is about growth not balance?

Lastly, and most importantly, what are the health impacts from electromagnetic frequency (EMF)?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2011 concluded that EMFs of frequencies 30 KHz – 300 GHz are possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B). 

Refer links:

https://www.gaia.com/article/5g-health-risks-the-war-between-technology-and-human-beings

https://ehtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/Scientist-5G-appeal-2017.pdf

There needs to be a broader discussion to ascertain if this adverse health impact is true. Does it create a major health problem greater than the coronavirus?

The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP
Treasurer
Federal Member for Kooyong

SPEECH

“THE AGE OF DISRUPTION”

SIR ZELMAN COWEN ORATION

VICTORIA UNIVERSITY, MELBOURNE

29 August 2019

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

It’s a great privilege to deliver this oration in Sir Zelman Cowen’s name and I want to thank the Cowen family and Victoria University for the opportunity.

As Glyn Davis and Peter Dawkins wrote in The Australian just a few days ago, Victoria University is one of only a small number of dual-sector universities providing a highly innovative and quality education both in the tertiary and vocational streams.

With the wave of new technology challenging our traditional methods of learning and the institutions that provide it, it is only appropriate that the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre is hosting key stakeholders for an important upcoming discussion about the future of universities.

As a Vice-Chancellor, Provost and Dean, Sir Zelman was a great educator and reformer, always appreciating the wonders of learning and curious about the future.

He would be proud that the Centre in his name is promoting this important debate.

Sir Zelman Cowen was a giant of a man and a dear friend and mentor.

I will never forget his generosity of spirit and his intense loyalty as a friend as we sat together each weekend for many years talking about his life and the changing world in which we lived.

While never a meeting of equals, he ensured age was no barrier to friendship, always putting me at ease.

He never needed to demand respect or command obedience but by virtue of his very nature and being, he simply earned it.

He was always proud of his immigrant background and his Jewish faith and he never sought to distance himself from his heritage during his long and distinguished career.

He is an inspiration to many.

And as our nation’s nineteenth Governor-General, he brought a touch of healing to the country and set a standard that is the benchmark for those who have followed.

He was always above the rancour of partisanship – earning respect from all sides, devoting his life as he did to public service.

But for all that Zelman achieved in public life, he knew none of it would have been possible without the support of his wife of sixty years, Anna.

Their marriage was a true partnership based on eternal love and respect, and I want to thank Anna for being here today, pass on our best wishes for a speedy recovery after a recent fall, and thank her for her enduring friendship.

It would be remiss of me as well not to plug her recent brilliant book titled My Vice-Regal Life which published her personal diaries from the Cowens’ time at Yarralumla.

Like Zelman, Anna possesses a sharp wit and a great sense of humour.

For example, recording on one occasion an investiture by Sir Zelman where he was waving a sword wildly around, saying after the event that it was remarkable that they didn’t have to pick up peoples’ ears from the floor!

This evening I ask you to lend me your ears as I share some thoughts on an issue that affects the future of all of us – namely that we are living in the age of disruption.

The world has seen nothing like it. Big data, artificial intelligence and the explosion in connectivity.

It is the fourth industrial revolution.

The first being the use of steam to mechanise industries and the Dickensian conditions it created in the factories of England in the 1800s.

The second saw the arrival of electricity and the third the development of the computer and with it the proliferation of information technology.

This fourth revolution is different in both nature and scope.  Developing exponentially rather than in a linear fashion.

It is less about disseminating information to the wider public, as was the case with the invention of the printing press, but more about algorithms and data as new building blocks to fundamentally change the way we do thing across every sector of the economy.

From energy to education, health and hospitality, mining and manufacturing and even to administration and agriculture.

While the opportunities are boundless, with McKinsey suggesting that automation technologies could add up to $4 trillion to the Australian economy over the next 15 years, the threats are also real.

Cyber security, privacy concerns, competition issues, the integrity of the future of our tax base and the future of work are among them.

A little less than a century ago John Maynard Keynes gave a famous lecture entitled ‘Economic possibilities for our grandchildren’ where he predicted an era of progress where by 2030, technology would not only boost incomes and ultimately solve the production problem, but also reduce the need for labour to a 15 hour work week.

So far he been broadly right on incomes and production, but as for his concept of ‘technological unemployment’ society has found new ways to productively deploy labour in response to the age of disruption.

Our task today as the French Noble Prize winning economist Jean Tirole has pointed out, is to anticipate the challenge that has come with the digital revolution so we can adapt to it as we have done with previous revolutions, rather than merely endure them.

Against this backdrop, I want to talk about three things tonight:

  • First, how this digital disruption is playing out and how it will continue to evolve;
  • Second, the implications of this for the Australian economy; and
  • Third, how the Government is responding to these developments.

*  *  *  *  *

Disruption that is unfolding around us

The ability to deconstruct information into bits – ones and zeroes – and seamlessly duplicate and distribute this data through a network of networks has led to an explosion of connectivity and facilitated the rise of the digital economy.

More than half the world’s population are using the internet, and as at December 2018, the United Nations estimated there were some 5.2 billion active mobile broadband subscriptions globally.

Network effects, which occur when the usefulness of a service grows exponentially with the number of users and providers, are flourishing now – and at a scale never seen before.

For example in Australia, there are now more than 80,000 active drivers using the Uber platform, supplying services to around 4 million Australian customers.

Two sided digital platforms are allowing unprecedented numbers of buyers and sellers to come together and interact.They are empowering consumers to make better choices about the products and services they purchase, including a more personalised matching to an individual’s preferences.

These platforms are enabling unused capacity to be filled and utilised more efficiently.

Today we are seeing play out before our eyes the combined effects of:

  • a massive increase in digital data;
  • the growing force of computer power;
  • the ascent of new platforms;
  • new organising principles of powerful algorithms;
  • the development of advanced analytical tools and techniques; and
  • unprecedented ease of connectivity between people.

This perfect storm – decades in the making – has delivered what now seems like the overnight arrival of something that was previously inconceivable: artificial intelligence and machine learning.

In simple language, machines are providing insights and recognising patterns by rapidly processing data which allows predictions, and in many cases decisions, to be made.

For example, Qantas has partnered with the University of Sydney’s Centre for Field Robotics to create a new system called ‘Constellation’ which brings together a database with a decade of weather patterns and combines it with aircraft capability to map out the optimal flight path.

Qantas believes that by sending its aircraft into the strongest jet streams, the system can reduce its fuel bill by $40 million a year and reduce its CO2 emissions substantially.

With greater connectivity and growing networks the so-called Internet of Things is also coming into its own.

Cheaper and more widely available broadband along with huge advances in Wi Fi and sensor technologies has meant that more and more devices and equipment can be connected to the internet.

Business equipment, vehicles, household appliances and wearable devices can communicate with each other and generate data.

For example, your mobile device can be used both remotely or automatically, to change the temperature settings in your house, such as through the air-conditioning system to respond to the movement in electricity prices through the day.

This saves customers money and improves the reliability of the system.

We are now only at the very nascent stage of the Internet of Things and the upward trend in data generated will accelerate into the future.

A super-connected world, combining billions of people with artificial intelligence, online transistors and real life data sets the scene for a process of constant change and improvement.

*  *  *  *  *  *

As companies adapt to this era of disruption, business transformation has become the order of the day.

For many companies this means devising new digital strategies, new business models and more.

As reported in The Economist last year, of America’s 20 most valuable non-tech firms, 14 have a digital dimension to their strategies.

The message is every firm needs to adapt and look for new opportunities.

Mining

In Australia we’re seeing a big transformation in our world leading mining companies.

Rio Tinto for example has recognised that its future success cannot solely rely on traditional mining mindsets and its legacy asset bases.

It is leading the way internationally with autonomous mining operations in the Pilbara.

Autonomous long distance trains, autonomous haul trucks and autonomous drill systems – all monitored from a control centre located 1,500 kilometres away in Perth.

Its ‘Mine of the Future’ programme will allow assets to be networked together across all components of the mining value chain.

Machines talking to machines will help reduce variability through the system and improve both safety and productivity.

Today’s mining engineers – and those into the future – will be equally specialised in data analytics and artificial intelligence, as they will be in their knowledge of ore bodies.

Autonomous vehicles

Disruptive technologies like autonomous vehicles are likely to profoundly reshape mobility within cities – they will fundamentally change the way people get around and will shape how cities grow into the future.

General Motors has said it is committed to introducing an autonomous ride sharing service to several big cities in the United States and is aiming for a future of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.

As with other digital technologies there will be powerful network effects at play.

Of course when it comes to autonomous vehicles, there has been a great deal of promise.

But we should remember Amara’s Law – that we tend to overestimate the impact of a new technology in the short-run, but we underestimate it in the long run.

Healthcare

With a growing and ageing population, there is tremendous upside potential from technology innovation in the health care sector.

As the Productivity Commission has noted, the health sector is very good at generating and storing data, but less effective at translating this data into useful information.

The expanded use of health information and digital technologies – including e health records – can help establish a better evidence base, deliver better quality care, reduce medical errors and streamline administration and overall healthcare efficiency.

Data that allows performance monitoring and comparison of government activities in the healthcare space is a fundamental starting point for improving the delivery of those activities to the community.

At an individual level, data collected through personally controlled devices such as smartphones and health monitors have huge potential to assist medical practitioners and patients.

Looking back over the twentieth century the advancements in health technology have been astounding, for example the introduction of magnetic resonance imaging machines, DNA mapping and antibiotics.

Advances in artificial intelligence are adding to these. For example, we don’t just have MRI’s, we can now use machines to help interpret MRI’s.

Financial Services and Digital Currencies

Australia’s financial sector is also experiencing a wave of innovation-driven disruption with the emergence of the ‘fintech’ sector, using data and latest technology to design and offer better and bespoke products and services.

For example, it is facilitating the development of new payment products with financial services firms having begun to collaborate with technology firms, including most notably Apple’s agreement with the major banks to allow their customers to use Apple Pay.

Closely related to disruption in financial services has been the development and substantial interest in virtual currencies or cryptocurrencies as they are better known.

As the Reserve Bank Governor Phil Lowe has noted, as people’s needs change and technology improves so too does the form that money takes.

Already in Australia we have seen a significant shift to electronic payments with the proportion of cash transactions made by households falling from around 70 per cent in 2007 to 37 per cent by 2016 – with Australians enthusiastic adopters of ‘tap and go’ payments.

The Reserve Bank’s New Payments Platform launched in early 2018 has leveraged digital technologies to improve payment services – allowing Australians to settle their bills in seconds, 24/7 with instant settlement and funds availability.

Cryptocurrencies are designed to mimic cash transactions allowing peer-to-peer transfers of value, without the need to know or trust the other party in the transaction or for any central body to act as an intermediator.

For all of the noise around cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, the reality is that they are not currently being widely used for everyday payments.

However Bitcoin’s creation and that of the new Libra currency still in development by Facebook has been instigated through the development of blockchain technology.

These are developments that regulators are watching closely.

It is worth remembering that Governments exist to provide essential public goods and money is one of these very important public goods, providing a store of value, a unit of account and a medium of exchange.

*  *  *  *  *

The implications of digital disruption for the Economy

The underlying characteristics of digital technologies – and their application – are having profound impacts on the economy.

These impacts spread across jobs; competition, productivity; and of increasing focus, the tax base.

The future of work

The future of work looms large in the transition to a digital economy as it has done with the previous three industrial revolutions.

Technology has always led to a shift in the types of jobs and skills required.

This does cause people concern as they feel more insecure, not just about their job today but also the future job prospects, including for their children.

This can play out in two ways with the rise of automation and robots taking what would otherwise have been the work of people and the existence of the gig economy which sees workers on short-term contracts or undertaking freelance work paid for a service as opposed to being a permanent employee.

This could include everything from ride share drivers, freelance journalists, self-employed independent contractors and a myriad of services like bookkeeping.

This on-demand workforce is made available by platforms like AirTasker, Freelancer and Uber.

The gig economy which is still emerging may provide for some people greater flexibility, job entry opportunities and satisfaction to workers on the one hand, but on the other, raises challenges around the regulatory framework and its enforcement and the constancy and security of employment.

In each of the industrial revolutions, there has been a shift in the makeup of the workforce.

The question that still remains unanswered for the future of digital revolution is will technology complement and augment the capabilities of workers leading to higher productivity, higher wages and higher output as has been the case with the arrival of the three previous revolutions?

This is where ensuring our education system, including early childhood, schools, VET and universities effectively respond to this challenge will be critical. Problem solving, data science and creative thinking are among the capabilities that will be in demand in this new work environment.

Technology’s impact on productivity

For all of its promise, the digital revolution has been slow to show up in the measured productivity figures as might have been expected.

As I said earlier this week in a speech to the Business Council, there seems to be three main factors at play.

First, as the OECD has found, while innovations are clearly occurring giving benefit to some firms, they have not spread as widely to other firms across the economy as one would hope.

There is a clear gap between those at the frontier and the rest. Many firms appear to be waiting for technologies like Artificial Intelligence, autonomous vehicles or the Internet of Things to mature before they adopt them.

Second, for some technologies it takes time for the full benefits to be seen. This was the case for electrification which arrived in the United States in the 1890’s but took 30 years for factories to reconfigure their processes to enable them to maximise the gains.

A corollary today is the effective use of machine learning which requires a new approach with the right data sets, skill technicians and analysts as well as a regulatory framework fit for purpose.

And third, there is a long run structural shift in the Australian economy towards services as incomes rise.

The services sector which makes up around 70 per cent of the Australian economy compared to around 60 per cent three decades ago, tends to by its nature to have lower levels of productivity.

Services are more labour intensive and less likely to see capital substitution.

However, with the maturation of emerging technologies this could change.

So how much and how quickly our productivity increases from here will depend in part on how governments, employees and employers respond to this changing technology landscape.

*  *  *  *  *

How is the Government responding?

At a time of significant technological disruption, questions arise as to what role the government should play and to what extent will it need to impose new regulations?

As with many things governments do, this is all about getting the balance right and exercising judgement around the trade-offs that inevitably arise.

Too much regulation and the incentive to invest will be stifled, while too little regulation and consumers may not trust the products and new services that result.

Digitisation is having an impact in areas which are firmly within the realm of governments.

This includes intellectual property rights; privacy; competition law; employment law; regulation; taxation and cybersecurity.

Governments recognise their obligation to their citizens to ensure their interests are protected as are those of the community as a whole.

As digital revolution rolls on, people need to have confidence in the system’s underpinnings.

Again, as Jean Tirole has observed, social acceptability of digitisation depends on us believing our data will not be used against us; that online platforms will respect the terms of our contracts them; and that their recommendations will be reliable.

*  *  *  *  *

In this regard, I wanted to briefly mention tonight three areas of policy reform which fall within my remit as Treasurer and are directly related to the regulatory framework underpinning the growing digitisation of Australia’s economy.

There are the implementation of the Consumer Data Right; the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry; and reforms to ensure Australia’s tax system is able to meet the challenges of a more digitalised economy.

The Consumer Data Right

Earlier this month the Government passed through Parliament an important piece of legislation – the Consumer Data Right.

This law gives consumers new rights to their digital data.

It creates a new lens through which to view personal data – as a valuable asset that is being created and can be utilised.

Consumers will have a right to access information currently held by businesses about the transactions they enter into as consumers.

Importantly it will also allow consumers to request their data to be transferred to third parties which should help reinvigorate competition be it on someone’s mortgage, electricity bill or mobile phone plan.

At the most basic level, accessing this information will help consumers compare and switch products and provide them with scope to better manage their budgets.

More broadly, today one of the barriers to competition is the availability of information.  Companies who have collected huge data sets on their customers have a substantial competitive advantage over other businesses trying to compete in the same space.

The consumer data right regime will go some way to addressing this.

The initial application of the law will be to the banking sector with the regime extended in future to the telecommunications and energy sectors.

Eventually we would like to see the Consumer Data Right extended across the economy.

*  *  *  *  *

Digital Platforms Inquiry

Last month the Government released a ground-breaking report prepared by the ACCC into digital platforms.

It examined the impact on competition, privacy and consumer outcomes arising from the significant market power of the leading search engines and social media platforms, and in particular Google and Facebook and their influence on the media and advertising market.

The report makes it clear that the digital platforms are an important innovation that have fundamentally changed the way the media content is produced, distributed and consumed.

However the ACCC found that Facebook and Google have grown rapidly over time to become the dominant players in important online markets in Australia, giving them immense market power.

For example, for every $100 spend by advertisers on online advertising, excluding classifieds, $47 goes to Google, $24 to Facebook and $29 to other participants. The market is worth nearly $9 billion annually in Australia, and has increased eight-fold since 2005.

Google and Facebook are dominant with 98 per cent of online searches on mobile devices are with Google and Facebook having approximately 17 million Australian users.

The scale of the advantage of incumbents is enormous.

Moreover, the nature of the services offered by both Google and Facebook allow them to collect an unprecedented amount of personal data, which is then monetised by providing advertisers with highly targeted opportunities.

Our legislative and regulatory framework did not and could not anticipate such a new paradigm – a paradigm which poses a real challenge to regulatory authorities the world over.

The Government is currently consulting on the report’s recommendations but has accepted the ACCC’s overriding conclusion that there is a need for reform – to better protect consumers, improve transparency, recognise power imbalances and ensure that substantial market power is not used to lessen competition in media and advertising services markets.

I expect that the Government will provide its final response to the report before the end of the year.

*  *  *  *  *

Digital Tax

The digitalisation of economies is also having far reaching implications for tax systems, both in Australia and around the world.

The current international tax framework applying to companies is based on the location of physical assets, labour and capital, the source of income and the residence of taxpayers and less from where businesses are deriving value from user data or user generated content.

This framework – developed in the 1920s – could not have envisaged the extent to which businesses would become globalised and digitalised.

Today, most major digital businesses are able to access markets via technology without necessarily having a physical presence in that market, allowing them under existing tax rules to pay a lower effective rate of tax then what may apply to other companies.

For example, in 2016-17, despite Google having around $1.5 billion of revenue in Australia, they only paid $33 million of tax on a taxable income of $177 million.

Their effective rate of tax is around 18 per cent, with large deductions before they even get to their taxable income.

Addressing these issues is by no means straightforward and is imposing challenges both for Australia and globally.

While other countries like France and the United Kingdom have sought to introduce a direct tax on digital services, our preference is to work with other countries to achieve a consensus-based solution through the OECD and G20.

We have an ambitious goal of reaching such a consensus by the end of 2020.

*  *  *  *  *

Conclusion

In an increasingly competitive and globalised economy, we need to recognise the unprecedented scope and speed of technological change.

It is creating both challenges and opportunities, as it changes every aspect of how we live and how we work.

We cannot stop technological change nor we should we try to.  Rather we need to effectively adapt with a clear sense of what is important to us.

As Mark Weiser wrote in the Scientific American back in 1991, ‘The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.’

Our goal – which I am confident that we can achieve with the right policy settings across both the public and private spheres – is to ensure that when these technologies become part of our everyday life they will contribute to a more prosperous, secure and harmonious future for all Australians.

If Zelman was here today, this is not only what he would hope for but what he would use his great capacity to help achieve.

Ends.

Refer further link re: background Sir Zelman Cowen:

Sir Zelman Cowen Forest in Israel

 

Julian Assange Awakens Secrecy as Repugnant to Freedom

This is an article from the Australian ABC regarding Julian Assange, lawyers, breach of privacy and surveillance.  the article focuses on the recording of Geoffrey Robertson QC a famous Australian barrister, well known by those of us over 40 for the ABC program ‘Hypothetical’.  Geoffrey Robertson demonstrated justice as he challenged influential Australians to respond to controversial issues, scenarios indicating how they would handle a difficult problem. He demonstrated Justice and Inquiry. 

He is a human rights lawyer and his lawyer-client privilege was breached due to powerful interests not driven by Justice but power. 

I felt inspired to give J F Kennedy a voice in this blog which drives to the heart of this problem.  

Transcript: https://www.jfklibrary.org/archives/other-resources/john-f-kennedy-speeches/american-newspaper-publishers-association-19610427

The keystone message of Kennedy is as follows:

I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers–I welcome it. This Administration intends to be candid about its errors; for as a wise man once said: “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.

Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed–and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment– the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution- -not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants”–but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.

The important question for US lawmakers and politicians is – Can you face high crimes and misdemeanours and correct mistakes rather than criminalise the messenger?   Wikipedia provides insight into the meaning:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_crimes_and_misdemeanors

When you deeply contemplate the journey of Julian Assange you realise he is a light on the hill as he reminds the US of its true purpose as they have lost their way.  He is a beacon who not only revealed US secrets but awakened the world to what is called the ‘dark side’ of surveillance and political corruption. Justice is not a business deal it is about the truth that sets all free.

Recently I wondered about him. I sent light and protection to him and that he is safe as the US seek to jail him for revealing what is on ‘a need to know basis’. 

When you have experienced inequality before the law, illegal surveillance, privacy breaches and corruption your Cinderella world view dissolves as you become dis-illusioned.  That is, the illusion falls from your eyes and you see clearly. 2020 (vision) is about clear seeing. Until you walk in Julian’s shoes you cannot know the sacrifice he made in the public interest, albeit global interest. We are learning about how power operates as distinct to Justice. The lengths people will go to, to win and pervert the course of  justice. The lack of ethics, integrity and manipulation of the rule of law is under the spotlight. 

It is noteworthy that those persons exposed of crimes and/or breaches to the Constitution are not arrested but the whistle-blowers are pursued as if criminals and rights to Justice undermined. The Brave New World is a teacher, we are being given glimpses into this possible future and every person is choosing. This is the real universal vote. Complacency or democracy?

The surveillance state is increasingly being privatised as contractors are paid by national intelligence agencies accessing secrets themselves.  Secrets (security) are leverage.  Imagine how wide spread is espionage as intelligence becomes private security (business) becomes intelligence in the revolving door of greed where there is always a back door to breach privacy and make money from vulnerability.  Greed is the key issue arising out of a desire to live like the US, yet, must we rob Peter to pay Paul. Debt is another leverage point.

Some key quotes from the ABC article below are worthy of contemplation.

“It’s important that clients can speak frankly and freely in a confidential space with their lawyers in order to be able to protect themselves and ensure that they have the best possible legal strategy and that the other side does not have advance notice of it,” Robinson said.

Referring to a Spanish allegation that the US Government had advance notice of legal conversations in the embassy, she said: “That is … a huge and a serious breach of [Assange’s] right to a defence and a serious breach of his fair trial rights”.

“I wasn’t surprised at all. It’s an occupational hazard for human rights lawyers. You’re bugged, you’re followed by secret police, you’re spied upon,” said Robertson, one of Australia and the UK’s most respected human rights barristers for almost 50 years.

The extradition hearing comes amid a flurry of activity related to Assange: on Friday his legal team also confirmed they will try to seek asylum for the WikiLeaks boss in France, and on Thursday an English court heard that Assange was offered a US presidential pardon if he agreed to say that Russia was not involved in a 2016 leak of Democratic Party emails.

When the ABC asked questions of the US embassy in Canberra, it referred questions to the US justice department, which did not respond by deadline.

The ABC also sent questions to the CIA and the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Neither responded by deadline.

https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/julian-assange-and-his-australian-lawyers-were-secretly-recorded-in-ecuadors-london-embassy/ar-BB10hrG3?ocid=spartandhp

Julian Assange and his Australian lawyers were secretly recorded in Ecuador’s London embassy

Dylan Welch, Suzanne Dredge and Clare Blumer 2 hrs ago

WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain January 13, 2020.

© REUTERS/Henry Nicholls WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain January 13, 2020. Barrister Geoffrey Robertson’s shuffles into the entrance to Ecuador’s embassy in London, a camera recording the sound of his shoes echoing on the hard tiles.

It’s just after 7:00pm on January 12, 2018.

The camera rolls as Robertson stops at the front door, unbuttons his overcoat and removes his cap.

Once inside the embassy, other cameras follow him as he’s ushered into a meeting room, where the storied Queen’s Counsel is offered a cup of tea.

After a few minutes, he is greeted by the embassy’s most famous resident, Julian Assange.

The camera continues to roll, recording every word of the confidential legal conversation which follows.

While this may be typical surveillance at a secure diplomatic property, what Robertson did not know was he and a handful of other lawyers, were allegedly being targeted in a remarkable and deeply illegal surveillance operation possibly run at the request of the US Government.

Pictures: The case of Julian Assange (Showbizz Daily)

And recordings such as Robertson’s visit are at the heart of concerns about the surveillance: privileged legal conversations between lawyer and client in a diplomatic residence were recorded and, later, accessed from IP addresses in the United States and Ecuador.

Robertson was only one of at least three Australian lawyers and more than two dozen other legal advisers from around the world that were caught up in the surveillance operation.

Long-time WikiLeaks adviser Jennifer Robinson was one of the other Australian lawyers caught in the spying operation.

“It’s important that clients can speak frankly and freely in a confidential space with their lawyers in order to be able to protect themselves and ensure that they have the best possible legal strategy and that the other side does not have advance notice of it,” Robinson said.

Referring to a Spanish allegation that the US Government had advance notice of legal conversations in the embassy, she said: “That is … a huge and a serious breach of [Assange’s] right to a defence and a serious breach of his fair trial rights”.

On Monday evening (Sydney time), Assange will face an extradition hearing relating to US criminal charges against him for his role in the WikiLeaks releases of classified US Government material.

The extradition hearing comes amid a flurry of activity related to Assange: on Friday his legal team also confirmed they will try to seek asylum for the WikiLeaks boss in France, and on Thursday an English court heard that Assange was offered a US presidential pardon if he agreed to say that Russia was not involved in a 2016 leak of Democratic Party emails.

The offer of a pardon was allegedly made by the US congressman Dana Rohrabacher when he visited Assange in the embassy in August 2017. Rohrabacher has denied he was making the offer on behalf of Donald Trump.

‘It’s an occupational hazard for human rights lawyers’

The surveillance was uncovered via a very public investigation into the Spanish company contracted by the Ecuadorian Government to provide security at the embassy, UC Global.

WikiLeaks Spanish lawyer, Aitor Martinez, told the ABC the surveillance came to light after Assange was arrested, when former UC Global employees provided a large file of material.

“This consisted of recordings from cameras installed in the embassy and hidden microphones; recordings made with secret microphones placed inside the embassy; hundreds of secret copies of the passports of Mr Assange’s visitors; multiple emails exchanged between the company owner and the employees,” Martinez said.

The recording of lawyers and legal conversations was not accidental, according to the Spanish criminal case, which is now investigating UC Global and its owner, former Spanish Navy marine David Morales.

“David Morales was justifying himself by saying that he had been expressly asked for this information, sometimes referring to ‘the Americans’,” a UC Global employee turned prosecution witness said.

“He sent on several occasions — via email, by phone and verbally — some lists of targets in which we had to pay special attention … they were mainly Mr Assange’s lawyers.”

“I wasn’t surprised at all. It’s an occupational hazard for human rights lawyers. You’re bugged, you’re followed by secret police, you’re spied upon,” said Robertson, one of Australia and the UK’s most respected human rights barristers for almost 50 years.

Robinson — also an Australian citizen — was spied on while providing confidential legal advice to Assange.

“It is incredibly troubling that our secret and privileged legal conversations with Julian Assange were recorded and apparently handed to US authorities,” she told the ABC.

“It is one of the most fundamental principles of protecting attorney-client relationships that we are able to have confidential and private meetings, to discuss legal strategy.”

The concerns about illegal monitoring of confidential legal discussions may become part of his defence, with his lawyers expected to argue that the espionage has denied Assange his basic legal rights.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne did not respond to ABC questions about the Spanish case. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) also declined to discuss it, only noting that it had previously sought assurances that Assange would be treated appropriately under UK law.

“The Australian Government cannot intervene in any extradition request for Mr Assange, which is a matter for the UK authorities,” a DFAT spokeswoman said.

Robinson said that she believed Canberra had not done enough to protect Assange, an Australian citizen.

“This is a case in which an Australian citizen is facing 175 years in prison in the United States for the same publication for which he won a Sydney Peace Prize and the Walkley award for the most outstanding contribution to journalism,” she said, referring to WikiLeaks’ publication in 2010 and 2011 of confidential US documents that revealed, among other things, war crimes and illegal spying on world leaders.

“His Australian lawyers — all of us Australian citizens — have [also] had our rights as lawyers and our ability to give him a proper defence superseded by the US and potentially the UK Government.

“This is something that the Australian Government ought to be taking very seriously and ought to be raising both with the UK and with the United States. It is time the Australian Government stands up for this Australian citizen and stops his extradition.”

The file

The ABC has obtained hundreds of internal UC Global documents, videos, audio files and photos tendered in the Spanish case, which commenced in April last year days after Spanish newspaper El Pais published videos and audio of Assange and guests being spied on in the embassy.

The files reveal the remarkable and expanding secret surveillance targeting the WikiLeaks boss and his guests.

In an email from September 2017, Morales ordered UC Global staff to find out what the walls around Assange’s bedroom were made of, and to photograph the embassy’s rooms and its furniture.

Then in December, UC Global updated the embassy’s camera system, installing audio-capable cameras.

A month later, and under instructions from Morales, they installed a listening device in the false base of the meeting room’s fire extinguisher.

They also installed a microphone in the women’s bathroom — a place where Assange would regularly hold sensitive legal meetings.

The case is being investigated by Spain’s federal court, the Audencia Nacional, which is examining whether Morales and UC Global are guilty of breaching both Assange’s privacy and lawyer-client privilege, as well as crimes relating to misappropriation of funds, bribery, and money laundering.

“From 2015 to mid-2018, when UC Global lost the embassy’s security contract, a battery of illegal espionage measures was deployed, with massive interference in the privacy of [Assange], in his communications with his [legal] team, in meetings with his doctors, and in general against everyone close to him,” a criminal complaint filed by Assange’s Spanish lawyers stated.

“In those years the defendants created a sort of ‘Big Brother’ in which all the movements of Mr Assange and the people close to him were monitored.”

The case commenced after a group of Spanish citizens contacted senior WikiLeaks employees and demanded a significant sum of money in return for what they said was voluminous proof of the espionage.

A former UC Global employee — who cannot be identified for legal reasons — also separately approached WikiLeaks, wanting to reveal what they saw as the illegal behaviour of their former company.

WikiLeaks referred the case to Spanish courts, who launched an investigation and arrested Morales. He was later released on bail.

“This spying did not only affect Mr Assange’s lawyers, it also affected all of his visitors, including journalists,” Martinez said.

“It got to the point where, during a visit to Mr Assange, the head of Ecuador’s intelligence service [Rommy Vallejo, on December 21, 2017] was also spied on,” Martinez added.

“In the meeting between Mr Vallejo and Mr Assange the possible release [from the embassy] of Mr Assange in a few days later was discussed.”

Within hours of that secret meeting, which was known to only a few people, the US Ambassador to Ecuador complained to Ecuadorian authorities, and the next day the US issued an international arrest warrant for Assange, Martinez said.

“That leads us to believe that the conversation was urgently sent to the US authorities and that they urgently issued the international arrest warrant the next day,” he said.

Martinez was himself spied on while having legal meetings with Assange at the embassy.

“Mr Assange began to suspect that he was being spied upon … so he asked us to hold the most sensitive meetings in the women’s toilet at the back of the building,” Martinez recalled.

“We honestly thought it was an exaggerated step to hold our legal meetings in the women’s toilet, where he would even open the water tap to avoid anyone listening.

“It was interesting to find out that Mr Assange was, in fact, correct: the material before the court proves that UC Global knew the meetings were held inside the women’s toilet, as they proceeded to install an additional microphone [there].”

‘It goes to the heart of client-lawyer privilege’

While the case made headlines in Europe and the UK, there has been little to no discussion here about what it means for the Australian citizens and lawyers caught up in the alleged espionage operation.

The Law Council of Australia told the ABC the alleged surveillance operation was “deeply disturbing”.

“The allegations that Julian Assange’s conversations with his lawyer were being recorded are really serious,” the council’s president, Pauline Wright said.

“If you can’t have that full, frank discussion without fear that that’s being recorded and potentially released to the authorities … it erodes trust in the whole system.

“It goes to the heart of the client lawyer privilege.”

The file also reveals that Morales’ surveillance project — dubbed Operation Hotel — did not just observe Assange and his guests. Internal UC Global documents reveal staff also stole or illicitly photographed visitors’ belongings.

The file includes photos of passports, mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices owned by dozens of activists, journalists, lawyers and public figures that visited Assange.

The file also reveals a growing desire, on Morales’ part, for ubiquitous surveillance of Assange and his visitors.

Morales directed UC Global to scrutinise particular people visiting Assange, whom he refers to as “el huesped” (the guest).

“We must … create or improve the following profiles (personal data, relationship with the guest, phones, emails, number of visits, et cetera) of these regular visitors or collaborators of the guest,” he said.

He lists nine people, one of whom is Robinson.

“We must do everything to know their data … I want a person completely dedicated to this work, so if you have to hire someone for it, tell me,” Morales said.

“All this must be considered top secret.”

UC Global staff sometimes resisted their boss’s more intrusive requests. In December 2017, Morales allegedly directed an employee to steal the used nappy of a baby who sometimes accompanied his mother when she visited Assange.

The theft was necessary, Morales said, to DNA test faecal matter to establish if the child was Assange’s son.

“I decided to talk to the mother of the child,” the employee said in his statement to the court.

“When we were outside of the embassy, I told her that she must not take the child to the embassy anymore because they planned to steal her baby’s diapers to prove whether he was the son of Julian Assange.”

‘Amigos americanos’

The Spanish criminal complaint states the turbo-charged surveillance operation began after Morales travelled to Las Vegas in 2015 for a security fair. There, he signed a contract with Las Vegas Sands, a company owned by billionaire Trump donor Sheldon Adelson, according to the complaint.

Ostensibly, the contract was to provide security services to Adelson on his mega yacht, the Queen Miri.

But, when Morales returned to Spain, he told UC Global staff they were now “playing in first division”, according to two witness statements tendered in the case.

“[Morales] said he’d gone to the ‘dark side’, referring to himself as a casual collaborator with US authorities, and he said that as a result of this collaboration, ‘The Americans will get us contracts all over the world’,” one witness said in his statement.

Throughout the operation, the employees were repeatedly told by Morales that the surveillance operation was being directed by people he referred to as “amigos Americanos” (American friends).

Concerned about the increasingly illegal behaviour, the UC Global associate pressed Morales on the euphemistic references to “Americans”, demanding to know exactly who they were working for.

According to the statement, Morales replied: “la inteligencia de Estados Unidos” (United States intelligence).

“However, when I asked him who was the particular intelligence person he was meeting to provide them information, Mr Morales ended the conversation and told me that this topic was handled exclusively by him outside the company,” the UC Global associate told prosecutors.

The associate told the court he had repeated and heated discussions with Morales about the operation and who was behind it.

Once such conversation ended with Morales making the gesture of opening his shirt and saying: “I’m a mercenary!”

US action

At first, Morales collected the surveillance footage and delivered it by hand to unknown people in the US.

Later, he asked staff to create a file server and then a secret website to stream the embassy cameras.

A UC Global employee responsible for running the secret website told the Spanish court he noted at least one visitor to the site with an American IP address.

In a Spanish interview, Morales said neither he nor UC Global staff installed any listening devices in the embassy and suggested WikiLeaks had placed the microphones around the embassy.

When the ABC asked questions of the US embassy in Canberra, it referred questions to the US justice department, which did not respond by deadline.

The ABC also sent questions to the CIA and the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Neither responded by deadline.