Category: Uncategorized

An example of a Telecom Data Centre. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons.


Metadata – what does it capture:

  • IP address endpoints on http traffic, but not https.
  • GSM MetaData – who you called/texted and when/where.
  • Public wifi hotspots not required to collect metadata.
  • https mail is secure from metadata protection except —>
    Five eyes agreement (Share intelligence – US UK NZ CANADA and AUST)
    Not secure if you email a non-https email account.
  • Metadata DOES NOT INCLUDE your content on Facebook, however obviously public shared data is available to anyone, and private or friends only data is available through PRISM (see below).

Information held by Australian service providers, and sometimes international services can be subpoenaed. Example, copyright cases.

National Security Agency

NSA have several mechanisms for tracking/collecting data.  The main methods are Internet Backbone interception and PRISM

  • Internet Backbone:
    AT&T, Verizon, Sprint have all provided NSA access to their networks.  This means NSA can monitor and collect data going across those provider’s networks.   NSA have also been caught out intercepting routers enroute from manufacturer to customer and inserting software backdoors.  This means they can log any traffic that crosses that router once it is in operation.
  • PRISM. PRISM is a surveillance system that provides backdoor access to several main service providers.  It allows NSA agents to access data held on users of those services.   Known members of PRISM include:
    Yahoo (who fought it in FISA court but lost)
    Microsoft (and
  • FISA Court. – sometimes supports NSA, sometimes limits it.  FISA is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.  FISA is responsible for authorising or blocking NSA surveillance operations.


Security (Solutions)

Warrant Canary

Like a canary used by miners, if the canary dies, there is a gas leak.  Canaries will die from gas before humans, so a dead canary is advanced notice for humans of a gas leak.  Likewise, a warrant canary is a statement regularly updated by a provider indicating they have not been subject to a government warrant.  If the statement is out of date or missing, it means the company has been subject to warrant, and therefore your data held by the company may no longer be secure.

Warrant canaries are issued because warrant requests usually legally require the company not reveal that they are subject to a warrant.


Web browsing anonymity. IP address obfuscation. Slow, and can’t be used for torenting since torenting breaks the anonymity. Outbound nodes can be compromised.

https anywhere improves security by ensuring all traffic is encrypted.

VPN – Encrypts traffic between the user and the vpn proivder
VPN providers can be subpoenaed – look for vpn that doesn’t keep ip address logs.
Free vpn versus paid – pros and cons – Free VPN providers are less secure, unknown.  Large providers are more secure, but more likely to be subject to warrant.

Private chat/call/email

Wickr – goes through central provider but end to end encryption – they don’t know what you are sending.
Wick use Warrant Cannaries.

RISEUP – https secure email. Not encrypted at provider, but provider is trustworthy. They can still be subpoenaed. Riseup use a Warrant Canary.

TextSecure, now Redphone – recommended by Snowden – encrypted, but some metadata can leak.

Skype – encrypted, but can be captured if Skype has been subject to warrant (whereas wickr data is fully encrypted end point to end point). Also meta data is leaky. No warrant canary – owned by MS so part of PRISM

All above chat/call methods rely on third parties

Mesoporous silica particle

Mesoporous silica particle

The consumer and environment advocacy group Friends of the Earth has commissioned independent research that confirms nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and Silica in a range of food products.  Foods known to be affected so far include M&Ms, Nestlé Coffee Mate Creamer, Old El Paso Taco Mix and Woolworths Homebrand White Sauce.

In light of statements by Food Safety Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) given to Parliament that food products containing these ingredients will not be sold until they have been subject to safety testing and pre-market approval, there is concern that the problem is unquantified and many more foods may contain nanoparticles.

FOE Press Release available here: Independent testing finds illegal and potentially harmful nanoparticles in common food products.

Further evidence that the government have a head in the sand approach to nanoparticles in food can be found on the Department of Health (via National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme, NICNAS) website that claims “Reported uses of TiO2 nanoparticles in Australia are similar to the overseas uses — cosmetic and sunscreen products and surface coatings such as paint”. No mention of food. Without labelling requirements, and with the government denying the presence of nanoparticles, consumers are unable to decide to exercise caution in the consumption of foods containing nanoparticles.

Read the NICNAS Nanoparticle Report.

There are few safety studies available on the use of nanoparticles in food, but studies that have been done on nanoparticles point to potential carcinogenic affects, genotoxicity or immune system compromise. The report “Titanium dioxide nanoparticles: a review of current toxicological data” provides a review of current research.  Part of the finding raises concern about pulmonary inflammation and lung cancers:

“Pulmonary inflammatory responses and lung cancers are the most important adverse effect observed in experimental animals due to TiO2 NP exposures. When only using realistic doses are considered, as in the case of some inhalation studies, inflammatory responses are still a prominent effect seen. ”

More research is needed before deciding on whether nanoparticles are safe for human consumption.

UPDATE: In response to the SMH article Nanotechnology Found in Popular Foods Despite Repeated Denials by Food Regulators, FSANZ has released this statement. The statement essentially amounts to “FSANZ and other international food regulatory agencies have not identified any health effect known to be associated with the use of nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and silica, following oral ingestion in foods”.  They have also announced that a leading toxicologist will be undertaking a review into nanoparticles in food, with the final report expected to be published in late 2015 to early 2016.

Note: This article originally appeared in, by the same author.

The Keep QLD Nuclear Free network hosted a conference today to welcome Naoto Kan to Brisbane and to ask Mr Kan about his position on nuclear power. Mr Kan was Prime Minister of Japan during the Fukushima Nuclear disaster.

Mr Kan spoke of the failure of TEPCO and authorities to contain the disaster and of the affects on the prefecture of Fukushima. He described the Fukushima disaster as without precedent and without any technology yet capable of cleaning up the site. The cores of several reactors continue to melt down without any real ideas on how to stop the process, and top soil removed from the site will have to be stored for thousands of years.

When asked about his position on Nuclear power now compared to before the disaster, Mr Kan said his view had changed 180 degrees. As of today, no nuclear power plants are operating in Japan, having been mothballed while a decision is made about how or if the plants can be operated safely.

Earlier this week Mr Kan visited northern Australian Indigenous communities to talk with Elders about the issues of Nuclear power and nuclear mining.

Below are photos from the conference:

Naoto Kan Brisbane (1)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (2)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (5)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (6)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (8)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (10)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (11)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (12)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (14)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (15)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (16)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (18)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (19)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (20)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (21)

The Australian government looks set to approve GMO Cholera vaccine trials on volunteers in Australia.

The cholera virus in the vaccine has been genetically modified to prevent it from damaging blood cells in the recipient, but still provide the immune response needed to develop immunity.

An initial concern has been whether the vaccine is being tested wholesale on cholera prone Indigenous communities – thus using them as guinea pigs. It doesn’t appear that that is the case. The vaccine is to be given to healthy volunteers (1000 participants) in drink form, and will not be sprayed or injected.

Testing areas throughout Australia include Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria.  In Australia, parts of Northern Australia are prone to cholera outbreaks, due to the wet and humid environment.  However the point of testing in Australia and not in countries with more of a cholera problem is due to the low communal immunity to cholera in Australia.  Any immunity that is developed in trial participants can then be attributed to the vaccine.  This is even more evidence that the vaccine is not being tested on ‘Guinea Pigs’ in cholera prone areas, since efficacy would be difficult to gauge.

From The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator:

“This vaccine will not be sprayed into the environment;
It will be given as a drink to the volunteers willing to participate in the trial;
No decision has been made on the licence application;
Public comments on the risk assessment and risk management plan will be sought in late January 2014”

Office of the Gene Technology Regulator

The vaccine has been on the market before as Orochol, manufactured using the same process, but with different facilities – which therefore requires re-testing to ensure the new version retains the same safety profile as the previous.  Orochol has been used around the world and is tested and well tolerated and safe. The GM method used for this vaccine was under development in the late 90’s and was commercialised around 2003.

Orochol, and the new vaccine being developed by PaxVax, are single dose vaccines which mean immunity is developed quickly (within 8 days) and can be used in disaster response.  Current non-GMO double dose vaccines on the market can not be rolled out in response to outbreaks; hence Orochol and it’s derivatives stand to make a big difference to health of disaster survivors.  Orochol has also been found to safe and effective for use on HIV infected people, and so is suitable for deployment in sub-Saharan Africa and for use with HIV infected individuals.


Formaldehyde is used in the manufacture of this vaccine, which prevents its use in people who are allergic to formaldehyde.

Some people are concerned about the use of formaldehyde in vaccines due to the poisonous and carcinogenic nature of the substance.  Formaldehyde breaks down quickly in the body and does not accumulate. Short term exposure to small amounts of formaldehyde has no lasting or dangerous effects unless the recipient is allergic.

Long term exposure to formaldehyde is linked to cancer, so those at risk are the workers in the vaccine factories and those who handle formaldehyde during it’s use or transport.

The use of formaldehyde is regulated by National and State standards. The national occupational exposure standard:

“The current national occupational exposure standard for formaldehyde is 1 ppm 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) and 2 ppm short-term exposure limit (STEL). The NICNAS report recommends that the occupational exposure standard be lowered to 0.3 ppm 8h TWA and 0.6 ppm STEL. Formaldehyde has been shown to cause nasal cancers in animals at levels not found in the majority of workplaces.

The basis for lowering the current exposure standard is sensory irritation. The recommended exposure standards not only provide adequate protection against discomfort of sensory irritation, but also provide a high level of protection against cancer. The recommended standard is being considered by the Office of the Australian Safety and Compensation Council, the national agency responsible for setting national occupational exposure standards.”

NICNAS Factsheet

The risk to a cholera vaccine taker from formaldehyde is limited due to it’s quick break down in the stomach and low toxicity in small doses.  Of far more concern is the sustained exposure to formaldehyde in, for example, 2nd hand cigarette smoke, or indoor exposure in a carpeted room. Some plastics, nylon and other household items also emit formaldehyde.


Sister vaccines to that being proposed have been thoroughly tested and about 60,000 doses have been administered in the field with no issues arising.  The primary concern of anti-gmo advocates seems to be whether the genetically modified  organism can somehow pollute the host.  There is no evidence that this is even possible.  The GMO is not released into the wild and is only used in the vaccine itself, which is destroyed by the host body.

The small potential for problems needs to be weighed up against the advantage of a vaccine that is single dose, can be deployed in disaster areas as they happen to prevent the outbreak of cholera, that can be used in areas where HIV is prevalent and is safe for use in children.


Peace Convergence: Media Release 16 August 2013

Rockhampton Tiger Ploughshare trial begins Monday 19 August 

with widespread support for the accused

Peace activists will be gathering in Rockhampton to support Graeme Dunstan when he appears for the beginning of the Tiger Ploughshare trial

10 am Monday 19 August
Rockhampton District Court 

Solidarity rallies will also be held by peace activists in Brisbane and Melbourne. The trial is expected to take three days.

Long time peace activist, Graeme Dunstan of, is charged with wilful damage of Commonwealth Property, namely an Australian Army “Tiger” Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter which was disabled by a blow from a garden mattock during the 2011 Talisman Saber Military Exercises.

WIN Tv news footage of the event show Bryan Law, dressed in a black suit and a Bob Katter hat, riding a tricycle across the Rockhampton Airport tarmac and striking the blow.  Mr Law died last Easter.

Graeme Dunstan has confessed to being Mr Law’s driver and assistant and is a charged as a co offender.  But Mr Dunstan is pleading not guilty to the charge and is defending himself with the assistance of Brisbane based nurse, Sean O’Reilly, as a “friend in court”. Sean is the brother of Ciaron O’Reilly, a Brisbane born activist, famous for his Ploughshare actions in the US and Ireland.

“Ploughshare” is a reference to the Biblical prophecy of Isaiah (2:4) about a coming time when “nation will not rise up against nation, spears would be beaten into pruning hooks, swords into ploughshares and we would study war no more”.

There have been more than 80 such actions since 1980, with three common elements:

1. being absolutely nonviolent towards people;

2. to remain and take responsibility for the action; and

3. to make some attempt to disarm a weapon and begin its transformation into something useful.

The Tiger is similar in design and identical in function to the Apache helicopter used by the US Army to gun down innocents in the Collateral Murder footage leaked by Bradley Manning and Julian Assange and which has had in excess of 14 million viewers on YouTube.

Dunstan will be arguing that the strike was an act of conscience aimed a raising public awareness to the true nature of the war in Afghanistan where the attack helicopters were to be deployed.

“Disarmament is often seen as an impossible dream; desirable, certainly, but utterly unrealistic,” said Mr Dunstan.  “It is precisely this societal torpor that the Tiger Ploughshare action sought to address.”

Further information

Graeme Dunstan 0407 951 688

FaceBook event

Downloadable flyer: