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Julian Assange's Charges are a Direct Assault on PreParts of the Indictment Go Head-to-Head with Basic
journalistic activities protected by the first amendment, academics sayss Freedom, Experts Warn
Microsoft Colluding with Communist Chinese Military to Build AI Systems that will Execute Civilians Who Resist Government Rule
Submitted by Dave Hodges on Thursday, April 25, 2019 - 20:05.
A protester outside Westminster magistrates court in London on 11 April. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The charge sheet accusing Julian Assange of engaging in criminal theft of US state secrets contains a direct assault on fundamental press freedoms and could have a devastating effect on the basic acts of journalism, leading first amendment scholars and advocacy groups have warned.
Prosecutors in the eastern district of Virginia released on Thursday an indictment against the WikiLeaks founder that has been under seal since March 2018. It will now form the basis of the US government’s request for Assange to be extradited from the UK to Alexandria to face trial.
Inside the webchats the US hopes will get Assange behind bars
Academics and campaigners condemned large chunks of the indictment that they said went head-to-head with basic activities of journalism protected by the first amendment of the US constitution. They said these sections of the charges rang alarm bells that should reverberate around the world.
Yochai Benkler, a Harvard law professor who wrote the first major legal studyof the legal implications of prosecuting WikiLeaks, said the charge sheet contained some “very dangerous elements that pose significant risk to national security reporting. Sections of the indictment are vastly overbroad and could have a significant chilling effect – they ought to be rejected.”
Carrie DeCell, staff attorney with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said the charges “risk having a chill on journalism”. She added that the tone of the indictment and the public release from the Department of Justice that went with it suggested that the US government desired precisely that effect.
“Many of the allegations fall absolutely within the first amendment’s protections of journalistic activity. That’s very troubling to us.”
Among the phrases contained in the indictment that have provoked an uproar are:
“It was part of the conspiracy that Assange encouraged Manning to provide information and records from departments and agencies of the United States.” It is a basic function of journalism to encourage sources to provide information in the public interest on the activities of government.
“It was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure of classified records to WikiLeaks.” Protecting the anonymity of sources is the foundation stone of much investigative and national security reporting – without it sources would not be willing to divulge information, and the press would be unable to fulfill its role of holding power to account.
“It was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning used the ‘Jabber’ online chat service to collaborate on the acquisition and dissemination of the classified records.” The indictment similarly refers to a dropbox. Both Jabber and Dropbox are communication tools routinely used by journalists working with whistleblowers.
A key element of the indictment is a new allegation that Assange actively engaged in helping Manning try to crack a password that allowed the US soldier to gain unauthorized and anonymous access to highly sensitive military computers. At the time, in 2010, Manning was working as an intelligence analyst at a forward operating base outside Baghdad.
Experts on freedom of the press and speech were generally more relaxed about that narrow charge, standing on its own, in that it essentially accuses Assange of violating computer hacking laws – specifically the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – in a way that has no first amendment protection. If prosecutors succeed in presenting evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to that effect, it is unlikely to arouse fierce opposition across the board.
Bradley P Moss, deputy executive of the James Madison Project, a public-interest group focusing on US intelligence and national security, said he was unflustered by the hacking allegation. “I have no concerns about the broader ramifications for press freedoms, whether in the US or elsewhere. What Julian Assange did is what journalists are trained not to do.”
Everything you need to know about Julian Assange
But fears for the chilling impact of the prosecution were rampant. The Center for Constitutional Rights, whose late president Michael Ratner was Assange’s lawyer in the US, warned that the threat posed by the indictment was increased by having a president in the White House hostile to the media.
“This is a worrying step on the slippery slope to punishing any journalist the Trump administration chooses to deride as ‘fake news’,” it said.
Two advocacy groups working in the field of press freedom also waded in. The Committee to Protect Journalists said the wording of the charges contained “broad legal arguments about journalists soliciting information or interacting with sources that could have chilling consequences for investigative reporting and the publication of information of public interest”.
Freedom of the Press Foundation said: “Whether or not you like Assange, the charge against him is a serious press freedom threat and should be vigorously protested by all those who care about the first amendment.”
Microsoft has been working with a Chinese military-run university on researching artificial intelligence that could be used for censorship and surveillance, according to a shocking new report from Financial Times. A series of scientific studies were co-authored by researchers from Microsoft Research Asia and scientists associated with China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT). This apparent relationship between Microsoft and a Chinese military university is now giving rise to a tidal wave of concerns.
A number of experts have spoken out about the potential risks of U.S.-China academic relations, but there are also serious red flags about the artificial intelligence (AI) that Microsoft and the Chinese were working to develop. The research points to widespread surveillance and censorship, and people across the tech industry and from around the political spectrum are outraged over Microsoft’s role in enabling the Chinese government’s oppression of its citizens.
Microsoft and Communist China Research AI Censorship
Microsoft and the Chinese military-run university NUDT have joined forces to work on research for AI that could be used for nefarious purposes. A trio of recently published papers have revealed their silent partnership for all the world to see.
One paper explores a new AI technique for recreating elaborate environmental maps through the surveying of human faces. Breitbart (1) reports that experts caution such technology will have immediate use in the surveillance arena.
Samm Sacks, senior fellow at the New America think tank and China tech expert, says that these papers raise
“red flags because of the nature of the technology, the author affiliations, combined with what we know about how this technology is being deployed in China right now.”
“The [Chinese] government is using these technologies to build surveillance systems and to detain minorities [in Xinjiang],”
she reportedly added.
And we all know what happens to people who get blacklisted in China (2). Threats, attacks and disappearances are all far too common among communist China’s dissidents.
Other papers published by Microsoft and NUDT focused on machine learning. Experts say that while this area of tech may not sound “concerning,” machine learning could be key for the Chinese government to engage in censorship at scale.
Microsoft’s joint research efforts with the NUDT will undoubtedly serve the Chinese government’s goals to have complete dominion over its people.
Microsoft under fire
A number of U.S. legislators have called out Microsoft’s partnership with China. Sen. Marco Rubio recently described it as “deeply disturbing,” and said it was
“an act that makes them complicit”
in China’s abuse of human rights.
Microsoft has defended their abhorrent partnership with NUDT, declaring that their partnership with Chinese military has helped them to “advance our understanding of technology.” The company states further that it is important for their scientists to work with experts from around the world to continue advancing forward.
“In each case, the research is guided by our principles, fully complies with U.S. and local laws, and the research is published to ensure transparency so that everyone can benefit from our work,”
Microsoft’s statement said further.
But experts say that the technologies Microsoft has helped NUDT research can easily be used for unsavory purposes, such as censorship and targeted surveillance.
According to Business Insider (3), Chinese authorities are already using the facial recognition software to track and detain over one million Muslim minorities.
Anyone who dares to act or speak against the communist regime also faces detainment.
Microsoft is not the first company to bend the knee to communist China. Google recently came under fire for “blacklisting” a political dissident (4) at the behest of the Chinese government.
Apple has also faced scrutiny for allowing the foreign regime to dictate (5) what apps are available or banned from the app store. Across the board, it seems that Big Tech has no problem with colluding with a government seeking to violate its citizen’s natural rights — and it’s not just happening in China.
This article originally was published on NewsTarget by Vicki Batts