Who watches the watchmen? Kim Dotcom and the GCSB

Kim Dotcom

Joel Cosgrove

The Kim Dotcom affair is an intriguing one. As interesting as Dotcom might be as an individual (see Mega Conspiracy: Kim Dotcom, SOPA and Capitalism in the Feburary 2012 issue of The Spark or online) the issues swirling around him and the wider ramifications of the behaviour of the police are even more important.

The arrest of Dotcom on January the 20th of this year was as much media stunt as anything else. More than 70 police (including the Armed Offenders Squad) with helicopters swarmed Dotcoms mansion. Much was made of his fleeing into his electronically locked safe room with a loaded shotgun. It was only later on in the piece that it was revealed that unidentified plain clothes police scared him into retreating into his safe room and that there was a shotgun within a gun safe on hand (technically close to him though).

Dotcom stands accused by the US government of using the MegaUpload site to engage in the largest series of copyright infringements in history. He was denied bail soon after due to fears from the crown that he would flee to Germany (which currently has no extradition treaty with the US, as opposed to New Zealand, which does). [Read more…]

Why is the US government so afraid of Jacob Appelbaum?

Julian Assange was set to speak at the The Next Hope hacker conference, New York in 2010:

“Hello to all my friends and fans in domestic and international surveillance” he began “I am here today because I believe we can make a better world. Julian, unfortunately, can’t make it, because we don’t live in that better world right now, because we haven’t yet made it. I wanted to make a little declaration for the federal agents that are standing in the back of the room and the ones that are standing in the front of the room, and to be very clear about this: I have, on me, in my pocket, some money, the Bill of Rights and a driver’s license, and that’s it. I have no computer system, I have no telephone, I have no keys, no access to anything. There’s absolutely no reason that you should arrest me or bother me. And just in case you were wondering, I’m an American, born and raised, who’s unhappy. I’m unhappy with how things are going.”

This is how Jacob Appelbaum introduced himself to the world. Appelbaum’s life is now defined by his defence of anonymity and for privacy in a social environment that is rapidly becoming more interconnected and less private. [Read more…]

Urewera four – fight the imprisonments of Iti and Kemara

Byron Clark

The crown has decided not to retry the Urewera 4 on the charge of Participation in an Organised Criminal Group. The group were originally threatened with charges under new terrorism laws after being arrested in a series of raids on October 15, 2007. 13 others were arrested but charges against them have been dropped. The only charges the state could make stick were minor firearms offenses against Tame Iti, Rangi Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey.

“The whole case should never have gone ahead.” Commented Ana Cocker from the October 15th Solidarity Group, adding that the firearms charges should also be thrown out. “The charge of Participation was laid specifically in order that the crown could use the illegally obtained evidence. The crown needed to justify Operation 8 and their invasion and spying on Te Urewera, by bringing convictions at any cost” said Crooker “Nothing in this case has been about so-called justice, it is all about criminalising dissent and halting aspirations for Tuhoe autonomy.”

On May 24 Iti, Kemara, Signer and Bailey were sentenced on the firearms charges. Signer and Bailey were sentenced to 9 months home detention while Iti and Kemara were sentenced to more than 2 years in prison. Along with other people and organisations we support their immediate release.

Queer Avengers: Protesting and the Law Workshop (Wellington)

The Queer Avengers are holding a workshop that is open to all activists on protesting and the law. Kate Scarlet from the Wellington Community Law Centre will be giving a talk on exactly what the laws are surrounding protest, and your rights as a protester.

Topics include:

– Your right to protest, including freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful expression and association.
– Filming the police.
– Arrest – covering what you have to do, what is resisting arrest and use of force by you and the police.
– Search and seizure.
– Rights after arrest.
– Youth & the police.
– What can happen if you do commit an offence.
– Complaining about the police.

Everyone welcome, please pass through your networks! Free entry, but koha welcome. Venue has lift access if needed. If you have any questions, please email: thequeeravengers@gmail.com

6pm Wednesday April 18th, Wellington Peoples’ Centre, Lukes Lane

Social networking sites: Why are they censored?

Marika Pratley (Wellington branch of Workers Party)

Julie Tyler was threatened with serious misconduct by Burger King for posting the comment “Real jobs don’t underpay and overwork like BK does” on a friend’s Facebook page. This event highlighted the limitations of democracy on the internet and social networking sites. It also brings to question limitations on freedom of speech in general – for example – in the workplace.

This is not the first time that workers or activists have faced censorship on social networking sites. In 2010 individual profiles and groups were shutdown by Facebook for expressing support for organisations such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In 2011 Egypt’s entire internet services were shut down by the government in an attempt to prevent communication between organisers and to stop democratic protests from taking place.
[Read more…]