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Hallowe'en, Assange, WikiLeaks, The Opposable Thumb
Taken in reverse order. Tap-tap-tapping to the truth.
EVERYWHERE (Rixstep) — Tonight's the night the ghouls, ghosts, and goblins descend on the planet, disturbing the peace at households worldwide. Those not out knocking on doors are already on their way to London.
Julian Assange is scheduled to hear at 09:45 GMT Wednesday 2 November the result of the extended deliberation of the High Court on his appeal against extradition to Sweden. WikiLeaks is involved in a massive campaign for donations, having at last found ways around the extrajudicial financial blockade instigated by US senator Joe Lieberman. And the opposable thumb is making a significant comeback.
The Opposable Thumb
It's often said - incorrectly - that the hallmark of homo sapiens - the one thing distinguishing human beings from the rest of the species - is the opposable thumb. Although this is patently untrue, the opposable thumb of the human species remains a powerful weapon not at all utilised as much as it might be.
There are a lot of credit cards in the world - credit cards (and card holders) controlled by the Visa/MasterCard monopoly. But there are even more cellphones. And whilst credit card transactions are traceable, donations with cellphones are not. Donors can use prepaid phone cards, thereby breaking the data trail. And a donation takes a mere ten seconds, no forms to fill, only an innocent 'tap-tap-tap' with the opposable thumb.
Cellphones reach countries where credit cards still aren't prevalent. Cellphones reach almost everywhere.
The average donation to WikiLeaks up to now has been US$25. There have been a core group of 50,000 who've donated time and again. US$25 is something that takes time to consider. But US$3 does not. It's something everyone with a cellphone can do now and over and over again.
Waiting at a bus stop and bored out of your skull? Do your good deed for the day and give WikiLeaks a few bob. You'll feel better while you wait and better all evening long.
Waiting at a restaurant for your new hot date to turn up? Working on your third pint and growing apprehensive you'll be hammered before the dinner begins? Trying to find something to do with your hands because they don't allow smoking at the bar anymore? Pull out your cellphone. Make a donation to WikiLeaks. Less than the price of a drink. Keep sober and have a good meal. Tell your date what a wonderful person you've been (patient too) and get lucky. US$3.
WikiLeaks will unveil a new secure submission method on 28 November, the first anniversary of the initial release of the US embassy cables. So there was a good reason after all to wait so long to restore the WikiLeaks submission system, something the other also-rans evidently haven't had a clue about.
As everyone and their seventh cousin tried to get on the whistleblower bandwagon, the world's seen some amazingly amateurish - and outright dangerous - stuff. Such as offering 40-bit encryption, something the NSA's been able to crack for the past fifty years. Whistleblowers beware.
But the issue is much deeper than that. It goes beyond Diffie-Hellman and into the true weakness of SSL and subsequent methods: the certification authority. The two parties in a supposedly secure communications channel - whether it be for use of webmail or for an online credit card transaction - have to rely on a certificate authority to vouch for each other's identities.
Except this is no longer possible, and as Julian Assange pointed out at a press conference recently, the situation's been deteriorating for the past five years or so - something the WSJ, AJE, Swedish websites, and of course the now nonexistent OpenLeaks didn't have a clue about. 40-bit, old DES 56-bit, recently illegal 128-bit (something that got Theo de Raadt to migrate to Canada, something state spy agencies can crack with ease today) is beyond the point because the actual 'chain of trust' is broken.
Certificate authorities are either owned by the very states that become the 'enemy' in the scenario or are easily persuaded to give up the information needed to break the channel and eavesdrop on it - the so-called 'man in the middle attack'. That's the issue: the two parties in the 'conversation' have to be able to know who they're 'talking' to and current SSL no longer gives any acceptable guarantees. Especially not with the current state of affairs, all the repressive regimes worldwide, and with the White House breathing down everyone's necks. The fact the WSJ wouldn't guarantee anonymity under the circumstances is a triviality. Given the current status of SSL, no one is anonymous.
So the world may see a breakthrough come 28 November, a new generation of secure online transactions, primarily intended for use with the new WikiLeaks submission system but equally applicable and vital to all types of secure online transactions.
What remains is not only to see what Amazon and all the rest come up with but also why the world media have been so silent about this matter, easily the most important item from the WikiLeaks press conference. Up to now almost no one has written a single word (save this site).
The powers that be descend onto London this week, something not known until very recently. According to stuxnet of the Flashback forum, the delegates to the cyber-security conference were chosen hastily. The public schedule of Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt didn't have a mention of it even a week ago. The US seemed to go public about the matter on 18 October and then three days later abracadabra! The High Court announced they'd have a verdict at the same time.
Coincidence? What would Auric say? Here are stuxnet's references.
Carl Bildt's schedule:
The White House:
The update and the press release took place Monday 24 October:
So the long awaited High Court verdict comes at 09:45 Wednesday morning 2 November GMT. Seemingly it can go but one of two ways. Either the EAW is dismissed or Julian Assange goes on to appeal to the Supreme Court. Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny has previously stated she will not appeal further.
Should Julian need to appeal, then it looks like he'll be staying even longer with the Smiths at Ellingham. Should he win, then he'll most likely have to leave the UK almost immediately as he no longer has a valid visa.
The trick in leaving the UK however is that he must have a destination outside the EU zone and he can't pass through the EU zone either: the EAW will still be in effect and any authority in any state could theoretically detain him again. And Marianne Ny might always try with a new Interpol Red Notice - they're not exactly difficult to obtain.
The calm Norfolk salad days might be at an end.
Hallowe'en's upon the world. Children of all ages - from 1 to 92 - are on the streets, some polite, some not so polite, all in search of sweets to fill their bags. It's a nice tradition now spreading to more and more countries. And within this same coming November another tradition will be upon the globe, a day customarily spent eating slaughtered fowl but a day when the world as a whole can perhaps be encouraged to feel a bit more united.