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tv   The Stream  Al Jazeera  November 13, 2013 2:30am-3:01am EST

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thank you for watching. have a great night. we look at computer hacking and what it means for civil society. >> our digital producer is here, bringing all of your live field back in the program. freedom of speech, national security. whistle blowers and criminals and you name it. >> we'll have comments on all of it. but you mentioned hackers, criminals whistle blowers. on twitter.
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all exploits to security loopholes. and regardless of intention, stealing is stealing. check this out: >> glad to see everybody in our opinion agrees. >> always. >> claims to fight social injustice, but instead of the town square, they're using the digital face. they explain, groups like anonymous are looking to fight civil disobedience for the digital age, but some disagree with the way they go about it. with the whistle blowers, the government sees prosecution.
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jeremy hanson pled guilty, an admission that carries up to 10 years behind bars. and in the 2011 hack of stratfer, emmails, the crimes for these companies and government agencies and how they gain information about activists. hamem says that the supporters say that it's justified because it shoals how government can spy on citizens. so are hackers as whistle blowers acting in the public interest or as criminals? joining me is natasha, she focuses on civil liberties, and she's been following the hammond case closely. one of the attorneys for jeremy hammond, and foust, and andy
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norton. welcome to stream. and jeremy's sentencing is friday, and he faces ten years in prison. and you're advocating for him to get finally served. he committed the crime. and why should he get off? >> well, he made a huge contribution, and that contribution really shoulder how private security firms are carrying on for the government. 70% of government expenditures goes into private security firms, so it's very interesting to note that private security firms have absolutely no oversight. none at all. there's some oversight on government spying, but none on private security firms. so you have 70% spying of which there is no oversight. and jeremy exposed that without making any money. he did it as a political act.
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he took a risk, and he served enough time. >> andrew, was there any value to the hack of stratford? >> let's be honest. what he revealed, i don't know if it surprised him and it didn't surprise me. everything that he revealed, it was common sense. but the key aspect is the credit cards. it's not the first time that a company has been hacked for political reasons and snow stolen credit cards. >> that's not correct at all. the hack took place before jeremy yam into it. and the credit cards were released before he came into it. he pled guilty for that, but jeremy never released any credit card numbers, or did he ever anything. >> but he was part of the group who did, but is he culpable? >> it should be taken into account that he did not use
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those credit cards nor reveal them. accomplish? >> well, he has been very explicit about what he was aiming to accomplish in his plea statement. he was hoping to accomplish a public service in illustrating what was otherwise kept from the public, which is how intelligence agencies with corporate backing and corporate intelligence agencies carry out vast amounts of surveillance and spying, and i totally disagree with andrew, there are many things that the hack reveals. such as the continued and ungrounded activist by pie. security firms, that have now become standard practice for government contract work. and we're finding out so much
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about what's going on behind closed doors because of the nsa leak, and i see them in the same framework against whistle blowers, in which strong prosecution has been enacted by the government. >> well, natasha, ben says: teretta says: josh, i'm going to go to you with this. recently. edward snowden, and schwartz, and now we have hammond. where would you put him in this group? is he a criminal or an activist. >> i think that he's a criminal. there was little that he revealed about stradfore, and in the details, much of it was
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unremarkable. in the pentagon analysis, what he put out was so wrong and useless, so the roles that these people play is overstated, and the necessity to break into their servers and steal things for a political act. but aaron schwartz, he was more of a victim of prosecutorial overreach more than thing else, and even against the wishes of the company that he stole from, j store, and that speaks to a different issue in all of this, and as to what hammond did, it was more clear cut. >> in fact, 17 journalists who have written in support of hammond and explained how useful the material that he exposed was. >> but margaret, use. ful or not, what's the difference between breaking into a company and stealing the files versus doing
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that electronically, aren't you committing the same crime? >> you may be doing the same crime, but you're punished more severely to do it electronically. which is interesting. i mean, you can steal a fortune with fraud, with medicaid fraud or with any other commercial fraud. and do practically no time at all. millions of dollars, and that's not punished. >> i also wanted to weigh in. perhaps whether what hammond did is criminal or not, shouldn't it be the entire conversation? he pled guilty to a crime that exists on the books as a crime. and does that mean that is also carries with it a kind of demorelizing data. yes, he committed a crime, and he will serve time for it. he served 18 months for it. if you look at the stratfor
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hackers, they also pled guilty in briton. for two years, and so it does call into question the extremity with which he's being prosecuted under the american act, which there's no international standard, and it does seem like prosecution. >> i disagree with that. i'm british originally, and i've had some experience with the british system, and i wonder if the difference is, he could have gone to britain at the time and committed it there in shet land, -- shepland, but he decided to stay in chicago and hide. and everyone knew there were issues in what he was doing, or else he wouldn't be hiding and out on tour. and he made it difficult for the rest of us to use now. for.
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purposes and the needs, he's made surveillance more of a higher priority. >> well, andrew, i'm going to have some community come in here. on facebook, angela says: >> exactly, it's not like this is the first time that jeremy's face has been on there. he did the same thing in 2006, but doing pretty much the same sorts of things. his first thing, he's got nubby on it. >> he's not a newby, but let's be honest here, none of this
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would have gotten out except for the hacking. journalists will tell you, there are no such thing as sources anymore. everybody is afraid. this is a national security state. and the only way to break through is for people to carry out illegal acts. >> but margaret, you said none of this would have gotten out. and what was stratford doing that was illegal. >> i hope that someone can help me. because i'm under a protective order that prevents me from saying things that have already been said about stratford. will some of you who know the results come forward? >> i think, it's not so much about what is necessarily illegal. because i think that the legal structure works toward aiding corporate interest is actually the problem at hand. so i really don't want to talk about what was illegal. >> why not talk about the
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corporation, and not what goes on in the law. >> they both need addressing, but let's talk about something that has come out that i as a journalist think is incredibly port. these are not things in the public fit, it was not in the public fit for example that dow chemical had employed stratford to low level harass activists working to hold dow chemical accountability for the disaster, and nor was it in the public if i want very widely that coca-cola company had employed stratford to basically survey without good reason, for the first amendment activity of peter, animal act visit. this is what makes up the intelligence community. and i have feel it's a complete public service that this was brought out through their hands.
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>> the first amendment rights, they were infringed. there weren't any. dow chemicals harassing people. and jeremy has done the same to other people. these people harassing are bad, and yet he's done the exact same things to other people that he disagrees with. >> pause there, we have to hit a break. private intell companies are using anti-terror laws to monitor a lot of people, possibly you, but who is monitoring them? we'll be right back.
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>> every day, events sweep across our country. and with them, a storm of views. how can you fully understand the impact unless you've heard angles you hadn't considered?
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consider this... antonio mora brings you smart conversation that challenges the status quo with unexpected opinions and a fresh outlook. including yours. >> what do you think? >> stories that matter to you consider this unconventional wisdom. weeknights 10 eastern on al jazeera america (vo) al jazeera america we understand that every news story begins and ends with people. >> the efforts are focused on rescuing stranded residents. (vo) we pursue that story beyond the headline, past the spokesperson, to the streets. >> thousands of riot police deployed across the capitol. (vo) we put all of our global resources behind every story. >> it is a scene of utter devastation. (vo) and follow it no matter where it leads, all the way to you. al jazeera america. take a new look at news. >> welcome back, we're talking
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about online activist in the case of jeremy hammond who is convicted of hacking an intelligence company and putting some of the information online. it shows the private access that they have for information. and before we went to break, we asked the community if these should be subjected to oversight. >> the question is, who has to be accountable. and amy says, hacktivists can do a lot of good: >> hey, josh, so having access to this information, it's not breaking the law, but are private companies really
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equipped to handle this sort of sensitive data? and who is accountable when it gets out? >> it can be, but one of the things in this deal, they secure their company database with a vulnerable and easily broken security system. and that's something that should be worrying their customers. but fundamentally what stratford d. they employed a lot of people doing t. but hiring people to look into their background and see what they're doing, this is all standard stuff. and there's nothing ground breaking about a company being formed to do it, but they found a niche that got targeted for it. but the information that they dug up was not done illegally. and the activities weren't either. when we're talking about whistle blowing, what they were doing was not illegal, but value for
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people, not just for corporation,s, but a lot of individuals found that they provided value in enter analysis and in their presentation of how events were going to be affecting people. so the other side of these intelligence firms were not just that they were violating people's privacy, but they were doing things that people had done before. >> the real shock, what the boundaries are, what a whistle blower is, and what their protections could be. and if we never knew what these people do behind closed for doors, we would be outraged. here's a video comment from leader man. >> i'm annual attorney that has represented some activists in the past. and i've had a small role in the jeremy hammond case. and i believed in privacy for the individual and transparency for the state. and i believe that we have the unqualified right to know who it is that is spying on us, and
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part of knowing that is what makes us free. >> all right, natasha, what is the appropriate bound here between the government doing the job and also being transparent, but also the individual's right to privacy? >> i think it's a complicated thing, but what it says, we're wildly off-balance toward a surveillance state and completely abgated privacy expectations. we keep finding more and more about what the nsa is doing, to the extent that even google, working with the nsa has said, these reports of data centers being hacked are in fact true, it's outrageous, is what eric schmidt said. you have the encryption experts saying, look, the nsa has purposely, in its history, weakened the security of the -- the standard security of encryption on the internet.
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and it has made the security less good to enable it to have an salute leverage of control that want people didn't know about. we're so off-balance now, the fact that it's the whistle blowers and the hackers nar facing the sheer brunt of prosecution and punishment here, and very little accountability by the nsa and the corporate industry that's part of the nexus. >> however, the problem with this, stratford is not the nsa. and they don't have the staff or the budget that would make them remotely the same scale. coca-cola, they're not the nsa either. and you have a corporation trying to understand activists moving against it, with the government engaging in massive spying and those are different activities. but putting them in the same box and saying these are all bad. and let's blow it out of the
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water, that's a huge category at stake. >> the governments are sworn to protect the people of the united states and sworn to protect the u.s. interests but when we're talking about private corporations, they don't hold allegiances to anyone, and who makes them accountable to the citizenry? because they're targeted across the board. >> the answer is they're responsible to their customers and shareholders, and that has flaws, but they have their own set of standards as well. when companies engage in correct contracting with the government, they're held to legal standards when i worked as a contractor, i had to sign the exact non-disclosure forms, and put my hand on the same bible and swore under oath that i would obey the law for the agency that i was working with, as federal employees. and if they break that, it's up
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to the agencies to bring them to justice, but they're required to follow the same laws as the government is, and they're obligated to obey the same laws that the government does. >> i'm not saying you are, as individuals, whether part of a corporation or a government agent, infiltrating a legal activity or organization, and you think that's appropriate. i don't think it's appropriate. i think people should learn about this, and laws should be in effect that prevent this interference with legal political activity. it is wrong. >> what interference though? they were honestly told. and that's not interfering. >> no, there was more than monitoring. monitoring. there was interference. there were situations, and we have letters from people who were active, letters from the yes men, and many letters discussing exactly the interference that stratford carried out. it was wrong for them to do
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that, and the government wouldn't be allowed to do that, and she should not be allowed to do that. >> we'll get the community in. >> if the government cracks down on hackers, what's the future of activism?
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>> start with one issue education...
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. >> my name is louisiana martinez, and i'm a student activist. i'm in the stream. >> welcome back, talking about hacktivism, and whether it's in cyberspace, and andrew, we're seeing the government crackdown on hacktivists, and do you think this is going to serve as a deterrent, or lead it more of this type of activity? >> i don't know, it certainly started from a little bit of online activism.
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and let's be heard, not all hacktivism and activism are the same. >> explain the difference real quick. >> online hacktivism is protest, and it doesn't have to be a crime. >> it's a cyber sit-in? >> basically. nobody is harmed, and there's no crime. and it's effective. that's online activism. they were all online activism, where you start committing crimes, you become hacktivists, and they're cracking down on everybody. >everybody. >> should the fundamental right to demonstrate be extended? >> well, you know, this debate is about tactics, and we might have the same disagreement about where direct action and things that are perhaps illegal have a place, both in the streets and
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in cyberspace. so i don't draw those distinctions on what's ethical or not at this given time. but what i would say is particularly interesting about the hammond case and what it represents, it's epidemic warfare, which means that there are people with huge amounts of money and power, aligned with the government, who know more about us, and what's going on, and activities and what we know about them. and that balance is essentially an unfair one, and it puts a great power leverage in the hands of government and big money party. >> here's twitter. whistle blowers alert the authorities, and cyber criminals are motivated by personal gain. and this:
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>> well, i think that if jeremy has his way and his statement, he will warn people not to be afraid. because if people are afraid, then we won't find out what the government is doing, and we won't find out the secrets, and the actual security state has two prongs. surveillance and secrecy. and how are we going to fight this? we have very lid means of fighting this. we're fighting a huge corporate enterprise as well as the government. and if we don't have ways of fighting this, and of expressing anger and dealing with it, and exposing it, then we were going to be in terrible shame. >> jeremy, is there a place for groups like anonymous and be hacktivism? josh, i'm sorry. hammond. >> curveball. there are places for online
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protests, and in some cases, it can be demonstrable positive. like exposing what had in the steubenville rape case. but you actually given stealing tons of money from people and exposing legally protected information. in the course of exposing something that was not even illegal going on. and it's hashed fo it's hard fot in civil disobedience. it's like throwing the brick through the starbuck's window, and bragging that the bank security was not good enough. >> thanks for everyone for a terrific conversation, and in between now and the next show, raj and i will see you online. .
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