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PayPal Demonetises the Daily Sceptic

BY TOBY YOUNG | THE DAILY SCEPTIC | SEPTEMBER 21, 2022

If you’re a regular donor to the Daily Sceptic and got an email from me in the small hours of the morning telling you that PayPal had closed our account and urging you to set up a new donation with a link to our donate page, don’t panic. It wasn’t a scam. PayPal really has shut down our account and the email really was from me.

I’ll tell you the full story in a moment, but just to be clear – this won’t affect the majority of people making regular donations, just those whose donations are processed by PayPal. So unless you’ve received an email from me with instructions about how to donate without using PayPal, please don’t cancel your recurring donation. I repeat: Please don’t cancel your donation. This just applies to people whose donations are being processed by PayPal and I’ve written to all of you.

The first I heard about this was on Thursday afternoon last week when I received a notification from my personal PayPal account informing me that it was being shut down because I’d violated the company’s ‘Acceptable Use Policy’. I looked at that policy and it covers things like fraud and money laundering so my first thought was it must be a mistake. Then, a few minutes later, I got another notification, this one from the Daily Sceptic’s PayPal account. That, too, had been shut down and for the same reason. Eh? That was odd. Then, another email, this one from the Free Speech Union’s PayPal account. Same story – the Acceptable Use Policy.

Now call me a cynic, but the chances of all three accounts violating the same policy within minutes of one another struck me as a bit implausible. Was something else going on?

I contacted customer services and asked what I’d done, exactly, on my personal account that ran afoul of PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy. I’ve had it since 2013 and use it, at most, four times a year, usually to receive money from a Swiss weekly magazine I occasionally write for.

The person I spoke to said she had no idea, but if I wanted I could “escalate“ the matter and someone higher up the food chain would get back to me. I did that, obviously, and a couple of days later received a notification that my appeal has been unsuccessful. No explanation offered beyond the original one. Oh, and by the way, it would be keeping the money in that account for up to 180 days while it decided whether it was entitled to “damages” for my yet-to-be-explained breach of its Acceptable Use Policy.

It was the same story with the other two accounts. The only clue as to what might be going on was a message sent a couple of days ago from PayPal on the now closed Daily Sceptic account. The crucial passage read:

PayPal’s policy is not to allow our services to be used for activities that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance. We regularly assess activity against our long-standing Acceptable Use Policy and carefully review actions reported to us, and will discontinue our relationship with account holders who are found to violate our policies.

That message was a bit weird since it didn’t explicitly accuse the Daily Sceptic of promoting “hate, violence or racial intolerance”, or say that that was how we’d violated its precious policy. But it certainly implied it. To which my response is: How exactly? Or, more profanely: What the f*** are you talking about?

Even if the Daily Sceptic is guilty of that sin – and I defy anyone to point to an article we’ve published that promotes “hate, violence or racial intolerance” – why is that a reason to shut down my personal account or the FSU account? I still haven’t received any indication of why that’s happened. And for what it’s worth, I’ve written to the CEO of PayPal UK – Vincent Belloc, you can email him here – and the Corporate Affairs Department of PayPal US and PayPal UK (you can email them here and here), asking for some kind of explanation. No reply, obviously. Laughably, it says on the media contact page of PayPal‘s website above the email addresses: “Reporter on a deadline? Looking to book an interview or need a comment for a story?” The implication is that someone from its crack Corporate Affairs team will get back to you immediately. But I emailed them last Thursday and still haven’t heard back.

I suspect what’s really going on is that someone at PayPal – possibly the entire C-suite – doesn’t like what the Daily Sceptic or the Free Speech Union stands for. The company has form in this area. As Matt Taibbi wrote earlier back in May:

In the last week or so, the online payment platform PayPal without explanation suspended the accounts of a series of individual journalists and media outlets, including the well-known alt sites Consortium News and MintPress.

Those sites – Consortium News and Mint Press – are both left wing and they’re opposed to the war in Ukraine, which is presumably why PayPal cancelled them. Is the fact that the Daily Sceptic has published articles critical of the mainstream narrative about that war – including one in which we linked to Mint Press – the reason we’ve been cancelled? Seems a bit harsh, given that we’ve also published several articles defending Ukraine and its war effort and debunking some of the criticisms of the current Ukrainian regime.

A number of sites that have raised questions about the Covid vaccines have also been demonetised by PayPal in the past few months, including the U.K. Medical Freedom Alliance. Liz Evans, the head of the UKMFA, also had her personal PayPal account closed at the same time.

Is that fact that we’ve published data suggesting the mRNA vaccines aren’t as efficacious or as safe as we were initially led to believe why we’ve been cancelled?

Colin Wright, a former colleague of mine at Quillette and a staunch critic of trans rights dogma, was deplatformed by PayPal in June, presumably because some people in the company didn’t approve of his gender critical views. We’ve expressed similar views on the Daily Sceptic. Was that the issue?

My hunch is it’s all of the above. PayPal just doesn’t like free speech, which is why it has shut down the FSU account at the same time. There are five issues in particular where it’s completely verboten to express sceptical views and if you do you can expect to be cancelled, not just by PayPal but by YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.: the wisdom of the lockdown policy and associated Covid restrictions, the efficacy and safety of the mRNA vaccines, Net Zero and the ‘climate emergency’, the need to teach five year-olds that sex is a social construct and the war in Ukraine. Dissent from the prevailing orthodoxy in any of those areas is no longer permitted.

This is the new front in the ongoing war against free speech: the withdrawal of financial services from people and organisations that express dissenting opinions on those topics. And not just those who express them, but those who defend them, too, like the FSU. That‘s what makes this an escalation in the war on free speech. Until now, companies like PayPal, GoFundMe, Patreon and CrowdJustice have only demonetised individuals and groups whose views they disapprove of. Now, PayPal has closed the account of an organisation that defends people’s right to free speech, without taking sides on the issues they’re speaking about. Even that is no longer allowed, according to this Silicon Valley behemoth.

Fear not, comrades. I may not be able to use PayPal again in a personal capacity, but I’m confident the Daily Sceptic and the Free Speech Union will survive. Yes, we’ll take a hit, but I hope people who still believe in free speech and the importance of casting a sceptical eye over the prevailing orthodoxy will show their support by joining or donating.

To join the FSU, click here. To donate to the FSU, click here. And to donate to the Daily Sceptic, click here.

And rest assured, PayPal has been expunged from all our payment systems. There‘s zero risk that if you give money to either of those organisations it will be pocketed by the fintech Death Star.

I thought about launching a campaign to get PayPal to restore its services to the three accounts, but then decided I didn’t want to have anything more to do with the wretched company. Even if it did a reverse ferret, what guarantee is there it won’t demonetise us again? No, from now on I will have nothing more to do with PayPal and if you’re a customer of the company I hope you’ll follow suit. (Here is a handy YouTube video explaining how to close your PayPal account.)

Stop Press: If anyone reading this is a donor to the Daily Sceptic or a member of the FSU based in Texas, please get in touch. In Texas, it’s illegal for large social media companies to ban users’ posts based on their political viewpoints. Is PayPal a social media company? Users can send messages to each other so… maybe. Worth exploring.

September 23, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | | Leave a comment

German journalist in Donbass could face prison at home

Samizdat | June 29, 2022

Alina Lipp, an independent German journalist and blogger is facing a criminal probe at home over her “endorsement” of Russia’s “illegal aggressive war” against Ukraine. Lipp has told Russian media she only does what any journalist would do – document what is happening around her.

If found guilty, she could face a fine or up to three years behind bars.

On Saturday, RT DE interviewed Lipp about her professional work and the ongoing investigation.

The journalist contended that she is “doing interviews with people in Donetsk and merely translating them into German.”

“I am simply filming everything I see around,” Lipp added.

She inquired rhetorically “what is it that’s illegal in that, or dangerous?” The journalist insisted that none of her materials had been staged, and that there is no one telling her what to cover.

Lipp dismissed the German authorities’ investigation as “completely insane.”

When asked by the RT DE journalist whether Russian President Vladimir Putin was secretly commissioning her reports from Donbass, Lipp replied in the negative, adding jokingly “still not.”

The woman also lamented that a number of conspiracy theories have been spread about her.

One of those, according to Lipp, dates back to November 2021, when she sold three of her minute-long videos to “some Russian TV channel” that did not have its own correspondent on the ground. Lipp insisted that this was common practice among independent journalists who “sell their material to various buyers.”

This alone does not automatically prove that such a person takes orders from someone or “works for a Russian propaganda channel,” Lipp argued.

According to the German news website t-online, Germany’s law enforcement believes Lipp has been “constantly showing her solidarity with Russia’s war against Ukraine,” as well as fomenting a split in German society.

Her reporting was described by the authorities as “distorted, partially false.” She is also accused of spreading other outlets’ “completely fabricated” stories.

The probe was originally launched by the German public prosecutor’s office in Luneburg following multiple complaints, which have been filed since February. However, the prosecutor’s office in Gottingen, which specializes in internet hate crimes, has reportedly since taken over Lipp’s case.

According to t-online, Lipp, who was born to a German mother and a Russian father, has been living in Donetsk and Crimea since last fall. She runs a German-language news blog called ‘News from Russia,’ as well as a Telegram channel with over 174,000 followers and a video channel on PeerTube.

Since the start of the investigation, Germany’s DKV-Bank has seized the donations Lipp has received, with €1,600 ($1,679) said to be frozen from her account, according to t-online.

PayPal, too, has blocked her account, as well as that of her father, Lipp revealed in one of her earlier interviews.

June 29, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

PayPal seizes alternative media site’s money

Samizdat | May 3, 2022

Payment processor PayPal has frozen alternative media powerhouse Consortium News’ (CN) donation page without warning, confiscating the site’s $9,348.14 balance with no explanation beyond the claim that “an investigation and review” of the site’s “history” found “some potential risk associated with this account.”

CN was informed via email on Sunday that it couldn’t use PayPal anymore and told “we noticed activity in your account that’s inconsistent with our User Agreement and we [can] no longer offer you PayPal services.” Absent any further explanation beyond the desire to limit “potential risk exposure,” the site was informed that the nearly $10,000 sitting in its account would be effectively confiscated for “up to 180 days,” after which point, “if applicable, we’ll email you with information on how to withdraw any remaining money.”

The seizure came at a particularly damaging time for the reader-funded site, which had just begun a spring fundraising drive. Contacted by CN employees, a PayPal customer service representative confirmed on Sunday that no specific reason had been given by the “back office” for “permanently limiting” the account other than the aforementioned “potential risk.”

“I don’t see any existing case” of a complaint having been filed by “any agency, government or private, or any individual,” they told CN, promising to ask PayPal’s back office to explain its behavior to the website.

More ominously, the PayPal representative informed CN that “if there was a violation,” it was “possible” the $9,348.14 balance in its account would be kept by PayPal as “damages.” According to PayPal’s own documentation, violations include providing “false, inaccurate or misleading information” to PayPal, its customers, or “third parties.”

In a blog post discussing the suspension, CN editor-in-chief Joe Lauria suggested the site had been targeted due to its coverage of the conflict in Ukraine, noting that MintPress News – another well-known alt-media website with similar political views regarding the US and NATO’s foreign adventures – had its own account frozen by PayPal last week. PayPal’s definition of “violations,” Lauria implied, could easily be stretched to include the Orwellian crime du jour of “fake news,” an especially egregious offense during wartime.

Last week, former RT America correspondent Caleb Maupin also had his PayPal account frozen without warning or explanation, as did MintPress employees Alan MacLeod and Mnar Adley. Many on social media have speculated that the payment processor is deliberately targeting those with dissident views on the conflict in Ukraine and US foreign policy in general – “thoughtcrimes” hundreds of other prominent commentators have been deplatformed for in the past.

Consortium News was founded in 1995 by the late journalist Robert Parry, whose claims to fame included exposing the Iran-Contra scandal, in opposition to what the site’s own biography describes as “a crisis building in the US news media.”

Skewering the “pattern of groupthink on issue after issue, often ignoring important factual information because it didn’t fit with what all the Important People knew to be true.”

May 3, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | | 2 Comments

‘They’re coming to kill us’: Canada’s Rebel News CANCELED by PayPal without notice

RT | May 6, 2021

Rebel News co-founder Ezra Levant announced that payment processor PayPal has canceled their account without an explanation. The Canadian outlet has been critical of the Covid-19 lockdowns and the government of PM Justin Trudeau.

“Look, this isn’t a mistake. It’s a cancel culture attack on the largest independent news agency in Canada. It’s censorship,” Levant announced on Thursday, in a fundraising appeal for legal fees to sue PayPal.

“They’re finally coming to kill us,” the Rebel News account tweeted.

According to Levant, PayPal sent a “form letter” by email last Friday after business hours, informing the outlet that their account – which processed over 150,000 transactions for 8 million Canadian dollars over the past six years – was canceled. The email had no signature, contact information, explanation or way to appeal, Levant said.

“We’re a big client. But with no notice at all, they just breached the contract. They ambushed us,” he wrote. Levant maintains Rebel News never breached PayPal’s terms of service, and that the company has simply ignored multiple letters from his lawyers.

Levant argues this is a coordinated effort, pointing to the fact that Google-owned YouTube handed Rebel News a week-long suspension before PayPal made its move. Moreover, in addition to the Rebel News account, PayPal shuttered Levant’s personal account, as well as that of the For Canada nonprofit, used to fundraise for charity projects.

“That’s why I don’t think this is a mistake. They’re trying to destroy us. And they don’t have the courage to even tell us to our face,” said Levant, who co-founded the outlet in 2015.

While identifying as conservative, Rebel News has been critical of both the Liberal Trudeau government and the conservative provincial leaders such as Jason Kenney in Alberta and Francois Legault in Quebec.

Levant even speculated that PayPal’s action may have been related to the recent Rebel News revelation that Trudeau had funded the Anti-Hate Network – an offshoot of the US-based SPLC – to “lodge malicious complaints against Trudeau’s enemies.”

He says Rebel News has lost about a million dollars as a result of the PayPal and YouTube actions, and wants to raise $150,000 to sue.

While PayPal is yet to comment on the matter, denial of service by banks and payment processors has been a popular way of shutting down unpopular outlets and online platforms over the past several years. Back in March, Gab CEO Andrew Torba revealed that several banks have refused to do business with his company citing bad coverage in the corporate press, urging like-minded Americans to “cancel them all before they cancel us.”

May 6, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

Amazing Polly on the Purge – Technological Harassment

Have the wrong opinion? You will be burned to the ground. That’s what is happening to an increasing number of people – our ability to buy & sell, contact our people, use the bank, use the phone, etc is not only under threat but absolutely under their tyrannical control. I talk about the insane level of technological harassment I and other have been subjected to in the past week. I must say once again that we should NOT BE AFRAID. This was expected. We fight on!

My web page has my PO Box address here: https://www.amazingpolly.net/contact.html – Thank you to everyone who has sent support, letters & prayers. God bless you all!

References:

Dollar Vigilante: https://www.bitchute.com/channel/DkNYbFJKDPpX/

HighImpactFlix: https://www.bitchute.com/channel/msOrGRqxxZ7S/

SGTReport: https://www.bitchute.com/channel/nLPcg68RnP97/

RoyPotter: https://www.youtube.com/user/roypotterqa

Richie From Boston: https://watch.richiefromboston.tv/webtv-v3/

October 20, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 2 Comments

gab.com & the Great Purge on the Horizon

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | October 30, 2018

gab.com is an alternative social network, set up and launched in 2016. It’s founder, Andrew Torba, stated he wanted to create a home for free speech, and counter what he perceived as “liberal bias” on other platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Two days ago, their website was taken down. This was in response to being blocked by PayPal, and then having their server space taken away by their hosting service. gab’s founder posted this statement on their stripped-down website.

Why did this happen?

Because Robert Bowers, the alleged gunman at the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, had a gab account and posted some things about “the jews” on it.

Is it right, or sensible to punish a platform for the (alleged) actions of ONE user out of 100,000s? And is that really what’s going on?

Robert Bowers also had a Twitter account. And a Facebook page. Neither of these platforms has faced punishment, or censure, from any quarter.

Cesar Sayoc – the alleged MAGABomber – also had a twitter account and allegedly sent threatening messages to some public figures on it. Again, Twitter has not been blocked by PayPal.

In fact, Twitter and Facebook – though occasionally criticised for “not doing enough to combat hate”, have never been blocked, or threatened in any way. Even though Twitter hosted countless pro-ISIS accounts, regularly cited in the media.

So clearly, it can be reasoned, PayPal et al are not only responding to the alleged statements of Robert Bowers. There is a deeper agenda at work.

In fact, this isn’t the first time larger internet companies have tried to stymie gab’s existence. When they were first launched, in 2016, Apple denied them a place in their app store because they allegedly allowed pornography to be posted. When gab installed a filter to block people posting pornography, Apple again denied them access to the app store, this time for breaching their “hate speech” regulations. Google Play did the same in 2017 (reminder – Google allowed ISIS to release their own app on their marketplace).

Early this year a cross-university study conducted on gab (and other “alt-right” sites) found that gab.com used “free speech as shield to protect their “alt-right” views”. (I’m not sure what, if anything, that sentence really means. Surely free speech is a shield protecting all speech? Isn’t that the point?)

In April this year VICE magazine ran an article headlined “Gab Is the Alt-Right Social Network Racists Are Moving to”. It was resoundingly negative about the site, painting it as nothing but a home for racism and “conspiracy theorists”, despite the owner’s protestations that gab is all about free speech, and that anyone is free to join.

Logically, the emergence of networks like gab was inevitable. The internet has always been that way, you shut down one hallway and four more are forced open. Look at Piratebay, notionally banned, yet available through a million different proxies that spring up faster than governments can shut them down.

Social media has undergone unprecedented purges this year. Alex Jones was banned across virtually every mainstream platform. Hundreds of Facebook pages and Twitter accounts were shut down on spurious grounds – allegations of being “Kremlin backed” or “Iran bots”fly around, without any supporting evidence ever being released to the public. This summer, Twitter blocked millions of “fake accounts” (we covered that here).

These actions aren’t independent, either. Alex Jones was banned from multiple platforms, all within 24 hours. Just earlier this month, Facebook unpublished over 800 pages, whilst twitter blocked the accounts of the same pages… all on the same day. Clearly, the companies are either coordinating with each other (possibly in breach of anti-trust laws), or are receiving directions from the same source – almost certainly the government.

In that climate, new platforms were always going to emerge. It’s the classic “Well then I’m gonna build my own theme park, with blackjack and hookers” situation.

YouTube is increasingly corporate, controlled and fake. Demonetising user videos and adding more and more advertisements… so dtube and bitchute open. Twitter censors your free-speech, so we’ll start up a platform where you can say what you want.

Twitter and Facebook both saw their stock-prices tumble as a result of their respective “purges”. So, is the anti-gab movement simply a case of mega-corporations protecting their monopoly by shutting down a budding rival? Is this all just about control of the market and money?

Unfortunately, it seems not. Like the vast majority of media roll-outs, it seems this is a convergence of interests – financial on the one hand, and political on the other.

The push to ban the “alt-right” – or, the even broader term – “hate speech” has been on-going for several years now. It will inevitably pick up in the wake of the events of this week.

Within hours, predictable voices were discussing the “necessary limitations on free speech”:

Today, CNN ran this piece: “Big Tech made the social media mess. It has to fix it”.

Paul Mason, writing in the New Statesman, argued that YouTube needs to censor all the “alt-right” on their platform.

It’s a two-step process – having first established the need to “limit” hate speech, we can then move on to defining what “hate speech” really means.

They’ve started on that already. Criticising George Soros is “anti-semitic” now. As is the term “neocons”:

What else will be deemed hate speech? What does “hate speech” really mean? The simple answer to that is: Whatever they want it to mean.

It seems like there’s a purge coming, you can feel it in the wind. A purge motivated by the greed of multinational companies wielding power that rivals nations, and fuelled by the fascistic need of the “powers-that-shouldn’t-be” to limit and control our existence…just because they can.

It is both authoritarian power grab, and a manifestation of corporate greed. It’s amazing how often those two things come together.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

October 30, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

PayPal Serves Illegal Israeli Settlers But Won’t Let Palestinians Open Accounts

By Kit O’Connell | Mint Press News | November 21, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas – PayPal is one of the world’s most popular ways to send or receive money online, but Palestinians are cut out of the action.

Time magazine reported in January that PayPal has 179 million active accounts in dozens of countries, and PayPal payments are widely accepted in online marketplaces from eBay to Etsy.

To sign up, every user needs to have an account at a bank recognized by the service. Since PayPal doesn’t recognize any Palestinian banks, Palestinians are effectively prevented from using the service. Critics say this has impacted not just individuals, but burgeoning industries and even the broader Palestinian economy.

“PayPal’s absence is a major obstacle to the growth of Palestine’s tech sector and the overall economy,” Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy, an NGO that promotes businesses in Palestine, wrote in an Aug. 23 open letter.

The letter, which was co-signed by more than 40 NGOs and Palestinian businesses, continues:

“Without access to PayPal, Palestinian entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and others face routine difficulties in receiving payments for business and charitable purposes. Moreover, PayPal’s absence is problematic for the overall Palestinian economy as tech is one of the only sectors with the potential to grow under status quo conditions of the Israeli occupation which severely restricts the internal and cross-border movement of goods and people.”

For the past decade, Israel has maintained a blockade on Palestinian imports of everything from everyday goods like crayons to crucial building supplies like concrete. Palestinian exports are heavily restricted, too.

Palestine is home to a thriving tech economy, Mike Butcher wrote in a Sept. 9 report. The TechCrunch editor-at-large continued:

“Palestine produces roughly 2,000 IT graduates per year. Both the West Bank and Gaza now have a number of technology companies which, ironically, see tech as a way of developing their economy, just as the Israelis do.”

While PayPal doesn’t recognize Palestinian banks, the authors of the open letter noted that many Palestinians live side by side with illegal Israeli settlers, who, purely by virtue of possessing Israeli bank accounts, are free to make use of the service. Israel demolished over 200 Palestinian homes this year, bringing its expansion of illegal settlements to record levels in 2016.

“We believe a company like PayPal, whose actions in North Carolina reaffirmed its commitment to equal rights, would agree that people living in the same neighborhood ought to have equal rights and access to its services regardless of religion or ethnicity,” the letter noted.

In April, Paypal pulled hundreds of jobs out of North Carolina after the state passed the so-called “bathroom bill,” which rescinded local protections for LGBT people, put restrictions on bathroom access for transgender individuals, and banned cities from passing increases to the minimum wage.

PayPal maintains multiple offices in Israel and has invested millions into its businesses there. The company does not seem poised to take a similar stand in Israel in response to the ongoing repression of the indigenous Palestinian population, who face severe restrictions on their movement and frequent attacks by the Israeli military, among other human rights abuses.

After the open letter was published, other organizations that support Palestine soon joined in by urging PayPal to expand into Gaza, launching a petition and social media campaign, #PayPal4Palestine. […]

In a message of support sent on Oct. 29 by Ramah Kudaimi, director of grassroots organizing at the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, wrote:

“Palestinians being denied access to PayPal means they cannot use their services to run a business, or raise money for a charity, or send cash to a relative, or make everyday purchases online. Getting access to PayPal can make a real difference in the lives of so many Palestinians as the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality continues.”

The tech giant seems unmoved by activists and Palestinian entrepreneurs’ requests to do business. The firm sent Butcher a dismissive response to his request for comment.

“We appreciate the interest that the Palestinian community has shown in PayPal,” the company’s representative wrote, but, the statement continued, “we do not have anything to announce for the immediate future.”

December 4, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

Russia working on ways to protect its internet due to US online dominance – Com. Minister to RT

RT | March 2, 2016

The US government and a handful of corporations working under US jurisdiction have a disproportionately strong influence on the internet. So other countries are mulling ways to protect their web sectors, the Russian communications minister told RT.

“Today, if you have a look at the whole IT global system, you will see that the whole world… is actually totally dominated by a single country and literally by several companies, which have practically monopolized the entire IT system,” Nikolay Nikiforov said.

The issue is not only about market shares of tech giants such as Google and Facebook, but also about the US government’s control of critical elements of the internet’s infrastructure, he said.

One small example is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which assigns internet domain names. In 2014, the US pledged to hand over control over it from the US Department of Communications to a multi-stakeholder collective, which would include governments, companies, international organizations and individual users. The transition was scheduled to happen in September last year, but was postponed for at least a year.

“This didn’t happen for some reason, and many reasons were voiced. I believe them to be pretty far-fetched,” Nikiforov said.

“With this prolonged monopolization, many countries in the world are working on technical solutions that would protect national segments of the internet from a possible external destructive action. They are creating backup infrastructures, which respond to a disruption – intentional or accidental – and prevent national segments from being blocked,” he added.

The minister said Russia is among the countries heavily investing in the internet and naturally wants to protect this investment.

The issue is not theoretical for Russia. As part of the US-imposed sanctions, several American companies suspended their services in Crimea, which seceded from Ukraine in response to an armed coup in Kiev and rejoined with Russia. Washington called the move illegal and targeted individuals and some sectors of the Russian economy with sanctions.

Google, Apple, PayPal and others cut Crimea from their services. This affected tens of thousands of people, who could no longer properly update the software for their phones, buy apps, use electronic payments for online products and do other basic things.

The minister was speaking in Egypt, which he is visiting to foster business ties. He said Russia and Egypt have agreed to have mobile operators to cut down roaming tariffs, which would benefit Russian tourists visiting the North-African country.

“It’s no secret that overpriced roaming is the reason why many travelers simply don’t use their phones abroad. We are trying to make this problem go away for Egypt and Russia,” he said.

The agreement indicates that Russia may soon lift restrictions on flights to Egypt, which were imposed after a terrorist bomb last October destroyed a plane carrying Russian tourists home from Egyptian resorts.

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stuxnet, Flame… Gauss: New spy virus found in Middle East

RT | August 9, 2012

A new virus dubbed Gauss has attacked computers in the Middle East spying on financial transactions, emails and picking passwords to all kind of pages. The virus resembles Stuxnet and Flame malware which was used to target Iran, Kaspersky Lab says.

­Gauss has infected hundreds of personal computers across the Middle East – most of them in Lebanon, but also in Israel and Palestinian territories. Kaspersky Lab has classified the virus, named after one of its major components, as “a cyber-espionage toolkit”.

The malicious malware spies on transactions in banking systems and steals passwords and credentials to social networks, emails and instant messaging accounts. It can also collect system configurations.

Though Gauss seems to be specifically designed for several Lebanese online banking systems, it can also go after Citibank and PayPal users.

It is not immediately clear who may be behind the new Trojan virus, but Kaspersky Lab says the “nation-state sponsored” toolkit has features characteristic of Flame, DuQu and Stuxnet malware, which targeted machines in Iran.

After looking at Stuxnet, DuQu and Flame, we can say with a high degree of certainty that Gauss comes from the same ‘factory’ or ‘factories,‘” Kaspersky Lab said in their report on Thursday. “All these attack toolkits represent the high end of nation-state-sponsored cyber-espionage and cyber war operations.”

The researchers cannot say whether Gauss was meant to simply spy on account transactions, or to steal money from targets. But given the high probability of a nation-state actor behind it, the virus may be a counterintelligence tool, which could be used to trace funding of various groups or individuals.

Gauss has attacked over 2,500 personal computers in the Middle East. Only one attack has so far been reported in Iran (image from http://www.securelist.com)
Gauss has attacked over 2,500 personal computers in the Middle East. Only one attack has so far been reported in Iran (image from http://www.securelist.com)

The virus is yet to be fully exposed, as the Moscow-based internet security company is still trying to crack its payload, a section that sends and receives instructions from an outside source once it has infiltrated a system. The company is asking for assistance from any cryptographers since the payload is highly encrypted and its purposes remain unclear.

The virus was first spotted in June this year while Kaspersky Lab was looking for variants of Flame. Gauss appears to have been most active from May to July 2012, until its control and command infrastructure stopped functioning. Now the virus is in a dormant state.

Still, the malware, apparently created back in 2011, managed to spread much farther than Flame, which attacked around 700 PCs across the Middle East this spring.

Flame and Stuxnet are widely speculated to have been ordered by the US and Israel to hit Iran’s nuclear program. Western officials gave a tentative confirmation the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Israeli military were all involved in developing the Flame spying toolkit.

As for the Stuxnet attack, which in 2010 damaged uranium enrichment centrifuges in Iran, Washington has so far declined to comment on if it was behind the sabotage.

Now Gauss, which shares parts of its code with Flame, appears to add to the US and Israel’s presumed cyber arsenals.

August 10, 2012 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment