Tell US gov't to stop endangering Syrian activists

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"the secret of war lies in the communications"
- Napoleon Bonaparte

This has never been so true as it is now in the civil war going on in Syria. I would even go so far as to say that secure communications is more important to the success of their struggle against a brutal dictator than guns.

Secure access to the Internet is of critical importance to the activist network in Syria for without it there would be no network and very little news about the struggle and the slaughter going on. The Assad regime is very aware of this and they have been using every trick in their hackers book to track down Syrian Internet activist and arrest or kill them. One example will give you a clue. In Douma a few weeks back they spied an activist filming Syrian soldiers passing his house from the balcony. They entered the house and slaughtered everyone there, eighteen in all, including a child age four.

For activist in Syria, Internet security is truly a matter of life and death and now we find that the US government is not only stopping anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons from reaching the opposition fighters, as I reported in my dairy yesterday, it is also blocking effective security software from reaching Syrian activists.

This is something you can act on: Tell the US government to lift sanctions that stop Syrian activists from getting security software that just may save their lives.

This is a campaign that is being led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and oddly enough, it was another email from EFF that gave me an early heads up to the Tunisia revolt that began the Arab Spring.

Below the fold you will find a couple of articles on background and a petition you can sign to tell U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments: Stop Silencing Syrian Voices!

This is only the latest of a long list of articles in which the EFF catalogs the way the Assad regime is trying to track Syrian activists. With this cynical ploy they are making use of the Obama administration's refusal to allow the activist access to legitimate anti-hacking software by filling the gap with substitutes that could get them killed:

Pro-Syrian Government Hackers Target Activists With Fake Anti-Hacking Tool
August 15, 2012 | By Eva Galperin and Morgan Marquis-Boire

As the violence escalates across Syria, so do the campaigns of targeted malware attacks against Syrian activists, journalists, and members of the opposition, which covertly install surveillance software on their computers. Syrians are growing more aware of the danger these campaigns pose to their security and the security of their friends and loved ones. On Facebook, the Union of Free Students in Syria group has started an album of students holding up signs warning against phishing attacks and malware, with messages that such as, "Assad supporters are sending dangerous files with hacked accounts. Check with your friends before opening an attachment."

The latest malware campaign plays into users' concerns about protecting their security by offering a fake security tool called AntiHacker, which promises to provide "Auto-Protect & Auto-Detect & Security & Quick scan and analysing."[sic] EFF's analysis indicates that this campaign is the work of the same actors behind several malware campaigns that lured their targets in using fake revolutionary documents and a fake Skype encryption tool--campaigns that date back to at least November 2011. More ...

This is the piece the Washington Post ran on the problem:

Sanctions aimed at Syria and Iran are hindering opposition, activists say
By James Ball, Published: August 14

U.S. sanctions targeting Syria and Iran have inadvertently undermined the opposition movements they are intended to help, making it more difficult for those groups to access technologies that can evade electronic surveillance and censorship, according to security experts and activists.

The economic sanctions imposed by the Obama administration have forced many Western companies, including technology firms, to sever relationships with Syria and Iran. The measures have helped to isolate those governments internationally. More...

Most importantly, here is the petition at

U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments: Stop Silencing Syrian Voices! #FreeSyriasNet

by Dlshad Othman | Paris, France

Every day, ordinary Syrians risk their lives to broadcast pictures and videos of the uprising, and to show the world what is happening in Syria. Yet, barriers created by U.S. government export controls, and overbroad enforcement of them by corporations, threaten to silence these brave voices. More ...


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